Tag Archives: GIS Program Resources

Interpreting Our World: New book on 100 Revolutions in Geography

Looking for a new way to teach and learn about geography?  I have written a new book entitled Interpreting Our World:  100 Discoveries that Revolutionized Geography, described in this video.  This book demonstrates why geography matters in the modern-day world through its examination of 100 moments throughout history that had a significant impact on the study of geography—which means, literally, “writing about the earth” or “describing the earth.”

Geography is not simply accounts of the lands of earth and their features; it’s about discovering everything there is to know about our planet. This book shows why geography is of critical importance to our world’s 21st-century inhabitants through an exploration of the past and present discoveries that have been made about the earth. It pinpoints 100 moments throughout history that had a significant impact on the study of geography and the understanding of our world, including widely accepted maps of the ancient world, writings and discoveries of key thinkers and philosophers, key exploration events and findings during the Age of Discovery, the foundations of important geographic organizations, and new inventions in digital mapping today.

The book begins with a clear explanation of geography as a discipline, a framework, and a way of viewing the world, followed by coverage of each of the 100 discoveries and innovations that provides sufficient background and content for readers to understand each topic. Students will gain a clear sense of what is truly revolutionary about geography, perhaps challenging their preconceived notion of what geography actually is, and grasp how important discoveries revolutionized not only the past but the present day as well.

It is my hope that the book clearly provides readers with an understanding of why geography matters to our 21st-century world and an awareness of how geography affects our everyday lives and is key to wise decision making. I have also ensured that the book addresses and explains key themes of geography, including scale, physical processes, cultural processes, patterns, relationships, models, and trends.  The book also integrates time, space, and place in geography, documenting how it is not only the study of spatial patterns, but also the fact that many discoveries in geography came about because of the particular time and place in which the discoverers lived.

The book was published by ABC-CLIO and is available from the publisher and via Amazon.

And yes, the book includes plenty about geotechnologies that we discuss in this blog, including GIS, GPS, remote sensing, web mapping, UAVs, and other technologies from astrolabes and compasses to theodolites and the Internet of Things.

Interpreting Our World:  100 Discoveries that Revolutionized Geography

Interpreting Our World: 100 Discoveries that Revolutionized Geography.

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Landsat Thematic Bands Web Mapping Application Enhancement

Not long ago, I described the Landsat Thematic Bands Web Mapping Application, an easy-to-use but powerful teaching and research tool. It is a web mapping application with global coverage, with mapping services updated daily with new Landsat 8 scenes and access to selected bands that allows the user to visualize agriculture, rock formations, vegetation health, and more.  The Time tool allows for the examination of changes over years, over seasons, or before and after an event.  The Identify tool gives a spectral profile about each scene.  I have used this application dozens of times over the past year in remote sensing, geography, GIS, and other courses and workshops, and judging from the thousands of views that this blog has had, many others have done the same thing.

If that weren’t all, our Esri development team has recently made the tool even better–one can now save a time sequence or a band combination as a permanent URL that can be shared with others.  The flooding of 20 districts in August and September 2016 in Uttar Pradesh, India, for example, can be easily seen on this link that uses the application, with screenshots below.

Another example is the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire in Alberta, Canada  – the user can change the time to see the region’s vegetation cover before and after fire, and the extent of the smoke during the fire.  Or, you can analyze a different band combination, as is seen here.

To do this, open the application.  Note that this application’s URL has been updated over the one I referred to last year.  Move to an area of interest.  Select any one of the available thematic band renderers (such as agriculture, natural color, color infrared, and so on), or create your own band combination using build.  Then, turn on “time” to see your area of interest at different periods using your band combination.  Next, share this image with other people.   Simply click on any one of the social platforms (Facebook or Twitter) in the upper right, which will create a short link that can be shared.  When the person you send this link to opens it, the Landsat app will open in exactly the same state it was in before social platform tool was clicked.  This makes it a very convenient teaching, presentation, and research tool.  Give it a try!

Landsat 8 Image for Allahabad India on 31 May 2016

Landsat 8 Image for Allahabad India on 31 May 2016.

Landsat 8 Image for Allahabad India showing flooding on 19 August 2016.

Landsat 8 Image for Allahabad India showing flooding on 19 August 2016.

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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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Getting to Know ArcGIS Pro: Book Review

Thanks to my colleagues at Esri Press, I had the opportunity to review the upcoming book Getting To Know ArcGIS Pro.  The book, published in March 2016, was written by Michael Law and Amy Collins, and an accompanying site includes trial software and all the data you need for the exercises.  I believe it is a valuable resource for beginning and advanced GIS professionals, instructors, students, and anyone who wants to learn about this important and forward-thinking component of the ArcGIS platform.

There is a reason for the success that the “Getting To Know” series from Esri Press has had all these years, including the Getting to Know ArcGIS series and the GIS Tutorial series:  Working through the exercises in these books, I believe, is the fastest way to be successful with Esri ArcGIS Pro technology. Last year, my colleague Dr Pinde Fu wrote Getting to Know WebGISwhich has already become a trusted resource for teaching and learning about web and mobile maps and apps.  In this tradition, Getting to Know ArcGIS Pro helps new and existing GIS users solve problems in a variety of fields and scales, but it also helps them understand why to use specific tools, and to be able to select the most appropriate tools and parameters for specific tasks.  These tools are not taught in a vacuum or in rote fashion from one function to another, but are taught as a connected and logical series of workflows that emulate what is done in today’s workplaces.

Moreover, this book helps people understand GIS as a platform and a system of engagement, as it is increasingly called nowadays.  In my travels to higher education institutions over the past two years, faculty and students have been asking me about resources that will help them to use ArcGIS Pro.  They know that Pro represents the “next generation” in desktop-and-web integrated GIS technology. This book, along with Tripp Corbin’s Learning ArcGIS Pro book that I reviewed recently, and web and instructor-led webinars and courses from Esri are excellent resources to get started.

The book is organized into 10 chapters, building from basic terminology and functionality to calculating statistics, extracting data, creating and modifying features, geocoding, analyzing spatial and temporal patterns, and creating 3D scenes.  I was pleased to see that the book contains major sections devoted to crowdsourcing, or citizen science, including field data collection, as well as presenting a project with appropriate symbology and sharing that project online. An index by task, sidebars, and helpful font and color choices are thoughtful touches for the busy person working through this book.

As an educator, I found the exercises to be interesting and engaging, ranging from analyzing recent earthquakes around the world, conflicts in Sudan, health data in Illinois, social services in Los Angeles, crime in a metropolitan area, to site suitability for a vineyard in California, and much more.

I am interested in hearing your thoughts below to how you are using this book and ArcGIS Pro in your workplace.

Getting to Know ArcGIS Pro book from Esri Press

Getting to Know ArcGIS Pro book from Esri Press.

Example exercise in the Getting to Know ArcGIS Pro book:  Suitability analysis.

Example exercise in the Getting to Know ArcGIS Pro book: Suitability analysis on a vineyard.

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5 Useful GIS in Education Blog Essays from 2015

One way to start the new year is to review key news in our field of GIS in education over the past 12 months.  Our aim with this EdCommunity blog about Geographic Information Systems in education is to provide support, encouragement, resources, and practical advice for teaching and learning with GIS at all levels, in a variety of disciplines, internationally. We do that by writing primarily about four things:  (1) Resources, including geospatial data, lessons, courses including MOOCs in, webinars, and new books, chapters, and research papers. (2) Educational strategies, including how to teach with GIS, how to best further one’s own learning in GIS in education, how to be a geomentor, and so on.  (3)  Connections, to key organizations, initiatives (such as the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, ConnectEd, and others), and to learning theory.  (4)  Events, such as conferences, opportunities to write or review lessons or research papers, and special events such as GIS Day and Earth Science Week.

While it is challenging to focus on only five blog essays, the following highlight the above themes that we most often write about and represent key advancements:

1)  The ArcGIS Book:   Learn what ArcGIS Online is, explore dozens of meaningful maps and data sets, and see what is possible with Web GIS with this new e-book.

2)  Three reasons to incorporate ArcGIS Pro into your GIS curriculum:  ArcGIS Pro combines the best of web-based and desktop-based GIS into a compelling and forward-looking toolset.

3)  Esri News for Education Newsletter:   Explore current and back issues of this newsletter, which features inspiring stories of educators, administrators, and students using GIS in powerful and compelling ways, as well as curricular ideas, data sets, and other resources.

4)  GeoInquiries.  Geoinquiries are short, standards-based inquiry activities for teaching map concepts that are found in the most commonly used textbooks in the United States, including collections in Earth Science, U.S. History, and AP Human Geography.

5)  Analyzing real-time weather with GIS:  This illustrates the power of real-time data and powerful analysis tools available in ArcGIS Online, along with a lesson that illustrates how to teach these concepts and skills.

We encourage you to check here and also our Esri Canada colleagues’ blog often during 2016, as new entries are published every few days!  And if you are interested in describing what you are doing in GIS in education for the blog, let one of us know.

Esri GIS Education EdCommunity blog.

Esri GIS Education EdCommunity blog.

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Esri News for Education – Fall 2015 Issue, and Archive

Looking for inspiring stories of educators, administrators, and students making a positive difference using GIS technologies and methods?  Or curricular ideas, new tools, new data sets, or other resources?  The Fall 2015 issue of the Esri Education Newsletter delivers all of that and more:  The Ashcloud Apocalypse disaster risk mapping event, five reasons why educators should use ArcGIS Online, thoughts on the future of GIS by Dr Michael Goodchild, news on the Esri ConnectEd K-12 and MOOC programs, and work by students in Ireland, Canada, Wyoming, and beyond.

Every six months, the Esri News for Education features case studies of students, educators, and administrators doing amazing things with GIS, curricular ideas, tips on implementation, map and data sources, and much more.  In case you missed reading one of the last few issues, see below.  To subscribe, go to the subscription page, then “more newsletters”, then select “Education.”

The Spring 2015 issue features new initiatives in Abu Dhabi and at the University of Redlands, an update on the ConnectEd STEM and GeoMentor programs, crowdsourcing, new approaches to teaching geography with GIS, and more.

The Winter 2014 issue features creating a bright future for students, improving school management with GIS, interior mapping at the University of Washington, returning to college, innovations at Kenyatta University, and other stories.

The Spring 2014 issue includes distance education at Penn State, converging global trends in GIS education, livening up the classroom with the “undead”, educational heroes, apps in Australian education, school district growth, spatial thinking, and other information.

The Fall 2013 issue features web mapping from students in Ireland, extending GIS education beyond the classroom, story maps, GIS in 4H, the ArcGIS platform in higher education, the Teachers Teaching Teachers GIS (T3G) institute, GIS in careers, and other stories.

The Spring 2013 issue features the mobile application at Harvard University’s arboretum, GIS education in Africa, work from the first Esri education ambassador, a new “Our Digital Earth” course, Murray State University’s online business-oriented GIS modules, leveraging social media, community analyst, and more.

The Fall 2012 issue features GIS integration into Career and Technical Education, school bus routing, smart mapping in ArcGIS Online, advancing STEM education, preserving history at Stanford University, Young Scholar awardees, mapping New Zealand geology, the Geospatial Semester in Virginia, and more.

The Spring 2012 issue features Stanford University’s GIS initiatives, Los Angeles County Unified School District’s smartphone maintenance app, Palm Beach County Florida’s GIS-based curriculum, Kuwait University’s campus development, students in a native village in Alaska mapping climate change, GIS work at Tufts University library, and a college student winning a prize for a mobile phone app.

Esri News for Education - Fall 2015 Issue

Esri News for Education – Fall 2015 Issue.

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Why GIS in Education Matters: 3 Videos

Recently I posted a document that I have been curating for quite a few years now, one explaining why GIS in education matters.  This content is also posted with graphics on the Esri Insider newsletter.  To provide another way of communicating this information, I have created a series of videos on this same theme, in three parts–Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

The reasons why GIS in education matters include critical thinking, career pathways, spatial thinking, understanding how to work with data and the limitations of data, building media fluency, focusing on the whys of where, asking good questions, solving problems, sustainability and green technology, and understanding changes over space and time.

I am interested in your reactions to these videos:  What is missing from this message? What is useful about these videos?  In what settings could you use them in your own work with fellow faculty, with faculty from other disciplines, with administrators, with parents, and with students?  What do you include in your own messages about the reasons for GIS in education?

Why GIS in Education:  Series of Videos

Why GIS in Education: Series of videos.

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7-Day Short Course: Exploring Spatial Thinking with GIS

Want to quickly ramp up to speed with applying spatial thinking with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to education?  Join me in the Online Learning Consortium for an asynchronous 7-day short course through the Online Learning Consortium beginning 2 October 2015.  Read more about the course here.  The course has two main objectives:

  • Explore spatial thinking in a wide variety of disciplines and apply it to your own discipline.
  • Use GIS tools to capture, analyze, and present data from your discipline.

The workshop is entirely online and requires approximately 6 hours of work, including reading research-based articles, viewing presentations, engaging in discussion forums, and working through hands-on, engaging activities.  The activities will be based on ArcGIS Online and includes investigations in earthquakes, population change, business locations, weather, and citizen science.  Faculty interested in spatial thinking, instructional designers, and others who have a location component to their teaching or research should consider attending.  Or, tell a colleague that you have been encouraging to explore GIS about the course.

If you are reading this after the course has begun, if there is sufficient interest, we can offer the course again.  Contact Joseph Kerski – jkerski @ esri.com  for more information.

Exploring Spatial Thinking with GIS 7 Day Short Course

Exploring Spatial Thinking with GIS – 7 Day Short Course.

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Educating about GIS for the General Public: 20 Ideas and Strategies

We write frequently in this blog about educating students and professional development for educators.  But, could the general public also benefit from GIS education?  I contend that not only can the general public benefit, but it is part of our responsibility as GIS professionals to seek out opportunities to do so.  And, when we find an opportunity, what are some tried-and-tested strategies for educating the general public about GIS?   In this essay I present 20 ideas that I have used in many different venues for general-public GIS outreach, and I would like to hear about your ideas and strategies as well.

1.  Sometimes, a one page information sheet about “Why GIS in education (and society) matters” is what is needed.  Here is my document on this theme.

2.   You may have the opportunity to teach a workshop or a short course for the general public.  I recently taught a course for the general public and titled it, “Why Maps Still Matter”, at the University of Denver.

3.  Need an example of an elevator speech?  I have a series of them, filmed in actual elevators, here.

4.   I created a series of “Why geography matters” videos in this playlist.

5.  Events such as the one I describe here at a local history museum are sometimes effective ways.   Note that “G-Harmony” was the message here!

6.  Geocaching provides a good way of outreaching to the general public.  I have created a set of geocaching courses that I have set up and run at events, parks, and other locations.  I favor “virtual geocaching” where the course still takes place outdoors, but rather than planting plastic or other containers, I use objects already on the landscape, such as light poles, trees, and so on.  Some of these geocaching courses are listed here; all contain a story “theme” to spark interest, such as “aliens land at city park!”

7.  Messaging.  For some events, consider not leading with the term “GIS” or “spatial analysis” might puzzle or alienate some.  Consider “Mapping” or “Spatial Thinking” or “Geo-enabling your …” or Telling Your Story through Maps.  I realize that “mapping” is not the end goal – it is admittedly an oversimplification, but it in one word at least gets to some of our message that is at least understandable to someone browsing an event program.

8.  Spreadsheets to Maps.  If you only have a short time, show (1) a table / spreadsheet; demonstrating attempting to understand it as is, but then show (2) a map of that same spreadsheets’ data.  The spreadsheet could be earthquake epicenters, location of hydroelectric dams, countries with high birth rates, or another topic that would resonate with your audience.

9.  Create story Maps to help people understand what GIS is – such as the Titanic with spatial distribution and graphs showing quantitative data.  Create story maps for campuses, events, or convention centers where you will be presenting.  The message is, if you create a story map in the day or hour before the event, so can your audience!  They are easy to create and yet powerful.

10. Incorporate Spatial Analysis.  Show, in ArcGIS Online, simple but powerful examples of spatial analysis, including the use of the Esri spatial analysis poster:  My live examples in ArcGIS Online usually include mapping earthquakes or some other natural hazard, some current event, John Snow’s cholera points, wells, and city streets, or mapping a specific business in a metro area, and creating a hot spot analysis, route, spatial interpolation, or heat map from it.

11.  Show current, real world events using multimedia and ArcGIS Online, making a Geo-News out of it and encouraging your audience to do the same.

12.  Use Simple but effective web maps to demonstrate and discuss:  600 world cities, plate tectonics with earthquakes, tornadoes, watersheds (drop pin and trace downstream), Starbucks locations, compare locations of two different types of businesses in your community; population change, median age, diversity, and tapestry segmentation. All of these activities are searchable in this blog.

13.  Show web mapping applications, including:  Landsat Change Viewer, and the Urban Observatory and invite conversation on the patterns and issues that you are showing.

14.  Core Messages:  Use Dr Charles Gritzner’s “What’s Where, Why There, and Why Care?” document as a memorable “core message.”  Also consider using my own Working Definition of Spatial Thinking.

15.  Presentations versus Live Demos and Stories.  Limit the number of slides you show; it is much better usually to give live demos of GIS in action and tell stories about what you do with GIS, how you entered the field, and what interested you growing up and in school.   Ask questions during your presentation and foster inquiry!

16.  Paper map and satellite image or aerial photo activity:  Create a map from an aerial photograph activity, discuss map elements such as TODALSIGS.  Print aerial or satellite image, put in plastic sleeve, use markers to make thematic map on top of aerial.

17.  Landforms and land use quiz using satellite imagery:  Land use:  schools, hospitals, churches, shopping centers, golf courses, malls, apartments vs houses, railroads vs light rail, streets vs freeways, etc.  Landforms:  Karst, lava, grasslands, sand dunes, barrier islands, glacial terrain, ice fields, mesas and buttes, oxbow lakes, alluvial fans, deltas, wetlands, sinkholes.   Weird Earth QuizOdd natural and human-built things on the landscape using satellite imagery.  Provide multiple choice questions.    Along these lines:  Other Quizzes:  Use Street View images to determine what city or country the image was taken; provide multiple choice questions.

18.  Think outside the Box:  Tap into community events and make a geo-something out of them.  I did this at History Colorado Museum’s “date night” and created an interactive Colorado geography quiz on the large terrazzo map on the floor, dubbing it “G-Harmony.

19.  Don’t be afraid to use some paper maps and aerials/satellite imagery, and thematic maps to foster inquiry and a roll-up-your sleeves conversation around a table.  Obtain USGS and other large thematic sheets from www.omnimaps.com, ODT Maps, or other map dealers.

20.  Involve the audience in a crowdsourced map that you set up yourself, in answering a quiz, or something else map-related with their cell phones.

Additional Resources include this GIS education blog, GIS Day, and this set of 2,700 videos.

What are your ideas to reach out to the general public?

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Why GIS in Education Matters: 1 Page Document

I have recently updated a document entitled “Why GIS in Education Matters” and have placed it online.  It represents my attempt to provide the most compelling and important reasons to teach and learn with Geographic Information Systems in a concise document that takes up no more than both sides of a single page.  While we have discussed other documents, messages, lessons, and videos in this blog over the years that are tailored to specific educational levels, needs, and content areas, this document contains the “essentials” that I have found resonate with the widest group of educators.  These essentials include critical thinking, career pathways, spatial thinking, the whys of where, asking good questions, sustainability and green technology, and mapping changes over space and time.

I am interested in your reactions to this document:  What is missing from this document? What is useful about this document?  In what settings could you use this in your own work with fellow faculty, with faculty from other disciplines, with administrators, with parents, and with students?  What do you include in your own documents with similar goals?

Why GIS in Education Matters

Why GIS in Education Matters, brief document outlining the value that teaching and learning with GIS brings to education.

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