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2016
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.
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Crowdsourced Tree Mapping Project in a Story Map.

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.
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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.
Thanks to collaborative work between Esri and Microsoft, ArcGIS Online maps and web mapping applications can now be embedded into Microsoft Sway presentations.  Microsoft Sway is a tool by which you can easily create compelling and multimedia-rich presentations that are stored online and thus can be easily shared and viewed on any device. It can also be used to create newsletters, reports, and personal stories.  The ability to embed ArcGIS Online maps and web mapping applications, such as storymaps, into Sway presentations enables a seamless, flowing presentation that takes advantages of the interactivity of ArcGIS Online and the capabilities that Sway offers.

For example, I recently gave a presentation at the AAG annual meeting entitled Communicating Geography to the General Public.  When you open this presentation, you will see that it includes photographs, video, and text.  But scroll down in the presentation for something even better:  You will see several live web maps:  An Open Street Map in ArcGIS Online that begins with Europe, a storymap I created for the University of Denver campus, a crowdsourced map of 2,000 points collected in the field by educators using the Collector for ArcGIS app, and a proposed trail in Osceola, Iowa.  I was able to include these live web maps and apps using the embed code capabilities of Sway.

Other benefits of include:  I can easily copy a Sway to another file and edit that for a different presentation or workshop, and thus do not need to completely start over.  Furthermore, at the conference I could use any computer that happened to be at the podium to present my content.  I could easily direct the audience to view and even interact with the presentation and its live web maps as I was giving the presentation, or during the following week as they returned to their workplace.

The capability of embedding live content from ArcGIS Online represents another example in the flexibility of the ArcGIS platform to be incorporated into a growing number of tools to meet a growing number of needs--in this case, as a powerful communication tool.
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Embedding ArcGIS Online maps and storymaps into Microsoft Sway.

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

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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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