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Open AccessArticle

FOSS Tools and Applications for Education in Geospatial Sciences

Dipartimento di Ingegneria Civile, Ambientale e Meccanica (DICAM), Università degli Studi di Trento, Via Mesiano 77, 38123 Trento, Italy
Dipartimento di Ingegneria Civile, Chimica e Ambientale (DICCA), Università degli Studi di Genova, Via Montallegro 1, 16145 Genova, Italy
Gter srl Innovazione in Geomatica, Gnss e Gis, Piazza De Marini 3, 16123 Genova, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
ISPRS Int. J. Geo-Inf. 2017, 6(7), 225;
Received: 29 April 2017 / Revised: 25 June 2017 / Accepted: 18 July 2017 / Published: 21 July 2017
PDF [1374 KB, uploaded 21 July 2017]


While the theory and implementation of geographic information systems (GIS) have a history of more than 50 years, the development of dedicated educational tools and applications in this field is more recent. This paper presents a free and open source software (FOSS) approach for education in the geospatial disciplines, which has been used over the last 20 years at two Italian universities. The motivations behind the choice of FOSS are discussed with respect to software availability and development, as well as educational material licensing. Following this philosophy, a wide range of educational tools have been developed, covering topics from numerical cartography and GIS principles to the specifics regarding different systems for the management and analysis of spatial data. Various courses have been implemented for diverse recipients, ranging from professional training workshops to PhD courses. Feedback from the students of those courses provides an invaluable assessment of the effectiveness of the approach, supplying at the same time directions for further improvement. Finally, lessons learned after 20 years are discussed, highlighting how the management of educational materials can be difficult even with a very open approach to licensing. Overall, the use of free and open source software for geospatial (FOSS4G) science provides a clear advantage over other approaches, not only simplifying software and data management, but also ensuring that all of the information related to system design and implementation is available. View Full-Text
Keywords: geospatial applications and tools; education; spatial literacy; free and open source software geospatial applications and tools; education; spatial literacy; free and open source software

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Ciolli, M.; Federici, B.; Ferrando, I.; Marzocchi, R.; Sguerso, D.; Tattoni, C.; Vitti, A.; Zatelli, P. FOSS Tools and Applications for Education in Geospatial Sciences. ISPRS Int. J. Geo-Inf. 2017, 6, 225.

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