Document Type

Conference Paper


This item is available under a Creative Commons License for non-commercial use only



Publication Details

International Technology, Education and Development Conference (INTED). Valencia, Spain. March 7th -9th, 2007.


The Global Positioning System (GPS) has been operational since the early 1990’s. The system is constantly being upgraded while the Russian GLONASS and the European GALILEO systems will complement GPS in the next few years. Generically, these satellite-based positioning systems are referred to as Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS). Previously, a part-time evening course in GPS was run at the Technological University Dublin (DIT) by the Department of Spatial Information Sciences (DSIS). This is now being replaced by two e-learning modules in GNSS designed for distance-based, on-line delivery. The first module covers GNSS for navigation and Geographical Information Systems (GIS) applications and the second module will cover GNSS for high-accuracy applications such as surveying and geophysics. This paper describes the development of the first GNSS module.

The challenge for the course designers was to develop a module that, in the context of the spatial information industry, maximized the advantages of e-learning while addressing identified issues and maintaining a sound pedagogical approach. Potential users were identified as those engaged in continuous personal/professional development (CPD), organizations providing in-company training and academic institutions providing undergraduate and postgraduate modules in GNSS. An individual taking the module could, therefore, be based at home, in an office, in a classroom or in a remote work location. The advantages were identified as convenience, flexibility, facilitation of communication, tailoring and a varied learning experience. The issues were identified as no “hands-on” experience with GNSS field equipment and observing procedures, the difficulty of presenting complex software, learner isolation and the technical problems of delivering large files. To address these issues, as far as possible, a variety of presentation, delivery, contact and assessment approaches is being used. Content is presented in various formats including text, 2D and 3D graphics, animations with animation control, use of proprietary GNSS software with sample data and video with voiceover. Interaction between the parties is facilitated by email, discussion board and desktop videoconferencing. Self-assessment is included as a series of self-tests throughout the content in the form of multiple choice questions (MCQs) while written assignments are required at the end of each section, or theme, within the module. WebCT® is used to provide a consistent e-learning platform and environment. Quality assurance is provided for by questionnaires during the module and a feedback report by each participant after completion.