By Leonard Holl
I am Leon, a Master student at Wageningen University. I have a forest and nature conservation background, and as such I remember my frustrations when I was using programs like arcGIS for the first time. Mind you, that was before the Corona Pandemic, in a time where groups of students would sit close to each other in classrooms, working together to solve a problem, with the presence of a teacher who helps in case needed. I was worried that learning how to use QGIS online was going to be an even bigger challenge.
However, my first impression of this GIS workshop, and the team running it, is positive! Given the circumstances this workshop is not much different from what I am used to from University classes, except that group work is done from home behind a laptop and you never get to meet your teacher or group mates (which is not necessarily a downgrade for a student who likes to sit at the back of the classroom anyways hehe).
What stood out to me during this first week is the attentiveness that the teachers give to making sure everyone is on the same page. Especially in a time where quick group-communication is difficult due to not physically being in the same room together, it is relieving to know that there is always help if I am having trouble with the QGIS software. I’ve already experienced technical difficulties with simple tasks, and my group was eager to help me solve it.
The assignments we received until now seem to be tailored to mirroring real-world scenarios. We had to fill in X/Y coordinates of a GPS location into Excel, however it turned out that one of the coordinates was missing a number, resulting in a location in Antarctica… While the project itself regarded a farm in Tanzania. From experience I know that these kinds of errors are quite common during field-research, and it is nice to see it come back in this workshop. I believe that people frequently make mistakes when dealing with GIS, and it is through these real-world mistakes that people can truly learn what to pay attention to, and how to properly use these softwares.
Until now the workshop is quite straightforward and easy to follow, despite the technical difficulties that are bound to arise with GIS softwares. I am curious to see how my GIS skills will bloom the next few weeks! I’ll keep you updated!