Tag Archives: ArcGIS_com

Using Local Live GIS Portals in Education

Many organizations are putting their information on a smart map–by using ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Server technologies–to make their operations more efficient,   The portal from Keith County, Nebraska is one of my favorites.   You, as the educator, can make use of local live GIS web mapping portals like this to teach a wide variety of concepts and skills.  I describe how to use it in further detail in this video.

For example, with the Keith County Nebraska portal, created by the GIS professionals at GIS Workshop Inc., you can teach about how the Public Land Survey System (PLSS) was implemented to divide up the land into parcels, sections, townships, and ranges, and how it affects our lives to the present day.  Examine and measure the extent and location of historical wildfires.  Teach about latitude and longitude, center pivot irrigation and other land use, image characteristics (determine the time of day and time of year that the image was taken), and study changes from nature (river meanders) and from humans (urbanization and agriculture) over time by comparing historical to current imagery.  Examine housing types type using the ground photographs on the site with the property values and age of construction to illustrate how towns grew and changed.

Using Local GIS Portals in Education:  Keith County, Nebraska

How could you use this web mapping portal in education?  What other local GIS maps  have you found useful? I invite you to share your discoveries with the community.

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Field Science as the Geography in Your Community

On a cool fall day in November, Mr. Smith’s middle school science students are running around the school and community collecting data about a tiny, non-descript organism called a lichen. Lichens are actually two symbiotic organisms, a fungus and usually algae that live on trees, rocks, or even just the ground. It turns out, that frequently, lichens exhibit damage patterns when exposed to certain negative atmospheric conditions in the local community.
A crustose lichen

For many geographers this story gets more interesting when they think about the geographic distribution of characteristic damage in lichens across a town. The geographic patterns can be quite blatant or muted, depending on a host of environmental and other variables.

Mr. Smith and his students have used desktop GIS and digital globes for years with varying degrees of success, while trying to map the students’ data. Recently, Mr. Smith started using the ArcGIS.com map viewer and was able to map the data during class – in front of his students. Not only does the class engage in the map-making process, the classification of data, and the spotting of outliers, but the class also discusses geographic patterns as they are unfolding in the dataset.

Whether you’re mapping lichens or any other community data your students collect, a number of resources are at your disposal:

Mapping Data from Your Community with ArcGIS.com
Using the ArcGIS.com Map Viewer to Map Geotagged Images (from Flickr)
Esri EdCommunity’s Geography Awareness Week page

As this Geography Awareness Weeks draws to a close, take a moment to talk with a teaching colleague and remind them how much geography is in so many classroom topics. Whether the discipline is biology or economics, math or language arts opportunities are all around for collaborating and promoting geography and GIS across the campus and around the community.

The adventure in your community continues!

- Tom Baker, Esri Education Manager

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Play Ball! Examining the World Series, Baseball, and Other Sports Using ArcGIS Online

I have created a new presentation using ArcGIS Online to invite exploration of the spatial aspects of baseball teams, players, stadiums, and the sport itself. The goal of the presentation is to use the familiar and interesting topic of baseball as a starting point for exploring spatial data at a variety of scales, to ask geographic questions, and to use WebGIS in the process.

Baseball is a spatial sport. The bases are a standard “space” or distance apart, the fielders are assigned certain locations on the field, the offense has a prescribed direction to tag and run the bases, and the players, umpires, coaches, and warm-up pitchers have prescribed areas in the stadium in which to work. Even the fans have certain areas in which they can sit, and the proximity to the field and other amenities determines the ticket price. Angles are of crucial importance as the ball is thrown, hit, and fielded.

In short, spatial considerations run throughout the sport of baseball. Baseball stadiums are constructed in certain locations and markets and affect local and regional transportation patterns, local economies, land use, and even local drainage and impervious surface. The birthplace of players and affiliated radio and TV stations also form regional and, these days, even international patterns.

The presentation includes discussion and data on the distribution of radio stations broadcasting major league baseball games, the distribution of the birthplaces of baseball players, population density and neighborhood characteristics, access to and proximity of stadiums, comparing stadiums in different cities, comparing different types of sports stadiums, and much more. A total of 7 videos linked to the presentation invite deeper reflection. Spatial questions are embedded throughout the presentation. Actually, the word “presentation” does not adequately fit the wonderful and powerful capabilities built into ArcGIS Online. This presentation includes 53 slides, but at any point, the user of these slides can exit the presentation mode, zoom and pan, add additional data, change symbology, change the base map, or examine a different issue. The presentation mode in ArcGIS Online can serve as an excellent storytelling tool for students studying biology, chemistry, geography, history, mathematics, as well as a convenient and authentic means for instructors to assess student work.

How might you use this activity, and ArcGIS Online, to promote spatial thinking through sports?

-Joseph Kerski, Esri Education Manager

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No-cost webinar: Analyzing Data Using Online Mapping

September 27, 2011

8pm Eastern/ 7pm Central/6pm Mountain/5pm Pacific

Charlie Fitzpatrick


The Esri Education team is joining up with NCGE to bring 
more classroom ideas for cool mapping tools. Maps don’t give up all their secrets
right away.  You often need to tease out info through analysis. Web-based mapping
tools, for both Windows and Macintosh, permit significant data analysis. See how
to analyze various types of data using just a web browser. Great ideas and
implementation strategies for many classes, including AP Human Geography!  Join
us for amazing tools at the perfect price…free!  Space is limited.  Sign up now.


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Up, Up, and Away with Web GIS

California Ballooning
Many great new features have been added to the mapping tools (ArcGIS Explorer Online and the ArcGIS.com map viewer) found at ArcGIS.com over the summer.  For example, we can now easily map tracklogs created by GPS units and smartphones, save, and share.

 On a recent summer trip, I was fortunate to ride in a hot balloon in northern California.  The first thing I did?  I turned on my smartphone GPS application of course!  I used Motion-X GPS to capture my position in a tracklog.  Motion-X GPS is a great smartphone application but any similar app will do. Throughout the balloon ride the smartphone was tracking my position and when we landed, I stopped the recording and emailed myself a copy of my route in a GPX format.

At my desk, I used a browser to go to the ArcGIS.com map viewer.  Pressing the “Add” button and selecting “Add Layer from File” is all I needed to do.  I located the GPX file that I saved to my computer and voila!

What a great way for students to share summer trips!  Even fall trips to the zoo, public gardens, parks, or nature centers would make for a great map-based story.  Or used as-is, this trip makes for an interesting way to start  exploring northern California’s agriculture.  We floated over tomatoes, sunflowers, soy, and more.  Try leveraging high-resolution imagery as a basemap beneath the balloon’s path.

At the bottom of this post, you’ll find a link to the original GPX file of my balloon ride. Try recreating and improving upon my map. Notice there’s even an elevation field in the GPX file which could be a very nice addition to the map. Post links to your trip and story maps below!

- Tom Baker, Esri Education Programs Manager

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New Series of GPS-to-GIS Videos

I have created a new series of videos on the Esri Education Team’s YouTube Channel and on my geography channel that describes the process of gathering field data with GPS and mapping and analyzing it with GIS in educational contexts. The videos feature explanations and demonstrations not only on the technical procedures involved with gathering data on locations and characteristics of data and then analyzing its spatial patterns, but also the pedagogical advantages to using these technologies within the context of spatial thinking in instruction. In short, they focus not only the “hows”, but also the “whys”.

Topics covered are suitable for all levels of education, formal and informal, in multiple disciplines ranging from environmental studies to geography, history, mathematics, and earth and biological sciences. The videos span multiple tools, from the Minnesota DNR Garmin program to ArcGIS desktop, ArcGIS Explorer, ArcGIS Online, and ArcGIS Explorer Online. The videos span multiple methodologies and discuss the merits of each. For example, one discussion illustrates the advantages of keying in field data and coordinates versus cabling the information to a computer, and the advantages of linking maps to multimedia taken from a standard camera versus that taken from a smartphone. Embedded throughout the series are issues of data and project management, scale, accuracy, precision, metadata, and appropriateness. At present, the videos include the following 25 titles with more to be added in the future:

  1. Introduction and goals of the video series.
  2. Considerations before embarking on a field data collection project.
  3. Collecting positions and attributes in the field with GPS and other devices.
  4. Considerations during and after conducting field investigations.
  5. Advantages to using a combination of GPS and GIS in the educational curriculum.
  6. Reflections on which tools and methods are most appropriate for use in specific educational settings.
  7. Cabling location and attribute data to a computer using the Minnesota DNR Garmin application; software considerations.
  8. Cabling location and attribute data to a computer using the Minnesota DNR Garmin application; hardware considerations.
  9. The difference between GPS tracks and waypoints.
  10. Accessing and using GPS-gathered waypoints and tracks.
  11. Mapping and analyzing field data with ArcGIS Online.
  12. Mapping and analyzing field data with ArcGIS Explorer Online
  13. Mapping and analyzing field data with ArcGIS Explorer virtual globe.
  14. Mapping and analyzing field data with ArcGIS Explorer virtual globe, part 2: Completed project: A Mojave Desert Joshua Tree example.
  15. Mapping and analyzing field data with ArcGIS desktop (version 10).
  16. Mapping and analyzing field data with ArcGIS desktop (version 10), part 2: Symbolizing and linking to multimedia.
  17. Using a smartphone for location, photographs, and video in gathering and mapping data.
  18. Using a smartphone for location, photographs, and video in gathering and mapping data, part 2: How to email photographs and videos from the field via a smartphone to a GIS to map and analyze it spatially.
  19. Using a smartphone for location, photographs, and video in gathering and mapping data, part 3: How to automatically geotag photographs and videos from the field via a smartphone to a GIS to map and analyze it spatially.
  20. Using a smartphone for location, photographs, and video in gathering and mapping data, part 4: Discussion and demonstration of how to automatically geotag photographs and videos from the field via a smartphone and a GeoRSS feed to map and analyze it spatially in a GIS.
  21. The positional accuracy of a smartphone versus a GPS receiver. Results of experiments comparing the positional accuracy of these two devices.
  22. Drawing with GPS, Mapping with GIS. Introduces and demonstrates how and why to draw letters and shapes with your GPS and mapping them with GIS.
  23. Dragging and dropping GPX files into ArcGIS Online locally.
  24. Dragging and dropping GPS files into ArcGIS Online internationally.
  25. Dragging and dropping text files with latitude-longitude coordinates into ArcGIS Online.


How might you be able to use these videos, and more importantly, these methodologies, in your instruction?

- Joseph Kerski, Education Manager

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Learning to Learn From Data

In a thought-provoking article, Kim Kastens states that “learning to learn from data” is a necessary part of everyone’s education, but not a typical part of everyone’s education. Making it a typical part is a significant challenge. Kastens describes the difference between learning to look up information on a graph and seeing and interpreting patterns in data. How can we help students see patterns and trends that data represent?

One way to see patterns in data is through the use of Geographic Information Systems. GIS was created to be a tool with which to investigate data. Isn’t it easier to see the relationship of birth rate to life expectancy, or tsunami damage based on proximity to coasts, with a map rather than only a data table? GIS gives the instructor and student the ability to see the relationship between the map and the underlying database. Instructors using GIS focus on problem-solving, inquiry-driven pedagogical techniques that use real-world data to analyze spatial patterns on scales from local to global. They focus on classroom, community, and careers, promoting scholarship, citizenship, and artisanship.

Dr Kastens’ article discusses the use of student-collected data. Students can collect their own data on tree height and species, pH in streams, or other phenomena using probes, GPS, or smartphones. They can input that data into a GIS for analysis as easy as dragging-and-dropping their files into ArcGIS Online. GIS allows for graphing, summarizing, and answering questions such as “What is the average soil moisture on the south-facing versus the north-facing slopes?” “What is the average height of pine versus spruce trees?” “How many earthquakes occurred in 2011 within 100 km of subducting plate boundaries?”

Kastens invites students to dig into data and think critically about where it comes from. GIS is nothing without data. Students using GIS develop critical thinking skills about data – its imperfections, its limitations, its gaps, and its use, rather than just “accepting it because it is on the Internet!” or thinking “because it is on a map, it is perfect.”

Nowadays, it is easier than ever to use GIS in the classroom. One excellent place to start is http://www.arcgis.com to create and analyze maps of recent earthquakes or landslides around the world, soils or biomes in a region, or food expenditures in a metropolitan area. These maps can be saved, shared, and built upon.

How could you use GIS to learn with, from, and about data?

- Joseph Kerski, Esri Education Manager

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Analyzing Food Expenditures at Home vs. Away from Home

Think about two ways you can consume food – at home or away from home. Think about how often you eat at home versus away from home. Food purchased in grocery stores and eaten “at home” is generally less expensive than food purchased and eaten in restaurant. Do you think that the ratio of food expenditure at home vs. away from home varies by country? If so, how and why would it vary? Do you think there is a geographic pattern of the ratio within the USA, by region or even by neighborhood?

A new lesson in the ArcLessons library invites you to think spatially using common experiences of food purchasing and consumption, to analyze the relationship of food purchasing versus median age and household income, and to learn how to use ArcGIS Online as an analytical tool.

The lesson uses a standard web browser to access the food expenditure map on ArcGIS Online. The food data represent just two of the hundreds of variables available in the Esri Consumer Spending database. Esri combined the 2005-2006 Consumer Expenditure Surveys from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to estimate these spending patterns.

I wrote the lesson around 10 focal points, including “scale matters,” national patterns, urban vs. rural, patterns within cities, famous foods and cities, university towns, retirement communities, areas with low population density, median age, and median household income. To compare these last two variables to food expenditures requires the addition of two additional layers, which is easily done in ArcGIS Online. The ability in ArcGIS Online of comparing different variables across space is a valuable educational tool.

The web GIS map displays a ratio of the average annual household expenditure on “food at home” to “food away from home.” Areas in red represent areas where households spend noticeably more at home, while blue area households spend noticeably more away from home. Households in an “average” area tend to spend $1.38 on food at home for every $1.00 on food away from home. This ratio of 1.38 does not mean that food at home is more expensive; it means that more money is spent for home consumption of food than money is spent away from home. In other words, most people eat at home more frequently than they eat away from home. Where the ratio approaches 1:1 represents areas where an equal amount of money is spent on food at home versus away from home. Red areas are above this average, blue areas are below this average, and yellow areas are near the average.

Why do many metropolitan areas contain neighborhood where the ratio is high, surrounded by a suburban ring where the ratio is low, surrounded by rural areas where the ratio is high again? Why do rural areas in Nevada and Utah seem to have a lower ratio than rural areas elsewhere?

What spatial patterns of food expenditures can you discover using this Web GIS resource? What implications do these patterns have?

-Joseph J. Kerski, Esri Education Manager

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First 2011 Webinar: 10 Tips for Easy Web Mapping in the Classroom Tomorrow [ #edtech #sschat ]

10 Tips for Easy Web Mapping in the Classroom Tomorrow

Date and Time: Wednesday, March 30, 2011 at 9pm EDT/8pm CDT (1 hour).

Webinar presented by: Esri Education Team, Esri and the National Council for Geographic Education (NCGE). NCGE will host the webinar.

Register today at NCGE for the this joint Esri-NCGE webinar at https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/202549654

Cost: Free

About: Learn about the basics in web mapping technology and easy-to-implement strategies for the geography & science classrooms. Critical websites and power tips will be provided to teachers new to geospatial tools – designed specifically for use “tomorrow”. We’ll even show you how to create your own map-enabled presentations, suitable for use in any academic subject area.

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Web & Mobile Tools for Teaching About the Earthquake in Japan [#eqjp]

A growing list of web & mobile tools for teaching about the earthquake in Japan and elsewhere follow.

A social Media map of news surrounding the earthquake in Japan is available. You can also have students explore the historical earthquakes in the area with the Timeline tool.

Dozens of lesson plans are also available in the ArcLessons database at the Esri Education Community.

USGS latest earthquakes data from Japan and elsewhere:


You can save these data and use in a GIS and compare it against plate boundaries and population to help students understand this tragedy.

Or you can go to http://www.arcgis.com and search “latest earthquakes” or “recent earthquakes near Japan”. Add this data to the ArcGIS Online base map and analyze the earthquakes online with a web browser, add data to this map. Screenshot below.

Also try the free QuakeFeed app on your smartphone:
“Six different basemaps provided by ESRI. Past 7 days of earthquakes with magnitude > 2.5, displayed on a map or in list. Variety of filter / sort options. Location aware – find quakes that are closest to you. Beautiful UI – check out our screenshots! Twitter, Facebook, and email integration.”

- Esri Education Team

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