Meet the Man Who Wants to Teach the World to Make Maps
Massively open online courses, or MOOCs, are starting to pop up everywhere. Colleges have been providing online classes for quite sometime now and there are even graduate degrees that you can obtain 100% online. I am not even including the Troy's and University of Phoenix style schools. Everywhere you look even well established 'brick and mortar" universities are providing online education.
In the early days of GIS there was a small highly trained technical group doing all of the work. They maintained all of the data, they managed all of the field equipment, they made all of the maps, and they answered all of the spatial questions. These days there is a shift between producers and users. Instead of having one one person work all of the GIS there is now a distribution of easy to use, low to no training required, applications that can be put in the hands of coworkers. This is something that I have implemented at my company. Making these applications increases efficiency by removing any specific questions that have to go through the GIS department.
Classes like the MOOC in the article will provide a small amount of training to people who would otherwise not use GIS applications. This increases their capability and allows them to work with their GIS colleagues. I think that the state of GIS is where computer training was thirty years ago. Or typing in general sixty years ago. I think, I hope, that in the near future familiarity with GIS applications and concepts will be as familiar to people as word processing or spreadsheets.