Tag Archives: higher education

New book released – STEM and GIS in Higher Education


The new e-book from Esri, STEM and GIS in Higher Education compiles 19 university case studies describing innovative ways faculty are incorporating GIS to advance STEM related activities in higher education. As a successor to the 2012 Advancing Stem Education with GIS this book explores how faculty, staff, and students are successfully using GIS to analyze and better understand data in their specific STEM fields. As a sequel, this book is designed to foster the expansion of spatial analysis throughout the sciences and engineering. The content highlights successful experiences that describe innovative approaches to the collection, analysis, and display of spatial data and the unique benefits of applying GIS methods.  The nineteen chapters are assembled into three sections.

Section 1: Campus Support for Spreading GIS into STEM Disciplines

Demonstrate how major universities have established technical and academic infrastructure to support the use of GIS across campuses. These institutions represent models of “Spatial Universities” that have committed to the establishment of infrastructure to foster multidisciplinary spatially oriented learning and research. The examples provide a glimpse of how these organizations are serving as catalysts to stimulate interdisciplinary collaboration. Specific examples demonstrate new approaches to data sharing through enhanced library functions, highlight new ways to utilize cloud based servers for realistic technical training, and preview cutting edge geodesign applications. They also illustrate ways to incorporate GIS to support campus facilities and foster interaction with local communities.

Section 2: Teaching and Learning about Spatial Analysis

Provide examples of ways that GIS and spatial analysis can serve as the focal point of courses in STEM disciplines. These examples should be useful to faculty in STEM disciplines who desire to incorporate innovative new activities for their students. The case studies demon-strate how GIS can be used to expand the technical abilities of stu-dents, helping to improve their understanding of real world problems while generating products that foster communication skills. It is significant that these experiences strongly suggest that the new breed of GIS software, such as ArcGIS Online and Esri Story Map app, will provide a fast track to curriculum deployment.

Section 3: GIS Applications in STEM disciplines

Describe research projects conducted by faculty and students in sci-ence and engineering that incorporate spatial analysis. These examples are designed to clearly demonstrate the value of GIS oriented research methods to traditional scientific investigations.

The contributions to this book were selected from submissions in response to a widely distributed call for chapters. These chapters cover activities at a wide range of institutions that include a cross section of Carnegie One private research universities, major state universities, smaller engineering colleges, and state supported regional campuses. The authors include biologists, engineers, physicians, environmental scientists, chemists, and psychologists. These lighthouse authors empower their students to discover, create, analyze, and display spatial data within the constraints of traditional university settings.

Explore the story map and no-cost e-book at http://www.esriurl.com/STEMGIS

If you are interested in contributing your university’s STEM and GIS program to the map, see the geoform at http://arcg.is/2cWoYvj .

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New SpatiaLABS on Search and Rescue Now Available

Four new SpatiaLABS are now available, focused on teaching spatial thinking and analysis through a compelling topic–search and rescue–and a compelling location–a national park.  To access the labs, use this story map, click on Social Sciences, and see the four listed on the left side.  They are also viewable on the map, located in Yosemite National Park.  All are authored by Paul Doherty, who has had a fascinating career with roles ranging from GIS consultant at Eagle Technology to park ranger for the National Park Service to disaster response lead at Esri.

In the first of these four labs, you will use search and rescue incident locations to create an interactive web map and web mapping application in ArcGIS Online to explore the distribution of incidents in Yosemite National Park.  In the second lab, you will open a map project in ArcGIS Pro and create assignment maps for the emergency search operations.  In the third lab, you will map where searchers have been deployed and what they have found.  In the fourth lab, you will create a “clue log” that can be edited anywhere and with any device.

SpatiaLABS are standalone activities designed to promote spatial reasoning and analysis skills. Covering a wide variety of subject matter useful in standard computer-lab sessions and longer term projects, SpatiaLABS illuminate relationships, patterns and complexities while answering provocative questions such as, “How might visibility have affected political boundaries in ancient civilizations?” or “Is there a connection between ethnicity and exposure to industrial toxins?” or “How worried should I be about the stagnant pond a quarter mile away?”

SpatiaLABS contain instructional materials in Microsoft Word and other common formats so that you can easily add self-assessment questions, adjust the context for the analysis, rework the lab to use local data, or otherwise customize them to suit your non-commercial needs.  Check out these new labs and the others in the collection today!

Some of the compelling maps and data you will analyze in the Search and Rescue SpatiaLABS.

Some of the compelling maps and data you will analyze in the Search and Rescue SpatiaLABS.

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Got MOOCs?

At Esri we want to do all we can to help people think spatially and engage with powerful, easy-to-use mapping and GIS tools and data.  As part of that mission, for several years we have been creating and teaching our own MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses).  We also partner with colleagues in higher education (such as Penn State, Elmhurst College, and the University of West Florida) who have created their own GIS-related MOOCs.  Esri MOOCs are 5 to 6 weeks in length, are instructor-led but are asynchronous, feature discussion, readings, videos, short quizzes, and – my favorite part – hands-on activities that immerse you in making decisions with GIS technologies.  Many Esri MOOCs are starting soon, as detailed below.  Register today and start learning!  And for those of you who are instructors, consider how you might use these MOOCs as part of your own instruction.

The starting point for all Esri MOOCs is: http://www.esri.com/mooc. Here is a video describing our MOOC program and another one filmed at the Esri UC.

Below is a summary of upcoming courses with links to their descriptions for remainder of 2016 and those planned for 2017.

September 7 – October 18, 2016:  Earth Imagery at Work:
http://www.esri.com/mooc/imagery.  Digital images of earth’s surface produced by remote sensing are the basis of modern mapping. They are also used to create valuable information products across a spectrum of industries. This free online course is for everyone who is interested in applications of earth imagery to increase productivity, save money, protect the environment, and even save lives.

September 7 – October 18, 2016:  The Location Advantage:
http://www.esri.com/mooc/location-advantage.  Location analytics uses the locational component of business data to improve users’ understanding of their market, customers, and business processes. Organizations throughout the world use location analytics to make better decisions and gain a competitive advantage.

November 9 – December 20, 2016:  Going Places with Spatial Analysis: http://www.esri.com/mooc/going-places   This course is for people who know something about data analysis and want to learn how the special capabilities of spatial data analysis provides deeper understanding. You’ll get free access to the full analytical capabilities of ArcGIS Online, Esri’s cloud-based GIS platform.

February 1 – February 28, 2017: Do-It-Yourself Geo Apps:
http://www.esri.com/mooc/diy-geo-apps  You don’t have to be a software developer to build valuable geo-enabled apps that make your communities smarter and businesses more successful. This course shows how to combine location and narrative in one application to better communicate and broadcast your story, create custom web applications that solve problems in your community, and build powerful native applications for iOS and Android devices without touching a piece of code. If you are a developer, you’ll be interested in Esri’s APIs, SDKs, and the buzzing GeoDev community.

February 1 – March 14, 2017: Earth Imagery at Work.

April 12 – May 23, 2017: Going Places with Spatial Analysis.

April 12 – May 23, 2017: The Location Advantage.

Esri MOOCs - free, engaging, online courses.

Esri MOOCs – free, engaging, rigorous, online courses.

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Map and Guide to Geography Programs for 2015-2016 Now Available from AAG

The 2015-2016 edition of the AAG Guide to Geography Programs in the Americas is available freely online from our good friends and colleagues at the American Association of Geographers.

Once again, the guide includes an interactive map of geography programs, which allows users to filter programs by province/state, country, degree types, program specialties, and more.  This guide was created using Esri web application tools in ArcGIS Online.

On the map, you can click on the diploma icon to select your desired degree level, or use the Africa icon (regional specialty) and/or the magnifying glass (field of interest) to filter academic departments that match your interests.  Your searches are automatically saved as map layers that can be toggled on or off.  Data can be exported for later use.

We salute the AAG for making the guide and map such a useful resource for the entire community!

Interactive map accompanying the AAG Guide to Geography Programs in the Americas

Interactive map accompanying the AAG Guide to Geography Programs in the Americas.

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Sharing Data through Story Maps

Many methods of sharing mapped data are now available and easy to use. Using these methods can foster critical and spatial thinking by engaging the ArcGIS platform.  We have written about a variety of ways to share mapped data in this blog.  One method is to create a spreadsheet, publish it to ArcGIS Online, and making it editable in the field to enable your students to do citizen science-based mapping.  Another idea we wrote about is to crowdsource your photographs that can be used in multimedia maps.  We have also written about the many ways that you and your students can map their field data.  With increasing interest in story maps, how can data from more than one student be shown in a story map?

Several methods exist for educators and students to create data in the field or in the classroom and map it via a story map, with more on the way.  One way is to create a map in ArcGIS Online that includes an editable feature service, as shown in this example where I invite educators to map tree species on their campuses.  You can then create a story map, such as the one shown below.  Here, I chose the “basic story map” when I shared my map to a web mapping application.  The story map updates each time tree data is added.  Data can be added in the field using the Collector for ArcGIS app if the map has been shared with a group and the user has been invited to that group.  Data can also be added via a web browser on a laptop or tablet computer, and if the map has been shared publicly, with no log in required.

While you cannot have multiple editors work on a single story map, one method for instruction is to designate a person in your class whose ArcGIS Online account keeps the “master” story map.  Other students develop content in ArcGIS Desktop, Pro, or Online that they upload and share that content with their peers within their Group in ArcGIS Online.  Then, the person responsible for the master map searches for that content and adds it to their ArcGIS Online map.   The story map, as in the example I show below, automatically updates because it is pointing to the original editable map.

I mentioned above that “more methods are on the way.”  These include the upcoming crowdsourcing story map application, so keep an eye on this blog for further updates.

Crowdsourced Tree Mapping Project in a Story Map.

Crowdsourced Tree Mapping Project in a Story Map.

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Using GeoTech Clubs in Geomentoring

At the recent annual meeting of the American Association of Geographers, several of us had a conversation focused on running GeoTech Clubs–clubs focused on geotechnologies, mapping, fieldwork, and related topics, at schools.  Over the past 15 years, I have had the opportunity to run these types of clubs in elementary, middle, and high schools, and have participated in career panel presentations sponsored by geography, environmental, and GIS clubs at universities as well. With the launch of the GeoMentors program last year, I think the time has come to revisit this topic.  As an update to what I wrote a few years ago with a video I created at the same time, I would like to invite the community to discuss your experiences below with the club approach to promoting GIS at educational institutions.

Flyer promoting a GeoTech Club at a school.

Flyer promoting a GeoTech Club at a school.

An after-school club such as GeoTech provides an excellent way for students to engage in tools and experiences.  A club environment provides the freedom to experiment with different approaches and techniques.  I encourage anyone thinking of starting and running a club to make the activities fun and engaging.  I distribute maps, satellite images, and other mapping related items.  Choose a wide variety of topics and scales, including current events and relevant 21st Century topics such as energy, water, population change, natural hazards, open space trails, local businesses, weather, and the environment using GIS.

Bring in real job ads requiring GIS skills in the local area and discuss career decisions and work environments.  Make sure the club gets students out into the field, even if the field is just the school campus, gathering data about litter, trees and shrubs, social zones, cell phone reception, and infrastructure using GPS receivers and smartphone apps.  Map your field collected data in ArcGIS Online. Ask students what they are interested in examining.   After the students get familiar with some mapping tools, let the students pursue an independent project of their own choosing.  One student I had in a GeoTech Club created an ArcGIS Online map with data points and photographs to support the field trip the Earth Science teacher was conducting. Another made a map-based project comparing all of the local lunch spots that students in his school frequented. Another made a map with all of the major league baseball stadiums complete with team logos used as point symbols.

Since there is so much competition for students’ time after school, make sure that you not only advertise the club via school newsletters, announcements, and web sites, but also (1) Encourage the students in the club to tell and bring their friends, (2)  Ensure that the club is well supported by the school’s teachers and administrators, and (3) Build connections between what you are doing in the club to the school’s focus areas.

Career academies are an important part of the high school housing the GeoTech Club I facilitated most recently.  The themes of geotechnologies, inquiry, and critical thinking have become an important part of the school’s STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) academy and soon in their Business and Global Studies academy.  The STEM academy’s pathway on computer technology and its “Earth, Energy, and the Environment” theme were particularly well aligned with the GeoTech Club.

I would also like to see examples where students are directing the activities of their own club.  A GeoTech Club is also an excellent way for you to bring in other geomentors in your community to give presentations and lead activities.

If you are already running a GeoTech Club at a school, what activities do you include in it?  If you are not running such a club, I encourage you to look into it, or encourage others to do so.

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Mapping BioBlitz Field Data in ArcGIS Online

I recently had the opportunity to advise, create, and teach a mini-course to support an NSF-funded project aimed at university students who are underrepresented in STEM, fieldwork, and geotechnologies.  This mini-course was in conjunction with Colorado State University, the National Park Service, and the national BioBlitz 2016 initiative.

As I describe in the workshop syllabus, the goals in my portion of the project were to help the university student participants to:  (1) Learn what GIS and spatial analysis are and why they matter to society and why they are relevant to this project;  (2) Learn how to upload, symbolize, and classify their field-collected data and other data into a web based mapping platform (ArcGIS Online);  (3) Learn how to spatially analyze their own field-collected data and other data in ArcGIS Online; and – (4) Learn how to create presentations and web mapping applications, including multimedia maps and storymaps, to communicate the results of their research.

After watching Penn State’s Geospatial Revolution Trailer and my Why Get Excited about Web Mapping video, we discussed why GIS is a key part of research, education, and society in the 21st Century.  We then worked with my vegetation data that I collected on vegetation types collected with iNaturalist mobile smartphone app and the data that the students had collected during that same week at Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico.  We then brought the data into ArcGIS Online, displayed the data by setting styles and popup properties for the insect, plant, and animal species they had documented, created heat maps, walk- and drive-time areas, calculated routes to re-visit the sample points, and created maps showing hot spots.   They used the trace downstream tool, created riparian zone buffers around streams, and calculated the number of observations in the riparian zones.

We also worked with some test soil pH data from North Dakota into ArcGIS Online with some additional tools.  We mapped elements in the soil (such as Zn, Pb, K, Ph), created map notes, summarized points within specific parameters, and added statistics such as lead–parts per million.  We created a new hosted feature layer from the original CSV file so that we could filter the data, selecting points, for example, where the lead parts per million was at least 200.   We then calculated a Hot Spot analysis and interpolated a surface of pH values based on that attribute.

Once the analysis was finished, we created web mapping applications, starting with my web maps, apps, and story maps presentation and creating multimedia map notes from my own New Mexico fieldwork at 36, -106 and 35, -106 and 34, -106, but we spent most of our time together in hands-on mode building the storymaps based on their own fieldwork.   We focused on creating a Map Tour Storymapa Side Accordion storymap, and a Map Journal storymap.  We then discussed and compared these multimedia maps, and discussed skills learned and how and when to apply them in this BioBlitz project and beyond.

The tools and data within ArcGIS Online supported and complemented the project very nicely, and some of these same techniques can be used by the thousands of people who are expected to participate in the national BioBlitz 2016 initiative in a few months.  I look forward to seeing the students’ final projects.

How might you and your students be able to map your own field-collected data using these tools and techniques?

Some of the field data collected in iNaturalist mapped in ArcGIS Online.

Some of the field data collected in iNaturalist mapped in ArcGIS Online.

Some of the university student participants and instructors of the BioBlitz workshop at Colorado State University.  The students represented at least 10 universities in the USA and internationally.

Some of the university student participants and instructors of the BioBlitz workshop at Colorado State University.  The students represented at least 10 universities in the USA and internationally.
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Valuable educational tips from mentor David Neils

My colleague David Neils is one of my favorite mentors.  David runs the International Telementor Program and is very active in connecting students and faculty at all levels with industry professionals for the goal of fostering workforce skills development.  He is also one of the greatest wildlife photographers and advocates for outdoor education that I’ve ever known.

He recently summarized some of the gems he is regularly sharing in his presentations and workshops, and graciously agreed to allow me to post this for the greater community:

1. Follow up quickly and professionally on all communication with industry professionals. Dead air is common today from students. Avoid it like the plague.

2. Look for ways to make a difference RIGHT NOW for these professionals and others who you connect with. Learn more about the industry WHILE MAKING A DIFFERENCE.

3. Be sure you set the bar at or above industry expectations for all of your student work and work outside of school. Don’t let your instructors set the bar of quality any more. They won’t set it high enough for you to be competitive. Grade inflation is rampant. Don’t be a casualty. Have all of your work reviewed by industry. You’ll find you are capable of producing stellar work and it will open up doors.

4. Make sure your education plan ALWAYS supersedes the institutional requirements of any institution you’re at. Your institution is simply a catalyst for you to blow the doors off with your interests, natural abilities, and energy. To be successful you must view your school as just one small part of your education experience, goals, and objectives.

5. Pay it forward. Help fellow students learn the ropes. Reach back into a local high school or middle school and share with students the powerful journey you’re on. Few things in life will produce more
joy.

6. Develop win-win relationships with successful alumni from the program you’re currently in. Dig in and learn all you can about these alumni before you connect. Determine why they’ve been successful. Figure out what keeps them up at night professionally, and figure out a way to help solve their challenges. Nothing opens up doors faster, nothing. Only one out of a million college students thinks this way. You’ll definitely stand out.

7. When you connect with a successful professional, use this approach:

1. Be humble, transparent, appreciative and professional in all of your communication.

2. Let the professional know you still have a lot to learn but while you’re learning you want to help.

3. Identify an area of mutual interest (you’ve done your homework) that you’d like to tackle and note the time frame, etc.

4. Be clear regarding what you’re asking of the professional and the time frame involved.

5. Note how you’re going to wrap things up and share the results.

6. Thank the professional in a heartfelt, professional way. (Handwritten thank you cards have the greatest impact).

Note from Joseph Kerski:  What are you reactions to the above?  I look forward to hearing your comments below.
——————————-
Ways to contact David:

www.telementor.org
www.linkedin.com/in/davidbneils
www.offthepavement.org

Want to be a mentor in the fields of STEM, geography, and GIS?  Or find a mentor for your school or program? One way to do so is via the GeoMentor program.

David Neils setting up one of his wildlife webcams in Colorado.

David Neils setting up one of his wildlife webcams in Colorado.

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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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Data Management Tips in ArcGIS Online

Like many of you, I frequently create Esri story maps and ArcGIS Online presentations for events, workshops, webinars, courses, and curricula.  Then I often want to modify those story maps and presentations for a different purpose, but yet preserve the original version so people can still access it.  The ArcGIS Online Assistant is the perfect tool for this.  It can be used for copying web mapping applications such as story maps, ArcGIS Online maps, layers, scenes, and other items from one folder to another, or between organizations, or even to the same folder within an organization.  It can also be used to view the underlying JSON for any item in ArcGIS Online or Portal, and to modify the URLs for services in web maps and registered applications.

Another very helpful feature about the ArcGIS Online Assistant is that it quickly lets you scroll through all of your content your organizational account.  If you have a lot of content in your organization, saves a great deal of time over the standard method of going through each page of your standard “My Contents” zone in ArcGIS Online.

Note that the copying procedure does not copy all of your data that your web mapping applications may refer to, but just the application or presentation that points to them.

If you need even more functionality, look into the tools created by Geo Jobe.  In the free version of their tools, there is a tool labeled “Copy Items” that acts like the AGO Assistant tool.  Their tools also allow for a filter that can select multiple items at once.  In the Pro/Portal version of their tools, you can “Clone Items”, which not only copies the selected item, but also copies and rewires all the data and content that the selected item depends on.  As noted above, the AGO Assistant does not do this, but Geo Jobe allows you to truly copy everything, including the source data.

For more information, see the GeoNet discussion on this topic, and for best practices and tools related to ArcGIS Online organizations, see the ArcGIS Organization Administration Wiki on GitHub.

The ArcGIS Assistant

After using the ArcGIS Online Assistant, I now have a copy of my original item in ArcGIS Online, which I can now rename and modify.

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