Which ArcGIS 10 Training Is Right For You?

ArcGIS 10 was released a couple of months ago, but a lot of you are likely just starting to think about how to ramp up on the changes—the interface improvements, the new tools, and the different workflows for accomplishing some common GIS tasks. If the question is “What’s the best way to learn ArcGIS 10?” (and this question has been asked frequently of late), the answer is, “It depends.”

Your approach to learning ArcGIS 10 depends on your experience with previous ArcGIS versions, what you use the software for, how you prefer to learn, and how much time and money you can spend. Below are training recommendations designed to help you be your most productive with the new release.

New ArcGIS Users

If version 10 is your first experience with ArcGIS software, you have the advantage of not needing to relearn the way you do certain aspects of your GIS work. Taking a course that covers a broad spectrum of ArcGIS functionality and teaches you how to use the software to complete common GIS tasks is a good way to jumpstart your ArcGIS productivity.

Existing ArcGIS Users

Maybe ArcGIS 9.3 was your first dive into Esri software, or maybe you’ve been using ArcSomething since 1996. Either way, you know your way around the software and probably have established workflows to get your GIS tasks done as fast as possible. All you need to know is which clicks, in which order, will get you the result you’re looking for. Or is it?

ArcGIS 10 gives you new ways to get your work done faster and better. Greater Python integration for automation and data driven pages for quickly creating map books are just two enhancements that may convince you to change up your routine clicks. The editing workflow has been simplified to be more intuitive as well as generate fewer clicks.

GIS Responsibilities

ArcGIS 10 is a tool. What do you need to do with it? Do you make maps on demand? Do you perform complex analyses to support decision makers (and save the planet while you’re at it)? Are you responsible for helping to maintain and assure the quality of the production GIS database and reconciling frequent data updates? If you spend 80% of your time on one specific group of tasks or functions, you need training that’s focused on making you more efficient at completing those tasks and getting reliable results.

Instructor-Led or Self-Paced Learning?

Most people have a clear idea of how they prefer to learn—part of a group meeting at designated times in a classroom or on their own at a time and place of their choosing. If you’d rather go to a spinning class than out for a run, chances are you’d prefer to attend instructor-led training over reading a book or taking a self-paced web course. Circumstances, however, often dictate how we acquire knowledge.

Given no barriers, who wouldn’t like to spend at least one semester at MIT or the Sorbonne? But in-state universities and community colleges offer something elite schools don’t: good, old fashioned budget-friendliness. These days, low-cost or no-cost training options are the only options for many. Time affordability is increasingly becoming a key consideration. With employees being pressured to produce the same or more work in environments that offer fewer resources, carving out time to focus on training can be hard to justify.

Instructor-Led Training

Instructor-led courses are the top price point of Esri training options…for good reason. Esri instructors have extensive experience with ArcGIS software and its application in the real world. When you take an instructor-led course, you get direct access to the instructor’s pool of knowledge—plus you interact with and learn from other GIS professionals in class activities and discussions. Esri instructors achieve one or more Esri technical certifications and CompTIA CTT+ certification, which covers core instructor skills including preparation, presentation, communication, facilitation, and evaluation in both traditional and virtual classrooms.

And when you take an instructor-led course in the Esri Online Classroom, you get the benefit of the instructor’s expertise and work with the same content used in the traditional classroom. But because there is no travel involved, your training budget goes farther and your time away from day-to-day work responsibilities is reduced.

Self-Paced Training

If you like independent study and the freedom to learn what, when, and where you choose, web courses and Esri Press workbooks provide a high-quality learning experience at an excellent value.

No-Cost Training Options

So your training budget is zero, nada, niente? Here are some completely free options to learn about ArcGIS 10.

  • We’ve been doing free live training seminars focusing on different aspects of the ArcGIS 10 system since the spring and will continue them into next year. You can find free recordings of the live training seminars on the Esri Training website.
  • The ArcGIS Resource Centers offer an enormous amount of information for all the ArcGIS products; for GIS functional areas such as mapping, geoprocessing, geodatabase, etc.; and for specific user communities. The online versions of the help systems are available here and continuously updated.
  • Esri is bringing a free seminar to cities throughout the U.S. this fall to show how you can increase your productivity using ArcGIS 10. You even get a free lunch. Complimentary fuel for the mind and the body—now that’s a value-packed day that’s sure to amp you up for the new release.

About SuzanneB

Suzanne is a Maryland native with a degree in English Literature who enjoys writing about Esri technology and other topics. She works with Esri Training Services in Redlands, California.
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