Tag Archives: Community
Recently I taught a class for http://www.arts-street.org, a visionary organization that cultivates low-income and under-served youth into a creative and culturally competent workforce. They “use the power of the arts and arts professionals to nurture leadership and engage youth in learning.” I and my colleague at Esri have been working with Arts Street for years and it is quite exciting to see what they are now doing with ArcGIS Online. The participants in the class will continue working over the next few months on a project for Grand County Colorado Economic Development. A win-win situation has emerged: The Arts Street participants gain key career skills by having Grand County as their clients, who in turn get work done that will meet their goal of mapping their county assets. Taking the torch from here are colleagues of ours from GeoWize, with the two groups that we formed: The Mountain Info Squad from Grand County, and the Urban Data Geeks from Denver.
The project includes the use of ArcGIS Online, Esri Story Maps, and Community Analyst.
During the class, we used, both in the classroom and in the field, a variety of devices from Android and iPhone smartphone to GPS receivers and Mac and PC-based laptops and tablets. Not only did the class exhibit a diversity of devices, but the participants in the class were also diverse in terms of backgrounds, ethnicity, and age (ages 15 to 81 represented). It was clear evidence of the unifying power that GIS has. One of the high school students in the class is the webmaster for the Arts Street web resources! We created multimedia maps, presentations, and map-embedded web pages, and created a tree inventory of the neighborhood in ArcGIS Online. The fact that they are a creative group of people was evident first thing in the morning when some of them showed up wearing bracelets that they made out of topographic maps!
What project have you been involved with that really displayed how GIS brings people together?
“Got anything for our Macs?” Many schools with collections of Macintosh computers still don’t know the powerful learning experiences available to them. GIS on the Mac is indeed doable, thanks to ArcGIS Online; its new tables and filters expand analytical capabilities for all users.
Additional power is available for Macs (and PCs) via Community Analyst, which includes access to thousands of variables about locations in the US. This app uses Flash technology and relies on a mouse, keyboard, and access to screen real estate, so it isn’t designed for tablets and smartphones. (Community Analyst also requires a subscription, available for instructional use in K12 education via state-wide, district-wide, and school-wide licenses.)
As a test, I did an analysis around a school I’m mentoring in Los Angeles. Community Analyst can import maps created in ArcGIS Online, so I imported a map of student locations, which had been built in Excel using Esri Maps for Office and published to ArcGIS Online. Focusing on these locations, I chose to map median household income, using an “index” (percent, where 100 = average) to classify income relative to US average. For a neutral background hiding location details, I switched to the grey basemap. Then I filtered out areas below 75% of the US average. Finally, I used the advanced capabilities of the “search for businesses” function and added locations of libraries and museums, to see what access low-income families might have to public education opportunities outside of schools.
Computers running just web browsers with appropriate plugins can engage powerful analytical applications like Community Analyst, Business Analyst Online, ChangeMatters, or other focused applications that rely on the ArcGIS Online platform. (Check browser and screen size requirements; apps vary.) Regardless of hardware, the process of geographic analysis makes GIS a powertool for education. Users must grasp how to use technology to foster thinking scientifically about all manner of data, designing thoughtful questions which generate informative results, and communicating these effectively. They can do this starting even at a young age … and should. GIS can help students “STEAM (= science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics) forward” to college and career, even on a Mac.
- Charlie Fitzpatrick, Esri Education Manager
The world weeps for the students and teachers in Newtown and their many families and friends. Tragedy is an avalanche … indiscriminate, racing, expanding, consuming. No words can make sense from the senseless; no salve can ease the wounds deep inside so many. Our sole recourse is to grieve, reflect, and look ahead.
Life challenges all to adapt. Those without capacity for observation and analysis are doomed to fates controlled by chance — survival of the fittest and luckiest. Those able to observe, analyze, and act on understood patterns raise their long-term odds of survival, growth, and comfort.
It is hard to know where ripples may travel. What are the impacts from a conscious word, a spontaneous act, a random molecular configuration? What are the effects over time, even a generation or more beyond? If doom were facing us tomorrow, and we could somehow step back in time to tweak some condition or event, how far back might we go to engineer the best result most easily? And if the doom facing us tomorrow might come from many directions, what could have been done in the past most easily to tweak the futures of many in the most positive direction?
The answer, of course, is education. Nothing has such impact; nothing matches its compounding effect. It is the structure and process that builds the future. Every hour, every dollar, every thought focused on education bears fruit far beyond the initial value, and for far longer than the initial investment. But, just as the world has many elements and influences, so too must education have many components, diverse yet integrated, with fractal content viewable both in broad pattern and kaleidoscopic detail.
There is much for us to do, and precious little time. Lacking the magic to go back and change the past, we can only change the present. We can focus on the trivial and easy, or tackle the consequential and challenging. The latter requires diversity of knowledge, interwoven. Representing the rich and mingled layers of our world large and small, presenting analyses that convert data into information, communicating knowledge to all, and offering a path to progress … these are capacities that take time to master, yet can be fostered in learners of any age.
The events of Newtown show both tragedy and hope. Somewhere, something went awry, escaping detection, compounding, tragically. But, recognizing cataclysmic threat, some responded heroically, sacrificing everything for a future they would not get to see.
And in the streets and fields beyond Newtown quietly fall other victims of ignorance and apathy. We cannot bring back the fallen. But we can decide the resources to dedicate to the structure and process of building the future.
- Charlie Fitzpatrick, Esri Education Manager
What sort of changes has your neighborhood, the area around your school or university campus, or even your own backyard seen over the past few years? Outside our Esri office in Colorado, a large condominium complex has been under construction for a year. Its construction invites consideration of scale, change, and geography. In my neighborhood and in yours, GIS provides an excellent toolkit to examine changes and the reasons for them.
For centuries, communities changed very little, and indeed, some communities today undergo very little change. Yet in most communities, changes in infrastructure, total population, and the makeup of that population are commonplace. In my neighborhood, the hilltop site was chosen because of the excellent views its residents will have of the Colorado Front Range. These, incidentally, were formerly enjoyed by my colleagues on the north end of our building! Regionally, construction reflects population growth fuelled by the combination of high-tech industries, including GIS, and amenities such as nearby universities, the mountains, and the climate, making Colorado one of the fastest growing states over the past half century.
One way to do this is to examine imagery in ArcGIS Online and add three types of basemaps: Bing maps aerials, the ArcGIS Online imagery, and the USGS topographic maps layer. These sources were created on different dates and thus provide an easy and rich data source with which to examine changes in local communities. Revisit a changing area often and capture and save the updated images as I did here. Toggle the layers on and off and/or adjust the transparency so that you can compare and contrast them. Combine this to population change data that is easily added in ArcGIS Online.
Go outside and take pictures and videos around your local community. Write and sketch what you see. Revisit the same sites during different weather events and in different seasons, or in the case of my Esri neighborhood in Colorado, as construction progresses. Link these photographs, videos, and text to points on your ArcGIS Online maps. What changes are occurring, and why? What will your community look like and be like in 5 years? In 20 years? What can you do to influence your community in a positive way?
I invite you to use ArcGIS Online beginning with these simple but powerful ways.
- Joseph Kerski, Esri Education Manager
The mission: Change education, by helping other educators understand the world, using GIS. Since 2009, educators have gathered for a week in June at Esri headquarters in Redlands, CA, for the Teachers Teaching Teachers GIS Institute, or “T3G”. Four times 30 educators have engaged in a range of activities and discussions, integrating diverse content, varied teaching strategies, and a problem-based learning mindset, with GIS technology. Educators from all disciplines, at levels from public elementary school through state departments of education to elite colleges, plus after-school programs, parks, museums, and libraries, have joined this commitment to help others understand the world through GIS.
T3G 2013 will break from the past by seeking a much larger crew — 100. These agents of change will help pre-service and in-service educators understand why and how to use ArcGIS Online to improve education. Special attention will go to supporting the growing statewide licenses of Esri technology in K12 education across USA. Participants will be expected afterwards to engage in and report on activities they do to help other educators use GIS.
Our infinitely complex and interconnected world can be a challenge to understand. This fractal tapestry is best grasped by exploring the patterns and relationships, a lifelong task that both relies on and fosters critical thinking, creative investigation, collaborative problem solving, and effective communication. ArcGIS Online allows people to explore from neighborhood to planet with GIS in easy steps, building background content and information-handling skills, minute-by-minute, without the learning curve of desktop GIS. With web browsers and mobile tools, and a lot of discussion and reflection, T3G participants will investigate the world and learn how to help others build their understanding.
To those interested in changing the world by making education more relevant, engaging, analytical, and useful, beyond one’s own classroom, through GIS, we invite you to apply to T3G 2013.
- Charlie Fitzpatrick, Esri Education Manager
A quiet revolution is building in US K12 education. States are recognizing the power of GIS and the opportunity it presents, for both instruction and administration.
A huge boost in helping educators introduce GIS is its utility in unlimited careers. Seeing how many directions a young person can go with geotech skills has inspired educators to consider GIS, and parents to promote it. In the Map Gallery at the 2012 Esri International Conference, I met a happy young man who began using GIS in high school, got hired into a full-time GIS-based job right out of high school, and had been sent by his employer to this conference to learn even more.
At the conference, I also met a high school principal and teacher whose students had conducted analyses that helped local police solve some crimes, and talked with a teacher whose students’ work was on display in a local museum exhibit. It is exceedingly hard to prove changes to standardized test scores – in any direction – specifically from using GIS, but students who regularly use GIS necessarily build content background plus skills in data analysis, critical thinking, and communication. This “problem-based learning with GIS” was also the highlight of three separate youth presentations (first, second, third) in the 2012 conference’s opening plenary, when students from the Virginia Geospatial Semester showed what they could do after a single year.
To this day, I’ve not had a single employer tell me “I need students with better test scores.” Instead, I hear constantly “I need people who can explore independently, learn when they need to, analyze and integrate data to make informed decisions, solve problems, communicate, and work well in a team.” Kids using geotech, whether in class or after-school programs, demonstrate this well, and more educators are paying heed.
Meanwhile, schools and districts are seeing how useful GIS can be for administrative purposes. Each dollar saved in operating more efficiently can help an institution be a more effective place of learning. Some schools and districts even recognize that they can meet multiple goals at once by having students learn geotechnology in class by tackling a task that helps the institution, such as mapping internal wifi signal strength or outside lighting, modeling alternative scenarios for school parking or reducing environmental impact, even just mapping trash. (For a broader look, see this Spatial Roundtable discussion.)
Finally, more states are establishing statewide licenses, to facilitate access to software, provide professional development, and influence what they want kids and educators to know and be able to do. This is a recognition that changes are important now and for the long term, and that education must be a part of the community instead of apart from it.
GIS professionals can help this revolution, by introducing local educators and leaders to GIS, and lending a hand to programs getting underway. GIS Day and the GeoMentor program are great places to begin. It takes time and consistent effort to bring about revolution, but it is underway, and growing, even if quietly.
- Charlie Fitzpatrick, Esri Education Manager
Beginning in 2012, Esri president Jack Dangermond authorized the Education Industry Team (Ed Team) to license the educational resources we create under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share-Alike license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/). Every year, Ed Team members create dozens of educational videos, lessons, and learning activities, most of which are freely available through http://edcommunity.esri.com. Though the works remain copyrighted to Esri, Creative Commons licensing allows users to copy, adapt, and/or distribute them freely. License terms oblige users to (a) acknowledge Esri’s original authorship; (b) refrain from using licensed resources for commercial purposes; and (c) share derivative works freely using the same license.
In addition to the resources it creates in-house, the Ed Team aims to encourage and promote resource sharing and Creative Commons licensing among its partners in formal and informal education communities. This goal follows recommendations of the GIS Education Community Advisory Board to “promote broad Community participation in resource development, sharing, and assessment” (http://blogs.esri.com/esri/gisedcom/2012/08/08/communique-from-the-2012-gis-education-community-advisory-board-meeting/) Visit http://open.ems.psu.edu for examples of open GIS courseware modules published by a public university. A future revision of the Esri Education Community web site will include a showcase for these and other volunteered GIS education resources the Ed Team has reviewed and endorsed.
The Ed Team’s open educational resources initiative complements the many free and for-fee educational resources published by Esri Training (http://training.esri.com), Esri Press (http://esripress.esri.com/), and the ArcGIS Resource Center (for example, http://video.arcgis.com/).
- David DiBiase and Joseph Kerski, Esri
Esri’s Education Industry Solutions Team (Education Team) convened the first meeting of a new GIS Education Community Advisory Board on July 23rd. The meeting took place in San Diego during the 2012 Education GIS Conference and Esri International User Conference. The Board’s charge is to help ensure that the Team’s strategic priorities respond to Community needs. This year, the Team asked the Board to focus on strategic priorities for educational resources.
Prior the meeting, organizers asked Advisers to review and comment upon the Team’s ArcLessons platform and collection (http://edcommunity.esri.com/arclessons) as well as its current strategic plan for educational resources. From those comments organizers distilled four questions for facilitated discussion during the 90-minute session. The questions were:
- Regarding educational resources, what is the “GIS Education Community”? What is the Esri Education Industry Team’s relationship to it?
- Does the ArcLessons collection address Community needs effectively? In light of trends in the GIS Education Community, what should ArcLessons become?
- What should our priorities be for educational resource development in 2013?
- What should Esri’s Education Industry Team do to advance research-based knowledge about the efficacy of GIS in education?
The Board’s advice:
- The GIS Education Community consists of educators (professional and volunteer), researchers, learning designers, education administrators and staff, and learners. Community members share a common goal of promoting GIS use and spatial thinking to maximize student success. Esri is one of the Community’s key stakeholder organizations, and is its primary social hub. Esri is simultaneously a part of and partner to the GIS Education Community.
In regard to educational resources, Advisers agreed that the Esri Team’s near-term emphasis should be to (a) promote broad Community participation in resource development, sharing, and assessment; and (b) organize and disseminate Community resources, including those authored or co-authored by Esri. In all these efforts Advisers stressed that Esri be mindful of the differing needs of educators and learners in higher education, primary and secondary education, and informal education settings.
- Advisers recommended several improvements to the ArcLessons platform and resource collection, including (a) specifying educational objectives for each resource; (b) identifying how resources align with education standards (state, federal, international); (c) promoting and collaborating on resources focused more on problem solving and less on software use; and (d) helping users design meaningful sequences of learning activities (i.e., curricula) by identifying related resources. All these are Community responsibilities, not Esri’s alone.
- Advisers agreed that the Esri Education Team’s priority for 2013 should be to design and implement a new web-based platform and interfaces that respond to the distinctive needs of educators and students in primary and secondary education, higher education, and informal education around the world. The platform’s key purpose should be to enable and support resource sharing by Community members. In addition, the Team should address the recognized gap in support for intermediate learners and best practices in advanced topics, such as application development, ArcGIS server, and dealing with big and messy data sets. Assisting Community members’ efforts to discover, create and share resources should be a higher priority for Esri’s Education Team than developing resources of its own. The Team should bear in mind differing user preferences for ready-to-use resources versus points of departure for further exploration (what one adviser called “inspiring inroads”), as well as resources for teacher professional development versus for student use. In addition, Esri’s platform(s) should provide access to resources that address workforce needs (as outlined in the Geospatial Technology Competency Model and related efforts).
- Finally, Advisers agreed that the Education Team should foster the Community’s development of a research agenda focused on the efficacy of GIS in promoting spatial abilities. Partnership with established research centers such as the Spatial Intelligence and Learning Center (SILC) at Temple University may help. A set of case studies demonstrating ways to use GIS in educational research may also be useful.
The Advisory Board’s recommendations will inform the Education Team’s 2013 strategy and action plan, which the Team will develop beginning in September. The Team will provide periodic progress reports throughout the year.
Members of the 2012 Advisory Board are listed below. The Education Team selected this year’s members to (a) represent the spectrum of Community members’ roles and work settings, and (b) have relevant experience in educational resource development. Assuming Esri’s continuing support, the Team will invite new members to address different issues in years to come.
2012 GIS Education Community Advisory Board
- Amy Ballard, Central New Mexico Community College (NM)
- Sarah Bednarz, Texas A&M University (TX)
- Margaret Chernosky, Bangor High School (ME)
- Sara Damon, Stillwater Junior High School (MN)
- Adam Dastrup, Salt Lake Community College (UT)
- Eva Dodsworth, University of Waterloo (Canada)
- Kenneth Field, Esri (CA)
- Iain Greensmith, Esri Canada
- Keene Haywood, University of Texas – Austin (TX)
- Khusro Kidwai, Pennsylvania State University (PA)
- Erika Klose, Winfield Middle School (WV)
- Bob Kolvoord, James Madison University (VA)
- Mark Lindberg, University of Minnesota (MN)
- Anita Palmer, GISetc (TX)
- ori Ann Rubino-Hare, Northern Arizona University (AZ)
- Adena Schutzberg, ABS Consulting and Directions Media (MA)
- Diana Stuart Sinton, University of Redlands (CA)
- Debbie Stevens, William Penn University (IA)
The Fourth Annual “Teachers Teaching Teachers GIS Institute” held at Esri headquarters in Redlands, CA, has come and gone in a blur. “T3G” is an event for educators who are GIS-savvy, with experience teaching with technology, and a background and continuing interest in providing professional development for educators. Based on a challenging application, a set of Esri staff and outside educators invite 30. T3G participants have ranged in experience from novice to retired educators from all levels of formal and informal systems including geoprofessionals who mentor and support educators.
Use of GIS is exploding across industries, and more careers than ever before engage GIS. At the same time, new technologies like ArcGIS Online make it easier than ever to bring GIS into education. The mission of T3G is to build the community able to provide powerful professional development for educators and lend expertise to education policy influencers, at local to national levels. Participants are charged with providing instruction, sharing the vision of GIS as a technology for solving problems, and continuing to build their own skills.
With activities modeling specific instructional practices, discussions of pedagogy, reflections on experiences, and a constant mix of modes and styles, participants explore new tools, new ways of thinking, new modes of operation, and new visions for what is possible, in one exciting but exhausting week. This year’s events featured extensive work with ArcGIS Online including publishing map services, creating web applications from static maps, and gathering and instantaneously publishing shared field data (including photographs) collected via smartphones and tablets by accessing a single webmap with an editable feature service. As their content appeared live on these shared maps, in the field and the classroom, a common cry was “Oh yeah, they’re gonna see this when I get home!”
The T3G2012 crew is now part of a growing body of educators able to help clubs, schools, districts, and states figure out how to add GIS into their educational programs. This is especially important as more states establish and engage statewide site licenses for k12 education.
Information about T3G2013 will be available in September.
- Charlie Fitzpatrick, Esri Education Manager
Soccer fields and playgrounds provide some means of allowing youth to get outside. But, as Richard Louv so well stated in his book Last Child in the Woods, these adult-constructed environments are no substitutes for “wild places” – those places that are untouched or minimally touched by humans. “Wild places” could be a local ridge or hill, a stream or pond, or even a vacant lot.
For me growing up in western Colorado, I loved the riparian zones that were adjacent to local gullies, what the locals called “washes.” In this semiarid landscape, walking down into these riparian zones was like descending into another world. They were sometimes so much lower than the surrounding landscape that sharp cliffs in the shale enclosed them. A different and a greater abundance of vegetation added to their character—indeed, they were a mini-ecosystem, but to a child growing up, like a whole different world. They were filled with sage, willows, yucca, and tamarisk—some native species, some invasive, all fascinating and so different from the alfalfa, orchard fruit, and corn being grown in the fields above. Another adventure awaited every autumn after the irrigation canals were shut off and drained. All sorts of strange things that had been hidden all summer were now in view along the canal beds and underneath the bridges that spanned them. How our senses were awakened to every new sound, smell, and sight in these washes and dry canal beds.
Nowadays, we have a wide variety of electronic means at our disposal, from probes, GPS receivers, smartphones, to other devices, to record phenomena while in local wild places. The data can be easily mapped in ArcGIS Online. Yet I submit that before taking full advantage of learning with these means, three things must first be in place. The first is the ability to use one’s own senses and interpret the results of one’s own observations. The second is curiosity, and from curiosity comes asking questions. The third is the spatial perspective—seeing the world geographically.
These three things sometimes take years to cultivate, and one could argue that this cultivation is a lifelong endeavor. Yet I certainly don’t recommend that instructors wait until all students exhibit curiosity before embarking on a field-based experience. Being purposeful about using all five senses takes practice. In addition, most students will have no idea at first what it means to “think spatially.” And don’t be discouraged if despite your best laid plans, some students appear completely disengaged from your carefully designed field experiences. Go back to Richard Louv’s advice on outdoor education—start early, and do it often.
What are some of your methods of instilling curiosity about the world around us—beginning with your own local wild place?
- Joseph Kerski, Esri Education Manager