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That’s interesting, Niem. As a quick update, our online CoP has now had two meetings, and I’m very happy to see a high level of interest. We are now planning monthly meetings for this coming school year. For each meeting, we are thinking there will be one main topic with one or two people leading the discussion by sharing their own experiences. So far, these have been brief, informal presentations with a lot of questions throughout. I’m getting quite positive feedback and look forward to continuing with it.
I am currently in the process of co-organizing what we’re calling a Round Table Series: Online Teaching and Learning (which is really meant to be an informal, brown-bag style of event) for our university community. The stated objectives are “to foster a community of practice that includes all aspects of online teaching and learning (including flipped and hybrid approaches), and to promote professional development through regular, informal meetings both online and in person”. This is not a GIS CoP but perhaps the steps are similar. I’m new to the concept of CoP’s, but a colleague of mine recommended Leveraging Communities of Practice for Strategic Advantage (I haven’t looked at it yet) as well as this article. My approach is really just to provide simple ways that we can identify and connect with colleagues who share similar interests. We plan to hold a couple of meetings per semester and I would like to also have some form of online forum, but we’re still working on which one would be most suitable. My initial hunch is that we need to start with something low-key and low-commitment and then adjust based on level of interest.
I haven’t done any of this for a GIS-oriented CoP on campus lately. A few years ago we made some attempts centered around geospatial data users, but it never really got off the ground. Perhaps it’s time to take another stab at it.
I have used 20 Trimble Juno ST’s for several years. When I bought them, I thought it was important to be able to run ArcPad, but if I was starting over now, I think I would be tempted to go with simpler, cheaper units like the type you’re contemplating. I’ve never been a big fan of the ArcPad interface, and I’m not sure students end up learning more in the field with them.
I’m afraid I won’t be going this year. I’ve been twice before, and really enjoyed it.