Tag Archives: webmapping
ArcGIS Online makes it easy to create engaging content on relevant issues of our planet tied to real-time data. For example, as part of our focus on created STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) resources here at Esri, I recently created a volcanoes of the world map in ArcGIS Online with webcams.
Each webcam is tied to selected volcanoes as images tied to the popups that appear when the user clicks on each one of them. The webcams update every minute or every few minutes depending on how the webcam operator set them up. This map can serve as an engaging introduction to a unit on the differences in the types of volcanoes. And since the map is inside ArcGIS Online, additional content such as earthquakes and plate boundaries can be added with the click of the mouse. After doing so, students could investigate the relationships between all of these phenomena in a plate tectonics unit. What is the distribution of volcanoes around the world? Why do some types of plate boundaries have more volcanoes than others? Why do some volcanoes appear to be associated with earthquakes while others are not? Other questions can be investigated (why are some of the webcams dark?) and tools can be engaged (what is the closest volcano on this map to where you live?). Zoom in on specific volcanoes and change the basemap to a satellite image, exploring the land use and assessing risk to the population in the area.
Using these same simple techniques, you or your students could add additional volcanoes and webcams to my map and save it in your own account. Or you could create a different web map in ArcGIS Online examining other phenomena in real time: Traffic in a different parts of a city, trails in different ecoregions around the world, river heights and depths around the world, wildfire, weather, and much more.
How might you use these techniques and maps in your own teaching and learning?
Wouldn’t it be amazing if thousands of people could learn about the power of mapping, start making their own web maps, and begin thinking spatially in new ways? MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses) make it possible for universities to open higher education to many more students than was previously possible. Beginning 17 July 2013, Dr. Anthony C. Robinson, Geography Professor at The Pennsylvania State University, will offer a MOOC entitled “Maps and the Geospatial Revolution.” This MOOC uses the Coursera platform, which Penn State will be using for 4 other courses as well. Since Coursera launched in April 2012, 1.45 million students are enrolling in courses each month on their platform. Other platforms such as Udacity and EdX also attract large numbers. Not only are these statistics revolutionary, but the idea of mapping as a platform for the efficient functioning of society is also revolutionary. Why?
According to Robinson, this past decade has seen an explosion of new mechanisms for understanding and using location information in widely-accessible technologies. This Geospatial Revolution has resulted in the development of consumer GPS tools, interactive web maps, and location-aware mobile devices. These radical advances are making it possible for people from all walks of life to use, collect, and understand spatial information like never before.
This course is designed to help you rethink what maps are and what they can do, create your first map to tell a story, evaluate and critique the design of maps, explore what is revolutionary about Geography. This course runs for 5 weeks and will have you making maps, analyzing issues and patterns from natural hazards to ecoregions to population change, using exciting new tools such as ArcGIS Online.
Interested? Examine the excellent video series from Penn State on the geospatial revolution. Follow @MapRevolution on Twitter for updates. And most importantly, join the course!
What is the average number of staff development hours per year for teachers within and across countries? What is the association between student-teacher ratios and student achievement in a country or state’s primary schools? How does instruction differ among teachers in a school district who receive different amounts of staff development? Why do teacher qualifications influence instruction? These are examples of the types of questions that educational researchers ask. The data that they gather usually include a locational component, and hence, mapping that data often provides insight and leads to new questions and lines of research.
In the past, the number of educational researchers engaged in mapping their data has been modest, in part perhaps because of the expertise required to do so. But all of that is changing with the advent of easy-to-use yet powerful mapping tools. One of them is ArcGIS Online, which allows for variables to be easily mapped from spreadsheets, analyzed, stored, and shared in the cloud. The number of ways to share the results includes Story Maps and web applications. Another is Esri Maps for Office, which allows for data from Excel to be mapped and even embedded inside PowerPoint presentations. None of these are static maps–they are live web maps that you or those you are communicating with can modify, add to, and change the scale in.
The above questions are examples of those asked in descriptive educational research. Yet mapping holds value for some types of experimental research as well. For example, a study that compares the achievement or attitudes of students before and after an educational intervention can be mapped and compared with the sociodemographics and even environmental variables of where they reside.
The Esri education team is keenly interested in serving the needs of educational researchers. Esri regularly participates in the American Educational Research Association’s annual conference; come see us this year in San Francisco or in the future.
How are you mapping your educational research, or how would you like to do so?
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?
Once upon a time, computers were huge and slow. Now? I’m typing this and snagging screenshots on an iPad. These devices rock for reading and writing. But can they do GIS? It depends on what you want to do. Visualization? Analysis? Data creation? All doable. OK, an iPad running ArcGIS Online does not have the horsepower of a robust workstation running ArcGIS Desktop, but it’s easier to tote around and use anywhere there’s connectivity.
With the ArcGIS for iOS app, one can open any number of pre-created maps, and use them largely as the designer intended for a laptop and larger. Here’s a screenshot from a popular resource, “USA Demographics for Schools,” accessible without being signed in, simply by typing the title in the “search for map” box in the ArcGIS for iOS app. Open it up, zoom in to the region of interest, and explore the layers. (See other US maps at http://esriurl.com/funwithgis119.)
Since 2002, a favorite resource for educators working with GIS has been “Mapping Our World.” It was created for ArcView 3, then for ArcGIS 9, then for ArcGIS 10, and is now available for free, engaging ArcGIS Online. Here’s a screenshot of the most commonly used lesson, exploring earthquakes around the world, and the map it uses. I floated back and forth between the doc and the map easily on my iPad.
The earthquake map above uses native ArcGIS Online and the iPad’s native browser, which means users can have a more or less similar experience as on a computer, just with finger-work on a touch-screen instead of mouse-clicks on the desk. This can take a little getting used to, and some activities call for two-handed work even on a computer, but many of the basic activities are just as easy on an iPad. So you can do some basic classification of layers, tweak the symbols, play with the transparency, do an identify, and so forth. Here’s a map built from scratch on iPad, using the “election2012″ layer from “Map the Vote“, showing the added layer classified (electoral votes available in 2012) and symbolized, and a feature identified.
Another blog included a lesson using editable feature services with smartphones. As long as your iPad has connectivity in the field, it’s just another field data collection device, with the benefits of portability, screen size, GPS, and camera. This is why many organizations are turning to tablets in the field for on-site data collection and integration. Here, I’m adding a data point with my favorite breakfast beverage (OJ, of course).
As with any technology in the hands of any user, the key is what’s going on in the user’s head. It’s vastly more exciting seeing people do powerful work with basic tools than do basic work with powerful tools. Even such an elegant tool as the iPad has limits, but with ArcGIS Online, users who engage vigorously have access to galaxies of data and an array of capacities that would have made GIS users a decade ago gape. “Explore, analyze, solve, communicate” is as relevant to an iPad-based user of ArcGIS Online as a workstation-based user of desktop GIS.
- Charlie Fitzpatrick, Esri Education Manager
I have created a data set containing electoral history for the past 56 years in ArcGIS Online, so you and your students can interact with it, teach with it, and explore patterns. To accompany the data set, I wrote a lesson entitled, “Which states went for which candidate? Elections” is in the ArcLessons library.
What is the difference between the popular vote and the electoral vote? What influences voting patterns at present and what influenced the patterns in the past? Why do electoral votes sometimes exhibit a regional or national pattern and sometimes exhibit no pattern? After examining the maps dating back to 1956, which election years would you say were the closest in terms of the electoral vote, and which were the most one-sided? Which states voted consistently Republican, or Democratic, in the past? When have third-party candidates been a factor? When did the candidate lose his “home state?” Which states change back and forth in terms of political party over time, and do these correspond to what are referred to as “swing states”? How does population distribution influence the electoral vote and where candidates spend their time and money?
These questions and many more can be effectively analyzed by using the above maps and lesson. ArcGIS Online provides an excellent platform for learning about issues, patterns, and phenomena. Because elections data in the USA are tied to administrative boundaries, elections maps can be easily created. Examining election data in ArcGIS Online allows the data to be effectively and easily used by educators, students, and others, anywhere around the world.
Another map and data set containing electoral votes by state for the upcoming election, along with demographic information and much more, was compiled by my colleague Charlie Fitzpatrick, and makes an excellent accompanying data set. These data sets can be used with an accompanying blog post describing what is there and how to use it.
It is my hope that these data sets and lessons will be helpful in teaching and learning in these next few weeks, and beyond.
- Joseph Kerski, Esri Education Manager
Hurricane Sandy is raging. It has been decades since such a storm hit the mid-Atlantic to New England. Sandy has already created havoc, and many will suffer. Yet it is exciting to me, because for days meteorologists have predicted it would be serious. How could they know? Science and geography — two elements often derided in the general public, including an unfortunate number who influence legislation, public policy, and education.
If ever there were a clear case to be made for the power of these two ways of thinking, this is it. So far, forecasters have been impressively accurate in predicting Sandy’s path, development, and impact. Days ago, they said it had the potential to become a megastorm.
Learning about the world takes focus, and should not be left to chance. Earth’s forces remain strong, but humanity has three key powers: (1) We can influence some physical phenomena; (2) we can learn; (3) we can influence our own behaviors.
Click the image above to see a larger image or current map
Science is a way of knowing which goes beyond faith and beyond hope. We need to understand as much as we can, about all things large and small, including the things we affect and those that affect us.
Geography is a way of seeing the world, being attentive to patterns and relationships. In this case, it means paying attention to the location, movement, and timing of air masses; the lunar cycle (the impact of a full moon and timing of tides); land use; demographics; engineering; human behavior and the weekly calendar; and events from living memory and more distant past. Up and down the eastern seaboard, people are already trying to cope with the chaos that the physical world can generate for us.
If there is any good to come from chaos, it will be to reinforce the importance of understanding patterns and relationships. Thinking geographically means understanding and integrating multiple phenomena, viewing things holistically. GIS facilitates interpreting vast volumes of disparate data, converting it into information, which can be combined to form knowledge that feeds action. Wisdom is the ability to act intelligently on the basis of knowledge.
Hurricane Sandy is already a troublesome event. We know from science that it will not be the last. We need humility, curiosity, and open-mindedness to learn about the world around us and behave with wisdom.
- Charlie Fitzpatrick, Esri Education Manager
Want a crowd at an education event? Put “STEM” in your title. Science-Technology-Engineering-Mathematics is a stronger attention grabber than ever. Whether or not the phrase was used, STEM education has been hot at least since Sputnik floated overhead in 1957. But some educators aren’t really STEM-savvy. I have been asked “Can you show me something STEM?” A few have even looked at a map of sea surface temperature next to a map of social media comments filtered on wildfires and confided “I can do whatever I want as long as it’s STEM. Have you got anything?” I try not to show my astonishment.
Geographic information system (GIS) technology is ALL STEM (or “STEAM”, with ‘Arts’ added.) Working within a context of physical or social realms (or both), users explore, modify, integrate, and analyze data, with a range of tools, thinking critically about patterns and relationships, in order to frame and answer questions and solve problems, and then communicate the information so as to feed action. (See myriad examples in Map Books.) Whether analyzing factors that influence crop yield on a farm; modeling the potential impact of past weather events on current landscapes; seeking more efficient routes for delivering school children from scattered homes to a handful of schools; identifying most critical land parcels to optimize biodiversity; determining whether a certain store might survive in a given location; moving personnel and equipment in front of a fast-moving wildfire or erupting medical emergency to maximize preservation of lives and resources; managing dozens of considerations to design Congressional districts that maximize equality; or any of a million other tasks, GIS users integrate science, technology, engineering, and math, constantly.
When I walk through such examples, some educators blanch a bit and ask “How do I keep all these elements in mind? And how on earth do I teach this to kids who are more tech-savvy than me?” This is a challenge. The world today is more complex, nuanced, inter-connected, and technofied than ever. Educators can seldom pursue a “pure” focus; kids certainly can’t. With so much information to manage, from increasingly many channels, they need to see relevance. Being a responsible and productive global citizen, conscious of the impacts of one’s choices, alert to the integration of culture, economy, politics, and power, near and far, and changes over the past, present, and future, is no easy task. That’s why it is so important for learners (of all ages) to practice the process constantly, building broader and deeper background knowledge, to weave with stronger and more flexible techniques for consuming and using information.
Ask an educator: Are your students permitted, even encouraged, to use cell phones in class? Educators who recognize small computers when they see one embrace the devices as learning enhancement tools. A steady diet of the content and techniques from yesterday simply falls short in preparing learners for the world of today, much less tomorrow. GIS is evolving rapidly, moving into new industries, jumping onto new platforms, ingesting more data formats, opening new frontiers, helping more people understand more phenomena and solve more problems. GIS users breathe and practice STEM (and STEAM). (See careers info.)
Educators who want to integrate STEM through GIS can get started with ArcGIS Online. This web-based environment allows users to be productive in seconds, and to build STEM knowledge and skills endlessly. There’s even a free online course designed just for educators getting started. It will help educators ask students good questions, far more powerful than “Can you show me something in STEM?”
- Charlie Fitzpatrick, 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