The KCGIS Technical Committee approved the 2007 updates to the KCGIS Training Curriculum in April 2007.
Introduction [from the document]
Vision and Goal The vision of the King County GIS (KCGIS) training program is to provide a framework for ongoing and relevant GIS education, which will empower current and potential GIS community members as proactive spatial thinkers who can visualize their data, support better decision-making, and deliver superior public service using GIS tools.
This vision is put into action by developing training opportunities that are modular, customized, and geared toward defined categories of users within the GIS community. The resulting training curriculum is designed to be specific and detailed, yet broad enough to suit the business needs of individuals from many disciplines. A range of educational offerings allows users to stick to GIS basics, or to expand their knowledge with advanced or highly specialized topics.
User Focused GIS Education A key tenet of the KCGIS training program is to provide education opportunities that meet the needs of a wide variety of GIS users. The decision on how to use the program is up to individuals and their supervisors, based on business needs of the agency and career goals of the individual. The curriculum plans presented in this document are not meant to be rigid, but rather offer recommended guidelines for GIS education. Some courses are highly recommended while others are listed as optional.
The GIS curriculum consists of KCGIS custom courses, some accredited to earn points toward GISP certification, courses offered by ESRI, documents prepared by KCGIS describing GIS standards and best practices, and periodic meetings of KCGIS user groups. The training courses are listed and described in this document, and the KCGIS standards documents and the calendar of user group meetings are available on the KCGIS Center website: www.kingcounty.gov/operations/gis.
The KCGIS Training Coordinator is a resource for GIS education and is available to consult with individuals and groups to determine the best approach for improving GIS skills and performance. The Training Coordinator can be contacted at 206-263-5220
GIS User Categories Six categories of GIS users are identified for the purpose of organizing the GIS training curriculum. Four are technical user categories that require varying levels of GIS skill and knowledge. The other two categories are for individuals who do not personally use GIS, but deal with GIS issues as decision-makers or as technical support staff. Many King County staff members were assigned to a GIS user category as a result of a survey conducted in 2004 (available on the King County intranet). Individuals can use these assignments to follow the recommended training curriculum, or GIS users and their supervisors can self-assign categories based on the following category descriptions.
Data User: These are GIS end-users, who are concerned with querying and viewing GIS data, and perhaps with creating hardcopy output of GIS maps and associated information. Data Users do not create or modify data. While they may use GIS routinely in their day-to-day work, their primary job description is not GIS-oriented.
Data Analyst: Data Analysts can be either GIS professionals or end-users. Like Data Users, they also query and view GIS data, and likely create hardcopy output using GIS. However, they tend to employ more sophisticated GIS methods, and create more complex and technically demanding maps than Data Users. They likely create and maintain GIS data for project-level use, but generally do not create and maintain data that is used beyond the scope of their immediate work group. Data Analysts may also provide support to other GIS users.
Data Maintainer (Steward): Data Maintainers are GIS professionals who are usually also Data Analysts, but are also stewards of enterprise data (that is data used by multiple groups or agencies). They deal with data related issues of conversion, quality assurance and control, and metadata. Data Maintainers likely provide support to other GIS users.
Developer: These are GIS professionals who are responsible for the development of GIS scripts, programs, and applications that are typically used by others. They deal with software development issues such as requirements definition, design, testing, deployment, troubleshooting, and operation. Developers nearly always provide support to other GIS users.
Decision-maker: While Decision-makers may properly be assigned to any of the other user categories, this category includes those individuals who have little or no experience with GIS, but must still deal with GIS issues. Decision-makers may be supervisors or managers who have GIS personnel working for them, or they may be project managers whose projects have a GIS component.
Database/System Administrator: Database/System Administrators, and other IT support personnel may or may not be familiar with GIS concepts and software functionality, yet have a need to deal with GIS from a technical standpoint (such as maintenance of a RDBMS containing a geodatabase, or administration of desktop computers loaded with GIS software) as part of the IT support services they provide.
Curriculum Overview and Status The KCGIS training curriculum concept was developed in 2004 by the GIS Training Workgroup, and approved by the KCGIS Technical Committee in early 2005. Since that time the GIS Training Workgroup has been engaged in developing courses and revising and updating the curriculum plan.
The key component of the training curriculum is the custom courses developed by experienced King County personnel. While ESRI, the developer of the GIS software used by King County, offers an array of GIS training courses, both online and instructor-led, its offerings tend toward a one-size-fits-most philosophy. Some ERSI courses are too technical or too long for the casual GIS user, and some are not comprehensive or specific enough to meet the needs of King County’s professional GIS staff. The relatively high cost of ESRI training is also prohibitive. The KCGIS custom courses are designed to replace and/or supplement the ESRI training and are considered integral to maintaining a high-performance GIS workforce for King County.
Six different KCGIS custom courses were taught in 2006. While the course feedback was uniformly positive from attendees, and a few sessions were filled to capacity, other sessions were canceled due to low enrollment. The following table provides a summary.
Custom Course Title (Designation)
Number of Sessions
Number of Students
B-2 – Exploring King County Data Using Metadata
EA-2 – KCGIS Metadata: Creation, Posting, Maintenance and Best Practices
EA-3 – Posting Data to the King County Spatial Data Warehouse
EA-8 – Basics of SQL
EA-9 – Geoprocessing for Analysts
XT-6 – Keeping Up With ESRI
Totals for 2006 (to date)
Note: Two sessions of B-2, and one session each of EA-9 and XT-6 were canceled due to low enrollment.
With the low enrollment issue as a driving factor, the GIS Training Workgroup decided to reconsider the scope of the training curriculum. As a result, several yet to be developed custom courses included in the 2006 plan are dropped from the 2007 curriculum. Courses were generally eliminated if they failed to pass one or more of three tests. One, if it was deemed that the target audience of potential students was too small to make development of the course worthwhile. Two, if the course content could reasonably be combined into another course. Or three, if the course was considered too peripheral to the core goal of educating and empowering current and potential KCGIS community members. The disposition of all custom courses included in the 2006 curriculum plan is described in Appendix A.
This document is the 2006 update of the training curriculum and represents the recommendations of the GIS Training Workgroup as approved by the KCGIS Technical Committee.
The KCGIS training curriculum is a work in progress. Development of four new courses was completed in 2006. Six other courses are currently in various stages of development. It is anticipated that as more courses are completed further changes to the curriculum will be made. Once completed each course needs to be periodically reviewed to ensure it remains timely and does not contain obsolete information. By the end of 2007 it is anticipated that nearly all the custom courses will be completed, and the ongoing operation and maintenance of the training curriculum will be in full swing.
The work of the GIS Training Workgroup and the development and maintenance of class material is funded as a KCGIS O&M priority initiative. Teaching of classes is funded via the KCGIS Center Client Services Group with cost recovery via registration fees.
The training curriculum described in this document represents current thinking and planning for GIS education in King County. This document is the 2007 annual update of the training curriculum, as recommended by the GIS Training Workgroup and approved by the KCGIS Technical Committee.