Tag Archives: academic

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.

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Where’s the “G” in IS?

Visitors to Esri often pause for pictures beside an ivy-covered wall emblazoned with the word GEOGRAPHY in raised metal letters. The inscription speaks to an ingrained belief that geography offers a unique framework for organizing the world’s knowledge in a way that fosters better decision-making and a more sustainable future. Consistent with this belief, the education outreach team I lead at Esri does what we can to nurture geographic thinking and methods across the spectrum of academic disciplines.

That’s a big job. Disciplines have proliferated since the advent of the modern university in the 19th and 20th centuries. Consider this concept map of contemporary academic disciplines.  Few disciplines depicted explicitly recognize geography, let alone GIS, as an integral way of understanding the world. Given the longstanding claim that a science of geographic information undergirds GIS (Goodchild 1992), you might suppose that Information Science is one of the disciplines that’s likely to appreciate the special properties of spatial data. If so, you’d be surprised to find that there’s precious little “G” is IS.

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The World’s Largest Lesson

by Adam Pfister

The World’s Largest Lesson

World leaders from all nations, developed and developing, have committed to the Global Goals for Sustainable Development. Seventeen truly ambitious goals, and at Esri, we are committed to achieving each one.

In partnership with Project Everyone, we are incredibly excited to collaborate on the World’s Largest Lesson and their Focus on Goal 5, Gender Equality. Using the content in these lesson plans, teachers around the world are able to reach out to a new generation and help them stand up and embrace their part.

Achieving Gender Equality is ambitious, to be sure, and perhaps the first step is to know where you stand. Get to know those who are in important roles, starting in your own community and all the way up to your national representatives.

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Seeing Beyond the Visible

The electromagnetic spectrum

In the early history of powered aircraft, aerial photographs—pictures of the earth from above—began to be found useful for military and scientific applications. Quite quickly, imaging professionals and scientists realized that it was possible to detect beyond what is visible to the unassisted human eye. Deeper and richer information could be revealed by detecting waveforms from beyond the rainbow of visible light, into the invisible. As it turns out, these hard-to-detect realms of the spectrum offered some of the most meaningful insights. Hidden in these signals were previously unknown facts about Earth that have enabled us to understand our world far more effectively than had been possible.

Many of these sensors measure bands across the electromagnetic spectrum and are known as Electro-Optic (EO) sensors. They record energy wavelengths from the sun that are reflected off or emitted from everything on the ground. These electromagnetic signals include visible light, infrared, and other frequency bands across the reflected energy spectrum.

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Announcing the 2016 Esri Science Symposium

Special keynote address, discussion panel, and reception to engage and enlighten scientists

A special Science Symposium will be held in conjunction with the 2016 Esri Education GIS Conference (EdUC) and Esri User Conference (UC). The Science Symposium will include:

  • keynote address by Margaret Leinen, Director of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, current president of the American Geophysical Union, and a US State Department Science Envoy.

Margaret Leinen, Director of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, will deliver the keynote address at the 2016 Esri Science Symposium.

  • conversational reaction panel of GIScientists moderated by Mike Goodchild (UCSB Geography emeritus) with John Wilson (USC Spatial Sciences Institute), Marco Painho (U. Nova de Lisboa Geography), Ming Tsou (San Diego State Geography), and Cyrus Shahabi (USC Computer Science).
  • Audience Q/A and discussion.
  • Networking reception: Enjoy stunning views of the San Diego Harbor, delicious appetizers, and a hosted bar of beer, wine, soft drinks, and bottled water.

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Esri and the Scientific Community: Year in Review/The Year Ahead

Updated December 10, 2015

Science at Esri continues to be an exciting initiative where we are concerned with supporting both basic and applied science, while also recognizing that there are many major themes of compelling interest to society that will drive scientific research for the next two decades. Thus we view science as helping us to understand not only how the Earth works, but also how the Earth should look (e.g., by way of geodesign), and how we should look at the Earth (i.e., by way of Earth observation in varying forms and the accompanying data science issues of analysis, modeling, developing and documenting useful datasets for science, interoperating between these datasets and between various approaches). In addition to supporting the science community, we seek to do good science at Esri ourselves, as it underpins much of what we do as an organization. This is helping us to evolve ArcGIS into a comprehensive geospatial platform for science; a platform that supports research project management and collaboration, spatial analysis, visualization, open data, and communication of science, all at multiple scales (i.e., from individual researcher to lab workgroup, to multi-department, multi-university, university-to-agency collaboration, to citizen engagement).

You can always track the totality of the Esri science initiative at esriurl.com/scicomm,Hot! but in this post I’ll share some highlights from 2014, and as we near the end of 2015′s first quarter, talk about the immediate road ahead. Continue reading

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What is “Transformative” Research?

The Gartner Group Hype Cycle on Emerging Technologies for 2013 (courtesy of Gartner Inc..

Next-generation techniques are already changing the way we do science. Recently the National Academy of Sciences convened a Workshop on Identifying Transformative Research in the Geographical Sciences. Given that so many of the challenges that we currently face are place-based … Continue reading

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Does EarthCube Hold the “Keys to the Kingdom” of Earth Science Data?

Updated April 17, 2016

With all the recent excitement and good hopes over the White House Climate Data Initiative, and the ongoing progress of the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), there is another huge data initiative that bears mention: EarthCube.

I have used the word “initiative” for EarthCube but it has also been described as a vision, as a multi-faceted, multi-layered partnership, and also as a “virtual organization.” As such, it bears quite a bit of resemblance to the international GEOSS, but is much more US-based, having been conceived and currently funded by the US National Science Foundation (NSF). Continue reading

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What is CyberGIS?


In an earlier post, I had mentioned Esri’s involvement in the large National Science Foundation-funded project known as CyberGIS, which aims to establish a fundamentally new software framework via a seamless integration of cyberinfrastructure, GIS, and spatial analysis/modeling capabilities, particularly … Continue reading

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Esri and the Scientific Community

There are many natural science domains in which GIS is being used effectively to understand how the Earth works.

Updated: October 18, 2016 Jump to: Current Projects | Other Initiatives | Staying Connected | Deepsea Dawn2016 UC Science Symposium NEW! | R – ArcGIS Integration Hot! | 2015/’16 Road Map Hot! At Esri we are concerned with supporting basic … Continue reading

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