Daily Archives: November 1, 2010

Fun with GIS #64: Integrating Tools, Engineering a Solution

There are many kinds of maps, many mapmaking tools, and many strategies. An experienced mapmaker
can engage different tools under different circumstances. Esri has several free tools that are useful for
education. They do different things, having been created for different purposes, under different times,
and with different base technologies. Just as a savvy carpenter, angler, or musical composer will make
choices and incorporate various tools to meet a challenge, a mapmaking educator should consider a full
range of options.

I have written extensively about the ArcGIS.com Viewer and ArcGIS Explorer Online (see “Fun With
GIS” #49-63
) and about ArcExplorer Java Edition for Education (AEJEE). Both technologies are free, both
work on both Macintosh and Windows operating systems, and both can help students and educators
develop fundamental concepts and skills with GIS. Each has advantages not found in the other, so a
crafty cartographer should consider the overall goal in a given project, and coordinate usage.

The first complete Youth Community Atlas project submitted for 2010-2011, produced by a 4-H club in
Kansas, integrates technologies nicely. Presenting dynamically online requires ArcGIS Explorer Online;
giving the viewer maps with specific characteristics required a desktop tool like ArcMap or AEJEE. The
integration is superior to either alone.

This is the heart of engineering: defining a problem, examining constraints, engaging capacities,
designing an optimized solution. This is yet another reason why GIS — even free GIS — is such a powerful
platform for STEM education.

- Charlie Fitzpatrick, Co-Manager, Esri Schools Program

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