Tag Archives: GIS GPS

Proposal for AP GIS&T

With support from the Geography Education National Implementation Project (GENIP), the American Association of Geographers (AAG) has developed a proposal for a new Advanced Placement course in Geographic Information Science and Technology (AP GIS&T). All U.S. high schools, colleges, and universities are invited to review the proposal by visiting www.apgist.org.

AP GIS&T is designed to introduce high school students to the fundamentals of geographic information science and applications of powerful geospatial technologies for spatial analysis and problem solving. Together with AP Human Geography, AP GIS&T offers an opportunity to engage students in outstanding geographic learning experiences and promote awareness of the many college and career opportunities available in the discipline. The course proposal has attracted broad support from prominent scientific and educational organizations, as well as major technology employers.

For AP GIS&T to become a reality, the AAG needs to collect attestations from 250 U.S. high schools that confirm they have the interest and capacity to offer the course. Similar assurances are needed from 100 colleges and universities that they would be willing to offer some form of credit to students who demonstrate proficiency on the AP GIS&T exam.

The AAG invites high school principals and academic department chairpersons to consider adding their institution to the list of AP GIS&T supporters by completing the brief attestation form at www.apgist.org. The AAG’s goal is to complete the attestation process by October 1, 2016.

Have questions about AP GIS&T? Contact the AAG at ap_gist@aag.org.

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The Size of the Geospatial Industry

One question that we frequently receive here on the Esri education team is, “What is the size of the geospatial industry?”  Whether the question is asked in reference to a paper someone is researching, or because someone wants to obtain a sense of the “stability”of the industry when deciding whether to pursue GIScience for their career, or for some other reason, the question is a valid one, but it is difficult to definitively answer.

Up through the mid 1990s, while employed at the USGS, I used to consult an annual paper book on the size of GIS to answer this question.  Back then, it was a modest sized community of government, academia, nonprofit, and industry who were involved with producing, serving, and using geospatial data, software, and services.  But since then we have seen an explosion of geospatial technologies and data surround us in many forms and on many devices, and an expansion of users far beyond the traditional sciences and planning “core” into business, health, and just about every industry that exists.  This makes answering the question increasingly difficult.  It might be akin to “what is the size of the chemical, transportation, or <you fill in the blank” industries?”  All are enormous and have fuzzy boundaries.

Nevertheless, a few documents are helpful in at least getting an estimate of the size of the geospatial industry.   Geospatial World reported in their December 2013 issue on page 18 and following that the global geospatial industry brings in $270 billion in annual revenue, and companies in the sector pay more than $90 billion in wages each year.  This stemmed from a report published by Oxera in January 2013.  Equally interesting are the figures of how much travel time is saved annually due to geospatial technology (1.1 billion) and petrol saved (3.5 billion liters).  According to the Oxera report, this means that geospatial is 5 to 10 times larger than the video game industry, and at least one third the size of the global airline industry.  Geospatial is so large because “digital imagery and location-based services are essential components in resource management, supply chain logistics, infrastructure design, telecommunications, and national defense.  Also consider the manufacturing industry involved with creating consumer products, as well as the satellite and space industry needed to make it all work.”  Additionally, Geospatial World author Sanjay wrote this article about the business value and the major technology and solution companies. Finally, Daratech has researched and published comprehensive surveys of the size of the geospatial industry.

The Exhibit Hall at the Esri International User Conference.

One way of getting a sense of the size and diversity of the geospatial industry is to visit the Exhibit Hall at the Esri International User Conference. I am amazed at what I see there each year.  Another way is to visit http://www.esri.com/industries.

No matter what the size of the geospatial industry, one thing is clear:  Geospatial technology is here to stay.  As our world faces more complex and interconnected issues in this century that increasingly impact our everyday lives, the “where” questions will be increasingly asked.  And the technology to answer those questions will be GIS.

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Seven Ideas: GIS for Geocaching with Scouts, Youth, or Anyone

For the last several years now, every spring and fall, I volunteer to help the local Girl Scout council, not unlike many you GeoMentors. We plan and implement a large geocaching event. The event, now called “The Geocache Party” typically has 100 to 300 Girl Scouts involved. If you have ever planned a sizable geocaching (or Open Caching) event with several activities, you know placing, tracking, and reclaiming your caches can be a real nightmare. For a single event last year, we placed nearly 100 caches across 175 wooded acres. Just try to remember where all those caches are when you pick them up, at the end of an event!

Like many outdoor geo-activities, geocaching can be enhanced by using GIS. To support individual (traditional) geocaching or large geocaching events, I have assembled my seven ideas for leveraging GIS – to plan, manage, or even evaluate your caches and performance.

  1. Map your geocache coordinates before you leave home with the ArcGIS Online map viewer. Explore the geographic features, hazards, and public lands wherever you are headed. You can even add real-time weather to your map.
  2. Track and record your geocache finds in your own map at ArcGIS.com. This allows you to tell your geocaching stories, your way.
  3. Preparing a geocaching event? Use a GIS to map and manage your caches. Cache type, location, activity or purpose fields help explain where and why a cache is placed. (image below)
  4. Print out your GIS map and take it with you for reference while geocaching. Selecting the best base map can often lend helpful data to your hunt!
  5. Report out! Add your GPS track, routes, and waypoints to your geocache coordinate map to see how well you did finding caches – in ArcGIS Online. (first image)
  6. Report out! Take all the photos and video you want while geocaching. You can place media in “notes” and geotag to document your trip.
  7. Learn GIS career skills while enjoying a great geo-hobby!

By the way, both the Boy Scouts of America and the Girl Scouts now offer Geocaching badges, each at certain age levels.

Happy Geocaching!

- Tom Baker, Esri Education Manager

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Integrating Technology with Meaningful Learning

David Jonassen (1995) described seven qualities of meaningful learning with technology. They are: active, constructive, collaborative, intentional, conversational, contextualized, and reflective. These are valuable not only to keep in mind when teaching with GIS, but to be purposeful, asking before each class, “How can I be active in my teaching with GIS today?” “How can I be conversational?” and so on.

Those I know who teach with GIS are good examples of putting these qualities into practice. Their teaching is never just for the technology’s sake, even when it is with the goal of increasing the students’ GIS skills for career readiness. They teach in context and with a purpose, asking students to reflect on problem-solving, data, scale, critical thinking, and more. Jonassen and others make a strong case for the value of situated learning, or learning in context, which is exactly what teaching with GIS entails.

Jonassen’s three assumptions about technology are also instructive. These include the following:

  • Technology is more than hardware; it consists of the designs that engage learners.
  • Learning technology is any environment of a definable set of activities that engages learners in knowledge construction.
  • Knowledge construction is not supported by technologies used as conveyors of instruction that prescribe and control all learner interactions. Rather, technologies support knowledge construction better when they are need-driven or talk-driven, learner-initiated, and when interactions with the technologies are conceptually and intellectually engaging.

Technologies as toolkits enable learners to build more meaningful personal interpretations and representations of the world.

According to Jonassen, learners and technologies should be “intellectual partners”, an intriguing concept in which the cognitive responsibilities for performing are distributed by the part of the partnership that performs it best. Let’s say you are studying the relationship between elevation and rainfall on the windward and leeward sides of mountains. Calculating how much rainfall occurs at different elevations and on the western versus the eastern sides of the mountains through overlay would be something you would let the GIS software do. But your final assessment that incorporates multimedia and a presentation relies more heavily on your own input and reflection—not something that the software can do. This is one of my favorite things about teaching and learning with GIS. The software is the enabler and the GIS user provides the solution.

How are you incorporating elements of Jonassen’s seven qualities in your own GIS-based instruction?

- Joseph Kerski, Esri Education Manager

Jonassen, David H. 1995. Supporting communities of learners with technology: A vision for integrating technology with learning in schools. Educational Technology. July-August, pp. 60-63.

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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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Free Webinar: Fast and Fun Geo-Web 2.0 Activities for End of the School Year

May 11, 2011 at 9pm EST/8pm CST

Dr. Joseph Kerski presents web-based GIS ideas that you can use in the classroom tomorrow! Explore engaging, one-day, classroom activities that use cutting-edge Geo-Web 2.0 tools. We’re highlighting the web-based mapping tools that will inspire students to learn, even with the last days of school fast approaching. Join Dr. Joseph Kerski, 2011 NCGE President and an Esri Education Manager as he leads this webinar. The face-paced, intriguing nature of the Geo-Web 2.0 Tools will be sure to turn your students’ minds to learning before they can grab their flip flops and plan their summer vacations. Don’t miss it!

Register online now!

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Putting Interpretation on the Map

The early 21st Century is an age of contrasts. Opportunities for recreation have never been more numerous. During my childhood in western Colorado, not one person went mountain biking or jet-skiing, and yet those activities are enjoyed by the thousands each month. However, an intimate connection to landscape and place is less likely to be a part of a part of our common human experience than ever before. We laughed in the movie Vacation after Chevy Chase reached the edge of the Grand Canyon, took a breath, and said, “OK, kids, back in the car!” Yet how often do we fail to allow ourselves to really experience a place? How often do we take a photograph and then quickly plot a course for the next waypoint in our GPS receivers? Do we even have the skills to experience place any longer? Why is it important to do so?

<IMG alt=”My src="http://downloads2.esri.com/blogs/images/info_6533.jpg" Picture?

A new book entitled Putting Interpretation on the Map by Heidi Bailey, published by the National Association of Interpretation (NAI), explores how we connect with places, particularly through maps and geographic tools. I wrote the Foreword to this book because after participating in several NAI conferences and projects, I was struck by the close alignment of the everyday tasks of park, museum, and historical site interpreters to the discipline of geography. Indeed, holistic thinking has always been a part of both interpretation and geography. As environmental scientist David Orr said, “We need people to think big picture, to pick apart the trivial from the important.” For decades, interpreters have been geographers in action, applying the geographic themes of movement, region, human-environment interaction, location, and place to real places, real events, and real people. Interpreters can and do make a difference. In the wake of widespread, documented declines in student fieldwork and general public connection to the landscape in this electronic age, interpretation not only enhances experiences but also can reconnect the general public to landscape, history, and place. And interpreters are turning to GIS technology as a key tool to help them in their important work.

Joseph Kerski, ESRI Education Manager

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2010 Thacher Environmental Research Contest for Grades 9-12

Scientists and decision-makers are using a greater variety of tools and data than ever before to investigate and respond to our changing planet. With an increasing amount of these tools and data becoming publicly available, students have an unprecedented opportunity to participate in scientific research that explores Earth’s evolving environment.

The 2010 Thacher Environmental Research Contest, an activity of the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, awards cash prizes to secondary school students (grades 9-12) whose projects demonstrate the best use of satellites and other geospatial technologies or data to study Earth.

Three cash awards will be given: 1st place — $2,000; 2nd place — $1,000; and 3rd place — $500. Entries can be submitted by individuals or teams. In the case of team entries, the cash award will be split equally among the winning team members.

In addition to prizes for the winning students, the teachers of the first-, second- and third-place students or teams will receive a $200 amazon.com gift card. If participation is part of an after-school club or other activity independent of school, the student or team can identify an adult “coach” who would be eligible for this award (e.g., a parent, club leader, etc.).

Entries must be postmarked April 5, 2010. IGES plans to announce the winning entries by May 12, 2010. Entries will be judged by IGES staff.

Eligible geospatial tools and data include satellite remote sensing, aerial photography, geographic information systems (GIS), and Global Positioning System (GPS). The main focus of the project must be on the application of the geospatial tool(s) or data to study a problem related to Earth’s environment.

Geospatial technologies and data have numerous uses in science research, ranging from climate prediction to archaeology. They can be used to improve our understanding of the Earth system, including interactions among the atmosphere, biosphere, geosphere and hydrosphere. They can also be used to improve the quality of our lives by supporting weather prediction, natural hazards monitoring, agriculture, land-use planning, coastal management, transportation, public health, emergency response and other fields.

Learn more at the Thacher Environmental Research Contest website.

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GIS Workshops at the National Conference on Geography Education

Investigate the Caribbean, GeoTag Your Photographs, Analyze Hurricanes, and More in the GIS Workshops at the National Conference on Geography Education

Come explore your community, region, and world using GIS in a series of hands-on workshops at the upcoming annual National Conference on Geography Education (www.ncge.org). The setting of this year’s conference—San Juan Puerto Rico—is the perfect place to analyze the climate, economics, natural hazards, and demographics of the Caribbean region. The workshops will also illustrate how GIS can be incorporated into geography instruction across all levels of formal education, in informal educational settings, and in all regions. My colleagues and I are teaching a series of workshops that are each one hour long that you can mix and match to meet your needs. These include: Mapping History Using GIS, Exploring the Caribbean With GIS, Gathering GPS Coordinates and Field Data and Modeling It Within A GIS Environment, A Birds Eye View, GeoTagging Ground Photographs, Mapping Patterns in ArcGIS Explorer, Remote Sensing Applications, Seeking and Finding Spatial Data, Analyzing Ocean Surface Temperatures, and Making GIS Accessible to All Using PDF Maps.

These workshops are part of a larger geospatial strand organized by Lyn Malone and Anita Palmer, which includes papers and posters on geospatial technologies of all kinds. Nearly 500 people will be gathering at this year’s NCGE conference and I hope you will take advantage of the field trips, exhibits, and networking opportunities there. The NCGE has been enhancing and supporting geography education since 1915, and its members include an international group of professors, teachers, students, businesses, and others who support and believe in geography education. This year, NCGE members have been involved in creating the geography map for the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, updating the national geography standards, publishing journals including the Journal of Geography and the Geography Teacher, creating curricular materials, and a variety of other exciting projects.

For more information, visit http://www.ncge.org and navigate to the 2009 annual meeting. Hope to see you there. Buen viaje!

-Joseph Kerski, Education Manager, ESRI

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