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This post ( explains how our GIS Education Modernization strategy is informed by a survey of 226 Young Professionals. I welcome your feedback!

I have written over 400 essays on GIS in education over the past few years, and in an effort to make these searchable, I have created an index of these, accessible here. The topics range from strategies to teach GIS in different disciplines and educational levels, to giving presentations on GIS for the general public, to new GIS tools to investigate specific topics, to curricula and courses, educational GIS research, and much more, but have a common theme of fostering and supporting GIS in education, worldwide.  I hope this index is helpful to you in your work.


Example of one of over 400 essays on GIS in Education, Newly Indexed

Example of one of over 400 blog essays on GIS in education, newly indexed.


--Joseph Kerski

A selection of the Esri Insider posts authored by my colleagues (including David DiBiase, Tom Baker, Mike Gould, and Frank Holsmuller) and I have been archived and are accessible via this index. The topics range from geoliteracy, credentialing, the use of web maps in e-textbooks, and more, but they share a common theme of GIS in education and society.  I hope you find this index and these articles to be useful in your own work in the field of GIS.

--Joseph Kerski


Sample Esri Insider essay about GIS in education

As I wrote about a year ago, Mapillary is a tool that allows anyone to create their own street level photographs, map them, and share them via web GIS technology.  The idea behind Mapillary is a simple but powerful one:  Take photos of a place of interest as you walk along using the Mapillary mobile app and upload photos along the way.  They will be combined into a street level photo view.  Then, explore your places and those from thousands of other users around the world. Mapillary is part of the rapidly growing crowdsourcing citizen science movement, which seeks to generate “volunteered geographic information” content from ordinary citizens.  Mapillary is therefore more than a set of tools–it is a community, with its own MeetUps and ambassadors, and it is an Esri partner. I encourage educators to use Mapillary to generate field trip data with your students.


Recently, I wanted to extend what I have been doing with Mapillary.  I went for a hike in the chaparral biome in California and recorded my hike that resulted in over 700 images and a track that anyone now can use to take this hike "virtually", with the ability to see to the right, left, straight ahead, and sometimes, behind me as I saw it on that beautiful winter's day.


My Mapillary Track in the Chaparral Biome in the Mapillary map interface


I wanted to bring my Mapillary track into ArcGIS Online, so I could easily work with it in a variety of ways and in combination with other maps and tools in ArcGIS Online.  To do this, first, I zoomed in to the area on the Mapillary website's map that contained my own Mapillary track.  Then, I filtered on just my username in Mapillary so I would not download other people's tracks.  Then, I clicked "Download Data" under the Advanced Options in Photo Settings to download the GPS track as a GeoJSON file.  I then used the Add button in a new map in ArcGIS Online and my Mapillary track is now in that platform, visible here and shown below.  Now I can use it just like any other layer in ArcGIS Online!


Mapillary Track in ArcGIS Online

Other people are doing innovative things in ArcGIS Online with Mapillary tracks and photographs.  For example, this story map shows 7 remote places explored by the Mapillary community, including Tonga, Antarctica, and Svalbard, Norway, and this story map shows crowdsourced photos taken at a selected number of US National Parks.  The intriguing thing about each of these is that just as you can navigate in Google Street View or on Mapillary across the landscape using the photographs, you can do the same thing with these story maps.  In other words, the photos are not "static." 


Give Mapillary with ArcGIS a try!

I wanted to experiment with some new capabilities in the Cascade story map app, and I thought, "Why not select one of my all-time favorite places in which to do this?".  Hence, Hanging Lake and Spouting Rock, Colorado.  These two physical features are unique in many ways but are also easily reached after a beautiful one-hour hike in Glenwood Canyon.  Because Hanging Lake and Spouting Rock are just off Interstate Highway 70, this is one of the most popular hikes in the state, and I have been making the trek since I was 7 years old.  Hanging Lake is so named because it seems to "hang" at the edge of a cliff, with waterfalls that feed it, and waterfalls that drain it.  Spouting Rock is so named because the water literally gushes out of a cavity inside the cliff face, instead of flowing over the cliff as most waterfalls do.  Winter brings wonderful ice formations at the cliff and at the base of Spouting Rock.  My recent hike was on a beautiful Autumn day, and you can see the tree and cliff colors in the Colorado River canyon and along Dead Horse Canyon where the trail meanders.  I encourage you to take this hike the next time you visit central Colorado, and I also encourage you to try these Cascade story map techniques for your own favorite place!


The results of my work are in this story map.  With its "flowing" user experience, the Cascade app was the perfect tool to convey my idea of a "hiking discovery" - as you hike up the canyon, new sights are discovered around each bend.  A few of the things I tried and successfully implemented were a looping video at the beginning.

Front looping video of the Hanging Lake and Spouting Rock Story Map.

Cascade story maps allow for deep narratives.  In this map, I described the geology of the area, beginning with, "The geology here is largely shale, sandstone, limestone, quartzite, and dolomite, with alluvium along the river and along the sandstone bluffs. The Colorado Geologic Map is available here from the USGS, and the Geologic Map of the Shoshone Quadrangle is available for viewing here.  This area is part of the Chaffee Group - Upper Devonian - Dc on the geologic map - white to buff orthoquartzite, green shale, and gray dolomite.  On top of that is the Belden Formation, Lower Pennsylvanian, medium gray calcareous shale and fossiliferous limestone with interbeds of fine grained micaceous sandstone, gritstone, coaly shale, and gypsum.  Also present in this area is the Sawatch Quartzite, white to buff, massive, medium grained orthoquartzite and arkosic quartz-pebble conglomerate.   There is also the Leadville Limestone, gray to bluish gray, coarse to finely crystalline limestone and dolomite.  The Leadville Limestone, just to the north of here, in Deep Creek Gorge, contains some of the deepest and finest caves in Colorado, all at about 10,000 feet elevation."  In the map, I also gave a "shout out" to the good work that the Garfield County GIS staff does with GIS in this area to encourage what I view as some of the "unsung heroes" - those people who create the GIS data that you and I love to use.


Geologic map of the Hanging Lake and Spouting Rock area.


I recorded a track with a fitness app (in my case, RunKeeper), saved it as a GPX file, and uploaded the file into ArcGIS Online, saved that map, and then pointed to that map in my Cascade story map.  I was quite pleased with the spatial accuracy of the track, despite me being in a canyon with 100 meter walls and a lack of cell phone reception the majority of the time.  Discussing accuracy and precision with students is something I view as fundamental GIS instruction.

My track from a fitness app in the Hanging Lake and Spouting Rock Story Map.


I created a web map with the geo-tagged photographs that I had taken on the hike, and hence demonstrated the concept of a "map within a map", a technique that can be used quite effectively.

My photographs in their correct positions in the Hanging Lake and Spouting Rock Story Map.


I embedded videos inside the story map and tested them.  There was no slowing of performance after embedding these videos and so I was quite pleased with the results.

One of my embedded videos in the Hanging Lake and Spouting Rock Story Map.


At the end, I made use of the "credits" section, indicating that all of the photographs are my own.  Throughout the story map, I also indicated the source of the geologic and topographic maps I was using.

Credits section in the Hanging Lake and Spouting Rock Story Map.

I encourage you to try the Cascade story map to tell your own story - and encourage your students to create these for their own projects, projects you assign, or from field trips in your course!

OpenStreetMap is a free, editable map of the entire world that is being built by volunteers and released with an open-content license. OpenStreetMap is one of the most widely known and high quality citizen-science generated geospatial data sets in existence.  There are many ways to use OpenStreetMap (OSM) data in education.  You can analyze street layouts and urban and rural land use patterns at multiple scales using the OpenStreetMap online interface.  You can also examine the data inside ArcGIS Online using this OSM map.  You can also easily add OSM data to any ArcGIS desktop or online project because OpenStreetMap is one of the standard basemaps that are available from ArcGIS Online.  Once the data is in ArcGIS, you can then use the advanced symbology, classification, and analytical capabilities that are a part of the ArcGIS platform.


Another way to work with OpenStreetMap data is through the ArcGIS Editor for OpenStreetMap.  I selected the OSM basemap, zoomed to the area in in Tamale, Ghana, that students had collected, and brought it into ArcMap, as shown below.  From this point, you could apply symbology, create network datasets from OSM data, and even contribute data back to the OSM project.  You can also create geodatabase features that you can share on ArcGIS Online. 


OpenStreetMap data in ArcMap


Another way to use the OSM data is to export OSM data directly to ArcGIS Online without going through ArcMap.   Using these procedures on GitHubI accessed the same area of Ghana, exported OSM data via KML format into ArcGIS Online.  You can interact with the data via my map here.


OSM data in ArcGIS Online


Your students can even contribute to the content of OpenStreetMap.  One way is through YouthMappers, led by Dr. Patricia Solis of Texas Tech University.   The mission of YouthMappers goes beyond collecting map data--they seek to  "cultivate a generation of young leaders to create resilient communities and to define their world by mapping it." Therefore, they are just as interested in nurturing youth who understand mapping, community, and geography as the data that they are collecting.  In 2016 alone, 1,404 YouthMappers operating out of 57 university chapters in 19 countries made over 6 million map edits to OpenStreetMap in support of development and humanitarian projects and programs. 

The data above came from the work of a collaboration between the YouthMappers chapter at the University of Cape Coast Ghana, where James Eshun is faculty advisor in the Department of Geography, and Dr. Patricia Solis' class at Texas Tech University.  Dr Solis' class is a service learning course designed to engage small teams of students to learn more about development and humanitarian issues through mapping and collaborating internationally with peers in the YouthMappers chapters where USAID works.  The mapping team on this project included Kwaku Antwi, Cole Edwards, Cheyenne Betancourt, Nick Wisinewski, and Kyler Allen.  To find out more, see their story map.


You can start a new university chapter or affiliate your existing campus student group, organize mapping activities, add needed data to OpenStreetMap, collaborate with other chapters, and share results.  Members of active chapters will be eligible to apply for leadership, recognition, and fellowships opportunities. 


Give these procedures a try!


For more about Citizen Science and Esri, see the curated and updated Citizen Science resource here.  For more about Citizen Science and Esri from an education standpoint, see my article in the Esri Insider.




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