Lassen College Offers New Online GIS Certificate

Lassen Community College, Susanville CA

Lassen Community College (LCC) is a rural college in the northeast corner of California. LCC is located in Susanville, situated on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and over 200 miles from the nearest large city, Sacramento.  Due to the remote location, LCC has been striving to provide more solid distance educational opportunities.  LCC’s goal with the CVC-OEI Improving Online CTE Pathways Grant was to develop online courses and programs that would increase our online offerings within CTE as well as improve online instruction and student support services.

Using grant funds, LCC was able to develop a new fully online Geographical Information Systems (GIS) certificate. The GIS certificate can be completed in just two semesters and is well suited to provide individuals with the education necessary to enter the workforce as an entry-level GIS Technician, or add to an existing or future bachelor’s degree education to help strengthen and solidify the technical nature of said degree.  For example, a combination of a bachelor’s degree in wildlife biology and a certificate in GIS can be a very valuable and powerful combination to potential employers. The applications of this certificate will be an enhancement to the current Fire Technology and Agriculture degree programs at LCC.  There are thousands of organizations in virtually every field using GIS in some form including education, public safety, health, transportation, real estate, utility companies, insurance, retail, natural resources, manufacturing, and government. This new certificate program has received all approvals and was offered to students in Fall 2020.  A current student provided this feedback about the certificate “I started the GIS program more as a hobby, but quickly found it was applicable to my job as a municipal firefighter. Mapping hydrants based on their gpm, tracking incident types by location, mapping areas around the city to preplan for high danger interface zones, and much more. I have come to learn how important GIS is for so many industries. Having a knowledgable instructor who has experience and a passion for the subject is great too.”

Developing this new program did not come without obstacles. A major obstacle was finding an adjunct instructor to help design the certificate, develop curriculum, and shepherd the new certificate through the approval processes.  There were also initial concerns regarding software necessary to instruct the course did not materialize and the instructor found financially sustainable resources for students’ use.

LCC Academic Senate was committed to accepting and developing a local POCR team to enhance the current online offerings as well as any future online course development.  The grant allowed LCC to provide professional development opportunities for faculty members to become POCR certified.  LCC’s POCR trained Instructional Designer is currently assisting the GIS adjunct faculty to align all the courses to the CVC-OEI Rubric. 

Michell Williams
Grant Operations Manager

Roxanna Haynes
Interim Dean of Instruction

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District or those of the California Community College Chancellor’s Office.