Tag Archives: CTE
At the 2012 Esri International User Conference, 14,000 people thunderously applauded stars of problem-based learning (PBL). At the opening plenary session, four students stepped out on stage and confidently displayed their experience with GIS, gained during just their senior year of high school. Their work was so real, so powerful, and so like what GIS professionals do that the demos were sifted in among those by other users, instead of isolated as a special student group. You can see their presentations, and the teacher’s summary here: Esri 2012 UC Plenary Videos
Choose “Mid-morning”, see “21:40-26:35″, “43:50-47:00″, “61:08-65:30″
Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, VA is a good school. These are bright and inquisitive students, and the teacher masterfully weaves together relevant content, powerful technology, and incrementally greater challenges. But the model of PBL with GIS used by these and hundreds of students across the Virginia Geospatial Semester program is the real star.
In school after school, teacher after teacher help students build skills in GIS by tackling real-world challenges. They construct maps of things around them, analyze the patterns and relationships they see in daily life, and struggle just like adults to integrate information and derive sensible answers in complex situations for which there is no “cookbook answer.” With a steady diet of such experiences, they build a disposition for challenges. Combined with the technical savvy and creativity of youth, this is serious power. In the hours and days following the WLHS students’ presentations, everyone I met agreed that these students were ready for college and career.
Across the US, employers and politicians (save only for one party in one state) clamor for students to have 21st century skills, including managing and thinking critically about all kinds of information, collaborating, communicating, and working with powerful tools. Lucky kids whose teachers or after-school activity leaders employ PBL with GIS get to practice this even from a young age. These kids will survive and thrive tomorrow, as the thunderous applause at the Esri Conference attests.
Are students in your community preparing for tomorrow by tackling real-world challenges without a cookbook? Can they demonstrate it using technology beyond a Number 2 pencil?
- Charlie Fitzpatrick, Esri Education Manager
Looking for ways to engage high school seniors with geospatial problems? Trying to find ways to bring geospatial technologies into the curriculum? Want to explore a state-wide site license for GIS? Searching for different ways to engage students with Geography?
The Geospatial Semester is a collaborative effort between James Madison University (JMU) and Virginia school districts (part of the Virginia-Esri state-wide site license). Students take a semester- or year-long course in geospatial technologies and pursue an extended, locally-based project. Faculty from JMU support the high school teachers and provide technical and project support. Best of all, students can earn JMU credit for their efforts.
Currently in its 7th year, the Geospatial Semester has provided opportunities for students to get engaged with geographic thinking and geospatial technologies. In this webinar, we’ll share details about the Geospatial Semester, examples of student work, and discuss how you can get the Geospatial Semester started in your locale.
Innovate. Adapt. Be entrepreneurial. In addition to everything else, students must exhibit these critical skills in the new world of work. So, too, must Esri. Web-based apps evolve especially quickly.
ArcGIS Online received new capacities last week. The Map Viewer app can now geocode points from US street addresses. (This has been possible within ArcGIS Explorer Online, but is new to Map Viewer.) With a simple but well-designed table containing street address, city, state, and ZIP Code, users in the US can push up as many as 250 points at a time into a map. If the table has additional attributes, those elements can be used for analysis, through custom classification and symbolization.
A new video lesson at ArcLessons demonstrates the capacity, using a data table from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. Using a typical school district with 60 schools, it shows how the data can be downloaded as a spreadsheet, cleaned up minimally, and converted into points on a web map for subsequent analysis.
What can you do with this capacity? Map students in a grade, members in a troop, teams in a league, participants in a club, bus stops in a town, sponsors of an organization, or businesses with special features. Use the attributes to analyze and display special characteristics, pop a photo, or link to web sites.
There are new capacities beyond this, and more coming every few months. Check the ArcGIS Online blog regularly for updates. And consider how well you model for others the ability to innovate, adapt, and embrace change. This is what every worker in every career needs to consider: “How am I taking advantage of new capacity to do my job better?”
- Charlie Fitzpatrick, Esri School Program Manager
“Just keep your knees bent and you’ll be fine,” my dad said. Growing up in Minnesota, my brothers and I learned to ski at a young age. His advice kept me safe over the bumps, twists, and spills I encountered on winter weekends, and has served remarkably well throughout life.
A key feature of online software is its timeline of evolution. Good news and bad news: things can change frequently. This may irk folks who want rock-solid stability and absolute consistency from one year to the next. But, like life, technology just isn’t static.
ArcGIS Online has evolved every few months since its initial release. New capacities and little improvements roll in regularly. You can see the latest changes by going to the Help menu and looking for “What’s new”.
New this week: users can define their own default map extent. This is great for people beyond the borders of the conterminous 48 US states, or folks who want to think globally by default. It takes just a tiny bit of tinkering with options to set this up.
(1) Make sure you are signed into your ArcGIS Online account, then click it to see your profile. (2) Choose “Edit my profile.” (3) Choose the region to be displayed in a default map.
A big advantage of online software in education is ease of administration. But users need to be flexible, especially with web-based mapping. Things change, and learners – of all ages – need to adapt. Take time to practice this, with all your technology. Use the help file to seek out customizations and opportunities. 21st century employers do not seek workers who will use only 20th century tools and skills. Seek out changes, look for opportunities, and figure out how to reach goals because of or despite changes. As Dad would say, “Just keep your knees bent, and you’ll be fine.”
- Charlie Fitzpatrick, Esri Schools Program Manager
In a few weeks, I am giving a webinar entitled “The Top 5 Skills you need to be successful in a GIS career.” Because this is a topic that has been covered by dozens of articles in GIS journals and magazines over the past 20 years, I aim to do something different that stems from my educational work with the GIS community over that time.
I argue that the first skill is curiosity. Successful GIS people are curious not just about geospatial technologies, but they are also curious about the world. They ponder spatial relationships at work in phenomena from the local to global scale, ranging from demographics, land use, and traffic patterns in their own community to natural hazards, biodiversity, and climate around the world. This curiosity fuels the tenacity that is often necessary to solve problems using GIS. This curiosity is also essential because it helps frame geographic questions, and asking the right kind of questions is the first step in the geographic inquiry process that is key to successful work in GIS.
The second skill is the ability to work with data. Those successful in GIS have developed critical thinking skills regarding data. They not only know where to find data, but understand metadata so well that they know the benefits and limitations of working with each type of data. They know the most effective means to gather, analyze, and display geographic data through a GIS.
The third skill is understanding geographic foundations. Successful GIS practitioners know the fundamentals behind all spatial phenomena, including map projections, datums, topological relationships, spatial data models, database theory and methods, ways to classify data, how to effectively use spatial statistics and geoprocessing methods, and more.
Adaptability is the fourth skill essential for success in the GIS field. Now more than ever, as the field of GIScience is evolving rapidly in terms of its consumer audience, sensor network, functionality, the platforms by which it can be accessed on the desktop, mobile devices, and cloud, and in many more ways, successful GIS professionals need to be adaptable and flexible. They need to be not only willing to change but accept and embrace change as an essential and necessary part of the field. They are lifelong learners.
The fifth skill is good communications. Those successful in GIS know how to use GIS and other presentation tools to communicate their results to a wide variety of audiences. They know how to effectively employ cartographic elements, but they also know how to clearly communicate the results of their analysis in oral and written reports, video, face to face, online, and via other means.
Do you suppose these skills will become more important or less important as geospatial technologies grow in their impact on society in the years ahead? Do you agree with this list? If not, which five skills do you believe are the most important? How can the Geospatial Technology Competency Model inform such a list?
- Joseph Kerski, Esri Education Manager
The once-howling wind abates as Hurricane Irene passes DC and heads to New England. For days, I and millions of others watched this storm grow, mature, and move. I suffered not at all from the storm, but others have paid dearly.
Educators talk frequently of “a teachable moment” — the chance to tie lessons to events that learners will remember, or to convert an otherwise unremarkable happening into a powerful lifelong lesson. This past week has offered two such lessons: a 5.8 earthquake in normally stable Virginia and a hurricane ripping through the Caribbean and along the US Atlantic coast.
From several options for weather elements, I chose “Near Real-Time Observations NOAA nowCOAST WMS“. I customized further by shifting the basemap and choosing to display just satellite imagery with the radar mosaic, wind indicators, and pressure. Were I still teaching class, I would have integrated population density, transportation networks, human and natural landscape factors, to think about the impact of the event.
These powerful upgrades in easy mapping help educators and learners better understand our world. The physical and social science aspects related to any given event or condition must be investigated and grasped if we are to meet the substantial challenges of the day. Educators wondering how to engage students more fully must use such teachable moments and these powerful tools. Asking students to dive deeply into these events, not just to “skim for the sound bite” but to plumb the depths of content, will build learners with a disposition to wonder, investigate, and integrate … lifelong learners who convert data into information, combine disparate chunks into knowledge, and act with wisdom.
In this era of high-stakes tests, and teacher salaries tied to student scores, and “cheating scandals” rocking our faith in the system, the answer for educators (and policy leaders driving the system) is to focus on helping students see how the many layers of our world, from scales local to global, relate to each of them. Just as they identify with “six degrees of separation,” so too will they find more meaning, and deeper understanding of and commitment to our world, when they see, explore, and grasp the patterns and relationships so visible through maps.
- Charlie Fitzpatrick, Co-Manager, Esri Schools Program
Remember field trips? Weren’t they eye-opening? Sadly, concerns over funding, “seat time,” and liability limit what many students get to do these days. But educators can still conduct virtual field trips, exposing elements in the neighborhood, which students can then explore later on their own. Even when “the real thing” is available, virtual field trips can provide important background and alternative perspectives.
Since it is hard to visit everything in all directions, one strategy for exploration is to do a transect — a swath thru the landscape — getting a representative feel for conditions. With ArcGIS Online, it’s easy to build a virtual transect, covering a distance of a reasonable walk, bicycle, or drive out away from the school. The various basemaps and numerous overlays provide a powerful look at the community. You can see an example by searching ArcGIS Online for “virtual transect” (or just click the image).
Open the presentation and walk thru the introductory concepts. The example displayed is for the school in the little town of Waterville in rural Washington. It will likely differ from where you live, highlighting a key feature of these virtual trips: the chance to compare widely disparate communities. Follow the guidance of the presentation and use the tools built into ArcGIS Explorer Online to make points, lines, and areas on the map. Generate the content, classify it, and symbolize it, then integrate the additional layers of data to understand how the local landscape differs from other noteworthy sites.
Virtual transects cannot completely substitute for actual experience in the real world, but they do offer a chance to analyze local patterns and compare the more familiar with the less so. Such analyses and comparisons are key for grasping why people see things as they do, and how “applied geographers” in a thousand careers build the holistic understanding vital for making good decisions.
- Charlie Fitzpatrick, Co-Manager, Esri Schools Program
“Adapt and innovate!” That phrase was repeated over and over as governors of many states gathered recently for the National Governors Association. I was privileged to attend NGA meeting, right on the heels of Esri’s Education User Conference (“EdUC”) and International User Conference (“UC”). The juxtaposition of events was fabulous! The governors heard that, to be competitive, states needed to get ready for different kinds of education, emphasizing problem solving, integration of information across subjects, collaboration, creativity, and analysis. Cool! I had just come from seven days of conference about exactly that, with people from around the world!
At the UC, new capacity was displayed inside ArcGIS Online that allows anyone to begin doing analytical maps with ease! Boiled down to its very essence, GIS is about generating data, analyzing it, and representing it. Now, all kinds of data can be brought in, classified, and symbolized, easily, with just a text editor and a web browser, on Windows or Macintosh!
Using just a text editor (but it could have been a spreadsheet), I created and stored a small table, using coordinates just like what would come from a GPS unit. ((Sidebar: For 19 years, I have said “To succeed with GIS, people MUST be able to navigate files and folders, and understand tables.” It’s still true.)) The table has four records (plus a dummy test record) and six fields, but could have many more, or even far fewer. Here it is in a spreadsheet:
The recent changes mean it’s a simple process to go to ArcGIS.com, click “Make a Map“, click “Add/ Add Layer from File”, browse to and choose the file, and click “Import.” The map instantly has new points in it. Clicking any of the points opens a little pop-up window with the information displayed above.
Wanting to classify symbols, I hovered the mouse over the layer name “points”, clicked the context menu triangle, and chose “Change Symbols.” Cool! I can classify by various means, right in my web browser! I chose “Size”, and then used the field “elev”.
With a tiny bit of customization, I had a map showing my four points with a graduated symbol based on elevation. And, I can click the “More info” links and launch explorations related to the point of interest, thanks to work in my original table.
With these basic concepts, skills, and tools, I could begin a career in GIS, gathering data, classifying and symbolizing it, integrating different elements of the everyday world. This is the magic of GIS: there is SO MUCH DATA out there, and visual patterns are SO powerful, people need to know how to integrate it, analyze it, correlate it, adapting to new opportunities, and create new visions and invent new solutions.
By doing these tasks today, students can accomplish what the governors heard is vital for today, not just tomorrow: ADAPT AND INNOVATE. The tools will evolve again, growing ever stronger. Students and educators need to get started NOW, pushing the limits with these simple tools in order to get ready for more, or be willing to endure a life of obsolescence.
- Charlie Fitzpatrick, Co-Manager, Esri Schools Program
“Careers here! Pick a job!” Have you seen the EdCommunity Careers page?
Would your kids be employable today? As graduations swell the pool of unemployed — already above 9% in the U.S. — what is the outlook for your students, near-term and into the future? Many students have enhanced their prospects for job and career by building GIS skills.
Summer is also the time of the Esri User Conference, where we meet people who use GIS in a stunning array of careers. Understanding how to think about problems and situations geographically, analyze data, collaborate, integrate information, and learn constantly are skills fostered by use of GIS and valued by employers in all organizations. (See also this recent post of an interview with EdTeam leader Michael Gould.)
See the EdCommunity Careers page for easy access to key info about jobs using geospatial tech. It’s a great one-stop portal for students, educators, and counselors, or even relatives and friends!