Fun with GIS #91: Choose Your Basemap

How can kids and teachers make a custom map in seconds? Head to ArcGIS Online and hit the “MAP” button, which opens the ArcGIS.com MapViewer. First step: Choose your Basemap.

There is a set of pre-constructed options, and each is great for exploring and supporting specific tasks. There are two other excellent options that have not yet reached the starting pallet. They will arrive soon, but you can add them now, if you know how, and you can use this procedure to make any map layer as your base.

Choose “Add/Search for Layers”, and type “Ocean”, searching in ArcGIS Online. A bunch of options appear. Click the words of the name “Ocean Basemap”, and choose “Use as Basemap.”

You’ll see a ton of detail within the ocean, which makes a great base for lessons in earth science, or following the work of Sylvia Earle, or Esri’s new chief scientist Dawn Wright.

Another terrific new basemap is the new “Light Gray Base.” This one provides critical background for context without introducing competing colors. Again, choose “Add/Search for Layers”, and type “Canvas”, searching in ArcGIS Online. Click the words of the name “World Light Gray Basemap”, and choose “Use as Basemap.”

The right basemap can be an essential element in a good map project. Choose your basemap carefully, and don’t be afraid to try this technique with other basemap choices!

- Charlie Fitzpatrick, Esri Education Manager

Tom Baker

About Tom Baker

Tom Baker is an Esri Education Manager, specializing in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education, teacher education, and educational research. He regularly publishes and presents on geospatial technologies across education.
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