Monthly Archives: July 2015

Do Some Hands-On Mapping and Analysis at the National Conference on Geography Education!

Esri is pleased to offer three days of hands-on workshops as part of a Mapping Lab at the upcoming 100th National Conference on Geography Education.  Staff from the Esri education group as well as some of our dear friends in geography education will be on hand to teach a series of first-come, first-served free 75-minute workshops!   These workshops will demonstrate the ease and power of spatial analysis that is possible on the web within ArcGIS Online.  The workshops will be held in the Justice Room of the JW Marriott Hotel in Washington DC on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, 6, 7, and 8 August 2015; for more details see the online program.

Never used ArcGIS Online?  We’d love to see you.  Experienced with ArcGIS Online? We promise something for you, too!

Why are we doing this?  Because we firmly believe in the connections between web mapping and rigorous geography education, and its connections to inquiry, fieldwork, community, 21st Century skills, STEM.  Furthermore, we believe that a hands-on approach is the best way to engage in these tools and methods.  The contents of the workshops will include mapping your own data, creating multimedia story maps, GeoInquiries, examining AP Human Geography themes such as land use and population change using live web mapping tools, investigating physical geography such as natural hazards and ocean processes, using ArcGIS Online for citizen science field activities, and much more.  We will have computers there but you are welcome to bring your own device.  We will also be hosting an exhibit at the conference that will be perfect for longer discussions about the mapping tools and activities.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Roll up your sleeves for hands-on work with web mapping tools, data, and spatial analysis at the National Conference on Geography Education!

Roll up your sleeves for hands-on work with web mapping tools, data, and spatial analysis at the National Conference on Geography Education!

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Advancing the map in US 8th grade Earth Science

Geographic concepts and mapping are perhaps one of the best-kept secrets in many school subjects – subjects that may not, to the casual observer, appear to have much geography.  Earth science is one subject full of maps and geography.  As a “natural science”, Earth science is typically offered to US students in most states about 8th grade.  What a great opportunity to learn Earth science concepts using modern mapping technologies through ArcGIS Online!

Enter the new, Earth Science GeoInquiries!

Earth Science GeoInquiries are new instructional resources designed for the US 8th grade Earth Science class.  Each geoinquiry activity takes about 15 minutes, is tied to the Next Generation Science Standards, and is bound to map concepts found in the leading textbooks used in school today.  Geoinquiries teach subject area content – and use ArcGIS Online to improve that instruction, making student engagement and inquiry deeper and richer than with the text alone.

For teachers, geoinquiries use standard models of inquiry teaching, provide learning objectives, and are fast to integrate.  A geoinquiry is designed to allow a teacher to display the map through a computer and projector – allowing the students to follow along from their regular classroom.  No visits to the lab, no logins, and no software installations.  Best of all, they are completely free!

Explore a few of the 15 new Earth Science GeoInquiries:

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Esri Young Scholars Award Program and Story Map

Since 2012, the Esri Young Scholar program has offered an annual competition and award given to exemplary university students majoring in geospatial science disciplines  from around the world.   Winning students have the opportunity to fly to San Diego and receive an all-access pass to the Esri User Conference, meet with Esri founder and president Jack Dangermond, present their work to a global audience of geospatial professionals, network with other Young Scholars from around the globe, and connect with many of the world’s leading geo-enabled organizations for future employment.  The competition is coordinated by Esri’s international distributors and Esri’s international and education teams, with winning entries selected by a university panel formed by Esri’s distributor in the recipient’s respective country.

To congratulate the 2015 scholars and to showcase their work, Renee Young and I here at Esri created a story map highlighting the work of these excellent individuals.  Space does not permit describing each project here, but the story map details each one with a link to each of the students’ posters.  For example, Paula Jimena Sarmiento Ospina and Manuel Guillermo Vega Garcia from the Universidad Distrital Francisco José de Caldas in Colombia created a GIS to establish safe routes and surveillance points for students at Villa Rica School.  Adrián Castelló Martínez from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Switzerland used real-time analysis with GPS sensor data to study the nonstop bike race Tortour.  Anne van der Veen at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands used Python to visualize open data. In preparing the story map, and after meeting some of these students this week at the Esri User Conference, I am greatly encouraged:  With students such as these grounded in spatial thinking and GIS, who soon will be out in the workplace, our future is bright!

If you would like to see more truly inspiring and exemplary work, see this video and the story map we made of the 2014 Young Scholars.  Also, think about using story maps to highlight the work done by your own students, or fellow faculty you are working with, or projects that you are working on!

2015 Esri Young Scholars Story Map

2015 Esri Young Scholars Story Map

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The Top 10 Most Job-Accessible Cities in the USA

This live web map showing the Top 10 Most Job-Accessible Cities in the USA is an excellent resource for teaching and learning about urban forms, public transportation, and economics.  The maps show the number of jobs accessible within 30 minutes by walking and/or public transportation.  As I live in Denver, I was pleased to see that city in the list, aided no doubt by our expanding light rail network, which I made a story map about last year.  A quick glance shows the extent of the areas shown in pink and red on each map–those areas with the most number of accessible jobs.  It is my hope, though, that educators and students will dig deeper, noting that the pattern and extent of these pink and red zones depend not only on the public transportation network, but also on the population in each city, on its economy, and on its topography.

A link is included on the story map to a transit access map in ArcGIS Online so you can investigate cities that are not a part of the Top 10:  For your chosen cities, how much of the urban area is within .25, .50, and .60 miles from a transit stop?   As students are investigating these questions, they are thinking spatially and making connections with their own city.  What parts of your city are well covered by public transportation? What parts are underserved? What parts are growing rapidly, and therefore, if you were the GIS analyst of the city’s transportation division, where would you recommend the public transportation should be expanded?

This map is part of one of my favorite collections of maps and tools, the Urban Observatory, which allows for the comparison of numerous variables for dozens of cities around the world.

How might you be able to use the Top 10 job-accessible story map and transit access map  in your own courses?

The Top 10  Most Job Accessible Cities in the USA

The Top 10 Most Job Accessible Cities in the USA.

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Introduction to Landsat Thematic Bands Web Mapping Application

Teaching remote sensing?  This web mapping application can be a very useful teaching tool.  The web mapping application covers the whole planet, with mapping services that are updated daily with new Landsat 8 scenes.

Access many band combinations and indices by hovering over the tools to the left of the map image and selecting among the following:

  • Agriculture: Highlights agriculture in bright green. Bands 6,5,2
  • Natural Color: Sharpened with 25m panchromatic band. Bands 4,3,2+8
  • Color Infrared: Healthy vegetation is bright red. Bands 5,4,3
  • SWIR (Short Wave Infrared): Highlights rock formations. Bands 7,6,4
  • Geology: Highlights geologic features. Bands 7,4,2
  • Bathymetric: Highlights underwater features. Bands 4,3,1
  • Panchromatic: Panchromatic image at 15m. Band 8
  • Vegetation Index: Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI). (Band5-Band4)/(Band5+Band4)
  • Moisture Index: Normalized Difference Moisture Index (NDMI). (Band5-Band6)/(Band5+Band6)

The Time tool for different indices at larger scales based on a user-selected location enables examination of changes over years or over seasons.  It also provides temporal profiles for NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index), NDMI (Normalized Difference Moisture Index) and an Urban Index.  The Identify tool enables access to information on the date, cloud cover, and a spectral profile about each scene.  The Bookmark tool allows access to pre-selected interesting locations.

The application is written using Web AppBuilder for ArcGIS accessing image services using the ArcGIS API for JavaScript, with access to the following Image Services:

  • Landsat Multispectral on AWS – 8-band multispectral 30m resolution image services and functions that provide different band combinations and indices.
  • Landsat Pan-sharpened on AWS – Panchromatic-sharpened imagery; 4-band (Reg, Green, Blue and NIR); 30m resolution.
  • Landsat Panchromatic on AWS – Panchromatic imagery; 15m resolution.

These services can also be accessed through the public Landsat on AWS group on ArcGIS Online.  You truly have “the world at your fingertips” because you can add these services as layers to your own maps or maps from others, or you can use the above web mapping application as a standalone map.  But there is a third option:  The web mapping application is also embedded on the Unlock Earth’s Secrets page, which also is useful for instruction, with featured places around the planet scrolling through time.

Think of the above as solid introductory segments to get your students interested in the topic of remote sensing.  These maps and applications require very little geospatial technology skills, allowing you to focus on concepts and principles while exploring some truly engaging content and places.

To dig deeper, delve into the many powerful remote sensing functions available in ArcGIS Desktop.  One source for engaging, hands-on activities, is Kathryn Keranen and Bob Kolvoord’s book Making Spatial Decisions Using GIS and Remote Sensing:  A Workbook.

Give these resources a try!

Landsat 8 Web Mapping Application

Landsat 8 Web Mapping Application.

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Three Reasons to Incorporate ArcGIS Pro into your GIS Curriculum

Last semester I assisted a colleague in teaching a GIS-based course at the local university. We had our students collect data in the field using Collector for ArcGIS, perform analysis and author maps in ArcMap, then publish their maps in the form of Story Maps in ArcGIS Online. I had been working a lot with ArcGIS Pro at the time and kept thinking to myself how much easier it would be for the students if we had been working with the new desktop application. Here are a few reasons why:

1. It’s easier to navigate

At first sight, ArcGIS Pro’s new ribbon interface will be familiar to users who have no experience with GIS software. And, first impressions aside, the new layout is easier to use because it is responsive, making different tools accessible depending on what items the user is working with. This results in better access to all the great functionality we as GIS professionals are accustomed to with less searching and fewer clicks. The interface overhaul should not be underestimated. Students will develop GIS skills faster and be able to complete workflows in less time.

2. It’s easier to share and access data

Technology is moving to the cloud and GIS is no exception. ArcGIS Pro is tightly integrated with ArcGIS Online, allowing students to easily publish web layers and maps from their desktops then share them with group members or teachers. Through this connection, students can also work with hosted data they collect in the field and large stores of authoritative data curated by Esri directly on their desktops. They can take advantage of the advanced analytical capabilities in ArcGIS Pro then publish their results to ArcGIS Online where they can leverage web application templates to create slick information products like Story Maps. Using ArcGIS Pro, students are able to work on group projects more easily, have access to more data, and can create more modern and engaging GIS information products to share with their class, school, or the public.

3. It’s easier to manage geodatabases

ArcGIS Pro’s improvements in geodatabase management are some of the most useful in the classroom. Managing your databases in ArcGIS Pro has a spreadsheet-like feel that is both familiar and faster by reducing clicks and abandoning the need to enter and exit editing mode to make changes. Rather than working with a series of modular windows, modifications to databases are made in field, domain, and subtype views which are easy to switch back and forth between. Changes are validated on-the-fly, values can be copied and pasted or dragged and dropped, and editing can be done at any time. Students can spend more time visualizing and analyzing their data rather than struggling with formatting it.

My reasons above don’t include the ability to work with 2D and 3D maps and scenes simultaneously, 64 bit multi-threaded processing, or any of the other “cooler” new features that come with ArcGIS Pro. All of these are fantastic developments and are taking desktop GIS into new and exciting places. My reasons for switching to ArcGIS Pro are directly related to an improved user experience which will have a huge impact on GIS learners, especially those new to the field. So, although advancements in visualization and analysis are exciting, being able to intuitively navigate the GIS interface and more simply manage local and cloud-based data will have the most immediate impact to new users in the classroom.  After all, we must create simple buffers and edit attribute tables before we can create 3D visualizations of emerging hot spot analyses.

For more on ArcGIS Pro:

Visit us at the Esri Education GIS Conference-

(Schedule of ArcGIS Pro-related workshops)

Incorporating ArcGIS Pro into Your Curriculum, Saturday, 18 Jul 2015, 1:30pm – 2:45pm

Get Started with ArcGIS Pro, Saturday, 18 Jul 2015, 1:30pm – 2:45pm OR Sunday, 19 Jul 2015, 8:30am – 10:00am

Visualizing Data with ArcGIS Pro, Saturday, 18 Jul 2015, 1:30pm – 2:45pm OR Sunday, 19 Jul 2015, 1:30pm – 2:45pm

GeoProcessing with ArcGIS Pro, Saturday, 18 Jul 2015, 3:15pm – 4:30pm OR Sunday, 19 Jul 2015, 3:15pm – 4:30pm

View these training resources-



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Posted in Education, Educational Research and Geospatial, Higher Education | 4 Comments

Make Plans to Attend the 2015 Esri Education GIS Conference

Passionate about GIS in education?  It’s not too late to make plans to attend the 2015 Esri Education GIS Conference, 18-21 July, in San Diego, California.  Whether you are an educator, administrator, researcher, whether you are experienced with GIS or are just beginning to discover all it has to offer, there is something at this event for you.  This year, the theme is “learning and leading through service”–featuring efforts to design and produce meaningful place-based projects that benefits communities while developing 21st Century skills.

At this event, you can exchange experiences, ideas, and tips that worked for you and your colleagues.  You can get some face to face time with GIS education experts from around the world.  You can take training to hone your skills.  You can update your curriculum, teaching materials, and resources.  You can better understand how to spread GIS across your campus, across your school district, and across your region or country.

The event features plenary sessions, lightning talks, an exhibit hall, and, unique to this conference, a series of hands-on workshops on a variety of topics, including spatial analysis techniques, collecting and mapping field data, and creating story maps.  This video, the agenda, and the agenda at a glance provide more detail.  We look forward to seeing you at this premier thought-leadership event for those involved in GIS education!

Learning and having fun at the Esri GIS Education Conference!

Learning and having fun at the Esri GIS Education Conference!

Posted in Education, Educational Research and Geospatial, Higher Education, Informal Education, Schools, Youth Programs | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment