Associate Professor of Natural Resources Conservation and Public Policy Charles Schweik is part of a $150,000 Massachusetts Department of Education grant with the Gateway Regional School District. “Putting Western Massachusetts on the Map: A Course in GIS” will give teachers in Western Massachusetts both face-to-face and online training (using MassONE Moodle) in open source GIS software over the course of 22 months. According to Schweik, “GIS can be applied to a variety of disciplines including environmental science, social studies, engineering, and any other content that has a geo-spatial data component.” The possibilities for integrating this technology into existing middle and high school courses are endless.

In addition to the hands-on teacher training, the GIS grant will oversee the development of a Community Mapping project in the spring of 2011. Student work from this project and the course in general will be presented at a half-day Western Massachusetts GIS Expo and Conference each year.

Schweik, an expert on open source technology, will be a lead instructor with David Greenberg, Director of the Technology in Education Partnership. Both instructors plan to disseminate course materials through the Open Source Geospatial Foundation educational library, which will extend the grant’s reach beyond Massachusetts and enable more effective replication of the course. The materials will contribute to the international effort to develop open content educational material in open source GIS as part of the Open Geospatial Foundation’s educational initiative.

Schweik is associate director of the National Center for Digital Government (NCDG); an affiliated researcher with the Science, Technology, and Society (STS) Initiative; and founder and co-director of the UMass Open Source Lab. His recent research, supported by a five-year NSF Early CAREER Development Grant, focuses on the “open source” movement and factors leading to successful open source software collaborations. With the Open Source Geospatial Foundation, he has led efforts to inventory more than 45 sets of open source educational materials and has taught open source GIS courses to students around the globe.