Category: Teaching

Topics for GIScience master theses

After several months of setting the stage and doing lots of preparatory work, we are currently entering the ‘core phase’ in two research projects at the GI Mobility Lab internet. In this context we provide the opportunity to Master’s students to participate in the projects and write their thesis in GIScience (or related fields).

Our part in the FamoS internet project is, among others, to develop an agent-based bicycle flow model for an entire city. In this context we offer two topics:

  1. Behavior to space (description internet)
  2. Exploring geoprocessing, geovisual analytical and mapping functionalities of GAMA (description internet)

Experts from sports medicine, GIScience and transport planning and management are collaborating in the GISMO internet research project in order to provide a sound evidence basis for the promotion of active commuting. Part of the research is a clinical study, in which we document the subject’s mobility by different means. For the analysis of this data we offer the following two topics:

  1. Analysis of movement data from fitness watches (description internet)
  2. Linking travel diaries and GPS trajectories (description internet)

The topics are primarily offered to local internet and UNIGIS internet students. However, I’m also open to any other form of supervision and collaboration, given we find a sound format for it.


Lecture series “Active Mobility”

Since the VeloCity internet conference took place in Vienna in 2013, the Institute of Transportation internet (Vienna University of Technology) hosts an annual lecture series on bicycling and active mobility in general.

This semester, 80-100 students from various planning domains (urban, transport, regional planning) are attending the weekly lecture on “Active Mobility” internet. Yesterday I had the privilege to present parts of my current research and provide an overview of potential contributions of spatial information to an enhanced bicycling safety situation (slides in German language):

Although some of the students have already worked with GIS, none of them employe GIS in the context of mobility or transport research (at least nobody raised his/her hand when I was asking). Thus, I was happy to serve an appetizer for introducing the spatial perspective to a rather “technical” planning community.

When it’s worth teaching …

Teaching obligation – doesn’t sound very attractive. Why? Because generally it means much work for little money and almost no reward. Apply for a job in academia. What are the metrics of your qualification? Publications. Impact points.
Don’t worry, this is not another discussion about quality metrics in academia, but a very clear statement, that teaching can be a great experience. Even if it’s a teaching obligation.

Together with university officials and the other three awarded lecturers. More fotos are available at the university's Flickr stream

Together with university officials and the other three awarded lecturers. More pictures are available at the university’s Flickr stream (click on the image).

It is true, that the effort for good teaching is huge; even more in an interactive setting. It is further true that the payment is not worth to talk about and that most of the time your work is unseen. But on the other side it is an unpayable experience to grab your student’s hand and take them for a few steps on your journey. I love the skeptical looks in the first lesson, the chance to generate interest and, in some cases, enthusiasm in the end. Of course, there are students who remain bored and uninterested, but nevertheless they get an idea that there might be something interesting beyond the horizon … Apart from trying to equip students with a basic set of skills in thematic cartography and geovisualization, teaching is a good training for myself. I have to question and reflect my own knowledge and break the – sometimes blurry – concepts in my head down to something 3rd semester students can understand. Maybe it’s beneficial to have children who are in the “WHY?!-age”.

I’ve been teaching the introductory course for thematic cartography and geovisualization together with my dear colleague Christoph internet for 4 years now. Yesterday was a great day for both of us. We were nominated by our students (this is a really big honor!) for the university’s excellence in teaching award. After a competitive two-stage process with an extensive student evaluation and a distinguished jury which judged our course concept, we were among the four highest ranked courses of the summer semester 2014 and winter semester 2014/15. These four candidates were invited to present their course at the university wide “Tag der Lehreinternet, a special interest day dedicated to academic teaching, which took place yesterday. Fortunately the jury liked our presentation (we performed a fictitious dialog between two students who were talking about the course) and ranked us in the first place. To make it short, we are enormously happy winners of the award for excellence in teaching.

This award is more than a compensation for the numerous late night hours we’ve invested. It’s an encouragement and mandate to further invest in our teaching. Such awards bring unseen work to the surface and affirm that there are more ways to make an impact than publishing in high-ranking journals! In this sense, thanks to the university’s department for Quality Management internet for this initiative.