Five Forces Catapulting Geography onto the World Stage

In an article in Directions Magazine, I describe five forces catapulting geography onto the world stage.  These five forces, including geo-awareness, geo-enablement, geotechnologies, citizen science, and storytelling, are transforming the audience for geography and the way geography is taught and perceived.

After I describe each of these forces and why they matter, I define in the article what I consider to be the three legs of the “geoliteracy stool” – (1) content knowledge, (2) skills, and (3) the geographic perspective.  I then ask, “Is geoliteracy becoming increasingly valued?  What role can and should teaching and learning with GIS play in geoliteracy? How can the community seize the opportunity that these five forces represent to foster geoliteracy and promote the use of GIS and spatial thinking at all levels of education?”

I look forward to hearing your comments.

Five converging global trends that present geography with new global opportunities (Kerski, 2016).

Five converging global trends that present geography with new global opportunities (Kerski, 2016).

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Spatial Citizenship Competencies for Teacher Education

What is a spatial citizen?  It has been defined as “An individual who has the motivation, knowledge, skills, and competencies to access and reason with geo-information in order to participate in democratic processes.”  (Adapted from  I. Gryl, T. Jekel, and K. Donert, 2010).   Are we as the geospatial education community, encouraging students to become spatial citizens? Emerging research on spatial citizenship seeks to understand how the education community can best do that.

But how can the geospatial education community best equip educators so that they can promote such participation?   Most researchers agree that helping students to develop geotechnology skills is only part of the solution.  Skills in spatial thinking, coping with geospatial information, communicating with that information, and developing critical thinking skills with regard to problem solving and to data are all just as important as the technical skills.  Indeed, all of these are skills we have written about in this blog.  How can educators new to the field develop competencies to teach these skills, and how can experienced educators continue to sharpen their skills?

To help answer these questions, researchers Uwe Schulze, Inga Gryl, and Detlef Kanwischer developed a spatial citizenship competence model for teacher education and training.  It includes instrumental competence (such as methodological and technological skills), interpersonal competence (such as interaction and cooperation skills), and systemic competence (such as how to teach these skills most effectively).  The model contains six major dimensions:  1.  Technology and methodology.  2.  Reflection.  3. Communication.  4.  Spatial domain. 5.  Citizenship education.  6.  Implementation strategies.

The authors argue that such a model shifts from focusing on subject-specific GIS content to the use of geospatial technology and spatial representations within everyday digital geomedia environments in a multifaceted, reflective way.  They go on to say that digital geomedia is a new interdisciplinary language that is spoken in a variety of subjects.  I don’t think we are quite to the point where this is universally recognized throughout education and society, but there are encouraging signs.

For more information, see the review we wrote about the book Learning and Teaching with Geomediawhich includes chapters about this topic, and the Spatial Citizenship website.

Spatial Citizenship.

Spatial Citizenship.


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Fun with GIS 190: Sharing Work

Got interesting student-made maps? Share them! You can, via ArcGIS Online Organizations, while controlling exposure of personally identifiable info (“PII“). Success depends on students minimizing PII in the content, Org admins creating a login for sharing, and having a location to share.

Orgs can use a single login to host the Org’s best content for sharing. (See “Showcase Logins” in AGO Orgs for Schools.) Such “showcase logins” need a well-designed and publicly visible profile that tells about the Org’s users. Org admins can then transfer into this login ownership of “completed content.” By helping students minimize use of PII during construction, good content can be shared safely.

A new GeoForm lets Org admins share a single map or app, a special collection, or the public parts of an entire Org. Follow the guidance on the GeoForm details page and you can safely share content beyond the school. Content nominated here for sharing may become accessible via the US K12GIS Story Map.

Let the world see student work! Keep the students and the work safe, while making them proud to share their best.

Charlie Fitzpatrick, Esri Education Manager

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Data Management Tips in ArcGIS Online

Like many of you, I frequently create Esri story maps and ArcGIS Online presentations for events, workshops, webinars, courses, and curricula.  Then I often want to modify those story maps and presentations for a different purpose, but yet preserve the original version so people can still access it.  The ArcGIS Online Assistant is the perfect tool for this.  It can be used for copying web mapping applications such as story maps, ArcGIS Online maps, layers, scenes, and other items from one folder to another, or between organizations, or even to the same folder within an organization.  It can also be used to view the underlying JSON for any item in ArcGIS Online or Portal, and to modify the URLs for services in web maps and registered applications.

Another very helpful feature about the ArcGIS Online Assistant is that it quickly lets you scroll through all of your content your organizational account.  If you have a lot of content in your organization, saves a great deal of time over the standard method of going through each page of your standard “My Contents” zone in ArcGIS Online.

Note that the copying procedure does not copy all of your data that your web mapping applications may refer to, but just the application or presentation that points to them.

If you need even more functionality, look into the tools created by Geo Jobe.  In the free version of their tools, there is a tool labeled “Copy Items” that acts like the AGO Assistant tool.  Their tools also allow for a filter that can select multiple items at once.  In the Pro/Portal version of their tools, you can “Clone Items”, which not only copies the selected item, but also copies and rewires all the data and content that the selected item depends on.  As noted above, the AGO Assistant does not do this, but Geo Jobe allows you to truly copy everything, including the source data.

For more information, see the GeoNet discussion on this topic, and for best practices and tools related to ArcGIS Online organizations, see the ArcGIS Organization Administration Wiki on GitHub.

The ArcGIS Assistant

After using the ArcGIS Online Assistant, I now have a copy of my original item in ArcGIS Online, which I can now rename and modify.

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Mapillary: Capturing, Sharing, and Exploring Street Level Photos

Mapillary is a tool that allows anyone to create their own street level photographs, map them, and share them via web GIS technology.  The idea behind Mapillary is a simple but powerful one:  Take photos of a place of interest as you walk along using the Mapillary mobile app.  Next, upload the photos to Mapillary again using the app. They will be connected with others’ and combined into a street level photo view.  Then, explore your places and those from thousands of other users around the world.

Mapillary is part of the rapidly growing crowdsourcing movement, also known as citizen science, which seeks to generate “volunteered geographic information” content from ordinary citizens.  Mapillary is therefore more than a set of tools–it is a community, with its own MeetUps and ambassadors.  Mapillary is also a new Esri partner, and through an ArcGIS integration, local governments and other organizations can understand their communities in real-time, and “the projects they’re working on that either require a quick turnaround or frequent updates, can be more streamlined.”  These include managing inventory and city assets, monitoring repairs, inspecting pavement or sign quality, and assessing sites for new train tracks.   Other organizations are also using Mapillary:  For example, the Missing Maps Project is a collaboration between the American Red Cross, British Red Cross, Médecins Sans Frontières-UK (MSF-UK, or Doctors Without Borders-UK), and the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team. The project aims to map the most vulnerable places in the developing world so that NGOs and individuals can use the maps and data to better respond to crises affecting these areas.

On the discovery section of Mapillary, you can take a tour through the ancient city Teotihuacán in Mexico, Astypalaia, one of the Dodecanese Islands in Greece, Pompeii, or Antarctica.  But if you create an account and join the Mapillary community, you can access the live web map and click on any of the mapped tracks.

Mapillary can serve as an excellent way to help your students get outside, think spatially, use mobile apps, and use geotechnologies.  Why stop at streets?  You or your students could map trails, as I have done while hiking or biking, or  map rivers and lakes from a kayak or canoe.  There is much to be mapped, explored, studied, and enjoyed.  If you’d like extra help in mapping your campus, town, or field trip with Mapillary, send an email to Mapillary and let the team know what you have in mind.  They can help you and your students get started with ideas and tips (and bike mounts, if you need them).

For about 18 months, I have been using Mapillary to map trails and streets.  I used the Mapillary app on my smartphone, generating photographs and locations as I hiked along. One of the trails that I mapped is shown below and also on the global map that everyone in the Mapillary community can access.  I have spoken with the Mapillary staff and salute their efforts.

I look forward to hearing your reactions and how you use this tool.

Mapillary tool for generating and sharing street level photos and maps

Mapillary tool for generating and sharing street level photos and maps.

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Fun with GIS 189: Visualize Your Water

“If a little is good, a lot is not always better,” Mom taught me. Nutrient pollution is like that. Just like on land, nutrients help aquatic plants grow. But, across the country, waterways are being enriched beyond the optimal level. This is especially true and especially troublesome in certain areas, like the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay watersheds.

Led by US Environmental Protection Agency and US Geological Survey, a host of collaborators have created the “Visualize Your Water” challenge for high school students in the states bordering the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay watersheds (DC, DE, IL, IN, MD, MI, MN, NY, OH, PA, VA, WI, WV). The challenge launches on Weds Jan 13, and closes March 1. High school students (working in teams or solo, in class or out of school) can submit an online map-based analysis and visualization of the situation. And there are some pretty cool prizes!

Links lead to background info, water quality data, professional visualizations, and ideas. Submissions go to a Challenge.gov site. ArcGIS Online Organization accounts make a great platform for conducting the analysis and presenting the findings. Any US K12 school can acquire one of these Orgs from Esri, for instructional use, for free, at esri.com/connected. For full info about the challenge, see the Visualize Your Water site

Charlie Fitzpatrick, Esri Education Manager

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New Book: Learning ArcGIS Pro

A new book from Tripp Corbin entitled Learning ArcGIS Pro focuses on Esri’s newest desktop application for visualizing, maintaining, and analyzing data.  A GIS professional with a great passion for learning, Tripp makes learning this new application straightforward and compelling.   Tripp is the CEO and a cofounder of eGIS Associates, Inc., and has over 20 years of surveying, mapping, and GIS-related experience.  The book comes with a set of data that you download so you can get started using real data in ArcGIS Pro, right away.  The book is also available as a Kindle e-book from Amazon and a PDF e-book from Packt Publishing.

ArcGIS Pro is Esri’s newest desktop GIS application with powerful tools for visualizing, maintaining, and analyzing data. ArcGIS Pro makes use of the modern ribbon interface and 64-bit processing to increase the speed and efficiency of using GIS. It allows users to create amazing maps in both 2D and 3D quickly and easily.

This book takes you from software installation to performing geospatial analysis. You will start by learning how to download and install the software, then after learning the interface, you create a new GIS Project, learn how to construct 2D and 3D maps including layers, symbology, and labeling. Next, you learn how to access and use analysis tools to answer real-world questions.  Lastly, you will learn how processes can be automated and standardized in ArcGIS Pro using Tasks, Models, and Python Scripts.

I like the way Tripp has organized his book:  His 300 pages and 11 chapters are full of hands-on exercises.  Yes, an answer key is included!  For key reasons to consider using ArcGIS Pro in education, see my colleague Brendan O’Neill’s post.  Consider using this resource and I look forward to your feedback below.

Learning ArcGIS Pro - New book from Tripp Corbin

Learning ArcGIS Pro – New book from Tripp Corbin.

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5 Useful GIS in Education Blog Essays from 2015

One way to start the new year is to review key news in our field of GIS in education over the past 12 months.  Our aim with this EdCommunity blog about Geographic Information Systems in education is to provide support, encouragement, resources, and practical advice for teaching and learning with GIS at all levels, in a variety of disciplines, internationally. We do that by writing primarily about four things:  (1) Resources, including geospatial data, lessons, courses including MOOCs in, webinars, and new books, chapters, and research papers. (2) Educational strategies, including how to teach with GIS, how to best further one’s own learning in GIS in education, how to be a geomentor, and so on.  (3)  Connections, to key organizations, initiatives (such as the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, ConnectEd, and others), and to learning theory.  (4)  Events, such as conferences, opportunities to write or review lessons or research papers, and special events such as GIS Day and Earth Science Week.

While it is challenging to focus on only five blog essays, the following highlight the above themes that we most often write about and represent key advancements:

1)  The ArcGIS Book:   Learn what ArcGIS Online is, explore dozens of meaningful maps and data sets, and see what is possible with Web GIS with this new e-book.

2)  Three reasons to incorporate ArcGIS Pro into your GIS curriculum:  ArcGIS Pro combines the best of web-based and desktop-based GIS into a compelling and forward-looking toolset.

3)  Esri News for Education Newsletter:   Explore current and back issues of this newsletter, which features inspiring stories of educators, administrators, and students using GIS in powerful and compelling ways, as well as curricular ideas, data sets, and other resources.

4)  GeoInquiries.  Geoinquiries are short, standards-based inquiry activities for teaching map concepts that are found in the most commonly used textbooks in the United States, including collections in Earth Science, U.S. History, and AP Human Geography.

5)  Analyzing real-time weather with GIS:  This illustrates the power of real-time data and powerful analysis tools available in ArcGIS Online, along with a lesson that illustrates how to teach these concepts and skills.

We encourage you to check here and also our Esri Canada colleagues’ blog often during 2016, as new entries are published every few days!  And if you are interested in describing what you are doing in GIS in education for the blog, let one of us know.

Esri GIS Education EdCommunity blog.

Esri GIS Education EdCommunity blog.

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Analyzing Real-Time Weather and Maps

A new activity based on ArcGIS Online invites students to analyze real-time weather data. I wrote the activity for university students but upper secondary students with some GIS background could use it as well, particularly if beforehand they work through the How’s the Weather? Geoinquiry.

Using real-time weather feeds from NOAA, the activity asks students to note the relationships between pressure, temperature, wind speed, wind direction, proximity to coasts, latitude, and elevation.  Students also create interpolated surfaces from the real time weather station data, classify and symbolize data in a number of ways, and predict upcoming weather at specific locations.  ArcGIS Online enables students to quickly and easily analyze spatial data such as this.  Weather is an engaging topic, and the activity connects to geography, earth science, and meteorology courses and curricula, and in the process, fosters skills in critical thinking, GIS, spatial analysis, and spatial data.

Analyzing current weather data and maps in ArcGIS Online.

Analyzing current weather data and maps in ArcGIS Online.

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Call for beta testers: Advanced Human Geography GeoInquiries

GeoInquiries are designed to be fast and easy-to-use instructional resources that AP Human Geography GeoInquiriesincorporate advanced web mapping technology. Each 15-minute activity in a collection is intended to be presented by the instructor from a single computer/projector classroom arrangement. No installation, fees, or logins are necessary to use these materials and software.

The Advanced Human Geography GeoInquiry Collection (project homepage) is now in public beta testing.   If you would like to contribute your experiences using a geoinquiry activity with students, submit your comments to http://esriurl.com/GeoInquiryFeedback   

The beta collection contains the following activities:

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