Beyond Mapping: Compilation of 25 Years of Essays and Activities about GIS

The Beyond Mapping Compilation Series of the 25-year run of the “Beyond Mapping” column by Dr. Joseph K. Berry in GeoWorld is finally “soup.”  The nearly 1000 pages and more than 750 figures in the Series provide a comprehensive and longitudinal perspective of the underlying concepts, considerations, issues and evolutionary development of modern geotechnology, including remote sensing, GIS, and GPS.

Beyond Mapping Compilation

Beyond Mapping: Compilation of Essays and Activities in Geotechnologies.

The Series is organized into four online books (with hard copy options), each containing an Introduction, Ten Topics, Epilogue, and Further Readings with links to online support materials including additional online readings, color graphics files, instructor materials, and software for “hands-on” exercises that are cross-referenced to the topics.

Book IV — GIS Modeling: Applying Map Analysis Tools and Techniques (columns from 2007 to 2014).  This compilation extends earlier discussions of map analysis concepts, procedures, approaches, applications and issues affecting contemporary relevance and future potential.

Book III — Map Analysis: Understanding Spatial Patterns and Relationships (columns from 1996 to 2007).  This compilation develops a structured view of the important concepts, considerations and procedures involved in grid-based map analysis.

Book II — Spatial Reasoning for Effective GIS (columns from 1993 to 1996).  This compilation encourages the reader to extend the historic role of maps telling us “Where is what?” to “So what?”

Book I — Beyond Mapping: Concepts, Algorithms and Issues in GIS (columns from 1989 to 1993).  This compilation describes an emerging technology that goes beyond traditional mapping and spatial database management to new concepts and procedures for modeling the complex interrelations among spatial data of all kinds.

The resource is available here, and permission to use portions of the Beyond Mapping Compilation Series collection of columns for educational and non-commercial purposes is granted (and encouraged).   Navigation within this tsunami of information is aided by five separate organizational listings of the individual Beyond Mapping columns, including a Chronological Listing of the nearly 300 individual Beyond Mapping columns (.html and .pdf), an Application Listing that organizes the columns by application areas (.html and .pdf), an Operations Listing that organizes the columns by operational topic/theme discussed (.html and .pdf), an Interactive Listing that can be searched/sorted by any word or phrase, topic, theme and application area (Word .doc), and a soon-to-be-published Combined Index of keywords and phrases covering all four books (.html; in progress; planned for Fall 2014).

–Joseph K. Berry

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Fun with GIS 162: Connected Fields and Dreams

A new school year starts, filled with promise and hope. Few professions exceed teaching for demonstrating faith on a daily basis. Teachers deserve every gram of support we can muster. Through the ConnectED initiative, Esri offers to any US K12 school a powerful instructional resource: an ArcGIS Online Organization account, plus guidance on use, and links to growing numbers of mentors.

ArcGIS Online itself is maturing, getting stronger. Users in Organization accounts now have the capacity to add data fields in owned feature services and do calculations. I decided to explore this with data from the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s “KIDS COUNT Data Center”, going straight to their data tables. A wealth of powerful data awaits there, but I chose just four fields: “Population less than 18 (2012)”, “Population 18 and over (2012)”, “Median family income among households with children (2012)” and “Per-pupil educational expenditures adjusted for regional cost differences (2011).” I created a spreadsheet with just those four fields.

A previous blog (Fun with GIS 93) showed an external process for enhancing data, and provided a shapefile of the US 50 states. I followed that exact process (carefully!) to add the four fields to “states.dbf”, then re-zipped and published the shapefile into my Organization account.

To test adding fields and creating calculations in ArcGIS Online, I made a field for total population, then another for percent in each age group, and used the calculate process to populate each. After setting the popup and map, the result shows some of the challenges faced by some educators.

Educators cannot control who walks into their room, nor dollars available, but they have huge influence on what gets taught and, more importantly, how. Using the powerful web-based mapping and analysis tools of ArcGIS Online Organizations, on multiple platforms, even if only via a single cheap computer or tablet projected onto a bare wall, can engage kids endlessly, build content knowledge and skills, and help kids dream of and work toward a better future for all.

Charlie Fitzpatrick, Esri Education Manager

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Creating Quizzes Using Esri Story Maps

Esri Story Maps are useful for many things in education, for students and educators alike.  These uses include giving presentation, exploring historical and current topics from local to global scale, for assessing student work, and much more, as my colleagues and I have been writing in this blog and elsewhere.

They can also be useful for quickly setting up and giving quizzes to test student content knowledge, spatial thinking, geotechnology skills, perspectives, and so much more.  As a simple example, I created a quiz about the physical and cultural geography of Wyoming, shown below and accessible here.  In this quiz, I provide two photographs that I have taken at two different locations in Wyoming.  I ask students to match the photograph with the correct location.  Four pairs of photographs are included, and to solve the quiz successfully, students must think about landforms, rainfall, land use, and human impact of the landscape, using the map, their own content knowledge, and by thinking spatially.  I like this kind of quiz because the students get to play “detective” and look for clues, but also draw on their own knowledge.

I used the new Story Map Journal template to create this quiz, and was able to quickly post it online.  Give it a try to see how well you do on your Wyoming geography!  You can create your own storymap quiz here.

Wyoming Map Quiz Story Map

Wyoming Map Quiz Story Map.

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Teaching Geography in the 21st Century: A New Online Course

An exciting new 5-week online course will be offered beginning 3 September 2014 entitled Teaching Geography in the 21st Century.

Geography is usually considered as the world’s oldest discipline, pioneered by Eratosthenes in 250 BC, and has a rich tradition of scholarship and innovation.  Yet Geography has always embraced new technologies, research practices, instructional methods, skills, and content.  How can Geography be taught in the 21st Century, embracing its rich heritage and yet looking forward to emerging and exciting tools and perspectives?  What content should be included?  What skills should be developed?   Furthermore, why should geography be taught in the 21st Century?  Why is it relevant to the understanding of and decision-making in 21st Century society, the environment, and current events?

The course is offered through eNet Learning, whose mission is to provide high-quality professional development, content, and resources that support educators and student learning.  I created this video to describe the course in a friendly, personal way.

This course is designed to build geographic concepts, perspectives, and skills for those teaching Geography and those teaching other disciplines who seek to use geographic principles.  The goal is to enable and equip educators to teach the subject of geography in engaging and informed ways; to help educators and their students to understand why and how geography is relevant to 21st Century life.  Population, land use, urban, economic, health, hazards, and other themes will be addressed.  A focus will be on scale, systems thinking, critical thinking, time and space, and place, through an inquiry-driven, hands-on, problem-based format.  The course includes pedagogical strategies and technological tools to teach conceptual foundations, skills, and geographic perspectives.  Hands-on activities will offer deep immersion in several tools, including ArcGIS Online, which provides an easy-to-use, powerful platform for analysis and investigation.

Participants will be equipped to:   1)  Identify, describe, and discuss urban, economic, land use, natural hazards, health, and population issues foundational to geography at different geographical and temporal scales.  2)  Apply geographic principles to effectively teach geography with the geographic perspective, and 3)  Understand how to incorporate geospatial technologies, including dynamic web maps, charts, and data, to teach geography.

Teaching Geography in the 21st Century:  A New Online Course

Teaching Geography in the 21st Century: A New Online Course.

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Meaningful Work to Make a Difference

If you are creative, passionate, driven to succeed, and ready to work for one of the world’s coolest software companies, Esri may have a place for you. The work that Esri employees do every day is changing our world and making a difference, and you can be part of that! Esri is a growing company, and as such, there are a number of entry-level and internship opportunities, as well as an Esri User Conference Student Assistantship program.

Whether you are looking to start your career or try something new, at Esri you will work in a unique environment where you’ll have opportunities to make lasting, significant contributions to shape our technology and support our customers. Our casual, collaborative, and team-oriented culture will allow you to spread your knowledge and talent to far-reaching ends of the business.

We are looking for recent graduates with degrees in computer science, GIS, geography, information technology, business, and other fields to fill positions throughout our company. We have ongoing needs for software developers, account executives, application developers, project managers, product engineers, analysts, and more.

But you’re still in school—that’s great! Esri also offers opportunities for students who are looking for some industry experience while continuing their education. During our 12-week internship program, students make significant contributions to the Esri community as well as to our products and customers. Our interns work alongside staff members of all levels, gaining true work experience on projects they assist with or even lead. Esri has a long history of giving students the opportunity to do real, meaningful work. Their contributions to the company continue to make an impact year after year.

Not looking for a full-time internship? The Esri User Conference Student Assistantship program may be just for you. Each year, students help staff members with a variety of operations including registration, monitoring technical sessions, working in the Esri Store, and other logistical efforts. The assistantship opportunity is a great way to network with GIS professionals and other students from around the world plus get the chance to attend the Esri User Conference with 16,000 other people!

Intrigued? Complete details on everything Esri offers students can be found on the Esri Careers website at esri.com/students. Also, follow us on Facebook and Twitter for an inside look!

By Katherine Desy, Esri Strategic Marketing Intern

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Investigations Using Landscape Layers in ArcGIS Online

Landscape map layers about our natural and human-made environments represent a rich body of content for teaching and learning.  These layers are part of the ever expanding and ready to use Living Atlas on ArcGIS Online.  These layers are from a variety of authoritative sources, and acquired, evaluated, processed, managed, and maintained by Esri.  Hundreds of layers are currently available, including evapotranspiration, critical habitat, hydrography, soil characteristics, land surface forms, geologic units, oil shale basins, agricultural potential, and infrastructure, with many more on the way.  These layers can serve as input to spatial analysis and for the creation of beautiful and informative interactive web maps.

To begin discovering and accessing the data, all you need is an organizational subscription to ArcGIS Online.  After logging in, access “Groups”, then search on esri_landscape, then uncheck “only search in your organization.”  You will see the groups belonging to Landscape; most of the data is housed in “Landscape Layers.”  In the example below, I am analyzing the impact of potential floods on crop type and hazardous waste facilities in northeastern Iowa.  I found 20 hazardous waste facilities in the 100 year flood areas according to FEMA’s FIRM database and in this study area, shown as colored circles in the map below.  There were 45 total hazardous waste facilities in the area shown on the map, so 44.4% of all of the hazardous waste facilities are within the 100 year flood areas.  This is the type of activity that invites students to solve real-world problems using critical thinking and inquiry while building literacy and skills in GIS and technology.

Analyzing flood potential on crops and hazardous waste facilities in Iowa using ArcGIS Online.

Analyzing flood potential on crops and hazardous waste facilities in Iowa using ArcGIS Online.

For more detailed instructions on accessing the landscape layers, see this blog post from one of my colleagues here at Esri.  Give it a try!

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Fun with GIS 161: Snap2Map

Snap2Map is a slick new app for iOS and Android that will help spread the power available through geotechnology. With it, building a Story Map app is as easy as taking photos on a smartphone or tablet.

Snap2Map relies on a user having an ArcGIS Online Organization login with publishing privileges. After logging in, the user creates a presentation, chooses a basemap, takes photos or chooses existing photos through the device, and annotates them (title and/or description). Snap2Map will use a photo’s location info or allow the user to move it across the street or around the world. Photo sequence also can be adjusted just by dragging with a finger. When complete, Snap2Map sends the points, text, map, and photos into a new feature service in the organization (this is why publishing is a requirement), creates the map, creates the Story Map, and generates a ready-to-go outbound message with the address of the published and shared Story Map. At this point, the user can log into the account via a web browser and make additional modifications to the map, such as adding a GPX track or other context layer.

The beauty of Snap2Map is its simplicity, and the mantra of a bright educator who said “We need to reach in and grab people through their door, and bring them out through ours.” People love taking geolocated photos. It’s an easy extension to bring them to the next level, a story strung together in a geography. After that, the sky is the limit. Fieldwork and even mundane local trips will never be the same again.

With Esri’s ConnectED offer making ArcGIS Online Organization accounts available for free to any US K12 school, for instruction, many educators and kids will have a powerful way to begin working with geotechnology, thanks to Snap2Map.

Charlie Fitzpatrick, Esri Education Manager

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Creating and Delivering Presentations in ArcGIS Online

ArcGIS Online has always provided an excellent means for students to communicate the results of their investigations, and for instructors to teach with.  But those capabilities just improved with the recent addition of a “presentation” mode.   Those who used the presentation capability within ArcGIS Explorer Online will find it wonderfully familiar. Those new to the presentation capability will find it easy to use.  An ArcGIS Online presentation is a set of “slides” that can show different map themes, basemaps, scales, pop-up windows, and specific locations, and can include titles.  However, these are far from static “slides”, because at any point during the presentation, the presenter can interact with the map, allowing for a richer and fuller presentation with the audience as questions are fielded and discussion ensues.  The presentation is shared as part of the map, which keeps things nice and tidy; in other words, there is no separate “item” that appears in your ArcGIS Online content for your presentations.  You and your users then have the capabilities, provided you have shared your map, to open your presentation.

I created a 2-minute video that provides guidance of these new capabilities using a plate tectonics example, and a 10-minute video that creates and delivers a presentation on watersheds, rivers, and real-time weather and streamflow.  Give the presentation capabilities a try!

Creating and Giving Presentations in ArcGIS Online

Creating and Giving Presentations in ArcGIS Online.

For information about other new capabilities in ArcGIS Online released in July 2014, click here.

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Esri Mapping Lab at National Conference on Geography Education

Esri is pleased to offer three days of hands-on workshops as part of a Mapping Lab at the upcoming National Conference on Geography Education.  Staff from the Esri education group as well as some of our dear friends in geography education will be on hand to teach a series of first-come, first-served free 45 minute workshops!   These workshops will demonstrate the ease and power of spatial analysis that is possible on the web within ArcGIS Online.  The workshops will be held in the Louis XVI Room of the Peabody Hotel in Memphis on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, 31 July, 1 August, and 2 August 2014.

Never used ArcGIS Online?  We’d love to see you.  Experienced with ArcGIS Online?  We have something for you, too!

Why are we doing this?  Because we firmly believe in the connections between web mapping and rigorous geography education, and its connections to inquiry, fieldwork, community, 21st Century skills, STEM, and more, we believe that a hands-on approach is the best way to engage in these tools and methods.  The contents of the workshops will include investigations in community demographics, global earthquakes, climate, common core and Geography for Life standards, AP Human Geography, change over space and time, storymaps,  business analytics, watersheds and rivers, fieldwork, and more.  We will also be hosting an exhibit at the conference that will be perfect for longer discussions about the mapping tools.

Mapping Lab at NCGE conference

Stop by the Esri Mapping Lab at the NCGE conference!

We look forward to seeing you there!  And if you cannot attend the conference, keep an eye on the Esri Education Community, where all of the workshop activities will be posted.

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Call for Chapters: STEM and GIS in Higher Education

This ebook will provide compelling stories of innovative ways faculty are incorporating GIS to advance STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) related activities in higher education. As a successor to the existing publication Advancing STEM Education with GIS, the eBook will explore how faculty, staff and students are successfully using GIS to analyze and better understand data in their specific STEM fields.  The target audience for this book is university STEM faculty who may know little about GIS or spatial analysis.  The objectives are to provide thought provoking stories, describe innovative approaches to the collection, analysis and display of spatial data, and identify the unique benefits of applying GIS methods.  Ideally, the book will become a major resource in the development of spatially oriented teaching or research models within STEM disciplines.

The eBook will demonstrate the value of using a spatial perspective to organize and analyze data from many disciplines. An emphasis will be placed on STEM-GIS methods and tools that investigate real world problems.  Examples may include:

  • a biology faculty member, who uses GIS to document speciation of particular salamander around a valley, or
  • a civil engineering professor who uses ArcGIS to extend her CAD models of bridges with students, or
  •  the statistics professor who integrates R-based programming with ArcGIS to extend geospatial correlations within a mathematical model of migratory paths.

Chapter proposals due to editor Dr. David Cowen: September 1, 2014


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