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YouthMappers Academy

The Youthmappers Academy is an online learning platform for members of the Youthmappers consortium associated with our own series of YouthMappers badges. Our badges acknowledge participants' proficiency related to OpenStreetMap, core geographic knowledge, and mapping skills.


The opportunity to earn credentials for spatial theory, software proficiency and other organizational skills related to Youthmappers activities will enhance your job marketability by providing formal recognition of proficiency and achievement. It is also our hope that the material covered in these courses will incentivize member participation, stimulate thinking and research around open mapping and lead to higher quality mapping outputs. 

Registration is now OPEN!

Introductory Track
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The OSM Ecosystem

Course 1

In this course you will learn about the origins of the OpenStreetMap project, the infrastructure, the community, how YouthMappers fits into this ecosystem as a community within the community, and what keeps us mapping. If you don’t already have one, you will learn how to create an OpenStreetMap account. We will look at what drove the development of OpenStreetMap, and what the OSM community membership looks like. We will also examine the ethical considerations of mapping in OpenStreetMap, and the best practices in communication for members of the community

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The OSM Data Model

Course 4

A model is an abstract, simplified representation of reality. From a geographers perspective, a map is a model of the physical world around us.  In this course, you will learn about the components of a geospatial data model, and how the OpenStreetMap Data Model differs (and aligns with this). You will learn how we distinguish features in the OSM data model using the tagging system, and how that is employed for symbology and querying. 

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Mapping with iD Editor

Course 2

In this course, you will learn how to add map features to OpenStreetMap (OSM) using the web-based (online) map editor called iD Editor. Although iD is the most basic map editor for OpenStreetMap, it is still extremely powerful, and it takes time, patience and lots of practice to become a confident and proficient mapper.  In this course you will learn how to navigate the iD editor; how to create new points, lines, and areas in OSM, how to edit existing OSM features, and how to save data correctly in OSM. 

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The Tasking Manager

Course 5

You can edit anywhere at any time in OSM but, when a large group of people are all focused on the same geographical area, you can run into trouble with duplicate edits and overlapping features. To ensure optimal coverage of the study area and minimal overlap, we use a web based platform called the OSM Tasking Manager.  In this course you will learn how to find and contribute to relevant OSM tasks; how to lock, edit, and release a particular tile, and how to appropriately comment and tag your contributions.

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Imagery Interpretation

Course 3

Image interpretation is the act of identifying objects within an image and determining their significance, and tracing features from satellite imagery is one of the most common ways in which mappers contribute to OpenStreetMap. Imagery allows remote mappers to contribute to global tasks when a crisis arises, and even allows locally based field mappers to “lay the groundwork” so to speak, before organizing fieldwork campaigns to collect specific, detailed tags.In this course, you will learn about the sources of imagery for tracing in OSM and guidelines on how to interpret various features in the images you see. 

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Chapter Management

Course 6

In this course you will learn about what it takes to organize and manage a successful YouthMappers Chapter. The “soft skills” (i.e. social, emotional, planning) that will help you get your team up and running and keep them engaged. You will explore how to facilitate meaningful engagement with your projects, and how to keep your peers and collaborators motivated.  You will also learn what it takes to organize a successful Mapathon, and explore different communication options to help you keep your team and the community in the loop

Opens February 12, 2024.
Advanced Track

Introduction to JOSM

Course 7

In this course, we will take a look at JOSM, the Java OpenStreetMap Editor.  JOSM is an offline desktop editing application for OpenStreetMap, written in Javascript, which provides a whole host of advanced editing tools for working in OSM. JOSM is the preferred tool for both advanced editing of features, and validating data in OSM (we’ll talk a little more about validation in the next course). In this course, you will learn how to navigate the JOSM editor interface, how to download data from the OSM server, how to create and edit nodes, ways, tags and relations in OSM, and how to upload data correctly to the OSM server.

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Gender Dimensions

Course 10

As members of the YouthMappers network, we all need to acknowledge the importance of gender awareness, and how this relates to peer leadership and peer interactions in our global community. The course will help you understand how gender bias and discrimination negatively impact women and other gender minorities, and how these bias also limit and hurt men. The course also discusses the challenges women and other gender minorities face as members of the YouthMappers network and OpenStreetMap communities, and as new professionals in geospatial and technology.  You will also learn about the fundamentals of gender-related concepts, inclusive language, gender discrimination, and how to make your YouthMappers chapter a welcoming and safe space where all members can be their best selves.

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Advanced JOSM Techniques & Validation

Course 8

Data quality is an important consideration when working in OSM. Map Validation is the process of reviewing completed work (both your own, and of other mappers), to make sure that the feature geometry is captured accurately, and that the tags applied are appropriate. Mapping experience is critical when performing validation activities, coupled with the best tools to perform this task most effectively and efficiently. A good command of JOSM is also important to a validator, and in this course you will learn about several specific techniques and tools to assist in the validation workflow. You will also learn about validation from a more holistic project management perspective, and the various approaches you can use to manage and facilitate team validation for your projects.

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Planning a Field Project

Course 11

The key to successful field work is a meticulously planned tactical approach to your data collection exercise. This begins with a clear definition of the problem you are about to address. In this course you will learn how to formulate a problem statement, which will help you to formally articulate and communicate your overall research agenda, and to prioritize the data necessary to achieve it. You will learn how to develop a simple field work strategy, which involves dissecting your work into tasks, while acknowledging the timeline sensitivities and resources required. You will also learn how to illustrate your field work strategy on a detailed timeline, denoting tasks, dependencies, and resources required.

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OSM Data Management & Export

Course 9

Most of our early interactions with OSM involve contributing directly to the map, either through remote mapping campaigns, or providing edits for areas that are familiar to us.  In instances where we wish to conduct geospatial analysis, or, where we want to produce more refined cartographic products, we will need to extract more nuanced, specific data layers from OSM. In this course we will learn how to filter and extract data from OSM for our own research purposes. We will also look at various tools that will help us to assess data quality and coverage.

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Field Survey Development  (Survey Instruments & Tools)

Course 12

In this course, we will look at the best practices around field survey development, and how we can turn a problem statement, and data model into a concise, clear survey (or questionnaire). We will also explore the various tools (both analog and digital) that are at our disposal to facilitate data collection. From a project management perspective, you will compare and evaluate different field data collection workflows, exploring the pros and cons of each approach

You will also learn about field work etiquette, and some of the key logistical considerations prior to deployment.

Opens February 5, 2024.

*Registration for the Advanced Track is restricted to those who have previously completed the Introductory Track.

The YouthMappers Academy was developed with the support of Nuala Cowan and Ryan Engstrom. 

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