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SU's Lembo Shares Free Geography Courses to Assist Universities in Transition to Online Learning

Dr. Arthur LemboSALISBURY, MD---As universities across the nation began transitioning to online learning, educators faced the daunting task of deciding how to move forward and maintain the quality of learning for their students.

Thanks to a geography professor at Salisbury University, some found the solution to their problem. 

Dr. Arthur Lembo of SU’s Geography and Geosciences Department not only streamlined the transition of two of his courses online; he offered them to other geography professors nationwide at no cost.  

“Teaching in SU’s online master’s degree program for geographic information systems (GIS) management, I was familiar with distance learning and set up for online courses. I saw how challenging it was for faculty who weren’t set up for online teaching and realized that many of my geography colleagues at other universities would have the same struggles,” said Lembo. “Faculty and students are under enough stress as it is. They don’t need the added pressure to spin up a course in a week or two.  This was my attempt to alleviate some of that stress.” 

The courses, Advanced GIS and Statistical Problem Solving and Geography, were made available using the Canvas Learning Management System. Faculty and students across the world are able to sign-in and use them. 

“Feedback has been really positive,” said Lembo. “I think having the material available took the pressure off faculty so that they can use their time and energy to simply adapt my material to their situations.”

Searching for GIS online tutorials, these programs were exactly what geography students and faculty at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, MI, were seeking. 

“I signed myself up for Dr. Lembo's course to explore what he was offering, and I immediately knew that this would be a great option for my students,” said Dr. Mary Clinthorne, Aquinas associate professor of geography. “They are appreciating the opportunity to explore this open-source software, and they are even getting to map and analyze current COVID-19 data as part of the labs.”

Students see this online transition as a time to share data and adapt to constantly changing factors, something familiar to those in the GIS field. 

“Having the opportunity to participate in such a collaborative, world-wide experience like Dr. Lembo's class, and being able to learn new GIS concepts and techniques through new software has been invaluable during this unprecedented time as students,” said Aquinas junior Theo Malakowsky of Holland, MI. “It has been cool to see participation from people all over the U.S. and to all learn this new program together.”

Advanced GIS includes videos and exercises that teach students free and open-source software that is comparable to the desktop programs they may be familiar with. Statistical Problem Solving in Geography is a quantitative geography class based on Lembo's textbook and workbook of the same name. The online version pertains to the final eight weeks of the course, which focus on inferential statistics, including one-, two-, and three-sample difference tests; relationship tests (correlation and regression); and spatial relationships.

To learn more about the courses, visit Lembo’s website

For more information call 410-543-6030 or visit the SU website.