Hands-On Mapping and Analysis at the National Conference on Geography Education!

Esri is pleased to offer three days of hands-on workshops as part of a Mapping Lab at the upcoming 101st National Conference on Geography Education.  Staff from the Esri education outreach team as well as some of our dear friends and colleagues in geography education will be on hand to teach a series of first-come, first-served free 75-minute workshops!   These workshops will demonstrate the ease and power of visualization and spatial analysis that is possible on the web within ArcGIS Online.  The workshops will be held in Room 7 at the Marriott (conference hotel), 28-30 July 2016, and for more details see the online program.

Never used web mapping tools?  We’d love to see you.  Experienced with ArcGIS Online? We promise something for you, too!

Why are we doing this?  Because we firmly believe in the connections between web mapping and rigorous geography education, and its connections to inquiry, fieldwork, community, 21st Century skills, STEM.  Furthermore, we believe that a hands-on approach is the best way to engage in these tools and methods.  The contents of the workshops will include mapping your own data, creating multimedia story maps, GeoInquiries, examining AP Human Geography themes such as land use and population change using live web mapping tools, investigating physical geography such as natural hazards and ocean processes, using ArcGIS Online for citizen science field activities, and much more.  We will not have computers there so you are encouraged to bring your own device. We will also be hosting an exhibit at the conference that will be perfect for longer discussions about these mapping tools, lessons, new textbooks, and other resources.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Mapping Lab at National Conference on Geography Education

Mapping Lab at National Conference on Geography Education.

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Geomentoring for Geoliteracy

I recently had the opportunity to discuss Geomentoring at the Esri User Conference.  In response to the comments I received at the conference after the presentation, I created a presentation on strategies for geomentors to use in fostering geoliteracy through the of mapping and spatial thinking.

The presentation covers these tenets:

  1. The issues we face on the planet can be solved with increased engagement in geography.
  2. Five converging forces make this the ideal time to engage students with geography.
  3. Geographic mentoring should involve content knowledge, skills, and the geographic perspective.
  4. Geomentoring involves work with students and educators, and even with the community.

Following the tenets, I describe three ways of geomentoring and three success stories.  Next, in a section entitled “Don’t put them to sleep!”, I describe six tips for engaging students while geomentoring.  I show examples of crowdsourcing as one of the activities that can be effectively used, as well as story maps.   These tips and strategies can be used with primary, secondary, university, and informal levels of education.  

By using Sway for my presentation tool, I was able to embed ArcGIS Online maps and story maps into the presentation.   In this essay, I describe how to embed these maps.

I hope that you find this document useful and I look forward to hearing your comments. 

Mentoring for Geoliteracy

Mentoring for Geoliteracy

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Fun with GIS 201: Instructional Guide for the ArcGIS Book

The ArcGIS Book offers “10 Big Ideas” about mapping, in hardcopy, free downloadable PDF, and free online in multiple languages. Equal parts coffee table book, text book, and workbook, some educators began teaching with it immediately after its release at Esri’s 2015 User Conference. It worked well having students reading on one screen (even a phone) and mapping on another.

The Instructional Guide for The ArcGIS Book now makes it even easier for educators to leverage the original. The Instructional Guide works like an outrigger, matching the concepts and technology of each section, speeding solid comprehension thru carefully designed activities. Linked movies launch chapters with an easy hook. Step-by-step guidance thru a bank of scenarios ushers even novices steadily into the power and flexibility of online mapping, via generic tools in browsers, browser-based apps, and mobile apps. End-of-chapter tasks summarize the fundamental ideas and skills. Many activities can be done without logging in, but many valuable ones require the powers of an ArcGIS Online organization account, and the Guide shows how educators in different situations can acquire such an account.

Coupled with the original volume, the Instructional Guide for The ArcGIS Book is a terrific resource for educators who want to see and employ true GIS power with online tools. And, especially for educators in Career/Technology Education (CTE) programs, or anyone who wants to see STEM in GIS, this demonstrates powerfully how online GIS can be engaged in day-to-day scenarios relevant to many different industries.

Charlie Fitzpatrick, Esri Schools Program Manager

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Adding Audio to Story Maps

I wrote an essay about creating a story map that made extensive use of audio files, the result of which was a tutorial about names of landforms in the Lakota language.  Since the essay was published, I have had inquiries about the specifics of how to encode the audio links in captions of photos in Story Map tours.   This essay explains how to do this.

First, save your audio files.  In my case, I had a long interview as one file, and used Camtasia to cut it into individual audio files.  You could use Audacity or other audio or video editor to do the same thing.   Then, move your audio files to a website.  Story maps need to point to online content, not content that is stored on your local computer.

Then, edit the captions section for each of your stops on your map tour.  These stops can be photographs or videos.  Note that my “lake” stop is a video and the rest of the stops  are photographs.  The HTML code that I used for one of my captions was as follows:

<audio controls=”">
<source type=”audio/mpeg” src=”http://josephkerski.com/storymaps/lakota-sound/lake.mp3″type=”audio/mpeg”></source>does not support?</audio>On this and the following: <font color=”#FFFF00″>click Play </font>above to hear the sounds in English and in Lakota.

That’s it!  The beauty of HTML 5 is that my code above helps the browser know that an audio file will be played, and the browser knows how to configure an audio player without any extra coding on my part.   Here is more information on how the HTML audio tag works.

This illustrates that (1) story maps are truly multimedia, and audio can be an effective part of these maps.  Think of the audio you and your students could be using in their story maps, comparing the calls of different birds, the sounds of the ocean on different days in different weather conditions, narrations of all kinds, and much more; and (2) knowing just a bit of coding, as I did with HTML in this example, allows you to extend the capabilities of story maps and ArcGIS Online in simple but powerful ways.

Adding audio to captions in a story map

Adding audio to captions in a story map.

–Joseph Kerski, Education Manager, Esri.

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Fun with GIS 200: Alternatives Matter

Education means freedom, the chance to learn and grow and change. Unfortunately, life can include roadblocks. Many public school districts support “alternative schools” for students who may not have stayed on schedule at a “traditional school.” At Esri’s 2016 User Conference, students from such a school — San Andreas High School (Highland, CA) — with only a few months of GIS experience, presented their work to over 10,000 GIS professionals from around the world.

Working with educators skilled in teaching with technology (but still new to GIS), the students learned to ask geographic questions, acquire relevant data, analyze it, interpret it, and present it, to their peers at school, and before a massive crowd of professionals. The school had let them do, and you can see the results.

From the first click, GIS offers the chance to do — to engage and explore, to puzzle and ponder, to tinker and tweak, to reflect and perfect. With boundless data available, users can dive deeper, focusing on matters of personal interest, whether topical or technological. GIS offers alternatives: ArcGIS Online provides easy access and quick success, and the broader ArcGIS platform means limitless opportunity. At all experience levels, users must make decisions constantly, and learn incessantly. New tools, strategies, and data appear endlessly, and at an accelerating pace, yielding ever more choices.

At San Andreas, one teacher heard about the opportunity of GIS via Esri’s ConnectED offer, investigated on her own, brought in her colleagues, engaged the students (with pioneers becoming leaders of succeeding waves), sparked a revolution, and presented to the world, in under 18 months.

Alternatives matter. Students in alternative schools are typically just as bright, capable, driven, engaging, feeling, and thirsty for opportunity as elsewhere. The endless capacity of GIS means those most open to and supportive of engagement, critical thinking, and fostering the opportunity for students to make a difference (for themselves, the community, and the planet) will succeed. All students can succeed with GIS; San Andreas showed it.

Charlie Fitzpatrick, Esri Schools Program Manager

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The New Cascade Story Map is Here!

Last week, I wrote about the new Crowdsourcing Story Map app.  There is another new story map app that will be very useful in education, the Cascade app.  The Cascade app, as the name implies, allows you to combine narrative text with maps, images, and multimedia content in a “cascading scrolling experience.”  This engaging, full-screen way of interacting with your map’s sections can be interspersed with “immersive” sections that fill the screen with your maps, 3D scenes, images, and videos. Cascade is ideal for making compelling, in-depth stories that are very easy for people to navigate.

To get inspired, see this gallery of Cascade apps, including those on the oceans, Alexander Von Humboldt, the crisis in Syria, and my favorite, A River Reborn.

How could you use the Cascade story map in education?  You could use a selection of existing story maps to teach about watersheds, population change, natural hazards, land use, and other topics.  You could create a new one easily on a topic that you would like to teach about.  Your students could create one to present the results of their research to you as their instructor and to their peers.  You could use them as assessment tool to gauge student acquisition of content knowledge and skills.  Share with the community in the comments below how you are using these or other story maps in your own instruction.

Give the Cascade story maps a try!

Gallery of Cascade Story Maps

Gallery of Cascade Story Maps.

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New crowdsourcing story map application is here

We have had the capability to create story maps (multimedia-rich, live web maps) for a few years now, and also the capability to collect data via crowdsourcing and citizen science methods using a variety of methods in the field or in the classroom.  But now the capability exists for both to be used at the same time!  That is because the crowdsourcing story map app is here!

The crowdsource story map app joins the other story map apps that are listed here.  To get familiar with this new app, read this explanation.  Also, you might explore a new crowdsourced story map that asks for your location, photograph, and a sentence or two about why you are excited to attend the Esri User Conference.  If you are attending the UC, feel free to post your name, your location, and why you are excited about attending.  If you are not attending, examining the application will give you a good sense for what this new app can do.

It’s not just this story map that has me interested.  It is that this long-awaited capability is now at our fingertips, where you can, with this same app, create crowdsourced story maps for gathering data on such things as tree cover, historic buildings, noisy places, litter, weird architecture, or something else, on your school campus or in your community.  It is in beta, but feel free to give the crowdsourcing story map app a try!

The new Crowdsource story map app is here!

The new Crowdsource story map app is here!

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2017 Schedule of Esri MOOC offerings

Since our first offering in Fall 2014, Esri’s MOOCs have attracted over 50,000 students from around the world. More than a quarter of these students earned certificates of completion – a rate three times higher than most other MOOCs.

In response to that enthusiastic reception, Esri will increase the number and frequency of our MOOC offerings in 2017. A new, fourth MOOC - Earth Imagery at Work - will debut on September 7, 2016, and will be offered twice in 2017. Later this year we’ll announce a fifth MOOC title that will launch in 2017.

Here is our schedule of offerings for 2017. Our MOOCs last 6 weeks, except as noted.

Q1 term: February 1-March 14

  • Earth Imagery at Work
  • Do-It-Yourself Geo Apps (4 weeks)

Q2 term: April 12-May 23

  • Going Places with Spatial Analysis
  • The Location Advantage

Q3 term: September 6-October 17

  • Do-It-Yourself Geo Apps (4 weeks)
  • Earth Imagery at Work

Q4 term: November 1-December 12

  • The Location Advantage
  • TBA

For information about Esri’s MOOCs, and to sign up to participate, visit http://www.esri.com/mooc. There you’ll also find MOOCs offered by university partners that use Esri technology.

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What it is like to NOT know

I recently heard some memorable words which stated that “wise people have recognized the importance of what it is like to not know”.  This is different from the wisdom of “Socratic ignorance” but may be even more applicable to the use of GIS in education.  What it is like to not know in my view means that we as GIS educators understand the challenges that exist in embracing a new set of tools and methods that the use of geotechnologies entails in teaching and learning. In other words, “we’ve been there!” and can empathize.

I think this empathy is part of the reason why the online and face-to-face professional development workshops and courses (such as the T3G institute) have been so positively received by the education community over the years.  Because the instructors have “been there”, as instructors, we approach each of these professional development events with sensitivity and humility.  As leaders of these institutes, we very purposefully model what we are teaching–we know what it is like to not know about GIS.

We understand what it is like to be immersed in new technology with its associated new terms and new tools.  We know what it is like to be simultaneously grappling with new ways of thinking, teaching, and learning.   I think back to the first time I took an ArcGIS Server course where all of the other students were systems administrators, who regularly used terms I only had vague notions of.  I am reminded on a daily basis how much I still have to learn about GIS, despite having used it since 1984.  It’s very humbling to be taught new skills by someone who, for example, has “only” been using GIS for a few years. But veteran and new GIS educators alike have much to learn from each other.

GIS has become much easier to use over the past 25 years, though challenges remain.  However, for the good of the planet and for the good of our students, I believe that the challenges are worth grappling with.  And for those of us who have instructor roles–remember what it was like to not know!

Educators discussing their use of GIS in education.

Educators discussing their use of GIS in education.

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More tears for more families and friends. We stare in shock, we weep, we burn with anger at senselessness. But it is not enough just to curse the darkness. In our search for answers, we must agree that only one thing could have interceded: Education … understanding the world … understanding human dignity … understanding pluralism … understanding the causes of pain and suffering, among those in our midst, or in distant lands. Only with education can hardship be understood, anticipated, prevented. What will we do to build understanding, support holistic views, foster critical thinking, promote free expression, value life, and become a sustainable world? We can take a moment to grieve, and heal, but must keep going, and never give up.

Charlie Fitzpatrick, Esri Education Manager

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