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Some of you have asked - there are two components/access points for QuickCapture – it is very similar to how Survey123 is accessed/licensed.


  1. Mobile app – download from Apple or Google Play (Note, as of today, June 27th, 2019, the QuickCapture mobile app has not been indexed yet by Apple or Google play, and it will be in 24-48 hours).  You can download  it directly on iOS from:
  2. QuickCapture designer (web tool) - . You can go directly to this URL. It will be part of the AppLauncher in September (for the time being, as an Administrator, you can manually add it to AppLauncher).


Educational institutions currently get Creator user type, which includes the Field Apps bundle that QuickCapture is part of, along with Collector, Survey123 and Workforce. No additional license assignment is needed.

For more info and tutorials:


 AppLauncher (QuickCapture Designer web tool will be part of it in September)


Field Apps Bundle (bottom), available with Creator user type (no additional license assignment needed)


I have created a new lesson in the exciting new story maps tools and have just updated it on 28 August 2019.  The lesson guides you through the creation of a map similar to the geomorphology field trip story map that I created and recently wrote about.  In the workshop, I made some enhancements to the original story map that use some tools that have been created since then, including the Express Map and the Sidecar.   The map you will create also includes links to videos and work with configuring layers in ArcGIS Online maps. The tools are described here.  The tools were fully released in July 2019.  The attached zip file contains the contents of the lesson in DOCX and PDF formats along with the images for the map.  These tools are rapidly evolving, so dip a toe into the waters today and get started!


I look forward to your comments.   Meanwhile, get out into the field, make maps, and do spatial analysis!


You need to get out into the field!

--Joseph Kerski

One of the most viewed blog essays I've ever written was entitled, What should I do for my GIS project?  While it certainly didn't go "viral", its theme seemed to strike a chord with many in education.   All of us in this field, at one time or another, whether at school, university, or even in certain workplace settings, have had to deal with this question, as I describe in this short introductory video and in this full length video. Let's discuss this topic from the student's perspective.  


I receive frequent inquiries about this topic, and when I do I encourage the student writing to me to discuss his or her thoughts with peers rather than simply focusing on my lists of what others have done.  Lists are fine for some inspiration, but if you are a student, I encourage you to start with issues that you are most passionate about.  Don't select something where you can easily find data, or even something your professor or co-workers or advisor is interested in; rather, pick something that you are interested in.  This will keep you interested, focused, and tenacious in learning new research methods, new tools, and investigating new data sets.  You'll need tenacity even for "small" projects, because the Earth is a complex place, and to investigate even a few of its processes requires focused attention. 

I wrote in 2011 that the United Nations Millennium Development Goals provide a good framework and starting point, and now here in 2019, I encourage you to look at the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  These goals that  address poverty, health, education, and other topics (1) can benefit by the spatial perspective and spatial analysis that GIS enables; and (2) provide one way for you to anchor your project in "what really matters."  Don't get discouraged and think that your project might not be "big picture enough", but may be focused on water quality in a very small part of a watershed, or about an urban greenway in one community.  It is my firm belief that thousands of these local projects are exactly what we need to build a better world.  


Another source of inspiration are the projects that the students winning the Esri Young Scholar challenge create each year, that I recently documented with an essay and story map.  Browse the posters linked to the story map to learn about the themes, the scales, the tools, and the methods that the students used to tackle the problems they identified, and consider how they could apply to what you are considering studying.  Another resource is the annual Esri Map Books that include problems addressed through the application of GIS in hundreds of disciplines from agriculture to zoology from many perspectives.  On that same theme, review the Esri industry pages, which give a good sense of the fields in which GIS is used.  While you are examining the pages in business, health, natural resources, utilities, and other fields, pay attention also to the organizations where the creators of these maps work, and think about which organizations sound interesting for you to work in someday.   Consider the societal implications of what you are studying including those discussed in our data blog, Spatial Reserves, such as data quality, copyright, citizen science, the Internet of Things, and location privacy.


I encourage you to read scholarly and trade journals, such as Transactions in GIS or xyHT, as well as Directions Magazine, Geospatial WorldGIS User, GIS Café, the Esri News, and other GIS news and research to understand how research with GIS is framed and conducted.  Follow those on Twitter or GeoNet from whom you can learn.  It may sound "old school" but one of my favorite sources of information are email listservs (though limit the number that you subscribe to so as not to get overwhelmed).  Keep current about Earth-related news to get a sense of issues of critical importance, from local to international.  Read about environmental issues or be inspired by innovations that have been achieved in the past and researchers who made those innovations happen.  In my state of Colorado, perennial issues include invasive species infestation, such as pine beetles, dealing with urban growth, planning greenways, wise energy use, and an issue that has been with us for 150 years—water quality and availability.  Look around you. These days, there are no shortage of Earth-based issues to address.  Current events from human health to political instability to natural disasters to economic inequality, energy, water, risk management, and many more are important issues that the spatial perspective and GIS tools can address. Consider also the type of research environment is most favorable to you:  Do you prefer working outside, in a lab or office, or a combination?  Does your preferred environment involve working in a team or alone? 


Allow me to back up what your professors are no doubt also telling you--one of the most important considerations on a GIS-based research project is doing something that is visionary, but yet is doable. To make it doable given your time and budget, you will need to limit your scope in several ways--reducing the number of variables or data sets, limiting the scale, limiting the number of research questions, and/or something else.  For example, for my PhD dissertation research, I originally wanted to examine GIS in education at all levels for the entire world. I eventually settled on the implementation and effectiveness of GIS in secondary education in the USA.  Keep a list of things that you are not addressing, and when this project is done, you can return to the most intriguing things on your list, for later. I have done this for my entire professional career and sometimes return to a project idea that I jotted down years ago.   For example, several years after my dissertation work was completed, colleagues and I collaborated on an international perspectives on GIS in education book published by Springer with inspiring stories from 33 countries.  


Finally, I encourage you to get involved in the GIS community--online via LinkedIn, GeoNet, or elsewhere, and/or face-to-face, at the Esri User Conference, a regional or national event such as the Applied Geography Conference, the IGU or ICA, or even a local MeetUp.  If you can make it to a face-to-face event, I encourage you to choose at least one track that is totally outside your own area of expertise--sometimes interacting with people with a different perspective and background can be the most inspiring and creative moments of all.  If time permits, don't just attend events, get involved in the organizations hosting them, such as the Society for Conservation GIS, the American Geophysical Union, or the Business Geographers, or another GIS or Earth related organization that you can contribute to in a leadership or other role.  Give back to the community through such initiatives as Geomentors or GIS Corps.


All best wishes to you in your project!  I welcome your reactions, below.  --Joseph Kerski


Researchers discussing a project.

Researchers discussing the scope and goals of a project. 

The ArcGIS School Bundle is a powerful set of GIS software available to all K12 schools and youth clubs at no cost for instruction. The core component is an ArcGIS Online Organization (“Org”), with logins sufficient for all students and educators. With it, GIS is being used in all grades and subjects, on all manner of technology, across USA and around the world.


The US map of Bundle sites is a little deceiving when zoomed to a local level, as every site uses a common icon. Some locations implement the Org in a centralized fashion, from school district outward, serving a few to many schools under a single license; this is efficient and makes it seamless when students shift from one school to another, but it requires special attention to keep the organization tidy and powerful. The most common model across USA operates at the individual school level, generally with one or two teachers coordinating activities and optimizing the look and feel for their special needs; the challenge here is expanding awareness and use of the resources.


Future blogs will dive deeply into administering Orgs for schools. Effective administration is the difference between an Org that enhances instruction versus one that is simply a bank of digital lockers. These resources will help administrators understand the Org and how to take best advantage of it in instruction:


The current ArcGIS School Bundle has a fixed calendar, running through 31 July 2020. At that time, active licenses will be extended for another three years, perhaps shifting slightly in configuration to serve instruction even better. The ArcGIS platform continues to evolve, with new opportunities coming into view every few months. Esri is committed to providing the most compelling resources to K-12 schools (primary and secondary) at no cost for instruction through at least the most distant milestone currently visible for the Bundle — 31 July 2023. At the accelerating pace of evolution, it’s hard even to guess what will be possible then!

Fellow Educators:


We are excited to share an update about the upcoming release of ArcGIS Online, which was heavily influenced by the Education community (you) – new functionality is added to make it easier to assign licenses and ease access to ArcGIS technology across campus. In addition, we will see improved member search and filter options – two other big asks from Education users.


In the June release of ArcGIS Online we will introduce a new Organizational setting: New Member Defaults. This setting grants Administrators the long-sought ability to configure default Add-on License options, alongside the previous options for default User Type, Role, Credit quota, Groups, and Esri Access.  The New Member Defaults are applied when creating accounts for any new user who is added/invited to the organization.


When combined with enterprise logins and its "Automatically" join option, the result is a fully automated process -- often referred to as auto-provisioning -- for providing access to ArcGIS to your entire campus community. (Some campuses achieved this in the past by implementing automated scripts that granted licensing entitlements when new users were detected in the system. This update eliminates the need for such scripts.)


To easily geo-enable your campus community, please consider taking the following steps:


  1. Enable enterprise logins, commonly known as SSO – integrate with existing business systems and do not create arcgis-only accounts (unless when working with outside affiliates).
  2. Enable "Automatically" join for enterprise logins (also known as auto-provisioning), so that new users are automatically granted access to ArcGIS.
  3. Configure the "New Member Defaults" so that people have access to everything in ArcGIS they might need to do their job:
    1. Set the default user type set to "GIS Professional Advanced". (FYI, most Education Program licenses have the GIS Professional Advanced user type as the primary user type.  If your organization does not, use the Creator user type.)
    2. Set the role to "Publisher" – empower everyone with the abilities to do the work they need to do
    3. Configure default Add-on Licenses (ArcGIS Pro, Insights, Business Analyst, Community Analyst, GeoPlanner, etc.)
    4. Set a Credit Quota (1000, 2000, 5000, etc.) whatever fits your institution -- enable your community to do their work, yet protect them from accidental mistakes
    5. Enable Esri Access for everyone – allow them to utilize Esri Academy (E-Learning/Esri Training), GeoNet, etc.
  4. Encourage students, faculty, staff to leverage all free options for self-learning, such as Learn ArcGIS, Esri Academy, documentation, etc.


In addition, you will also see improved filter and member search options – enhancements influenced by education community as well - which will make administration easier.


For those of you joining us at Education Summit @ Esri UC, we’ll have this, and more, in some of our workshop offerings.


New Member Defaults:


New Filters:


Improved Search (consolidated) – Full name is no longer the default (no dropdown):

The title of this essay addresses a topic so wide in scope that a few paragraphs will not do it justice.  Yet is an important topic in which my colleagues and I on the Esri education sector team are deeply immersed and concerned.  Through campus visits and daily interaction with educators at all levels, we gain valuable insight on the challenges faced by and successes achieved by a wide variety of educational institutions, worldwide, and, with the community, cultivate what we believe to be best practices for course and program planning as we forge into the decade of the 2020s.  Why do we care?  First, we believe that the significant challenges our world is facing (energy, water, human health, natural hazards, climate, population change, biodiversity, sustainable agriculture) are all spatial in nature and can be understood and solved through the application of GIS.  Second, we believe that GIS is a key tool for 21st Century critical thinking, spatial thinking, and inquiry.  Our aim is to encourage educators, curriculum developers, and program planners to continually re-evaluate their programs and courses and to share best practices so that students in these programs will receive relevant and meaningful instruction and will become the leaders of tomorrow in business, government, nonprofits, and academia. 


As you are well aware from being someone interested in GIS in education and reading GeoNet essays, the combination of rapid change in the job market, student and societal expectations, goals and purposes of education, educational technology, and GIS itself, GIS courses and programs should naturally evolve as well to keep up with these changes. While some foundational tenets of GIS will always be with us (such as datums, data models, data quality), even these topics do not need to be taught, and I would argue should not be taught in the same way that they were 20 years ago, or indeed, even a few years ago.  We have summarized some of the conversations we have had with educators in a set of documents about "what constitutes a modern GIS curriculum" on GeoNet, which we intend to keep updating, that you are welcome to comment upon.  Core elements in this modern curriculum should include web GIS, GIS-as-a-service protocols and capabilities, APIs and SDKs, setting up and maintaining a GIS server including system architecture, field data collection and tools, 2D and 3D mapping, spatial analysis including big data analytics, using real-time services and the IoT, interior space mapping including BIM, visualization and cartography, web mapping applications (including configuring apps such as dashboards), communicating with GIS (including multimedia maps such as story maps and other means of geo-communications), and societal considerations (location privacy, data quality, ethics, crowdsourcing).  


One new program that I believe exemplifies these tenets is that of the Location Intelligence Program at North Park University.  Location Intelligence combines aspects of natural and technical sciences, along with business principles and the latest in spatial technology, with a focus on preparing students for a wide array of careers.  The program, as is evident in the images below, is forward-thinking in its courses such as business communications, developing web apps, and spatial programming.  The very title of the program, Location Intelligence, speaks to a focus of breaking out a traditional audience for GIS and appealing to a wider array of disciplines, including social work, health, and business.  I have been pleased to work with the program since 2018, and developed and am teaching a course entitled The Art and Science of Map Design:  Geo-Visualization.  To find out more about the LOCI program at North Park University, see these web resourcesthis official video from the university, and my video about the LOCI 3100 course along with a set of weekly course videos.  I look forward to reading your comments and I salute you instructors, deans, and provosts for thinking creatively about how to mold your program for the future.  And for you students reading this--use this essay as a springboard in your search for the type of geospatial program that will best meet your needs. 


Location Intelligence Program at North Park University

    Location Intelligence Program at North Park University

Location Intelligence Program at North Park University

  Location Intelligence Program at North Park University

Description of the Location Intelligence program at North Park University.

Esri and AAG hosted a poster contest entitled Innovative Applications of Esri GIS Technology at the recent American Association of Geographers (AAG) Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, in April 2019.   The goal of the competition was to encourage students to create their own creative application of Esri's GIS software to understand and resolve problems from the local to the global scale.  The AAG annual meeting, which attracted over 8,500 attendees from all over the world, was the perfect venue for these students to display the results of their research and development.

I had the honor of organizing this event with AAG and my Esri colleagues, and it was a pleasure to interact with the participants before the conference and to meet them during the poster session.  The session was held at the front of the exhibit hall, and I enjoyed watching the students interact with hundreds of people who toured the posters, including Jack Dangermond, Esri founder and president.  "It was wonderful to see the passion and creativity that people poured into their entry posters," said Jack. "I had the opportunity to have a few really illuminating conversations with the contestants, many of whom are students. It's truly exciting to see that the future development of GIS application is in such inspired hands."

The winners are listed below; they and the other posters illustrate the diversity of problems, issues, and scales that GIS is able to address.  Tools included 3D analysis, Python scripting, ArcGIS Dashboards, remote sensing analysis including with UAVs, spatial statistics and analysis, story maps, and much more.  

  • 1st Place: Nicholas Bogen, Central Michigan University; The US In 11 Zip Codes. Cash prize $500.00
  • 2nd Place: Carly Robbins, Clark University; Warming’s Impact on Bird Distributions. Cash prize $450.00
  • 3rd Place: Tetyana Pecherska, Tufts University; US Offshore Aquaculture Potential. Cash prize $350.00
  • 4th Place: Douglas Stow, San Diego State University; Remote Sensing-Wildfire. Cash prize $200.00
  • 5th Place: Yaping Xu, Louisiana State University; Stepwise Soil Moisture Data. Cash prize $200.00

To see a sample of the posters, visit the following links:  On traffic sign detection and extraction, on estimating wildfire rate of spread, on legislative districts, on assessing urban structures, and on blending 3D and story maps

To view the press release for this event, read this.  To explore additional ways that Esri uses GIS to support higher education, visit

Collage of Esri AAG poster competition

Photo collage of the wonderful participants of the Esri AAG GIS poster competition and their work.  I salute not only the winners, but all those who participated in the event, as well as all those who are using GIS in education and beyond to make a positive difference in our world.   --Joseph Kerski

Results are in for the 2019 ArcGIS Online Competition for US High School and Middle School Students! Congratulations to the national winners and honorable mentions at both levels, and to the 40 other state winners competing for the grand prize -- a trip to the 2019 Esri Education Summit and Esri User Conference. And cheers to the 124 other awardees who, just like the state and national winners, each earned $100 and important skills for the future.


A Story Map about the competition includes all the 2019 results and links to the creations of all 168 awardees. All four national awardees demonstrated strength in the competition's three essential elements: good geographic analysis, good cartography, and good documentation. These students (three soloists and one duo) show how clear geographic thinking using GIS can clarify the patterns and relationships that build understanding, answer questions, and solve problems.


 2019 Competition Results


A number of other entries were also strong in their own way -- powerful, enlightening, entertaining, even endearing -- so see the creations by all the state leaders and other awardees. Exposing students to many examples is important, as there are innumerable topics, data sets, tools, techniques, and strategies for presentation. Teachers, club leaders, and mentors who want to help students build skills should explore these and talk about the overall challenge: identifying a topic, researching it, drawing conclusions, and presenting the results in a format that is focused, clarifying, engaging, and consumable.


Teachers need not allocate significant in-class time or instruction about the competition, although some did. With the array of instructional resources available, students can learn a lot on their own, but they do need that first exposure, and an account with which to explore, build, save, and share. Esri offers all schools and clubs free instructional accounts, plus lots of classroom-ready content and project starters, links to local mentors (see Map#4) and instructional opportunities (see Maps #6 and #7), so all students can participate. This year's high school winners have strong GIS experience, but the middle school winners are new to GIS, so there are opportunities for all to engage and succeed.


The 2020 competition will operate much like 2019, with states applying to participate in the fall. Start planning now, with a visit to see the terrific work by high school and middle school students.

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