Fall 2020
   GEO327G/386G: GIS & GPS Applications in Earth Sciences









  • Instructor:

Mark Helper; JGB 4.112; 512-471-1009, 512-924-2526

  • Unique #s

Geo327G: #26595 - in-person; #26599 - internet
Geo386G: #26820 - in person; #26824 - internet

  • Lab:

JGB 2.312 or Zoom: Monday 1:00 - 3:00; Note: overflow lab space is available Tues. 2-4.  Consolidation of lab times will be examined the first week of class.  The classroom is certified for 16 students at once and no more.

  • Lecture:

JGB 2.312 and simulcast in Zoom either T, Th 8 - 9:30 OR 11 -12:30.  A preferred time will be established the first week of class. Again, room capacity is limited to 16 students.

  • Teaching Assistant:

Cole Speed; cspeed7@utexas.edu
Lab Syllabus: TBA
Office Hrs in JBG 2.312: TBA

  • Office Hours:

Wed/ & Fri.  1-3. I will be available in my office, JGB 4.112, or holding video chats during these times - please feel free to contact me with a Zoom invitation via email or Canvas or set up an appointment to visit.  My Zoom personal meeting ID is 512 924 2526.

  • Grading:

Exam 1: 15%
Exam 2: 15%
Labs: 35%
Project: 20%
Final  Exam: 15%

Plus and minus grades will be used for the final course grade.  Grade boundaries are determined at my discretion on the basis of a curve consistent with prior semesters.

  • Q Drop Policy:

If you want to drop a class after the 12th class day, you’ll need to execute a Q drop before the Q-drop deadline, which typically occurs near the middle of the semester. Under Texas law, you are only allowed six Q drops while you are in college at any public Texas institution. For more information, see: http://www.utexas.edu/ugs/csacc/academic/adddrop/qdrop

  • Texts, recordings & digital data:

P. Bolstad, GIS Fundamentals,5th edition.  Eider Press, 769 p.  An excellent text that is very well suited to the course.

Ormsby, T., et al., 2004, Getting to Know ArcGIS Desktop 10, 4th edition, ESRI press, E-book.  This is not a required text but you may find it useful for labs and future reference.  It is a workbook with exercises that lead one through the various tools available in ArcGIS software.  A180-day "trial version" of ArcGIS desktop can be downloaded as part of the purchase.

Power Point presentations, notes and recordings will be available in Canvas for most lectures.  An extensive collection of digital reference and software manuals will be freely available in the class data folder, as will all digital datasets for labs.

Class recordings are reserved only for students in this class for educational purposes and are protected under FERPA. The recordings should not be shared outside the class in any form. Violation of this restriction by a student could lead to Student Misconduct proceedings.

  • Website:

The class web site will be used extensively for lab exercises and class information.  Equivalent or more up-to-date information is posted on the class Canvas site.  Canvas will also contain links to join Zoom lectures, and to lecture recordings.

  • Term Projects:

A GIS project involving a component of spatial or image analysis is an integral part of the course. Term projects will be posted to a class web site. 

This course carries the Quantitative Reasoning flag. Quantitative Reasoning courses are designed to equip you with skills that are necessary for understanding the types of quantitative arguments you will regularly encounter in your adult and professional life. You should therefore expect a substantial portion of your grade to come from your use of quantitative skills to analyze real-world problems.  The term project is a chance to further to develop your skills in this area.

  • Email & Network Accounts:

All students must have an email address and a user ID/password for the Geo. Building network.

  • Field Trips:

This class normally includes a weekend field trip organized around GPS surveying. The dates for this semester's trip and permission to do so are TBD.  Students participating in off-campus field trips are required by the University to have health insurance. Please let me know if you are not insured; I can arrange free coverage for the days of the trip.  Off-campus travel also requires a few forms, which can be downloaded here.

  • Academic Integrity:

Each student in the course is expected to abide by the University of Texas Honor Code: “As a student of The University of Texas at Austin, I shall abide by the core values of the University and uphold academic integrity.” Plagiarism is taken seriously at UT. Therefore, if you use words or ideas that are not your own (or that you have used in previous class), you must cite your sources. Otherwise you will be guilty of plagiarism and subject to academic disciplinary action, including failure of the course. You are responsible for understanding UT’s Academic Honesty and the University Honor Code which can be found at the following web address: https://deanofstudents.utexas.edu/conduct/standardsofconduct.php

  • Sharing of Course Materials is Prohibited: 

No materials used in this class, including, but not limited to, lecture hand-outs, videos, assessments (quizzes, exams, papers, projects, homework assignments), in-class materials, review sheets, and additional problem sets, may be shared online or with anyone outside of the class unless you have my explicit, written permission. Unauthorized sharing of materials promotes cheating. It is a violation of the University’s Student Honor Code and an act of academic dishonesty. I am well aware of the sites used for sharing materials, and any materials found online that are associated with you, or any suspected unauthorized sharing of materials, will be reported to Student Conduct and Academic Integrity in the Office of the Dean of Students. These reports can result in sanctions, including failure in the course. 

  • Students with Disabilities:

This class respects and welcomes students of all backgrounds, identities, and abilities. If there are circumstances that make our learning environment and activities difficult, if you have medical information that you need to share with me, or if you need specific arrangements in case the building needs to be evacuated, please let me know. I am committed to creating an effective learning environment for all students, but I can only do so if you discuss your needs with me as early as possible. I promise to maintain the confidentiality of these discussions. Any student with a documented disability who requires academic accommodations should contact Services for Students with Disabilities at 471-6259 (voice) or 512-410-6644 (Video Phone) as soon as possible to request an official letter outlining authorized accommodations. For more information, visit http://ddce.utexas.edu/disability/about/.

  • Safety and Class Participation/Masks: 

We will all need to make some adjustments in order to benefit from in-person classroom interactions in a safe and healthy manner. Our best protections against spreading COVID-19 on campus are masks (defined as cloth face coverings) and staying home if you are showing symptoms. Therefore, for the benefit of everyone, this is means that all students are required to follow these important rules. 

  • Every student must wear a cloth face-covering properly in class and in all campus buildings at all times. 
  • Students are encouraged to participate in documented daily symptom screening which is available using the Protect Texas Together app.  Once the symptom screening is completed, it will inform students whether they are cleared to come to campus. Students should only come to campus if the symptom screening app clears them to do so. Otherwise, students should isolate and contact a medical professional for further guidance before coming to campus again.
  • Information regarding safety protocols with and without symptoms can be found here.
  • COVID-19: Reporting symptoms, and test results: To help keep everyone at UT and in our community safe, it is critical that students report COVID-19 symptoms and testing, regardless of test results, to University Health Services, and that faculty and staff report to the HealthPoint Occupational Health Program (OHP) as soon as possible. Please see this link to understand what needs to be reported.  In addition, to help understand what to do if a fellow student in the class (or the instructor or TA) tests positive for COVID, see this University Health Services link.
  • You are responsible for sanitizing your class computer workstation, keyboard and mouse before departing the classroom using provided supplies.  You will instructed on how and time will be allotted before class is dismissed to do so.

If a student is not wearing a cloth face-covering properly in the classroom (or any UT building), that student must leave the classroom (and building). If the student refuses to wear a cloth face covering, class will be dismissed for the remainder of the period, and the student will be subject to disciplinary action as set forth in the university’s Institutional Rules/General Conduct 11-404(a)(3). Students who have questions about wearing a face covering/mask while on campus should contact Services for Students with Disabilities; students who have a condition that precludes the wearing of a cloth face covering must follow the procedures for obtaining an accommodation working with Services for Students with Disabilities. Note that there is no exemption or waiver for the face covering/mask mandate, and a ‘mask waiver’ or exemption is not considered a reasonable accommodation.

Additional Guidance for Fall 2020

  • Consumption of food and drink is not allowed in classrooms or public areas of university buildings except for designated break areas.
  • Everyone should enter the building by designated entrances. Everyone should exit the building by designated exits.
  • Use the hand sanitizer provided in buildings, or your own personal hand sanitizer, after entering the building.
  • Follow the corridor and stairway directional signage where applicable, maintaining proper social distancing and noted path of travel.
  • All physically able individuals should use stairs whenever possible. If an elevator is required there should be no more than the number of occupants noted on the elevator signage in the elevator at a time. Maintain social distancing while in an elevator.
  • At the end of class, students will be dismissed by sections, starting at the back when the classroom has exits in the rear, and at the front when the classroom has exits in front.

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Comments and questions to helper@mail.utexas.edu
Geological Science,  U. Texas at Austin