Monthly Archives: November 2010

Geo Community Collaboration Survey

The GeoCommunity has created a survey to better understand how Web 2.0 tools can be utilized.

This survey is trying to understand how the GIS community interacts with one another, it is trying to understand how willing the GIS community wants to start, share, innovate, and receive GIS products by collaborating as a unique team. This survey is focused on forms of explicit & intrinsic rewards, innovate ideas, and collaborative teams that utilize funding and social platforms to achieve your objectives.

Take the survey at SurveyMonkey.

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The GIS Education Daily

The GIS Education Daily is a fast and easy way to review the GIS Education highlights broadcast across Twitter by the Esri Education Team and friends.

If you don’t have the time to follow the latest news and activities in Twitter, visit The GIS Education Daily, an automated digest from giving you the key points every 24 hours.

You can also find and follow the members of the Esri Education Team on Twitter.

An archive of past dailies is available. You can also “subscribe” to the daily – you’ll receive an email each day with it’s updated.

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Studying Landscape Change Using ArcGIS Online

Because ArcGIS Online includes imagery from several different sources collected at different times, ArcGIS Online can be effectively used to study landscape change. Recently I was teaching at the Esri East Africa office in Nairobi, Kenya, in a neighborhood experiencing rapid transformation from residential to large office blocks. After my class gathered data about street lights and streets using ArcPad running on a Trimble Juno device, we transferred that geodatabase to my computer and started ArcGIS 10. Next, I needed a base map to display behind my field-collected data. In the case of Nairobi, the best street data was from OpenStreetMap, a layer easily obtained from ArcGIS Online. Then I easily added two images from ArcGIS Online—the Esri world imagery layer, and the Bing imagery layer. The imagery layers were both useful because they allowed us to examine two different years, the Esri imagery layer (2004) and the Bing imagery layer (2010).

Now I could assess the amount of change in the neighborhood. Using the swipe tool on the Effects toolbar allowed me to easily and dynamically compare the two images. The building housing the Esri East Africa office (just north of the soccer field in middle right) did not exist in the older image, yet the boarding school across the soccer field was visible on both images.

This same technique could be used to examine your own neighborhood or any area on the planet that you are interested in studying that may have experienced human or environmental change—an area recently scorched by wildfire, converted from rangeland to farmland, covered with roads or houses, scarred by a landslide, or impacted in other ways.

Another point worth noting is that since ArcGIS Online imagery covers the world, no matter where your study is located, you will be able to obtain a base map. And, what’s more, the base maps overlay perfectly with your other data. How things have changed from a few years ago when it was difficult to obtain a base image for many areas of the planet—much less, one that overlaid your field-collected data!

What changes can you detect using imagery from ArcGIS Online?

-Joseph Kerski, Esri Education Manager

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Fun with GIS #66: Mapping Maine with ArcGIS Online

Last week, I was at the Maine GIS Educators Conference, in Augusta. Outstanding! About 50 teachers from K-12 and another 20 from Higher Ed gathered to share notes and learn new ideas.

Because Maine has a Macintosh-based laptop initiative, I’d been waiting for this event ever since the opening of ArcGIS Online. The ArcGIS Online Viewer (Javascript-based “1-foot high jump”) and ArcGIS Explorer (Silverlight-based “2-foot high jump”) offer excellent starting points for people who want to get into GIS, whether on Windows or Macintosh.

We mapped the country, and the state, and down into neighborhoods, as demonstrated below. The basic Viewer is an excellent starting point, and teachers from a full spectrum of grade levels and subject areas were able to practice on their own laptops. The exciting thing about this tool is how easy it is to see some and use of the fundamental concepts and skills engaged in full-scale GIS. Pan/zoom, scale and dependency, layers and drawing order, on/off, transparency, features and attributes, adding data, find, and especially the identify tool. These elements get used constantly in professional GIS, and users of the basic Viewer can encounter them all in the first minutes.

After gaining basic comfort with the “1-foot high jump,” we graduated to the “2-foot high jump” of ArcGIS Explorer Online. With time flying past, we raced to practice adding geographic data and then construct a quick presentation.

These tools can provide instructors and students alike a powerful, fast introduction to critical elements used constantly in GIS, and can expose them to a lot of professional content and good cartography. I only had the barest chance to mention the capacity for doing SQL queries, such as shown above – a query highlighting block groups in Maine with median age above 50. For a simple, free tool, it’s quite powerful.

I think it’s always vastly more interesting to see what powerful work users can accomplish with simple tools than to see simple work done with powerful tools. GIS educators who want to help others get into GIS (especially all the STEM educators!) would do well to engage the tools of ArcGIS Online and see my previous dozen or so blogposts for guidance on usage.

- Charlie Fitzpatrick, Co-Manager, Esri Schools Program

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Recorded Webinar: An Overview of Spatial Cognition Research

Psychologists, geographers, and educators have long studied how children and adults understand and use space, such as how we navigate, read maps, and manipulate objects in 3D. In this session we reviewed some of these complex questions and answers, and preview where this research agenda is going next.

Presenter: Diana Stuart Sinton, University of Redlands

To launch this previously recorded webinar, click here. To view the webinar, you must have the Flash player installed.

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ArcGIS 10 Service Pack 1

from the ArcGIS blog:

ArcGIS 10 Service Pack 1 (SP1) is now available on the ArcGIS Resource Center for all ArcGIS 10 products. Go here for information on what’s part of SP1.

SP1 Download Page.

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Esri T3G Institute Applications Due November 30

- Are you passionate about GIS and its potential benefits for students of all ages?
- Do you love sharing GIS with other educators, but wonder whether you are “doing it right”?
- Do you enjoy conducting teacher professional development with GIS or technology?
- Would you like to spend a week refining your GIS teaching techniques and sharing ideas with a group of peers with similar interests?

If these questions resonate with you, we encourage you to apply for the third annual Esri Teachers Teaching Teachers GIS Institute. The week-long workshop, limited to 30 participants, will be hosted at Esri headquarters in Redlands, California from June 12–17, 2011.

Unlike other events, which focus on “learning how to do more with GIS,” the Esri T3G Institute focuses on “helping other educators use GIS effectively.” A group of nationally-known educators in geospatial technologies will model engaging instructional strategies and up-to-date GIS tools, and help you to plan and conduct GIS training events for educators with confidence.

T3G 2011 is sponsored in part by the National Geospatial Technology Center of Excellence (GeoTech Center), an organization that supports GIS learning initiatives among the higher education community. It is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

The application deadline for T3G 2011 is November 30, 2010. Qualified applicants from the United States will receive priority.

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Happy GIS Day 2010!

Happy GIS Day – 17 November 2010!

If you are addressing GIS professionals or educators today, refer them to: and encourage them to sign up to be a geomentor or an educator.

Tell folks about the EdUC:

The call for presentations is now available.

If you want to show-off some GIS applications in schools, see:

And see the education blog, lessons, events on

Show the middle (GIS) segment on the 4H Revolution video:

Show the new Geospatial Revolution video segments on:

Finally, GIS Day resources are on:

Have a great day!

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Geography Awareness Week: Studying Freshwater

Happy Geography Awareness Week! Since 1987, the National Geographic Society has promoted this event to show that geography education is relevant to a whole host of issues in our world, and to illustrate how to teach about these issues in practical ways. Through those years, Esri has supported Geography Awareness Week by illustrating how GIS can be effectively used for instructing students of all ages with dynamic maps, geographic inquiry, and sound content. This year, the theme is freshwater. GIS has long been used for years for freshwater research and makes an excellent teaching tool as well. GIS allows us to view, understand, question, interpret, and visualize data in many ways that reveal relationships, patterns, and trends in the form of maps, globes, reports, and charts. A GIS helps you answer questions and solve problems by looking at your data in a way that is quickly understood and easily shared.

Begin with the Esri EdCommunity Geography Awareness Week resource page on:

This resource features videos, web mapping, lessons on stormwater, watersheds, water use, and floods. How does the stream in Colorado, Missouri River in North Dakota, and the Savannah River in Georgia compare in terms of vegetation on the stream bank, amount of flow, and nearby landforms? Why?

Learn about Mapping Freshwater with our colleague Charlie Fitzpatrick’s guidance on the Esri EdCommunity blog:

Charlie shows how to use ArcGIS Online to make water-related maps. Try it! Search for water related content, and you will soon be analyzing water from the local to global scale:

Watch Charlie Fitzpatrick’s webinar on the Community Atlas program, ArcGIS Explorer Online, and freshwater, on:

Search for “water” in the ArcLessons library of lessons:

You can also search for GIS in education case studies that relate to “Water”:

Be sure to read about Mr. Obenhaus’ students in “Combining Math, Science, and GIS” who use GIS and other technologies and field work to study freshwater.

How will you use GIS to study freshwater and raise awareness about geography and this precious resource?

- Joseph Kerski and Tom Baker, Esri Education Managers

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What Makes Your Neighborhood Unique?

What is the purpose for the pole in this picture? Notice that others exist across the street, and indeed, stretch on for blocks in this neighborhood. Yet in your neighborhood, none may exist.

Plow Stake
What else do you notice in the picture? What kind of houses do people live in, and what might the inhabitants be like? What does the vegetation imply about this area’s ecoregion? When were the houses constructed, and how has the area changed over time? The term “neighborhood” implies being near residents who are considered “neighbors.” How large of an area do you consider to be your neighborhood? Does the area that we define as our neighborhoods change as we grow older? Do you believe that a neighborhood’s size depends on our primary mode of transportation? What influence does rural or urban have on neighborhood size? What natural or human-made features influence what you consider to be your neighborhood boundaries?

How could you use GIS to examine your neighborhood? Begin by examining topographic maps and satellite imagery using ArcGIS Online ( Add demographic data to your map and examine variables such as age, income, and ethnicity, as shown below. Examine lifestyle measures online ( Compare your neighborhood to others nearby or far away. GIS offers a rich toolkit for neighborhood analysis, and your investigation could continue through the examination of spatial statistics in ArcGIS Desktop.

That pole? It is a plow stake, placed there every autumn so that in this area, which lacks sidewalks or curbs, snowplow drivers will know where the edge of the pavement is. Knowing this, and considering your earlier observations, where do you think this photograph was taken? I will post a comment to this blog entry after I have given you time to guess.

Consider asking your students what makes their own neighborhoods unique, and use GIS to investigate the fascinating stories that their replies will lead to.

- Joseph Kerski, Esri Education Manager

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