Womenâ€™s Wednesday Meet dynamic women working in the geospatial sciences. Explore their typical work day and learn more about the path they took to their current position. These fabulous women will give us insight into what it takes to be a Digital Girl!
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Anita Palmer is the President of Critical Think Inc., more commonly known as GISetc, a small, privately owned firm dedicated to supporting geospatial educators via training opportunities and curriculum materials.
You wonâ€™t always find this woman working at a computer workstation, as she is often out and about in our great big world!
GIS Etc. is an outstanding resource for geospatial educators. Explore the home page for information about events, training, a GPS loaner program and more! http://gisetc.com/home/
What is your current professional position? I am the president of Critical Think Inc., more commonly known as GISetc. GISetc is a small, privately owned company I started with the help of my partner (and husband) Roger Palmer in 1999 to provide GIS training for teachers. Today, GISetc provides professional development in the use of geospatial technologies for K-16 and informal educators, provides student camps using 1
geospatial technologies, writes geospatial curriculum, and wholesales geospatial books and activity guides. What is your background? I was a secondary school technology teacher during the beginning years of educational technology integration into schools. Since there were no computer courses previously, I created and designed courses such as computer literacy and ethics, computer graphics, AutoCad, and GIS. As the technology coordinator for the 2700 student high school and as representative to the district technology committee, I was involved in the beginning of casting the vision for how technology should be taught and integrated into the curriculum district-wide. I developed and taught in the technology teacher training program for the school and district. When I was introduced to GIS in 1993, I knew it was a critical piece of the puzzle for technology in schools. Would you recommend GIS to others? Without a doubt, GIS is one of the most rich and compelling of the “new” high growth technologies. What I like about GIS is that it really has been around since the late 1960s and has a solid history of growth and is entrenched in most areas of our everyday lives. There are millions of people using GIS in a myriad of capacities, as not only GIS technicians and analysts, but also as a part of hundreds of other career paths. This is what I think is the best and most amazing part of having GIS skills. It provides mobility between different career paths and a cutting edge in today’s technologically driven world.
What is the accomplishment of which you are most proud?
After I developed the GIS course for my high school, it became clear that materials were needed for teachers to more efficiently integrate GIS into their courses. Along with colleagues Lyn Malone and Christine Voigt, I authored the original “Mapping Our World: GIS Lessons for Educators” in 2001, and the community based Community Geography: GIS in Action!” Teacher’s Guide in 2002. The original Mapping Our World became a tremendous success in its helpfulness in easing teachers and students into using GIS in their classrooms making its way into revision and multiple updates. In 2009, Mapping Our World spawned the four book “Our World Using GIS” series with book 2 “Mapping Our World” and book 3 “Analyzing Our World” being the rewrite of the original text. This series focuses on grades 3-14 and I think was the first big step to officially articulate GIS into all grade levels starting in 2
primary school. I think the fact that the technology I believe in so strongly has become more accessible for all teachers to use with their students came from an original desire to provide mentoring for educators. What does your typical day or week look like? As president of a small company, I find that I have my fingers in every aspect of our business that ranges from financial management, marketing, customer relations, to business and partnership development. I am adept in the use of GIS software and the use of GPS and various probeware and as such, write curriculum and work with Roger and other colleagues providing professional development to educators and others who wish to train educators in the use of geospatial technologies in the classroom. I develop and coordinate our travel agenda both in the United States and internationally. When not in the office which is 50% of the year, I am out providing training with Roger and other colleagues as well as presenting at a myriad of conferences. My days are incredibly diverse and very busy, but can’t imagine having a position that would not be as engaging as the one that I have. Anita leads a team on an Earthcache in Boulder, Colorado.
Why is GIS an exciting industry in which to participate? I think the most exciting thing about the GIS industry is that the skills required are many and varied. GIS jobs don’t just include full-time technicians or analysts, it also includes programmers, surveyors, and graphic artists to name just a few. There are a myriad of fields that use GIS such as banking, transportation, defense, education, aviation, oil and gas, environmental management. The list is almost endless. http://www.esri.com/industries.html. With even basic GIS skills, it is possible to find a job in almost every sector of the workforce.
What is the most important "next thing" that will happen in GIS? As far as in education, I think the most important “next thing” is that GIS is becoming more common place and very sought after. This is a direct result of the fact that GIS is used so widely across industries and in our everyday lives. In industry I believe that the connection of industrial grade GIS software packages 3
to virtual globe visualization software such as ArcGIS Explorer and Google Earth will continue the popularization of GIS and make it accessible to anybody who needs GIS tools. Before you came to GIS, what did you think your career would be? I thought I would be teaching technology to high school students until I was finished with working and into retirement. I loved working with students and felt I not only contributed to their knowledge base in various technologies but I also was able to provide a stable adult role model for them. I never thought I would do anything else but teach in the classroom but instead now I have the best of all worlds! Every day I get to use GIS to teach teachers and students! How could it get any better than that?
In addition to field and classroom work, Anita, presents her work at professional conferences. Here Anita is pictured with colleagues Christine Voigt (on far left) and Lyn Malone (in center) presenting their work on the Mapping Our World series.
If you weren’t in GIS, what do you think you would be doing? I can’t imagine being in a different industry. I think this is the job I will have well into “retirement.” It keeps my brain working and thinking about innovative problem solving. BUT if I couldn’t do what I’m doing now, you would probably find me in some small town teaching technology to high school students.
Contact Anita via social media: Facebook – GISetc Fan Page Twitter – @GISetc LinkedIn - GISetc
A traveling geographer is a happy geographer!