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2018

"Workforce" is a prominent topic for state governors; every state is concerned about employability of young people after school … and even during school. And, every year, at Esri's User Conference, some GIS-using professional at a business, non-profit group, or government agency will mention to me the challenge they face "finding people with the right skills … even the beginning skills needed …" to work for them. Digging deeper, with governors and with GIS professionals, two skill sets appear: (a) job-specific fundamentals, and (b) "soft skills" of being a reliable worker, collaborating, working independently, communicating, making decisions and solving problems, being adaptable, thinking creatively, and seeking help when needed. I smile because all of these can be developed with "long-term" experience with GIS.

 

How do you document these things? A lot of schools run "Career and Technical Education" (CTE) courses that help students learn fundamentals in a line of work … cosmetology, public safety, diesel engines, biomedicine, network administration, GIS. Many of these courses involve independent tests on established principles, latest patterns, and current technology.

 

Esri offers certification about Esri software. But even the most basic -- "ArcGIS Desktop Entry Level" -- is no slouch of an exam. It is designed for GIS users with up to two years of applied experience. I can vouch for the breadth of its coverage; I took the Desktop Entry 10.5 exam a couple of weeks ago. The published info shows that it includes content about ArcMap, ArcGIS Pro, ArcGIS Online, and even ArcGIS Enterprise. The Certification Team has presented enough for someone to do a critical self-check about their readiness. Given the $225 cost of each exam, scouring these materials is time well-spent.

 

Esri Desktop 10.5 Entry Level Certification web page

 

Desktop 10.5 Entry Level guidance

 

Should secondary students take this exam? It is absolutely not designed for them. There are significant legal and logistical challenges to overcome before one can take the exam. Minors must complete additional paperwork weeks ahead. Still, some educators have steered their students toward it. There is a frightfully low likelihood that a high school student even with two years of hour-per-day classes will pass. (Again, the course was designed for the entry-level professional with up to two years … 4000 hours … of applied experience.)

 

Should educators take the exam? This makes much more sense, especially in a CTE class. Just as high school teachers get "content certified," it makes sense to earn a software certification if one is teaching what would represent entry-level GIS jobs. It may help the educator (re-)discover the lightning pace of software evolution, the breadth of the ArcGIS platform, and the difference between "just a map" and "a tool for analysis, communication, and problem solving."

 

So, does GIS even belong in schools, and especially CTE? Absolutely. The combination of "job-specific fundamentals" and "soft skills" can be built starting even in elementary school. Developing capacity to understand maps, create and analyze data, communicate powerfully, collaborate, solve problems, and so on, cannot develop sufficiently high in a single year of hour-per-day class. GIS has a home in every situation involving data and locations, whether learning U.S. history, analyzing local community situations, or modeling global threats. Educators need always to design appropriate and realistic measures of student capacity and achievement, clarifying student responsibilities, and building in their students scholarship, artisanship, and citizenship. (Thank you, Michael Hartoonian.) Documenting this with a digital portfolio, perhaps via a Story Map Journal, might be a useful model.

Huge thanks to Marjean Pobuda (Esri), Product Engineer for Spatial Statistics and R-Bridge on the excellent presentation on R-ArcGIS integration!!!

 

  • The recording and slides are located here

 

Below are a couple of the resources we discussed - be on the lookout for a new Learn ArcGIS lesson!

 

Please post any questions or further follow up here. 

I recently gave a presentation focused on providing guidelines for those who are seeking a career in GIS or a related career that will include GIS in some significant way (such as in city planning, wildlife biology, health informatics, and so on), and have posted it here.  The guidelines includes strategies on networking, resumes vs. CVs, interviewing, writing a cover letter, online presence, creating a storymap of your CV, and much more.  I am grateful to my colleague Nick Kelch at Esri for some of his words of wisdom and slides as I prepared this presentation.  In the presentation, I include links to videos and other presentations I have created on this topic.  I am very excited about the future for anyone involved with geospatial technology, as it becomes a fundamental part of 21sdt Century decision making.

 

I hope it is helpful and I look forward to your feedback. 

The Esri Development Center (EDC) program confers special status and benefits upon a select few leading university departments that challenge their students to develop innovative applications based upon the ArcGIS platform and related elements of the geospatial technology ecosystem. One benefit of the program is a cash prize, certificate, and Esri Press book awarded to a Student of the Year named by each EDC. Here I’ll share brief profiles of 10 outstanding award winners, including the one student selected as Esri's 2018 International Student of the Year.

 

Susanna Ambondo Abraham, Technische Universität (TU) Dresden

 

Susanna is employed as a Cartographer at the Ministry of Mines and Energy in Namibia

 

For her International Master of Science in Cartography thesis “Historical Spatio-temporal data in current GIS, Case Study: German-Herero war of resistance 1904”, Susanna applied Natural Language Processing techniques to extract spatio-temporal data from unstructured historical text documents. Using the GATE text engineering architecture, Susanna developed tools to perform gazetteer matching and spatiotemporal relationship extraction, as well as pattern-based rules to recognize and annotate elements. She then used ArcGIS to analyze the extracted historical spatio-temporal data. Reviewers observed that “the project requires expertise in natural language processing, geographic positioning, spatio-temporal analysis, and history, and addresses a timeless issue – human conflict.” Her research will be reported in a special issue of the Transactions in GIS. Meanwhile, this story map summarizes Susanna's findings. 

 

Marlena Götza, University of Münster

 

Marlena’s masters project at the Institute for Geoinformatics (ifgi) involved a collaboration between 52° North, Esri, and the company CLAAS E-Systems. CLAAS’ Telematics system uses a big data infrastructure to delineate farm fields from the movements of agricultural vehicles. Farm field boundaries provide the basis for automated planning and control tasks for farmers. The problem is that CLAAS' infrastructure does not provide geo-functionalities that take into account the spatial context in managing and processing the data. The purpose of Marlena's study was therefore to determine how the existing Big Data infrastructure could be enhanced by Esri technology.

 

Overview of the extended system infrastructure Marlena Götza tested for CLAAS E-Systems.

 

For field boundary detection, the existing Hadoop infrastructure was extended through the ArcGIS Enterprise platform. In addition to the ArcGIS Enterprise Stack, the configuration also includes ArcGIS Pro, which allows to users to control processing on ArcGIS Enterprise and to define processing workflows. The project demonstrated the added value of ArcGIS for visualization and spatio-temporal data, and also identified potential improvements to GeoAnalytics Server and the Big Data Store for similar applications. 

 

Jan Jedersberger, Karlsruhe University of Applied Science

 

For his masters thesis "Conceptualizing and implementing mobile mapping tools to support cheetah monitoring in Kenya”, Jan used AppStudio for ArcGIS and Qt/QML to develop a suite of mobile field apps, a web app, and back-end capabilities. Reviewers noted that “Jan built a complex distributed system for a worthy cause."

 

Jan (left) confers with a staff member of the NGO Action for Cheetahs in Kenya (ACK) about usability of the mobile apps he developed. At right, an ACK staffer photographs and tags a cheetah track.

 

Relationships among components of the system Jan Jedersberger developed for Action for Cheetahs in Kenya.

 

Timo Staub, University of Applied Sciences Würzburg-Schweinfurt

 

Timo developed a 3D route planning system for the University’s Röntgenring campus information system. Users can search start and end points by room number. Options include avoiding elevators, stairs, and/or special lock authorizations, and specifying in-building routes. Timo used ArcGIS Desktop, ArcGIS Server, Network Analyst, and ArcGIS Online to create the 3D-Routeplanner app. 

 

Timo Staub’s 3D-Routeplanner app at the University of Applied Sciences Würzburg-Schweinfurt’s Röntgenring campus.

 

Nicole Helgeson, University of Minnesota

 

Nicole is a second-year student in the University of Minnesota’s Master of GIS program. She’s also a research assistant with the University’s Extension Center for Family Development. She earned the EDC Student of the Year award for her work in web mapping and web GIS—specifically related to health and nutrition. Nicole's nominators remarked that although Nicole “did not have a computer science or software engineering background … she has become our archetype for how a student can migrate from GIS applications into GIS development."

 

 

Nicole interns with a local county Public Health agency, volunteers for the Minnesota Food Charter, and has received funding from the university’s Healthy Foods, Healthy Lives Institute. The web mapping sites she’s developed for these agencies deal directly with food access or cataloging institutions concerned with food access. A common feature is the integration crowdsourced information, primarily using Survey123 for ArcGIS. One example is Ramsey County food resources.

 

Timothy Naegeli, Penn State University

 

For his Master of GIS capstone project, Tim collaborated with a plenary geologist at the U.S.Geological Survey to develop and test a new GIS-based tool for identifying and characterizing impact craters on Mars and the Moon. Planetary geologists study primary and secondary impact craters to determine the ages of celestial bodies. Tim developed an extension to the Large Crater Clustering (LCC) tool set that enables analysts to simulate impact trajectories and identify likely locations of primary and secondary craters. The extension – a Python script that levers ArcGIS’ ArcPy library – is described in Tim’s paper in Computers and Geosciences.

 

Simulated impact trajectories reveal likely locations of primary craters in the Lunae Pauls quadrangle on Mars.

 

Brian Ho, Harvard University 

 

Brian earned Harvard University’s EDC Student of the Year distinction for his project Making a New City Image

 

Brian Ho, Harvard Graduate School of Design and School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

 

Brian's project seeks nothing less than to to define a "new mode of geographic analysis" that "unites the [planimetric] view from above and the [street]view from the ground.” The project is grounded in Kevin Lynch’s Image of the City, a landmark study that relied on both systematic field reconnaissance and interviews with a small sample of city residents, all supported by photographs, hand-drawn maps and lengthy transcripts. Lynch’s five elements of the city image — the path, edge, district, node and landmark — led to a generalized theory of urban form. For his project, Brian geolocated some 2000 of Lynch’s original photos of Boston. He then used ArcGIS Pro to warp a scanned image of Lynch’s Boston city image diagram, digitized each city image element, then associated the geolocated photos with the elements. Finally, Brian developed a convolutional neural net to learn the relationship between the imagery and the city image elements. A reviewer noted that Brian’s project "requires expertise in disparate domains (AI, geographic analysis, perception) and addresses a timely issue as the world becomes increasingly urban.”

 

Stefan Zimmer, University of Salzburg

 

Department of Geoinformatics – Z_GIS – honors Stefan for his masters thesis "An Efficient Algorithm for Computing Space-Time-Linguistics Similarities and Labelling Social Media Posts.” Stefan's machine learning-based algorithm “TwEmLab" (Twitter Emo-tion Labeller) assigns emotion categories to social media posts like tweets. Nominators praised his success in implementing the complex algorithm in a way that outperforms comparable parallelized algorithms, both for CPU- and GPU-based operations.

 

Tweets in the Boston vicinity associated with anger/disgust (red), fear (blue), and sadness (yellow), according to Zimmer’s algorithm.

 

 

Stefan applied exceptional software development skills to develop and implement geospatial applications using a variety of software technologies, including extensive use of Esri technology for spatial data analysis and visualization. He conceived and implemented a location-based game, in which a spaceship can be controlled using a mobile EEG device and voice commands, and was a member of the successful team winning the first Copernicus Hackathon.

 

Abhinav Mehrotra, University College London

 

 

Abhinav earned his PhD with a dissertation titled “A framework for intelligent mobile notifications.” His work focuses on the collection and analysis of large-scale datasets from mobile and wearable devices. He is also interested in the analysis of mobile GPS traces to extract human mobility patterns and exploit this information to support innovative services. "My research,” Abhinav writes, "is driven by a strong desire to provide value to the smartphone users from the data generated by their phones.”

 

ArcGIS played an important role in his projects, especially for visualizing mobility trajectories and understanding the characteristics of the places visited by the users considered in his studies. For example, in a recent project that investigates the impact of places on users' mobile interaction behavior, ArcGIS has been a key tool for clustering places visited by users over time. Nominators remarked that “the results of this work could prove to be of key importance for the development of novel intelligent mobile applications and services and also for mobile application marketing purposes.” Abhinav’s co-authored paper "Understanding the Role of Places and Activities on Mobile Phone Interaction and Usage Patterns” is published in the Proceedings of the ACM on Interactive, Mobile, Wearable and Ubiquitous Technologies.

 

Nicholas Romano, University of Maryland

 

Nick is a second year student in Maryland’s Master of Professional Studies in Geospatial Information Sciences program. He currently serves as a Graduate Assistant within the Campus GIS Group in Facilities Management. His development portfolio focuses on web development using the ArcGIS for JavaScript API, and data management and interoperability utilizing Python and the ArcPy package. He has developed a tool that repairs CAD files to re-enable block attributes that can be read within ArcGIS 10.3 and above. His other tools automate the transformation of CAD building floorplan data into the Local Government Information Model (LGIM), allowing them to be utilized for visualization within 3D Web Scenes and for interior navigation. At the 2018 Esri Developers Summit in Palm Springs, Nick proposed new methods to organize and scale enterprise application code. Along with his colleagues and predecessors, Nick helps make the University of Maryland Campus Web Map one of the best of its kind. 

 

Nick Romano’s 3D Interior Navigation prototype app

 

Last but not least, we are pleased to announce our 2018 Esri Development Center International Student of the Year:

 

Ashwin Shashidharan North Carolina State University

 

Ashwin Shashidharan (center) with advisers Ross Meentemeyer (left) and Raju Vatsavai. 

 

Ashwin’s pathbreaking work in high performance computing for geosimulations earned first place in the student research competition at the 24th ACM SIGSPATIAL Conference. A PhD candidate in Computer Science, Ashwin is advised jointly by Ross Meentemeyer, director of NC State’s Center for Geospatial Analytics, and Faculty Fellow Raju Vatsavai.

 

 

During an earlier internship with Esri, Ashwin contributed to algorithm design and software development of a spatial indexing library for GPGPUs. This work involved C/C++ programming using the NVIDIA’s CUDA parallel computing platform and programming model for NVIDIA GPUs. This work was part of Esri’s GPU computing initiative to extend big data analysis with the ArcGIS GeoAnalytics software. Reviewers noted that "Ashwin is working on the bleeding edge of GPU-based geoanalytics within the ArcGIS platform."

 

As Esri’s 2018 EDC International Student of the Year, Ashwin is invited to attend the 2018 Education Summit @ Esri UC and Esri User Conference in San Diego, July 7-13.

 

Time, space and available documentation do not permit profiles of every Student of the Year. Congratulations to honorees at other Esri Development Centers:

 

Benjamin Acker, University of Texas at Dallas, for his project Spatiotemporal Risk Estimation of Traffic Accidents using Python.

 

Max Czapanskiy and Sally Shatford (co-winners), San Francisco State University

 

Cesar del Castillo, Arizona State University, for contributions to the From the Past a Sustainable Future project.    

 

Brian Everitt, University of Southern California, for his Earthquake Awareness, Response, and Recovery Web Mapping Application

 

Andrew Fleming, Texas A&M University

 

David Penn, Georgia Southern University

 

Nikhil Sangwan, Purdue University, for his project on validation of floodmaps at county resolution for the entire U.S.

 

Timothy Schempp, San Diego State University

 

Matthias Stein, Hochschule Bochum, for his master thesis project "Usability improvements for map content controls on mobile devices."  

 

Zachary Sutherby, Rochester Institute of Technology

 

Jorim Urner, Institute of Cartography and Geoinformation, ETH Zurich, for his thesis project Incorporating Spatio-Temporal Context for Predicting the Next Place Using Neural Networks and Random Forests and contributions to the GoEco project.

 

Some enhancements to ArcGIS Online are big and others are very small. My favorite one from the September update is very, very small. It’s a tiny checkbox that only ArcGIS Online administrators would ever see. Here it is in all its glory:

 

 

If you’ve not run into it yet, log in as an administrator of your organization, and have a look at Edit Settings, and choose the Credits tab. If checked, the "Show each member's available credits on their profile page" will allow users to see how many credits they have when they visit their profile page.

 

profile with credits

 

Sometimes, we ArcGIS Online administrators, who are often educators, want to be stealthy. We don't want students to know about or worry about credits. Most of the time in the Esri MOOC program, that's the case. But in The Location Advantage, when students have access to all the GeoEnrichment tools in ArcGIS Online and all of the wonders of ArcGIS Business Analyst Web App, they tend to get excited and run lots of analyses as they learn about location analytics. We want them to do that! But we also want them to understand what credits are and how they work. So, for that MOOC, we are enabling this feature for our students starting with the April 2018 offering.

jkerski-esristaff

What is GIS?

Posted by jkerski-esristaff Employee Apr 13, 2018

What is GIS?

It may seem odd to still be discussing “what is GIS” nowadays, given the fact that GIS has now passed its 50th birthday.  But, considering that GIS has evolved in many ways and will continue to do even more rapidly in terms of its functionality, platform, data, application areas, audience, and social context, perhaps we continually need to revisit what it is.   In addition, GIS is also at the same time, a set of tools, an approach to understanding the world, a discipline, and part of other disciplines such as geodesign and GIScience.  Furthermore, new audiences are continually discovering GIS and applying it to new fields and problems.  Yes, it does make sense that such a topic needs to be defined and understood.

As is most likely the case with you reading this essay, I so firmly believe in the power of GIS to make our world more efficient, healthier, and happier, and I never tire of talking with people about what GIS is.   I do so wherever I have the opportunity—in workshops, presentations, courses, books, and even in everyday life such as on airport shuttles, community functions, and on elevators.  I encourage you to work on your “elevator speech” if you don’t already have one, as I have here and here

Another way of introducing people to the definition of GIS is through a video.  These videos have been important teaching resources going back to Roger Tomlinson’s Data for Decisions films from 1967 through today.  Besides that of Dr. Tomlinson, some of my favorites are those from Esri, Rebekah Jones, GIS Videos TV, and Esri Ireland.  but I also recently created my own video on the topic with my own interpretation of what GIS is, and why it matters to education and society.

Many of us remember the core GIS definitions from our university textbooks, which usually included the following: GIS is composed of hardware, software, data, methods (tools, models, and procedures), and people.  Another useful and oft-cited definition is, “GIS is a system for collecting, management, manipulation, analysis, and presentation of spatially referenced data.”  Still another definition is that a GIS enables us to help capture, model, store, manage, and present complex systems.

Another way to conceptualize GIS—Geographic Information Systems—is to break apart its three words:  The “G” or “Geographic” component refers to the location-component that GIS has—everything in a GIS is referenced to real-world coordinates.  These coordinates can define a single point, or a line or polygon.  They can also define the starting point and extent of a grid, or image.  The “I” or “Information” component refers to the informational database behind the spatial data; a geo-database, usually stored as a table or set of related tables, containing spatial fields (such as latitude-longitude or street address or city names), and aspatial fields (such as housing type or number of people between 10 and 19 years old).  The “S” or “System” component ties the “G” and the “I” segments together—one can select a feature via using the map, or via a row in the data table.  The “S” component ensures that a GIS is not just a set of graphics floating around in cyberspace, but that the attributes are always linked to the mapped feature.

By combining the spatial with the aspatial data, we create a holistic view of the world.  GIS data are analyzed in layers, which can cover such themes as land use, land cover, hydrography, zoning, ecoregions, transportation, elevation, climate, and more.

The process-oriented definition of GIS is that:  A GIS is a computer-based system that provides for the collection, storage, analysis, and display of georeferenced data.  A problem-solving definition of GIS is:  A GIS is a decision support system involving the integration of spatially referenced data in a problem-solving environment.

GIS is sometimes defined in terms of the questions it can answer, including:
Location:  What is at………….?   This question seeks to find out what exists at a particular location. A location can be described in many ways, using, for example place name, post code, or geographic reference such as longitude/latitude.

Condition:   Where is it………….?   The second question is the converse of the first and requires spatial data to answer. Instead of identifying what exists at a given location, one may wish to find location(s) where certain conditions are satisfied (such as an unforested section of at-least 2000 square meters in size, within 100 meters of road, and with soils suitable for supporting buildings).

Aspatial Questions:  "What's the average number of people working with GIS in each location?" is an aspatial question - the answer to which does not require the stored value of latitude and longitude; nor does it describe where the places are in relation with each other.

Spatial Questions.  "How many people work with GIS in the major neighborhoods or centers of Delhi" OR " Which centers lie within 10 km of each other? ", OR " What is the shortest route passing through all these centers". These are spatial questions that can only be answered using latitude and longitude data and other information such as the radius of the Earth. GIS can answer such questions.

About five years ago, Esri and other organizations began focusing on a transformation in GIS from a set of tools that are changing into a platform, here, and here.

More recently, some presentations have focused on GIS moving from a system of record to a system of engagement.

Each of these definitions has its place—they all help us conceptualize what GIS is and contribute to the richness of its evolving nature.   My own definitions as I speak about in this video are as follows:

GIS is part of the geotechnologies.  Back in 2004, the US Department of Labor identified three hot, key, growing fields for the 21st Century:  Nanotechnologies, biotechnologies, and geotechnologies.  GIS, along with GPS, web mapping, and remote sensing, are part of the geotechnologies.  Some people and programs prefer the terms geodata, location analytics, geoinformatics, or geomatics.

GIS is all about solving spatial problems in our world from local to global scale.  Thus, it is an application of geography.  Spatial problems all have to do with the “where” question.  Where are the fire hydrants in my community? Where do natural hazards occur and how do they affect communities?  How could sea level rise impact coastal lands? Energy, water, migration, biodiversity loss, sustainable agriculture, human health, city planning, and other issues of our 21st Century world can be better understood and solved using GIS.  

GIS is composed of several key elements—hardware, software (which is increasingly on the web), spatial data (also increasingly on the web) including real-time feeds, tools, methods, and people.  People apply GIS in decision-making environments, in nonprofit organizations, private industry, academia, and government organizations to make a positive difference in our world by solving problems. 

GIS is a key technology for our world, as increasing pressure exists on the environment through resource use and population.  GIS is all about critical thinking, spatial thinking, and making our world more sustainable, healthier, and happier.

A few of my other videos about GIS include its application to education and geography,  and reflecting on GIS at a giant cube, why GIS is better than paper maps, my TED talk on mapping, and making every day GIS day.

What is the definition of GIS that you find to be most useful?  How do you think GIS will change in the coming years?

Some people are natural teachers. Kids (and even adults) flock to them because they are friendly, helpful, knowledgeable, hard workers, and effective communicators who deal with the people first and tasks second. They stand out like neon lights, and are found in all grade bands and subject areas. Science teacher Erika Klose, of Winfield (WV) Middle School, is one of those. But Friday was Erika's last day teaching her cherished kids. She is stepping up.

 

Erika and devices

 

As a middle school student, Erika became obsessed with the just-rediscovered Titanic, helped her father restore old houses, and expected to study art in college. After a geology course captivated her during first semester of college, she got a BA in earth science, then an MS in geology and geophysics … which included a class in GIS. That one GIS class (1999, command line ArcInfo) got her an internship at USGS Woods Hole. It was a "trial by fire" project on coastal vulnerability for the whole US, managing huge amounts of inconsistent data, with a presentation to give at a big international conference in just six weeks. It led to six years of seafloor mapping and data crunching. "I had two Macs, two PCs, and two Linux machines running constantly in my office … just me and six computers," she laughs.

 

"But one of my tasks was outreach, and I began going into middle schools … and LOVED it. I knew I had to make a change. I went to West Virginia, got my Masters in teaching, and the day I finished student teaching, my cooperating teacher resigned." She took over in January 2008, and has spent the last decade teaching science to students in grades 6-8, mostly 7th grade. "I have kids for a semester, about 160 per year. And last Thursday, I stood in the hall, and 147 kids got in a line one by one and hugged me. It was great, and awful, and I just came back in the room and cried." Because Erika is stepping up, for teachers across the state.

 

Periodic Table atop WV map

 

At an "Intro to ArcMap" training in 2010 for teachers exploring GIS, reluctant participant Erika was discovered in the back row quietly building the periodic table atop a map of West Virginia, in GIS. One of the leaders looked at her and asked "Who ARE you?" Since then, Erika has attended Esri's Teachers Teaching Teachers GIS Institute and led GIS instruction of teachers across WV (and other states), first in desktop and then online GIS. She has helped update some state standards to include use of GIS. She earned certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, is incoming president of the West Virginia Science Teachers Association, earned a $10,000 prize for her school via the Day of Code challenge, and was Esri Teacher Video Challenge awardee in September 2017. Then, in October 2017, she was a Milken Family Foundation award winner, one of 47 nationally (with a great surprise video).

 

So now? "Starting Monday, I am 'Coordinator for STEM and Computer Science' for the WV Dept of Education." She has to work on redesigning standards, upgrading current teaching, growing the pipeline of well-trained teachers, and bridging diverse communities. "I think my ability to solve problems is one of my greatest strengths. I'm not afraid of things, like breaking software (just uninstall it if you kill it), or building stuff, or getting dirty. My parents gave me that. They let me DO a lot of things … and, I'll have a lot to do here."

 

Geogeek Erika

 

So what of teachers and kids and GIS? "They are different as learners. Teachers come in with the idea they need to be expert to present it in their class, and that's a barrier that is really hard to break thru, because teachers are also coming at it from the logistical side … software, controls, data, institutional barriers. Really, they just have to learn just this much" [cupping her hands together as if to enclose a baseball] "and just let kids go. Kids just do it. They're not afraid. They focus on the contents and yell 'Look at this!', and don't care about the software. They just do it, and LOVE GIS!"

 

Will this new job be a challenge? "I'm ready for the challenge. I've said 'I'm a teacher' for so long that that's what I still am. My heart hurts leaving, but one of my friends said 'You're the one that should go and do this, for us, and for the kids.' So I'm ready. I'm there to make a difference, for all of 'em out there."

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