Digital Earth

Recent advances in technology and data availability have increased our knowledge about the world. This class surveys key concepts of geospatial technologies (GIS, GNSS, remote sensing, and spatial analysis) in the context of social and environmental change. The lab component explores geographic information systems software (ArcGIS Pro) and basic principles of mapping and analysis of geographic information.

This class is designed to simply provide a broad overview of geospatial technologies. If you would like to prepare yourself to take more advanced courses, plese take the Introduction to GIScience course instead.

You will be asked to work through a series of modules that present information relating to a specific topic. You will also complete a series of lab exercises and assignments. Please see the Sequencing and Resources section for our suggestions as to the order in which to work through the material.

The questions embedded in the lectures are simply to help reenforce the topics. They will not be graded. We have provided note handouts and transcipts of the lecture material in the Sequencing and Resources section.

This course makes use of the ArcGIS Pro software package from the Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI). Directions for installing the software have been provided under the Sequencing and Resources section. If you are not a West Virginia University student, you can still complete the labs but you will need to obtain access to the software on your own.

If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to contact us. We hope to continue to update and improve this course.

If you would like an introductory text on the geospatial sciences and technologies, I would suggest Introduction to Geospatial Technologies by Shellito.

This course was produced by West Virginia View ( with support from AmericaView ( This material is based upon work supported by the U.S. Geological Survey under Grant/Cooperative Agreement No. G18AP00077. The views and conclusions contained in this document are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as representing the opinions or policies of the U.S. Geological Survey. Mention of trade names or commercial products does not constitute their endorsement by the U.S. Geological Survey.

After completing this course you will be able to:

  1. describe and select appropriate map projections for map production.
  2. describe and compare means to collect geospatial data using GNSS and remote sensing technologies.
  3. create new data and maps with GIS software.
  4. design map layouts and simple web apps to communicate your data and findings.
  5. use GIS software and spatial analysis to answer a question
  6. recognize how geospatial technologies have changed and continue to change our daily lives.
  1. Introduction
  2. Datums and Projections
  3. Digital Cartography
  4. GNSS
  5. GIS and Spatial Data
  6. Digitizing
  7. Spatial Analysis
  8. Digital Terrains and 3D GIS
  9. Web GIS
  10. Introduction to Remote Sensing
  11. Remote Sensing Concepts
  12. Remote Sensing from Space
  1. Sequencing and Resources
  2. Labs and Data
  3. Assignments