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At Smith we are planning to reorganize our Intro to GIS course along the lines of Community Based Research/Learning which will be similar to PBL (at least in my mind). We are just beginning the conversation, but hope CBR/PBL will:
more deeply engage students,
require advanced critical thinking, and
I will report back on our efforts and hopefully this thread will add to our recipe. Bon Appetit!
The Trimbles are definitely a handful and we found Terrasync easier and more straight forward than ArcPad for student use. But, it is really handy to have some Garmins (we have eTrex HCs) around for casual users or quick learning exercises.
Diana – another option to consider these days are iPads or Android devices. The expense is higher for sure, but the added utility and future expansion may be worth the investment. iPad 2’s are going cheap(er) these days and there are now add-on dongles to increase GPS signal gain and accuracy. Since many colleges and universities are buying fleets of iPads it might make sense to invest in the GPS dongles (e.g. Bad Elf) and borrow the fleet as needed. Bad Elf (who comes up with these names?) also has some bluetooth options/products.
Someday, students will arrive with GPS chips as part of their standard implant sensor system ;-).
I don’t think you will get any recommendations against the 60CSx units. As you know, it really depends on your teaching and learning objectives. Garmins are great for learning basic GPS, navigation to waypoints, and field data collection techniques. However, you are limited to your data processing (no differential correction, I believe) and some of the more advanced data collection techniques (features within features, etc.).
At Smith we have both Garmins and higher end Trimbles. Thus, we have the option for simple direct instruction and use (Garmin) and more advanced GPS techniques for research and upper level classes (Trimble). Bear in mind that the Trimbles do require a lot of care and maintenance. The Garmins are grab and go!
We need to develop some open hardware GPS units!