Tag Archives: critical thinking

Fun with GIS 206: Community Round Mile

Want to do a simple crowdsourcing activity? Want to engage students in an exploration of areas around school, across the state, or spanning the country, using both demographic and landscape data? Want to make it an activity based on your students’ choices? Want to use the analysis powers in an ArcGIS Online Organization? Try the “Community Round Mile.”

By dropping a point, creating a circle of a certain distance around it, and enriching that buffer with particular data, you can get some fascinating “apples to apples” comparisons. But it takes a little planning to do more than once. The Community Round Mile activity is a three-part process that walks you through creating some simple data, sharing that data, and then expanding.

This final part relies on Survey123, which just acquired some exciting new powers. Try this to “crowdsource data” among your classes. Enterprising states might even coordinate a state-specific effort emphasizing data of special interest. Check out the Community Round Mile!

Charlie Fitzpatrick, Esri Education Manager

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Fun with GIS204: Troubleshooting

Life online involves hiccups, from momentary to long-term. “My students are suddenly having intermittent ArcGIS Online issues,” a teacher recently told me. “Maps that some people made and saved are suddenly inaccessible. Their screens are just blank, but mine is not.”

Many educators have hit issues in online mapping. Identifying and addressing these involves multiple strategies. Troubleshooting is a critical thinking skill, with value far beyond simple comfort with any particular technology. I have posted on GeoNet a Troubleshooting document that educators may want to download and keep handy for when things go awry.


Frame from movie submitted by student as documentation.

The teacher and students above (11th graders from Roosevelt High School MSTMA in Los Angeles) had uncovered a bug in ArcGIS Online. Their unusual workflow led to dead ends in many maps when someone deleted a particular shared resource. Thanks to good documentation including a phone-shot video, technicians could isolate, replicate, and solve the problem. The next software release will not have this particular issue.

Most hiccup are not bugs. Troubleshooting is both science and art. Carefully iterating variables helps, but perception and situational awareness matter too. Educators and students alike need to practice troubleshooting, to solve what they can and be better prepared for the unexpected, whether it appears on a web page, walks in a door, or falls from the sky. This is what employers seek today — someone who can identify a problem, isolate it, clarify it, and come up with situationally appropriate strategies for coping.

Charlie Fitzpatrick, Esri Education Manager

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The Conservation Training Resource

With special thanks to Jamie Chesser, e-Learning Designer and Developer at The Nature Conservancy for this guest blog.

As I write this, I am reminded that today is the first day of Autumn or the Autumnal Equinox. How truly fast summer came and went! With the kids back to school and summer vacations over, you should have more time now right? Maybe a little more time to learn something new? Check out www.conservationtraining.org. Have you visited before? If not, you should!

ConservationTraining is worth reviewing. Our site provides a plethora of conservation knowledge, from experts around the world to our learner community. All courses are free and available anytime from anywhere, as our mission is to share training with our conservation colleagues across the world. Some courses are even offered in multiple languages.

Numbers can be kind of boring; however, we are really excited about these numbers. ConservationTraining currently has 30,000+ users representing 200 countries. Since 2009, The Nature Conservancy along with several amazing partner organizations, like the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the IUCN, have created 400+ hours of content in more than 15 curriculums.

Our courses touch on a variety of science and technology including GIS, Climate Change – REDD+, and Protected Areas (and more). The Fundamentals of GIS for Conservation course uses ArcGIS and interesting and relevant data examples to paint a beautiful picture of how pertinent GIS is to the field of conservation. The curriculum, originally developed by The Nature Conservancy, Wildlife Conservation Society, and the World Wildlife Fund, is comprised of six (6) courses that focus on the foundational concepts of GIS. The course has several learning components including podcasts, web-based, self-paced trainings, demonstrations, and more to help students gain knowledge on foundational GIS topics. Technology does change, we do our best to stay current with the technology. Our team is currently working on an update for this course – more details will be forthcoming.

Why not give it a look? You really won’t be sorry. Oh, and please know for the caretakers of ConservationTraining, this is just the beginning; there is much more work to be done. Happy learning!

Question or comments, we are happy to chat! Contact Jamie Chesser at ctptraining@tnc.org.

The Conservation Training Resource

The Conservation Training Resource

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Remembering 9/11

(Note: This was written for and posted on Sept 11 of 2011, the tenth anniversary. The memories, and need for learning, remain as strong as ever. Never give up. -Charlie)

On that dreadful day in 2001, under the “severe clear” September sky, in those thunderbolts of inhumanity that cost so dearly, we lost two friends from National Geographic who, with students and teachers in tow, had embarked on a mission full of hope.

The roots of that ghastly day snake back to and reach full stop at a scandalously inadequate geographic understanding, even among the ranks of those who influence the planet. The world is stunningly complex, with visible influence and hidden links far and wide. How can anyone hope to make good decisions about complex matters while ignoring the matrix of connections?

We need to see the broad patterns and fractal fabrics around us, grasp the relationships between conditions here and those over there, envision from all sides the Mobius strip connecting yesteryear and tomorrow. Without this holistic view, without comprehending the tyranny of distance yet still the web of connections over space and time, the road ahead is perilous, for each of us, and the world in which we live. Ignoring the lessons of geography, we become a braided stream of humanity, tumbling inexorably toward a cliff.

Ann and Joe lost their lives while working to build geographic understanding for all … young or old, teacher or student, rural or urban, American or global. It remains for us truly a mission in which failure is not an option. For those who live in anonymity on up to those whose decisions shape us all, understanding the power of place and past, and the gravity of patterns and relationships, is vital for navigating safely between the shoals of ignorance and apathy, toward a secure and sustainable world. Let us resolve to ensure that all gain experience in thinking geographically, and hail the disposition to do so about matters large and small.

Charlie Fitzpatrick, Esri Schools Program Manager
Link to Facebook group remembering Ann and Joe

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Fun with GIS 202: Roots & Shoots

Jane Goodall. The name conjures images of science, documentaries, jungles, crowded auditoriums, and visions for a better world. Jane’s work and passion have captured minds and hearts across the globe. For 25 years, young people have engaged in community projects through her “Roots & Shoots” organization, learning that they can make a difference, at home and across the globe.

Roots & Shoots makes it easy to start, with a 4-step formula: Get engaged, make a map, take action, and celebrate. This year, Roots & Shoots added ArcGIS Online to the mapping alternatives, so now projects can combine digital mapping, collaboration, and analysis. Is it powerful? See the video featuring teachers and students of the Math, Science, & Technology Magnet Academy of Roosevelt High School (Los Angeles, CA). See also the youth leader blog on the Jane Goodall Institute page; leaders from across USA visited Esri and learned about adding ArcGIS Online in their work and outreach.

Projects are not just the most powerful way for people to learn GIS. They are also the best way for people to see that they can make a difference in the world, no matter their age. Roots & Shoots projects epitomize “service” — something done for the benefit of another. Roots and shoots help plants spread out and grow, and Roots & Shoots projects can allow young people to shape their world and their future.

Charlie Fitzpatrick, Esri education manager

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Fun with GIS 201: Instructional Guide for the ArcGIS Book

The ArcGIS Book offers “10 Big Ideas” about mapping, in hardcopy, free downloadable PDF, and free online in multiple languages. Equal parts coffee table book, text book, and workbook, some educators began teaching with it immediately after its release at Esri’s 2015 User Conference. It worked well having students reading on one screen (even a phone) and mapping on another.

The Instructional Guide for The ArcGIS Book now makes it even easier for educators to leverage the original. The Instructional Guide works like an outrigger, matching the concepts and technology of each section, speeding solid comprehension thru carefully designed activities. Linked movies launch chapters with an easy hook. Step-by-step guidance thru a bank of scenarios ushers even novices steadily into the power and flexibility of online mapping, via generic tools in browsers, browser-based apps, and mobile apps. End-of-chapter tasks summarize the fundamental ideas and skills. Many activities can be done without logging in, but many valuable ones require the powers of an ArcGIS Online organization account, and the Guide shows how educators in different situations can acquire such an account.

Coupled with the original volume, the Instructional Guide for The ArcGIS Book is a terrific resource for educators who want to see and employ true GIS power with online tools. And, especially for educators in Career/Technology Education (CTE) programs, or anyone who wants to see STEM in GIS, this demonstrates powerfully how online GIS can be engaged in day-to-day scenarios relevant to many different industries.

Charlie Fitzpatrick, Esri Schools Program Manager

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Fun with GIS 200: Alternatives Matter

Education means freedom, the chance to learn and grow and change. Unfortunately, life can include roadblocks. Many public school districts support “alternative schools” for students who may not have stayed on schedule at a “traditional school.” At Esri’s 2016 User Conference, students from such a school — San Andreas High School (Highland, CA) — with only a few months of GIS experience, presented their work to over 10,000 GIS professionals from around the world.

Working with educators skilled in teaching with technology (but still new to GIS), the students learned to ask geographic questions, acquire relevant data, analyze it, interpret it, and present it, to their peers at school, and before a massive crowd of professionals. The school had let them do, and you can see the results.

From the first click, GIS offers the chance to do — to engage and explore, to puzzle and ponder, to tinker and tweak, to reflect and perfect. With boundless data available, users can dive deeper, focusing on matters of personal interest, whether topical or technological. GIS offers alternatives: ArcGIS Online provides easy access and quick success, and the broader ArcGIS platform means limitless opportunity. At all experience levels, users must make decisions constantly, and learn incessantly. New tools, strategies, and data appear endlessly, and at an accelerating pace, yielding ever more choices.

At San Andreas, one teacher heard about the opportunity of GIS via Esri’s ConnectED offer, investigated on her own, brought in her colleagues, engaged the students (with pioneers becoming leaders of succeeding waves), sparked a revolution, and presented to the world, in under 18 months.

Alternatives matter. Students in alternative schools are typically just as bright, capable, driven, engaging, feeling, and thirsty for opportunity as elsewhere. The endless capacity of GIS means those most open to and supportive of engagement, critical thinking, and fostering the opportunity for students to make a difference (for themselves, the community, and the planet) will succeed. All students can succeed with GIS; San Andreas showed it.

Charlie Fitzpatrick, Esri Schools Program Manager

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Orlando

More tears for more families and friends. We stare in shock, we weep, we burn with anger at senselessness. But it is not enough just to curse the darkness. In our search for answers, we must agree that only one thing could have interceded: Education … understanding the world … understanding human dignity … understanding pluralism … understanding the causes of pain and suffering, among those in our midst, or in distant lands. Only with education can hardship be understood, anticipated, prevented. What will we do to build understanding, support holistic views, foster critical thinking, promote free expression, value life, and become a sustainable world? We can take a moment to grieve, and heal, but must keep going, and never give up.

Charlie Fitzpatrick, Esri Education Manager

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Fun with GIS 199: GeoInquiries

A good map informs, a powerful map provokes. A good instructional activity teaches, and a powerful one fosters questions and investigation. Byte by byte, “GeoInquiries” are changing instruction.

Esri Education Manager Tom Baker has been leading teams of authors to produce short, content-based lessons which help teachers address key content, using maps, in an inquiry-based manner, which builds comfort with the power of online GIS. Requiring no great technical background, nor download or install, nor even login, GeoInquiries help teachers engage students in not just seeing but interacting with the facts, patterns, and relationships of our world, in ways at once historical, scientific, mathematical, and of course geographic.

Now 75 bite-sized activities get used by teachers in one-computer classrooms, and in 1:1 settings. Teachers can demonstrate skills, and students can investigate even on their own, weaving content and context in their own unique way. Geoinquiries form a blazed trail through standard content, but support diversion, investigation, integration, and ever deeper learning, about the content, tools for investigating, and even the nature of knowledge.

As summer launches professional development for teachers everywhere, check out GeoInquiries as a way to shine new lights on classroom content. See the video and check out the collection!

Charlie Fitzpatrick, Esri Education Manager

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Fun with GIS 197: Learning with Technology

Growing up in the country, my three older brothers introduced me to two mind-blowing tools: binoculars and a magnifying glass. From first grasp of each, the world was never the same. Distant birds were intricately detailed, and even the tiniest of ants were marvelously sculpted. Size and scale became essential concepts for comprehending the world, and tools facilitated this.

A steady progression of wood block puzzles, globes, solar system mobiles, paper maps, atlases, and other books helped me slowly assemble a framework of places and spaces, regions of crisp or hazy nature, features on the land and their characteristics. Again, a bank of tools facilitated this, right through college.

It was not until the arrival of digital tools midway into my teaching career that the means by which to explore any given topic or place exploded. But after just one titanic evolution of my digital tools over a two-year span, I realized that, while knowing the specifics of any one tool was important, the essential elements for my students would be (a) learning to recognize the inherent capacities of any given tool, (b) understanding that mixing and matching tools yields logarithmic options, and (c) since tools evolve faster than mastery, persistence and attending to task matter.

Tools help us accomplish tasks, great and small. The sooner we work with tools that provide a different but fathomable view of our world, the more we can cope with its galactic and fractal complexity. Parents and teachers ask me “What tools do my kids need? When should they start?” I reply “They need tools which help them grasp their world, one tool after another, as soon as they start asking questions.” And they need to build over time those three concepts above — design, compounding, and evolution.

ArcGIS Online can be as simple as an aerial image of the school yard viewed on a smartphone held by a first grader … and there is no upper limit. With the challenges facing us individually, as a community, and as a planet, we need students to build their grasp of the world, learn to identify and analyze problems, and generate and present ideas. Anyone can start with one click at ArcGIS.com, and any US K12 school can have a powerful and flexible school account for free at esri.com/connected.

Charlie Fitzpatrick, Esri Education Manager

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