MOOCs Offer Significant Value

Earth Imagery at Work

Occasionally I’m disheartened when I meet someone who isn’t familiar with the term massive open online course (MOOC). But then I realize that’s a teachable moment, and I explain what MOOCs are and why they’re relevant and valuable.

MOOCs matter to GIS professionals because they help generate that content but also because they enhance participants’ geospatial skillsets while adding substance to their resumes. That’s significant value, especially in the context of today’s flagging economy.

What’s a MOOC?

A MOOC is an online course offered by a company, university, non-profit, or other provider. MOOCs are typically open to large numbers of students and are nearly always free. Those with a fee typically have a “free option” that has fewer bells and whistles.

Over the past few years MOOCs have covered many GIS and GIS-related topics. Since new GIS products and services are being released all the time, MOOCs are a great way to see how they’re being used and how they can potentially be used.

How long are MOOCs? Some are as short as two weeks, while some are as long as 16 weeks. Most fall somewhere in between. No matter the length, they’re a great way to gain experience building geospatial apps.

Value from Imagery Analysis

You might want to consider Esri’s upcoming MOOC, Earth Imagery at Work, which runs from September 7 through October 18. Earth Imagery at Work is for everyone who is interested in applications of earth imagery to increase productivity, save money, protect the environment, and even save lives. Participants will explore imagery use in six different industries including agriculture, environmental management, disaster management, utilities, commercial business and insurance. They’ll also work with some Esri’s newest tools including ArcGIS Pro and Drone2Map.

To see more upcoming MOOCs planned for 2016 – 2017, visit

I’ll see you in class!


David DiBiase

About David DiBiase

David DiBiase leads the Education Team within Esri’s Industry Solutions group. The Team promotes and supports GIS use to enrich teaching and learning at all levels, in formal and informal settings, domestically and internationally. Before joining Esri, David founded and led the Penn State Online GIS Certificate and Masters (MGIS) degree programs.
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