Monthly Archives: July 2009

Join the AAG GIS Specialty Group and see the world

The Association of American Geographers GIS Specialty group recently announced a competition for student travel awards to be used for a GIS-related conference held outside the applicant’s country of residence. The full announcement is below. (My apologies to the US Navy for stealing their tag line.)

AAG GIS Specialty Group 2009 Student Travel Awards

The AAG Geographic Information Systems and Science Specialty Group (GISS-SG) is pleased to announce a competition for student travel awards to be used for a 2009 GIS-related conference held outside the applicant’s country of residence. We anticipate 3 awards of $500 (USD) each to attend a peer-reviewed, academic GIS-related conference (e.g. COSIT, Geocomputation, ICA, or other conference).

In order to be eligible, the student must be a current member of GISS-SG and a currently enrolled graduate student.

To apply, please send an email with:
1. the abstract you have already submitted and the name of the conference to which it was submitted;
2. a short statement (500 words) addressing the importance of attending this conference and your financial needs; and
3. a short (2 pg) CV
to Jennifer A. Miller (Jennifer.miller(at) by September 1, 2009.

Applications will be evaluated by a panel of judges based on the overall quality of the abstract submission as well as the needs of the applicant as detailed in the statement. Awards will be conditional upon acceptance of abstract to the conference.

GISS-SG reserves the right to make fewer than three awards.

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ESRI User Conference Videos

A host of ESRI User Conference videos is now available online – including videos from the Plenary Session, Keynote Speakers, Technical Sessions, and much more.

Be sure to catch the “GIS in Education” video, located within the Plenary Session videos!

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The GeoMentor Program, from National Geographic and ESRI

GeoMentor logo
The GeoMentor Program was launched this past week by National Geographic and ESRI. This free international program is in response to the troubling lack of geographic literacy among youth in the U.S. and around the world. The program relies on the geographic vision and geotechnology skills of GIS users. GeoMentors volunteer time and expertise to work with educators, in schools, colleges, youth clubs, museums, science centers, and other formal and informal centers of learning.

At the GeoMentor website, GeoMentors and educators from around the world can register and seek appropriate partners, based on interests, needs, and backgrounds. Once established, there is no specific plan that mentors and educators must follow, save for communicating with each other and working to help youth see and engage the power of geographic thinking. The most crucial first step is for the partners to share candidly what each is seeking. Some educators may need help simply understanding maps, some may need assistance building resources, while others need help on a more technical level. Some mentors may be comfortable with providing help “behind the scenes” while others might be more interested in direct interaction with youth.

GeoMentor Map

The goal is for the many thousands of practitioners of geography around the world to understand and respond to the need for external support. GIS users work constantly with patterns and relationships in data, across spaces large and small. These skills and perspectives are fundamental for making good decisions in the face of scarce resources. Passing these skills through educators to youth will help us all to build a better planet.

The youth presentation at the ESRI User Conference Plenary on Monday July 13 emphasized the power of GeoMentors. You can watch this dramatic example online, at
(see “GIS in Education”, third from bottom).

Check it out at! Sign up!

Charlie Fitzpatrick, ESRI Co-Manager for Schools

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Report of GIS Curriculum Special Interest Group Meeting: Moving Forward

Each year during the ESRI Education User conference in San Diego, a group interested in curriculum development meets to discuss progress made by the community and its most pressing needs.

This year, the group totaled about 40 and was led by Dr Bob Kolvoord of James Madison University. Over the past year, curriculum has been developed and placed online by a variety of organizations around the world, including James Madison University, through Dr Ming Tsou at San Diego State University, through the contributors to ArcLessons, and several others. In addition, GIS curriculum books have been written in Taiwan, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the USA, and elsewhere. The ArcLessons portal has been revised and improved.

What curricular items is the community most in need of? Items at different scales—local, regional, national, or global? Items using different software tools? Items grappling with different issues, such as biodiversity, renewable energy, water, or urban sprawl? Items in different formats? Items focused on teaching about GIS or items focused on teaching with GIS? Items targeted at different age ranges of students, at-risk, or specific populations? Items in specific languages? Items tied to specific educational content standards? The first answer that comes to mind, of course, is “yes to all of the above.” The progress is encouraging yet the needs continue as GIS is applied to more levels and fields in education and in society. Given this need and the constraints on the community, how should we prioritize these needs?

The group identified the need for a library of syllabi, and items to help those who are developing new GIS education programs. The NSF-funded iGETT project is generating GIS and remote sensing-based curriculum for the community colleges. Should we apply for a grant that develops curriculum for secondary schools, youth organizations, or universities? Who would fund it? The community was also encouraged to create screencasts using Jing and to post them online. It was a lively meeting and we encouraged the group to continue discussions on

Joseph Kerski, Education Manager, ESRI.

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EdUC: Final day of the ESRI Education User Conference

After spending Monday at the User Conference, EdUC Attendees are reminded that sessions resume at the Hilton Bayfront Hotel.

Sessions run from 8:30-9:45 and 10:15-11:30.

At lunch, two Special Interest Groups (SIGs) are available. The Research in GIS in Education SIG meets in Indigo 202B. The Higer Ed Site License Admins are also meeting in Indigo 29C of the San Diego Convention Center.

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UC: Gi Science sessions reminder

Tuesday, we will be holding 3 session on Advances in GI Science (all 9 papers published in Transactions in GIS; we will distribute copies).

Starting at 8:30 am.

Room 29C in SDCC.

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ArcGIS Explorer at the ESRI Education User Conference

While the official opening of the ESRI User Conference is still a couple of days away, several other concurrent conferences have already started. At the opening plenary of the 2009 ESRI Education User Conference Bern Szukalski delivered a 30-minute presentation covering some of the new features of ArcGIS 9.3.1, ArcGIS Online, and an overview of the upcoming new release of ArcGIS Explorer. Here’s a few highlights of what he showed.

Bern started off with ArcGIS Desktop, and opened a mostly empty map. He explained what he needed was additional basemap information; he was looking for topographic maps.

Read the full post at the AGX Blog.

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Join ESRI EdUC-UC Panel: GeoCareers, Education, and the Future

ESRI EdUC-UC Panel: GeoCareers, Education, and the Future

Geospatial technologies and their uses in everyday life are more pervasive than ever. Are there enough geoworkers to handle the present and future needs? What kinds of educational skill sets do young people need to step into these and yet-to-be imagined geocareers?

Join us for a lively panel discussion on these and related topics on Tuesday July 14 at the ESRI User Conference (3:15-4:30, Rm 29C SDCC).

The panel members are:

  • Gov. Jim Geringer (Wyoming Governor 1995-2003 and ESRI Policy Director)
  • Sara Hall, Deputy Director—State Educational Technology Directors Assn, (Importance of 21st century tech skills in a globally competitive economy and the present achievement gap)
  • Joe Francica, Editor-in-Chief Directions Media, (View from geospatial media and industry)
  • Ken Yanow, Professor of Geographical Sciences, Southwestern College, (NSF GeoTech Center partner and community college view)
  • David DiBiase, Senior Lecturer, Penn State, (NSF GeoTech Center partner, evolving nature of the geospatial workforce, and university view)

Each presenter will share 5-7 minutes of opening thoughts followed by audience/panel discussion.

Please come share your views on this important topic!

- George Dailey, ESRI Education Program Manager

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ESRI Education User Conference is here!

It begins!

The ESRI Education User Conference opening session will be held in the Hilton Bay Front, Indigo Ballrooms A & B. It starts at 8:30 with updates from the Education Team, followed by demos of ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Explorer.

The keynote, Dr. Hank Scholten, begins at 11 am

See you all there!

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Routing Using ArcGIS Online: Truckin’ at the Regional Scale

I have discussed how ArcGIS Online’s routing service supports optimized routing for North America and Europe, and investigated a classroom example at the city level. Now let’s investigate an example at a regional scale. Present the following scenario to the students: The Geo-Trucking Corporation, which delivers handheld mobile devices for field collection, has hired them to route a truck each week from Boston to Boise, and return, with intermediate stops in Birmingham Alabama and Fort Smith Arkansas.

Access ArcMap 9.3.1, turn on the StreetMap toolbar, and select “Find Route using online route services” . Select the North America routing service. Add a USA cities layer, select Boston, Birmingham, Fort Smith, and Boise, and add these as stops along your route. Select the shortest route on the Options tab, and use highways. Save your route and stops to shapefiles, add them to the map, and symbolize as arrows.

Repeat the process by selecting the quickest route rather than the shortest route. Is there any difference? Why? The map does show a difference, but only at larger scales. The shortest route occasionally sends your truck over state highways instead of interstate highways. In Arkansas, your truck driver will be traveling on State Highway 22 instead of I-40 from Russellville to Fort Smith.

To empirically discover the difference between shortest vs. quickest, I edited the tables, populating the distance and time fields with the data that the routing tool combined into a description field. Summarizing yielded 5,999 miles and 98 hours for the shortest route, versus 6,016 miles and 93.9 hours for the quickest route. Both routes could indeed be done in a week; the quickest route adds 17 miles but cuts over 4 hours of travel. Is there any difference if you select “local roads” over “highways?” What factors, such as rest stops or traffic, might delay the total time required for your shipment?

Through creating and comparing routes, these activities encourage students to think spatially and investigate real-world problems. 10-4, good buddy!

-Joseph Kerski, Education Manager, ESRI.

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