Small but powerful, iPads have taken hold in many classrooms. With good connectivity, these tablets offer rich exploration, data gathering, analysis, and presentation, via ArcGIS Online. Lacking the horsepower, browser plugins, and multi-function mouse of a full computer, there are limits, but savvy users can still accomplish quite a lot.
The ArcGIS for iOS app opens existing projects containing modest data sets. With sustained wifi or cell connection, field data entry is a snap, including adding on-site photo/video and using GPS-based location. Swapping basemaps and turning layers on and off just requires accessing side panels. Shifting between multiple accounts is easy, as the app can store full connection info.
But I just use the iPad’s regular web browser, because it permits full access to authoring (including saving and sharing), layer controls like transparency, and the rich and growing body of ArcGIS Online data and analysis power, just like my computer. It takes only a few seconds to get used to tapping to focus the tablet’s attention and then tapping again to engage a control.
Even maps with data loads that overtax the ArcGIS for iOS app (such as “GLOBEdemo” above) often work inside the iPad’s web browser. This means that, if you can do it on a computer in a regular browser, including playing a presentation (such as “TX Demographics” below), you can usually do it on an iPad.
Many schools today are looking for reasons to use the banks of iPads they have acquired, particularly in activities that engage students in analysis and presentation. ArcGIS Online provides unlimited opportunity for educators who are willing to unleash students in exploring, creating, and analyzing data.
Charlie Fitzpatrick, Esri Education Manager