Monthly Archives: July 2011

Reflections on the Annual Teachers Teaching Teachers GIS (T3G) Institutes

Many of us in the field of GIS believe that the geographic way of viewing the world and geospatial tools are too valuable and useful to be confined to one discipline. Rather, GIS needs to be embedded into business, planning, environmental science, mathematics, engineering, history, language arts, biology, chemistry, archaeology, and others. We also believe that GIS needs to be included in every person’s formal education from primary to university level and offered in informal settings such as libraries, museums, and in after-school programs. Who will undertake the task of making all of this happen? Educators committed to the value of GIS, who understand its capabilities, and are equipped to train and present the GIS method and framework to a wide variety of audiences and settings, that’s who.

Empowering educators to spread GIS throughout education has been the focus of the Teachers Teaching Teachers GIS (T3G) institutes at Esri headquarters in Redlands, California. Three institutes, co-sponsored each June by Esri and GeoTechCenter, have enabled participants to promote and support GIS in other departments, other educational institutions, in their local community, and in their professional networks. Unlike events that focus on “learning how to do more with GIS,” the T3G institutes focus on “helping other educators use GIS effectively.” Participants work through a series of hands-on activities to improve their technical skills in online and desktop ArcGIS tools. This includes work with geoprocessing, spatial statistics, Landsat imagery, 2D and 3D tools, and ArcGIS Online maps and presentations. Yet the institutes go beyond the improvement of GIS skills to how best to teach with GIS in different educational settings, from online courses to semester-long face-to-face courses to short workshops. Participants create a project where they spatially analyze data they collect at the Gilman Historical Ranch, including elevation, weather, invasive species, bird nests, wildfires, tree health, and more, and presented the results using ArcGIS Explorer, ArcGIS Online, and ArcGIS desktop.

The 30 attendees each year range from 4-H coordinators to university professors and librarians to secondary school instructors. The institute teaching team includes educational consultants Kathryn Keranen and Lyn Malone, Amy Work from the Institute for the Application of Geospatial Technology, Anita Palmer and Roger Palmer from GIS ETC, and Esri education staff Charlie Fitzpatrick, Laura Bowden, and Joseph Kerski. The teaching team models different instructional activities, including gallery walks, instructor-led training, independent investigations, group projects, a “geo-news” broadcast, a game show “Deal With It” competition, and other methods.

Applicants interested in applying for the 2012 T3G institute should have a strong interest in training other educators in the use of GIS in instruction, developing curricular materials that help educators and students use GIS, and promoting GIS to educational administrators and policymakers. Preference will be given to educators from various settings who have demonstrated experience in three areas: Using GIS, teaching with computers, and providing professional development for educators.

Watch for announcements, and please consider applying to the 2012 T3G institute or telling your colleagues about it.

-Joseph Kerski, Education Manager

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GeoTech Center Webinar: Surveying the Community College Educational Landscape

This event has now passed. Visit the GeoTech Center website for more information.

From the entry-level to life-long learning, GIS professionals have questions about how to optimize their careers and always be as well-equipped as possible. This webinar, part of Penn State’s Inside Geospatial Education and Research Webinar Series, takes a look at the GeoTech Center and how it is supporting geo-education, specifically at the community college level.

Today, with rapidly evolving and emerging technology, the workforce must continue to retool to meet the changing demands of industry. Career change may be necessary, as one occupation becomes obsolete and others are expanding. Community colleges can be one place to acquire the skills and competencies needed for the geospatial industry.

The GeoTech Center – a NSF funded Center of Excellence – is working with educators, the Department of Labor and industry to align curricula to an industry standard so that students coming to a college for geospatial education have programs that help build their geospatial skills and competencies. The GeoTech Center’s associate director, Ann Johnson, will describe these efforts.

During the webinar, we’ll look at the offerings of Del Mar Community College, located in Corpus Christi, Texas. The program offers three certificates designed for post-baccalaureate graduates or mid-career adults, as well as an associate degree in GIS designed for a full-time learner. Dr. Phillip Davis, professor of Computer Science, will describe the program and the different needs it addresses.

Following, our speakers will answer questions and discuss what prospective students should consider when deciding what setting is appropriate for their educational needs.

Who should attend:
This webinar is intended for those interested in considering their own education needs, or for those who might be influencing the decisions of others, from managers to educators to those involved in the lives of young people.

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Reflections: My Top 10 Favorite Items from the 2011 Esri Education User Conference and International User Conference

It has become a tradition at the last several Esri User Conferences for some of the plenary presenters to give their “Top 10” favorite enhancements to ArcGIS software and its extensions. As I await my flight departing San Diego from this year’s Esri Education User Conference (EdUC) and International User Conference (UC), I would like to offer my “Top 10”.
Esri UC Crowd

First, the ability to drag-and-drop files in txt, csv, xls, and shp format from your computer to ArcGIS Online is incredibly easy and powerful. A close second favorite is the new ability to thematically map data in ArcGIS Online such as by graduated symbol or graduated color. Third, I enjoyed and learned from my colleagues who participated in the EdUC plenary. I used the ArcGIS Online presentation capability to give my section of the EdUC plenary keynote. It worked very well and it is a wonderful educational tool.
Fourth, we had an excellent discussion at the curriculum development special interest group meeting on Sunday, with innovative projects shared by many in attendance. We also had a number of math educators this year. We discussed the Spatial Math library on ArcLessons, which represents a start, and discussed what else needs to be developed for math educators.

Fifth, once again I absolutely loved meeting and hearing about the projects from the 4-H students. They are an inspiration, and many of them were only freshmen in high school. Think of what they will be doing by the time they graduate! Sixth, the UC plenary was once again my favorite day of all, seeing on the big stage and screen the new capabilities of the software, including the use of LIDAR and Landsat data, the vision shared by Jack Dangermond and others, and hearing the inspiring work done by the Rwanda coffee project leaders, the European Environment Agency, and the student and teacher from Clark Magnet High School. Seventh, I love the fact that the plenary videos are already online . Please consider attending in 2012. It truly is a life-changing event.

Eighth, my colleagues and I had wonderful, deep discussions with people who stopped at our Education Island in the exhibit hall. I wish everyone on the planet who wonders how geography and GIS are applicable to our world could spend time in the exhibit hall and map gallery. Within five minutes, they will understand! Ninth, the Academic Program Fair on Monday night was a terrific time of networking and learning, and even included a high school this year, Piner High School in Santa Rosa. Tenth, as I reflect on the energy, expertise, and vision of the 14,000 who gathered this week, I am greatly encouraged. People using GIS are truly changing the world in positive ways!

Will you make plans to attend the 2012 EdUC and UC?

- Joseph Kerski, Esri Education Manager

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Creating and Giving a Presentation Using ArcGIS Online

Recently I was invited to give a keynote address at the 2011 GI-Forum at the University of Salzburg, and created a map in ArcGIS Online that I used as my guide to the local physical and cultural geography. I shared it so that the other conference attendees could also use it, on I described this procedure in a recent blog entry but then went one step further: I used the same tool to create the keynote presentation that I gave at the conference. This presentation contains 57 slides and by searching for “GI-Forum” on ArcGIS Online, you can view it and use it to spark your own presentation ideas.

I varied the basemaps and methods throughout the presentation to keep the audience interested, and I found that ArcGIS Online offered a number of significant advantages. First, since ArcGIS Online is map-based, I could tie each of the points in my presentation to points on the maps. Second, the dynamic nature of the tool meant that at any point during the presentation, I could respond to questions from the audience and zoom to any location on the Earth, changing the basemaps or adding new content to respond to the question. After responding, I could easily resume the slides I had set up ahead of time. Third, I can now respond to those who are contacting me to find out if they can view it, simply by pointing them to ArcGIS Online. Fourth, I could easily go back and forth between my presentation and the local map with points of interest that I had created using the same tool.

Fifth, as we all know when working with technology, the unexpected can and will happen. On a practical level, using ArcGIS Online for the presentation saved the day when my computer would not communicate with the projector in the lecture hall at the University of Salzburg. At the last minute, we substituted a computer from one of the faculty, and because the presentation used ArcGIS Online, I did not have to worry about transferring files or whatever presentation software they might have had on the university’s computer. Rather, I was able to access and give my presentation right away!

How might you or your students use ArcGIS Online for an upcoming presentation or report, and how might you assess that presentation in the classroom?

- Joseph Kerski, Education Manager

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Social Media at the Esri Education user Conference (#esriEdUC)

Attending the Esri EdUC next week?

For those that use Twitter, please plan to Tweet with the hashtag #esriEdUC  – you can also follow @esriedUC

Flickr users, please post with tags esriEdUC and esriUC.- you can see pics posting with the esriEdUC tag at Flickr.

We also encourage you to post to YouTube using the same tags as in Flickr. Consider using your smartphones to create a short video of a colleague (with their permission) about their favorite EdUC activities or create your video diary of the event in YouTube.

Post your comments and reflections to one or more of the Facebook destinations:

Schools: (be sure to “Like”)

School Admin: (be sure to “Like”)

Higher Ed:

The EdCommunity website ( is featuring select content from Flickr and Twitter and the EdCommunity blog is updated regularly during the EdUC and year around!

Your frequent posts to these venues help us build a stronger, more involved community of educators.

Be sure to also review the social media planned for the Esri User Conference.

See you in San Diego!

- Tom Baker, Esri Education Manager

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Planning a Field Trip Using ArcGIS Online

I was invited to give a keynote address at the 2011 GI-Forum at the University of Salzburg, and as it was my first trip to Austria, I wanted to maximize my time there by creating a map in ArcGIS Online. I have always used maps as the central planning tool for any trips that I take for a conference or to gather data with students, but my old method was to print an online map of the area I was interested in, and draw points with pen on that map that I was interested in visiting.

The ArcGIS Online method has several clear advantages. First, I can save the map and later add content to my map after my trip has already begun, as long as I can connect to the Internet. Second, I can hyperlink images, videos, or informative text to each point, line, or area that I create. Third, I can switch between different basemaps such as topographic, street, imagery, and others, or add content such as real-time weather, geology, soils, or other layers. Fourth, I can change the scale that I wish to examine the area with, and I can also change the symbols for the content I am adding. Fifth, I can share that map with others at the conference or students I am working with in the field. Sixth, I can always print these maps if I wanted to take them with me in the field, but even better, I can access these maps on my smartphone using the ArcGIS Online app that I have already downloaded.

You can find my map by accessing The rich basemap content included buildings, which made it easy for me to add the points I needed. I also added a few lines and areas representing additional places I want to visit if I have the time.

Part of the map for the GI-Forum that I created on ArcGIS Online.

The ArcGIS Online map as it appears on my smartphone.

How might you use ArcGIS Online to plan your next field trip to a conference or to collect data?

- Joseph Kerski, Education Manager

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