Desperately Learning

Blog Post created by jkerski-esristaff Employee on Oct 16, 2015
Something that Esri founder and president Jack Dangermond said this summer at one of the Young Professionals Network panel sessions at the Esri User Conference this past summer has stuck with me ever since: Jack said that he is "desperately learning."

It was the first time I had heard this adverb applied to learning and I liked it immediately. I think it typifies the attitude of those involved with GIS in education, and one that we need to cultivate in our students.  I believe it has several key implications, as I describe below and in this video.

The adverb implies that learning is lifelong. GIS technology is rapidly changing, with citizen science tools, users as data publishers, mobile applications, open data, 3D tools, and the evolution of GIS to the web to name a few. The application areas for GIS are rapidly expanding, as is the audience for communicating the results of GIS analysis and the means available for communicating one's GIS story.

But more than that, "desperately learning" implies that learning takes effort. Learning takes hard work; it takes initiative; it requires challenging oneself to try new methods and tools. It requires listening and continually asking questions.

Finally, "desperately learning" implies that learning is imperative. It is not an option. Given the complex and vexing challenges our world is facing, we cannot be complacent in our work in education and GIS. Indeed, the world needs the contribution of all of us involved with grappling with issues of water, energy, human health, crime, land use, urban planning, natural hazards, and other issues that GIS can be of great utility in understanding, modeling, and solving.  As my colleague Charlie Fitzpatrick wrote recently, we need to be learning quickly--there's no time to lose.

Are you "desperately learning?" How are you fostering this attitude in your students?

Are you "Desperately Learning"? There's no time to lose--the world needs your contribution.