Daily Archives: January 6, 2014

Fun with GIS 155: Resolutions

Did you make any resolutions for this new year? Do you have a new device with which to explore the world and analyze data via maps? Even if you answer “no” to both, there is much you can do, easily. Resolutions are easier to keep if they are both worthwhile AND easy to accomplish.

“I have a smartphone!” See FunWithGIS152 and make a simple swipe app, centered on the region of interest for you. You can read the blog (do it on a larger screen), experiment with the sample, download the instructions, make the maps, build the app, test it on the phone, share it, and tweak it, all in under an hour, even if you haven’t built apps before. After making the sample, think up a more useful combo.

“I have a tablet!” Open a browser and visit the K12 State License AGO Org (even if you aren’t a school person and don’t know about state licenses). Scroll right, to the “Mapables Atlas” (USA or World), and try one of the maps. Tablets can’t do everything quite as easily as full computers can, but many maps and apps work just fine on any tablet with screen at least 1024×768. There is unlimited content to explore on a tablet!

“I have a computer!” Master data tables. See these blogs and their linked resources: FunWithGIS143, FunWithGIS112, FunWithGIS106, FunWithGIS104, FunWithGIS93, FunWithGIS90. Get good at making a clean table. These repeated blogs are necessary because many people have trouble with tables, because there are many ways to make tables, and they are easy to mess up, so maps made from them may not work or may be wrong. Practice with something small (yielding adequate variety while making it easy to find and fix errors), like five fields about 10 states, or about 10 field data collection sites. Use the blogs’ links to help troubleshoot data entry, then turn the tables into maps. Absolute mastery of table creation (not just “I think it’s close”) is fundamental to analyzing data, and supports powerful analyses in maps.

“Got bandwidth!” Wired or wireless internet access rocks! Explore the K12 State License Org and its resources. Even without devices or bandwidth for every student to work solo, most of these resources can be used for learning in pairs, groups, or all at once. Show the direction in which GIS use is heading — integrating tools, connecting users with professionals and their content. Think about an integrated project for your students, crossing boundaries between classes, using maps that are accessible from multiple directions, on multiple devices, in school and out.

“Sorry, no new tech, still low bandwidth.” ArcGIS Desktop is ever more capable, and the wonderful introductory Mapping Our World lessons for ArcGIS Desktop can be downloaded once and shared across a lab. The Esri Press page shows a host of books, and links to a page where educators can request desk copies. Esri’s periodic hardcopy publications can help educators demonstrate where students can go with skills.

It’s a new year. You can help your students, the community, and the world. Make a difference with GIS, even with just a single new thing.

Charlie Fitzpatrick, Esri Education Manager

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