Monthly Archives: December 2008

ESRI EdUC on Twitter!

The ESRI Education User Conference has its own Twitter feed

“Twitter is a free service that lets you keep in touch with people
through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question:
What are you doing?”

For more information, see:

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Examining Spatial Patterns of Oil and Gas Production in the USA

As our Nation wrestles with issues surrounding energy use, one excellent data set to explore is a new oil and gas exploration and production map. The data can be used in several ways: (1) As a PDF file; (2) As an interactive, web-based GIS map; (3) As a service within ArcMap; and (4) As a series of layers downloaded and analyzed within ArcMap.

Start by accessing:

You will see the Internet Map Service link on the right.

To work with this map service in ArcMap, add the ArcIMS Server Once added and selected, choose the map service: US_Production4ArcMap.

To download the data, select “Layer Information” and then select the USA map. You can download a shapefile, a coverage export file, or an ArcGIS geodatabase. I selected the geodatabase for fastest drawing and more powerful analysis.

The well information was retrieved from over 3,000,000 points in IHS’s PI/Dwights PLUS Well Data, a proprietary, commercial database. Cells were developed as a graphic solution to overcome the problem of displaying proprietary well data. No proprietary data are displayed or included in the cell maps. Data are current through 10/1/2005. Selected state databases supplement the national data.

Kansas and Oklahoma’s extensive fields can easily be seen by examining the data in ArcMap, symbolized based on the information in the metadata document, and overlaid with rivers and state boundaries. Each cell in the data represents a quarter-mile square of the land surface, and the data symbolizes whether the wells within the cell are predominantly oil-producing, gas-producing, both oil and gas-producing, or the well production within the cell is unknown or dry.

What influences the spatial pattern of oil and gas exploration? How is the pattern of natural gas production different from or similar to that of oil production? Which states and regions produce the most oil and gas? How far does offshore drilling extend? Show the online video about how production has changed over the past century. These questions and more can be examined with this extensive dataset.

- Joseph Kerski, ESRI Education Manager

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Experiencia Internacional de Intercambio Geotecnológico Estudiantil entre el Grupo 4H y Liceo Carmela Carvajal

The ESRI Latin America User Conference newsletter featured an article about the 4-H youth from Oregon and North Carolina who presented at the October conference in Santiago Chile.

Visti and scroll down to the 4-H article link.

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ESRI EdCommunity on Facebook

If you have a Facebook account, be sure to add the ESRI Education Community Group to your account. 

You’ll find announcements and a fledgling community of students and instructors who use ESRI GIS in education.

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Just in Time for the Holidays: Illuminating Reading


In the past month, I have participated in two educational technology conferences: the State Educational Technology Directors Association’s (SETDA) Leadership Summit and Ed Forum and the Association for Career and Technical Education’s annual conference. Both were marked by important keynote presentations relating to the critical need for students as citizens and our future workforce to have a series of vital skills. While GIS and geospatial technologies and careers were not embraced by name, these stand as a demonstrable embodiment of the content presented.

Two keynote presenters have books that I recommend be on everyone’s bookshelf:

Tony Wagner, Co-Director of the Change Leadership Group at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, just published The Global Achievement Gap: Why Even Our Best Schools Don’t Teach the New Survival Skills Our Children Need—And What We Can Do About It.

And while not a new release, Daniel Pink’s volume, A Whole New Mind: Why Right Brainers Will Rule the Future, is another must have.

Be sure to explore their Web pages for other books, resources, and thought-provoking content.

Looking for something to tie into those books from a little different angle, try Thomas Friedman’s newest release, Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution, and How We Can Renew America.

As we look to the future of the planet (not just the US), sustainability must be in our actions. These authors provide great fuel to spur them in ourselves and our youth, and I see GIS and its associated thinking skills as a critical part.

Huh? I just looked more closely at the titles. Each subtitle begins with “why.” Looks like we have “Three Whys Guys” here. Have a great holiday season. Back to you in the New Year.

- George Dailey, ESRI Education Manager

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Protecting a Unique Ecosystem

Understanding and Protecting a Unique Ecosystem and the Communities That Depend Upon It: Maine’s Community for Rural Education, Stewardship, and Technology (CREST)

People often ask us on the ESRI Education Team to point them to exemplary projects that can be used as models for effective integration of geotechnologies in education. I recently served in Rockland, Maine as an advisor to one such model, the Community for Rural Education, Stewardship and Technology (CREST). Coordinated by the Island Institute, CREST is a partnership between the Institute, the University of Maine at Machias, Information Technology (IT) professionals, community stakeholders, and dozens of teachers and thousands of students in many of Maine’s island and coastal schools. Funded by an NSF ITEST grant and in its fourth year, the project focuses on GIS, website design, and ethnographic research skills using digital tools, serving Maine’s most remote areas. Along the Maine coast, significant climate and economic changes are occurring, but opportunities for IT-based learning have traditionally been rare. In fact, some of the island schools are quite small, some have closed, and some have had funds severely cut.

One reason why I consider this project exemplary is its interdisciplinary combination of technology and place-based education that reconnects students to the natural, social, and economic resources in their own communities. It even includes a student advisory board! Furthermore, the Island Institute is the perfect coordinating organization, as its focus since its founding 25 years ago is on sustainable practice. CREST strengthens capacity for natural resource stewardship and information-sharing among students while providing teachers and students with skills that could immediately diversify the local economy. The stewardship ethic is evident in everyone I met there. CREST’s innovative projects range from researching community histories, mapping clam flats, investigating the early 20th-century America’s Cup sailing team, and creating online guides for users of local recreational trails. The project’s evaluator discovered that 72% of participating teachers feel that CREST has provided them with the ability to incorporate STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) projects into their daily instruction.

For more information, visit:

- Joseph Kerski, ESRI Education Manager

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Tips, Tricks, and Content Ideas from the ArcGIS Explorer Blog

At the EdCommunity blog we give examples of things you can do with ArcGIS Explorer (AGX), but we have by no means cornered the market. There are tons of insightful and inspiring posts at the ArcGIS Explorer Blog.

Bernie Szukalski of the ArcGIS Explorer Team is the source of these pearls. I regularly peruse his blog site for my personal learning. I recommend it highly for anyone using AGX. As I examine the site, I find that the entries seem to break into three categories: Tips about the use of the application, tricks that typically relate to application use but take you outside its packaged form and function, and content which falls into “Hey, where do I find data and other materials for projects?” and “Wow, that’s a great project/lesson idea. I can replicate that.

Here are some recent examples.

Tips: When you use AGX, moving from one geographic location to another at various scales, you’re building cache. “Cache? What’s that?” Two AGX blog entries—Your Cache Portfolio, Part 1 and Your Cache Portfolio, Part 2—step you directly into this part of the care and feeding of AGX.

By the way, doing a keyword search on “cache” will bring you several other entries to explore.

Tricks: In the summer release of AGX there were many new symbols, however, as I work on some map projects I find myself wanting something a little different. Well, Bernie has a great write-up that opens the door to alternate symbols. From his screenshot in the blog post, it looked like he did a Web search on “free icon png.” I tried it and downloaded some interesting icons from, including one for the season shown in the map below.

(NOTE: I used the GeoNames Search Task which I grabbed from the AGX Resource Center’s Content Tab. After unchecking the “exact match” checkbox, I searched on the keyword “reindeer” netting features containing that word in the name.)

Content: Having a geographic tool without data is like having a fast car but no fuel: You can’t get anywhere. This is where services like ArcGIS Online (AGO) become important. In another recent posting, Bernie provides a direct connection to a range of these services via a single server link. (NOTE: It is still important to explore the main AGO page to learn what each service is.)

I used the direct connection to the Content Sharing Program zeroing in on post-Ike imagery of the Texas coast.

From the project development side of content, Bernie also had a couple of recent entries covering earthquake preparedness: The Great California Shakeout and The Shakedown on the Shakeout. Following some of his ideas and content links, projects could be constructed for other quake-prone zones like those in the Midwest.

So, be sure to peruse the AGX Blog for tips, tricks, and content ideas.

- George Dailey, ESRI Education Manager

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ESRI GIS Education Programs Map

The ESRI Education Community is pleased to release the first version of its GIS Education Programs map, an interactive map depicting K-12 State-wide licenses, K-12 school district licenses, and university ESRI Development Centers.  See the map online at



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ArcGIS Desktop and ArcGIS Explorer on a Mac

One of the challenges for schools wanting to use GIS is that it can be hard for Macintosh users to integrate with other GIS users. Web-based mapping works, but it has been limited to modest capacity (though that is changing, thanks to ArcGIS Server). On the desktop, ArcExplorer Java Edition for Education (AEJEE) provides a solid intro, but not a lot of power. Another Java-based tool called MyWorld provides more power, but it’s not a tool with which professional GIS users are familiar. ArcGIS Desktop is a standard professional grade GIS (with several different levels), but it’s a Windows-only tool. Virtualization has helped by allowing users to create a “virtual Windows-based machine” on their Mac, but a popular product used by educators, Parallels, did not run the ArcGlobe or ArcGIS Explorer products effectively. Enter the latest version, Parallels 4.

The latest version of Parallels includes a number of nice enhancements, but the most important for some users will be the capacity to run the 3D applications in the ArcGIS family. Comparing speed of operation on wildly dissimilar machines can be a challenge, but first glimpse of Parallels 4 shows that ArcGIS applications run as expected and at a speed that is just fine for education, where 4 seconds is a significant chunk of time.

- Charlie Fitzpatrick, ESRI Education Manager

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The First Global Land Cover Map and Data Set

The POSTEL Service Centre / MEDIAS-France have made the first global land cover data at 300 meters resolution freely downloadable. This land cover map discriminates continental ecosystems according to 22 classes validated by independent experts at the highest resolution yet available. The map was generated by the GlobCover project, through the European Space Agency (ESA) and other partners, using data acquired between December 2004 and June 2006 by the MERIS sensor on board the ENVISAT satellite. The GlobCover Land Cover product is labeled according to the UN Land Cover Classification System.

To obtain the data, register at the POSTEL Service Centre site first.
You will be asked to choose a user name. The system will then register you and send you a password in a confirmation email. Next, download the data.
Select “biogeophysical products,” and you will see the GLOBCOVER link on the page that follows. This site provides other data that you may wish to explore in the future, such as the Normalized Difference of the Vegetation Index (NDVI), the canopy leaf index (LAI), burn areas, albedo, surface reflectance and temperature, precipitation, soil moisture, water level, water bodies, and more.

You will see a link to the FTP server at Once you log in, drill down to the following folder:

Inside, a documents folder contains a legend file (XLS format) and a metadata manual (PDF format). A data folder contains the LandCover data as a grayscale geotiff, as a quality file, and as an RGB file.

Land cover data for Spain and Morocco as displayed in ArcMap. I created the legend based on the values in the metadata file. This data set, with its RRD file, is over 1 GB in size.

When using the GlobCover Land Cover data, acknowledge its source as: Source data: © ESA / ESA GlobCover Project, led by MEDIAS-France, Image: © ESA / ESA GlobCover Project, led by MEDIAS-France.

More information can be found at the European Space Agency.

- Joseph Kerski, ESRI Education Manager

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