Last semester I assisted a colleague in teaching a GIS-based course at the local university. We had our students collect data in the field using Collector for ArcGIS, perform analysis and author maps in ArcMap, then publish their maps in the form of Story Maps in ArcGIS Online. I had been working a lot with ArcGIS Pro at the time and kept thinking to myself how much easier it would be for the students if we had been working with the new desktop application. Here are a few reasons why:
1. It’s easier to navigate
At first sight, ArcGIS Pro’s new ribbon interface will be familiar to users who have no experience with GIS software. And, first impressions aside, the new layout is easier to use because it is responsive, making different tools accessible depending on what items the user is working with. This results in better access to all the great functionality we as GIS professionals are accustomed to with less searching and fewer clicks. The interface overhaul should not be underestimated. Students will develop GIS skills faster and be able to complete workflows in less time.
2. It’s easier to share and access data
Technology is moving to the cloud and GIS is no exception. ArcGIS Pro is tightly integrated with ArcGIS Online, allowing students to easily publish web layers and maps from their desktops then share them with group members or teachers. Through this connection, students can also work with hosted data they collect in the field and large stores of authoritative data curated by Esri directly on their desktops. They can take advantage of the advanced analytical capabilities in ArcGIS Pro then publish their results to ArcGIS Online where they can leverage web application templates to create slick information products like Story Maps. Using ArcGIS Pro, students are able to work on group projects more easily, have access to more data, and can create more modern and engaging GIS information products to share with their class, school, or the public.
3. It’s easier to manage geodatabases
ArcGIS Pro’s improvements in geodatabase management are some of the most useful in the classroom. Managing your databases in ArcGIS Pro has a spreadsheet-like feel that is both familiar and faster by reducing clicks and abandoning the need to enter and exit editing mode to make changes. Rather than working with a series of modular windows, modifications to databases are made in field, domain, and subtype views which are easy to switch back and forth between. Changes are validated on-the-fly, values can be copied and pasted or dragged and dropped, and editing can be done at any time. Students can spend more time visualizing and analyzing their data rather than struggling with formatting it.
My reasons above don’t include the ability to work with 2D and 3D maps and scenes simultaneously, 64 bit multi-threaded processing, or any of the other “cooler” new features that come with ArcGIS Pro. All of these are fantastic developments and are taking desktop GIS into new and exciting places. My reasons for switching to ArcGIS Pro are directly related to an improved user experience which will have a huge impact on GIS learners, especially those new to the field. So, although advancements in visualization and analysis are exciting, being able to intuitively navigate the GIS interface and more simply manage local and cloud-based data will have the most immediate impact to new users in the classroom. After all, we must create simple buffers and edit attribute tables before we can create 3D visualizations of emerging hot spot analyses.
For more on ArcGIS Pro:
Visit us at the Esri Education GIS Conference-
(Schedule of ArcGIS Pro-related workshops)
Incorporating ArcGIS Pro into Your Curriculum, Saturday, 18 Jul 2015, 1:30pm – 2:45pm
Get Started with ArcGIS Pro, Saturday, 18 Jul 2015, 1:30pm – 2:45pm OR Sunday, 19 Jul 2015, 8:30am – 10:00am
Visualizing Data with ArcGIS Pro, Saturday, 18 Jul 2015, 1:30pm – 2:45pm OR Sunday, 19 Jul 2015, 1:30pm – 2:45pm
GeoProcessing with ArcGIS Pro, Saturday, 18 Jul 2015, 3:15pm – 4:30pm OR Sunday, 19 Jul 2015, 3:15pm – 4:30pm
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