Fun with GIS Using AGX#21: Integrating Tools

People often ask “If I want to do data analysis, what tool should I use?” Several weeks ago, I wrote a different blog entry about tool use. As I tell people, I use ArcGIS Desktop (either ArcView or full ArcInfo), and ArcGIS Explorer (or “AGX,” ESRI’s free, downloadable, 3-D geo-exploration tool), and ArcExplorer Java Edition for Education (or “AEJEE”, ESRI’s free, downloadable, Win-Mac, 2-D intro GIS tool). I also use other basic tools on both Windows and Macintosh, as needed: web browser, simple text editor, word processors, spreadsheets, database tools, and several graphics packages.

This morning, I wanted to explore some data about marine critter migration, mentioned on a marine bio listserv I read. I found some data, but they were not formatted just right. I copied the data from my browser, pasted different versions into different tools while doing “clean-up” and, in about 15 minutes, generated a tidy little CSV (comma-delimited text) file. Since AGX could not draw a CSV file but could add a shapefile, I used AEJEE to convert it in to a shapefile, then copied and renamed a PRJ file of another decimal degree data set. Then I used AEJEE to build a quick analytical map, and explored the environment with AGX. Finally, I used graphics tools to do screenshots and trim the images down.

I’ve talked recently with people in several states who were looking for students with technical experience. They all said much the same thing: “We need people who can look at a situation and figure out how to address it. And since situations, tools, and data keep changing, we need people who can continue to learn new techniques and strategies, and find how to learn something quickly when they don’t know it. A disposition for learning and using their information and skills to solve problems. That’s what we need.” GIS has a huge role to play in educating young people for jobs of today and tomorrow.

- Charlie Fitzpatrick, Co-Manager for ESRI’s Program for Schools

Tom Baker

About Tom Baker

Tom Baker is an Esri Education Manager, specializing in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education, teacher education, and educational research. He regularly publishes and presents on geospatial technologies across education.
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  1. dharms says:

    In this short exercise a wealth of computer skills were covered. I recently attended a session on “What is a GIS Technician and What Do They Do” at the Illinois GIS Association Spring Conference. Working with these basic skills matches exactly with some of the tasks identified. All to often we think that our computer savvy students know all of the steps. GIS is an excellant tool to give students skills in using all of the tools available on their desktops. As insturctors teaching the basic skills we need to slow down and show the basics step by step, reinforce the idea that no single tool does all, and give the students problem solving experiances that let them create real world results.