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Over the past year, the Esri Education team has written several blog posts on how to best administer the new Education Institution Agreement.  These posts contain concise explanations and links to more detailed resources for everything from how set new member defaults in your ArcGIS Online organization to managing users who leave your institution. 


However, if you are like me, sometimes you prefer to see a demonstration of a concept in addition to reading about it.  That is why we have begun creating a series of best practice videos.  These short, captioned videos are intended to supplement our existing written resources, and are available in the Education playlist of our Esri Industries YouTube channel.  The first two installments in this new series are:

Thumbnails for best practices videos

We hope that you enjoy these new resources, and if you have ideas for the next videos in the series, make sure to let us know.

Despite the changes in GIS technology and applications over the past 50 years, one thing has remained constant:  GIS is relevant.  Esri Maps for Public Policy is a growing collection of maps and other content spanning many relevant issues of our time, including social equity, health, economic opportunity, resilience, sustainability, environment and natural resources, and public safety.  A "policy map" can be thought of as any map that can be used in shaping or forming public policy, from the community to the national or international level.  Esri provides these resources to raise the level of spatial and data literacy that is used in public policy, and to encourage people to get involved.  Visit Esri Maps for Public Policy to explore curated content, training, best practices, and datasets that can provide a baseline for your research, analysis, and policy recommendations.


At  this site, you can build your own collection of interactive web maps, focused on the topics and the area of your interest.  The default set at this time includes 11 maps, ranging from unemployment, daytime population, social vulnerability index, working seniors, the uninsured, travel restrictions, and COVID-19 cases. You can save and share the default set or your own set.  My colleague, for example, created this collection of 5 maps about youth in the Los Angeles area in this interactive set, shown below.

Policy map example set.

Example set of policy maps.


Another way of accessing policy-related maps from the ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World is in this collection.   



Let's say you were a faculty member or student 20 years ago.  You could do some of this work if you knew where to look for the data, how to process it, how to map it, how to analyze it, and how to share it.   And, if you had time to work through all of these steps. With the advent of ArcGIS as a platform, so many more possibilities emerge, of which, PolicyMaps is one powerful example:   Allowing mapping and analysis to be much more rapidly done with a wide variety of data, in one place. 


The "Explore" tab allows the user to browse through categories such as transportation, environment, and other themes, with an intuitive interface based on ArcGIS Online.  The "Issues" tab allows for deeper dives into many of the central topics of concern in our times, such as affordable housing, race inequity, and opioid addiction.  The resources under each issue include a variety of mapped content, including feature layers, web maps, story maps, tabular data, dashboards, and ArcGIS Hubs.


The "Resources" tab helps you learn how to build maps, how to add your map collections to a story map, and how to embed your maps in web pages.   Two of my favorite resources are this video highlighting 10 tips for creating effective policy story maps, and this Learn Path that walks you through an introduction to policy mapping with 7 readings and activities


Why should you consider using policy maps as an educational resource?  First, students using these maps gain skills in using a web GIS system, in this case, the ArcGIS platform, as they create collections, change classification methods, symbology, analyze different variables, and save and share their results.  Second, as they change variables, issues, and scales, they are gaining skills in spatial thinking, considering spatial and temporal patterns, relationships, and trends.  Third, the maps are well documented with metadata, and examining the data encourages your students to adopt sound metadata practices in their own work.   Fourth, policy maps can make an abstract or confusing issue easier to understand by putting it in the context of places that students know, and thus can relate it to their own experiences.


Another advantage of using policy maps is that they begin with a workable small sample of maps, out of the thousands of layers that exist in the ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World.  Policy maps also can help students understand at least part of a complex issue with just one map.  For example, COVID-19 data can be accessed via a large number of maps, dashboards, and infographics, as people have been doing for several months now, by the millions.  But this policy map distills the data from the live feeds into 5 categories from emergent to end stage.  More data is not always better. 


However, if and when your students do need to access additional variables and map layers, these resources are at their fingertips in ArcGIS Online, other data portals, and the Living Atlas of the World.  Students can also gather their own data, via spreadsheets, field surveys, and other means. 


Beyond fostering skills in spatial thinking and geotechnologies, engaging with these maps encourages students to do their own research--a central aim of education.  The research is not limited to the data on the maps, of course, but the maps help spark the initial curiosity.  Students will also see examples of presenting the results of research via story maps, other web mapping applications, and videos, and use those resources as guidance as they prepare to give their own written or oral presentations. 


Engaging with these maps also fosters ties to the geographic inquiry process, where your students ask a geographic question, gather data, analyze that data, communicate the results of the analysis, and act on what is learned.  Many of these policy maps illustrate, in my view, where an opportunity exists to take action.  Thus, using them empowers your students to tackle issues they care deeply about.  Is it litter, pedestrian-friendliness, invasive species, water quality, economic inequality, or something else?  


I encourage you to explore these policy maps, and I look forward to reading your comments below.

2020 is the year of online conferences!

Though separated by weeks, the Education Summit ("EdUC") will be a key complement to the User Conference ("UC"); coming just before most US K12 schools open, the EdUC will bridge the excitement of the UC with the realities of teaching in a pandemic.


The UC is open to all, for free, with registration required. For those who were unlikely ever to see the live in-person UC in San Diego, this will be the next best thing. Imagine being at plenary sessions, and hours of the tech sessions most important for you, all from the comfort of home … or at a watch party of colleagues! With a likely audience of many more thousands than usual packed into fewer days, think of this as a chance to see and hear tightly focused content, rather than racing between room and hoping to talk one-to-one with Esri staff in an extended fashion.

 UC graphic


Even non-customers can register and attend the plenary sessions, split across Mon-Tue-Wed July 13-15. Persons with an "Esri-access-enabled login to an ArcGIS Online account" (e.g. an ArcGIS Online login "with Esri access enabled" in the Org of a standard School Software Bundle) can use that and the institution's Esri Customer Number to register as educator or student. K12 students using properly configured account info should be able to attend the UC without needing to share any personally identifiable information, with access to hundreds of hours of content.

((Update: See also Fun with GIS 272, with important UC strategies.))


Time for education-focused content and interacting with friends, colleagues, and specialists comes at the Education Summit. The EdUC will feature different blocks for K12 and Higher Ed, so people can attend just their preferred segment or see everything for everyone. The exact schedule is still being tweaked but should provide time both for focus on how to use the free ArcGIS School Bundle and for networking. ((Update: See Fun with GIS 273.))


In this time of unprecedented stress, upheaval, awakening, commitment, and change, taking advantage of tools and perspectives that help us each discover, illuminate, analyze, document, and share is paramount. Coming together and learning to make fullest use of these extraordinary platforms for exploration, integration, and problem-solving is our best way to reach toward common ground.


Check out the Esri 2020 User Conference and Esri 2020 Education Summit!

ArcGIS Drone2Map is now available with special pricing for educational institutions for use in teaching, research, and campus administration.  Packages are available for single departments or entire institutions with quantities from 5 to 500 licenses.


ArcGIS Drone2Map is a desktop app that turns raw still imagery from drones into orthomosaics, 3D meshes, and more, in ArcGIS.  With applications in agriculture, architecture and construction, civil engineering, environmental monitoring, public safety, among others, drones are popular in a variety of courses and majors, and several colleges and universities offer drone-focused certificate and degree programs.


These Drone2Map Education packages can be added to an existing Esri Education Institution Agreement, Academic Department License, or Administrative Use Department License.  For institutions that don’t currently license ArcGIS, a Department license provides a low-cost entry point while an Institution Agreement provides cost-effective access for the entire institution.  Drone2Map is also now available in the ArcGIS for Schools Careers Bundle.


Esri provides training for Drone2Map through Esri Academy and Learn ArcGIS.  Courses and lessons are free to customers with an Esri Education Institution Agreement or Department License.


For more information or to purchase a Drone2Map Education package, contact

Examining Cities with 3D Globes.  In this activity, let's examine four 3D globes to examine population past, present, and future, considering population distribution and pressures in different regions of the world.


What are 3D globes and scenes?  Because we live in a 3D world, it makes sense that there is increasing interest in modeling the world using GIS in 3D—the land surface, under the oceans, inside buildings, or along a streetscape in a city, and even for 3D representations of traditional 2D data such as to visualize proposed new developments, determine which areas of Melbourne will be in building shadow at certain times of day, study population (as you will examine in this activity), distance to transit routes, bicycle races, realistically rendered buildings on satellite image basemaps in Wellington, or even the view from the Melbourne Star observation wheel!  The Government of Queensland, for example, created Queensland Globe that allows citizen access to hundreds of spatial data layers on the state’s roads, property and land parcels, topography, mining and exploration, land valuations, natural resources (vegetation, water, soil, and others), and more.


The following 3D globes were created with JavaScript, Python, and HTML—the same tools that are powering much of the GIS that people are using on a daily basis.  3D scenes and globes are web mapping applications:  As applications, cannot alter them in any way, but they are incredibly useful in education.  Indeed, you can build your own 3D scene in ArcGIS Online. 


Investigating the world’s 27 largest cities using a 3D globe.  Examine the following 3D globe of the World’s biggest cities:   This was created by my amazing colleague, Raluca Nicola.


Globe 1


What do you notice about the pattern of these cities? How many of these are along coasts?  What are the implications of these coastal cities?  How many are in the northern vs the southern hemisphere?  The eastern vs the western hemisphere?  The data for this globe uses metropolitan population rather than the central city or incorporated area alone.  Does it surprise you that none of the world’s 27 largest cities on this list are in Australia?  Which is the closest city on this globe to Australia?  To where you live?


Investigating the 600 largest cities of the world.  Examine the following 3D globe that contains the 600 largest world cities from 2015, from United Nations data:

In this globe, the cities are symbolized as graduated symbol—the size is based on the city population.  Click on a few cities and note past, present, and future population for each.  Pan and tilt the globe so that Australia and southeast Asia are visible. Which 5 cities in Australia made the “list of 600” major cities?  


Globe 2

Click on Brisbane and hover over the resulting histogram, analyzing change over time.  Based on your knowledge of global population trends, find a city where the population is increasing less rapidly by percentage than for Brisbane.  Find a city where the population is increasing more rapidly by percentage than for Brisbane.  Name 3 reasons for differing rates of growth of city populations.


This 3D globe contains hundreds more cities than the first globe that you examined above.  One purpose for comparing the two globes in this activity was to bring up key points when you are teaching with GIS:  (1) Deciding how much data to examine is important.  More data is not always better.  In our increasingly information saturated “big data” world, one of your goals in using GIS is helping students understand how dependent their analysis is on the amount of and the quality of data.   Sometimes, too much data is confusing and causes essential points to be overlooked.  (2) You can customize how much data you will use in your maps and globes, such as through filtering and symbology, as you have already begun doing.  You can also customize most everything about these digital maps and globes:  For example, the presence or absence of the popups and the information displayed in each popup is just one of the dozens of things that can be changed. 


Investigating global population using a 3D globe.  Not all cities are created equal, or course, in size, area, land use, commerce, economics, or a variety of other attributes.  Furthermore, the above 3D globe of the “top almost makes it seem that there are no cities in Australia (or New Zealand, for that matter).  Another way of representing data is not by points but by a mesh, or grid.  Elevation, slope, temperature, and other continuously changing variables are often represented this way.  In a GIS, points, lines, and polygons are referred to as vector data, while grids are referred to as raster data.  Here, let’s represent population through gridded data, but project the grids into “cylinders” that extrude above the surface of the Earth.  Examine the following globe, again from Raluca Nicola:


Globe 3

How does this change your perception of world population?  This globe uses data from the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) hosted by Columbia University, from 2000 to 2020.  Change the years on the globe and discuss three changes you observe about Australia and southeast Asia, and compare it to another region of the world.  Which regions are experiencing the most rapid population increase?  Why?


Understanding global population using filtering and a 3D globe.  Examine the following globe:   This allows for visualizing world population in 2020 with a dark themed cartography, and also with a filter tool.   Rotate the globe and observe the patterns.


Globe 4

You may have already used the filter tool with some 2D maps in ArcGIS Online, so you know that filtering is a way of selecting, or reducing in volume, the data you are analyzing.  In the screenshot above, the filter is at 198 persons per unit.  According to the metadata, the grid has a resolution of approximately 110 km.  Thus, each grid cell is 110 km x 110 km, or 12,100 square kilometers.  Move the filter tool and observe how lower population areas are filtered out, or invisible.  Now, pan to different points around the world, making observations about global and regional patterns of population.  What is the value at which only half of Australia is visible?  Conversely, what is the value at which only half of Japan is visible?  Why are the values different?  How does this 3D globe help you understand population distribution differently from the biggest cities globe or the gridded population globe?


Understanding global population of the past using a 3D globe.  We can also examine historical data using 3D globes.  For example, see this Cassini map from 1790 rendered as a globe:   


Globe 5

Based on your observations of this globe, where were the world’s largest cities and most populous regions in 1790?  Thinking about where the map was made and by whom, does it make sense that most of Australia has no details filled in?  What might have Cassini known about the Aboriginal People living in Australia at the time, if anything?


Digging Deeper with the Coding Behind GIS.  There is growing demand for workplace professionals who understand how to create the mapping tools that you have been using in this module.  These tools are largely created with HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and Python code.  The code behind the globes you explored in this activity is shared; for example, examine the code for the globe showing the world’s biggest cities here:  


One way of introducing coding behind GIS is through the set of ArcGIS developer tutorials, here:  Through many of these tutorials, students can see the code in the left panel that runs a web map on the right panel, adjust the code , and see the results of the adjustment to the web map on the right.  The code might add a scale bar, a popup box, or a legend, or the ability to zoom and pan or add data, and so on.


I confess, I love all of the above globes.  Explore them and let me know what you think!

Education Colleagues:


There are different approaches for off-boarding ArcGIS Online users (students graduating, faculty and staff retiring or leaving the institution).


We often get asked for advice on how best to off-board and what to communicate.


I am taking the liberty to share an example from a fellow institution, University of Michigan, on their practice. Thank you Peter Knoop. Below is the current text of an email they send to everyone in the ArcGIS Online organization a few weeks before the end of each semester. Feel free to think of similar approaches for your institution. 


*Note that the links in the email referring to an FAQ (Google Doc) that will not work outside of the University of Michigan. The relevant sections are excerpted and pasted at the bottom. 




You are receiving this email because you used ArcGIS Online, StoryMaps, GeoPlanner, or some other part of the Esri ArcGIS platform at the University of Michigan during the past year.

Who is this message for?

Graduating students or those otherwise leaving the University of Michigan. 

What is this message about?

After graduating or leaving the University, you will no longer be able to login; however, your content will not be immediately deleted. (Access for students not enrolled over Spring/Summer but returning in the Fall will continue as usual.)

What do I need to do?

If you want to maintain access to ArcGIS and your content, like Web Maps and StoryMaps, then you need to transfer the content from your U-M ArcGIS Online account to another ArcGIS Online location.


You have several options:


  1. Transfer to another U-M user -- If you own content that you created in collaboration with others at U-M, and they are still dependent on it (and they are still eligible to use ArcGIS), then you should transfer the ownership of that content to them. For instance, if you created a StoryMap or Web Map for a faculty member to use in their research or teaching, then you should have ownership of those items transferred to them. (More info in FAQ.)
  2. Transfer to an ArcGIS for Personal Use subscription -- This is a fully functional environment, just like you have been using at U-M, but just for you. You can transfer your content here, and continue to work on it and share it with others, such as potential employers to highlight your skills. It is also a great environment with which to continue developing and expanding your GIS skills, and includes free access to most of Esri’s training materials. It is for professional development purposes and cannot be used in for-profit activities. The cost is $100 per year. (More info in FAQ.)
  3. Transfer to another ArcGIS Online organization -- If you will be heading off to a job or enrolling elsewhere, and your new organization has their own ArcGIS Online subscription, you could transfer your content to their organization, if they permit this. (More info in FAQ.)
  4. Delete your content -- You can delete any content you no longer need. Your content will not be stored indefinitely after you leave the University, and eventually will be deleted. (More info in FAQ.)


If you need help determining what to do with your content, assistance with the various transfer options, or have other questions about ArcGIS, please feel free to contact us at <your GIS support email>.


You may also find the answers you need in our FAQ.




Subset of questions from  the FAQ...




What does our Esri Education Institution License permit me to use the Esri ArcGIS Platform for?


The general terms of the Esri Education Institution License cover functionally unlimited use for university-related academic purposes (teaching and research). Use for university-related administrative purposes is covered as well, but under slightly more restrictive terms (please contact <your GIS support email> for more details.)


Our license covers nearly all products included in the Esri ArcGIS platform. It also covers installation on personally owned devices, as long as you are using it for university-related business, including self-education.


Additional information on permitted use can be found in the Rubric for Determining Permitted Uses under the Esri Education Institution License Program.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding licensing, for any component of the Esri ArcGIS platform, please contact <your GIS support email>.

After I graduate or leave, when will I lose the ability to login?

Graduating students typically lose access a couple weeks after graduation. 


Your access is tied to your role at the University of Michigan. As long as you have at least one role as an active student, staff, faculty, or sponsored affiliate, then your University of Michigan account will remain authorized to use ArcGIS. 


You can check your role(s) by looking yourself up in MCommunity.

What if I can no longer login but need help with managing my content?

Please contact <your GIS support email>for assistance.

What can I do if I have graduated or left U-M but still need to work in ArcGIS on a U-M project?

Ask a U-M faculty or staff member collaborating with you on the project to sponsor you for access. They can request MCommunity Sponsorship for your uniqname at no cost. 


You may only use your access to ArcGIS as a Sponsored Affiliate for the purposes of working on U-M projects.

Can I still access my content after I leave?

You will still be able to access content, if you shared that content publicly with Everyone, even after you can no longer login.


You will not be able to access content whose sharing is limited to private or with a group.

Can group members access my shared content after I leave?

Yes, if you shared content with a group, then other members of the group will still be able to access that content as they were before, as long as they remain active members of the University.

Can I still access my publicly shared content after I leave?

Yes, anyone can access publicly shared content without having to login.

Can I still use ArcGIS Pro or ArcGIS Desktop after I leave?

Not through U-M. You can obtain your own ArcGIS for Personal Use organization for professional development purposes, and it includes licensing for Pro and Desktop, as well as other ArcGIS components.

How do I transfer ownership of content to another U-M user?

Please use the ArcGIS Online Ownership Transfer Request form to indicate what content needs to be transferred, and to whom it should be transferred. You can organize your content in a folder in ArcGIS Online to simplify identifying what content needs to be transferred.

How do I obtain an ArcGIS for Personal Use subscription?

See the ArcGIS for Personal Use website for details.

How do I transfer content to my ArcGIS for Personal Use subscription?

If you need assistance transferring content to a Personal Use organization, please contact <your GIS support email>.


Most ArcGIS Online content can be transferred using ArcGIS Online Assistant, however, one notable exception is ArcGIS StoryMaps. For assistance with content that cannot be transferred via ArcGIS Online Assistant, please contact <your GIS support email>.

How do I transfer content to another ArcGIS Online Organization?

If you need assistance transferring content to another ArcGIS Online organization, please contact <your GIS support email>. You may also need to contact the administrators of the destination organization.


Most ArcGIS Online content can be transferred using ArcGIS Online Assistant, however, one notable exception is ArcGIS StoryMaps. For assistance with content that cannot be transferred via ArcGIS Online Assistant, please contact <your GIS support email>.

What happens to my Content if I do nothing?

The content you have stored in ArcGIS Online, such as Web Maps, StoryMaps, Feature Layers, etc., will not be deleted immediately when you leave the University. 


While we cannot guarantee your content will kept at all after you leave the University, our plan is to only delete content when:


  • Content owner has not logged in during the last 2-years and no one has viewed the content in the last 3-years.
  • Content owner has not logged in during the last 3-years and no one has viewed the content in the last 2-years.
  • Content owner has not logged in during the last 4-years and no one has viewed the content in the last 1-year.
  • Content owner has not logged in during the last 5-years.


Meeting Recording: Returning to Campus Safely: Plan, Prepare, & Respond to COVID-19 with GIS, recording access password is 7t&w?4J*


Resources page: Returning to Campus Safely


Education Colleagues:


We’ve seen many inquiries for advice on leveraging GIS technology to reopen campus. Given the needs of the community, we are organizing a community web meeting on the topic, see details below.


We look forward to seeing you there. The community meeting will be recorded and posted on GeoNet.





Returning to Campus Safely: Plan, Prepare, & Respond to COVID-19 with GIS



6/23/2020 – 3:00 PM – 4:30 PM EST



How do we maintain safe social distances across campus? How do we track high-traffic area sanitation requirements? How can staff report their daily health status? These are just a handful of the questions that campus administrators are asking as they look to bring students and staff back to campuses this fall. At the heart of these questions is the need to open and operate safely.


To solve these challenges, spatial data and tools play a key role.


This web meeting will explore a range of solutions, some of which you can do with technology provided as part of your Institution Agreement (i.e. site license), some of which may require additional technology, such as ArcGIS Indoors and Tracker for ArcGIS. 



Campus IT, GIS administrative staff, facilities staff




Allowing time for Q&A/discussion



Meeting Recording: Returning to Campus Safely: Plan, Prepare, & Respond to COVID-19 with GIS, recording access password is 7t&w?4J*

I was invited to give a keynote address and a hands-on workshop in analysis in ArcGIS Online for the Geo Ed 2020 conference.  This conference was focused on serving community colleges and is an outgrowth of the GeoTech Center, which has supported rigorous and connected use of GIS for nearly 20 years.  Having worked with this community for that entire length of time, it was an honor to be invited and I wanted to share what I developed for the conference with the wider community.


The keynote address was given in the form of a story map, and it is here:

ArcGIS StoryMaps   The recordings of all sessions from the conference, including the keynote and the workshop below, is here.  The title of the story map is, Charting a GIS Education Course for 2030.  It includes a status report on the progress of spatial thinking and GIS at all levels of education, achievements, and challenges that remain.  The keynote focuses on answering the following question:  Given the changes in GIS, data, education, and society, what must we do as the education community to make a positive impact on and empower our students, fellow faculty, and the workforce to think critically and spatially and to make the wisest decisions possible in the future? 


The workshop focused on why and how to teach spatial analysis in ArcGIS Online.  It was hands-on, and all of the links plus my presentation slides are in the attached PDF.  It begins with defining spatial analysis, presents educational points to consider during instruction, and then delves into several spatial analysis tools in the context of real lessons that I have developed and tested.  These include proximity, visibility, trace downstream, mean center and standard deviational ellipse, enrichment, overlay, intersect, dissolve, tessellations, routing, interpolating surfaces, joining to online content, and more. 


It is my hope that these two resources will be helpful to you and I look forward to your comments.


--Joseph Kerski

Keynote address for Geo Ed 2020.

Making Predictions is one of the most important aspects Machine Learning can help with. A lot of these predictions are geospatial ones by design, like predicting high potential areas for retail, predicting disease propagation, or predicting car crash risk per street segment.   ArcGIS has both spatial machine learning algorithms that takes geography inherently into consideration.  It also has a lot of tools that can help prepare spatial data for training by different machine learning frameworks


Join this webinar to learn more about ArcGIS Predictive Modeling capabilities:


Date:  June 16, 2020

Time:  9:00 – 10:00 am PDT

Link to register:


Webinar recording & slide deck:


Additional Resources:

[[Updated Aug 3&9, 2020. See bottom.]]

In 2014, Esri made ArcGIS Online Organizations available to U.S. schools at no cost. In July 2017, the ArcGIS School Bundle was born, made available worldwide in 2018. In July 2020 the ArcGIS School Bundle gets renewed, for all who either started it or used it since January 1 of 2018. This will happen without users needing to do anything. This new license will be active to July 31 of 2025, still at no cost.


There will be two different versions of the Bundle, and two different sizes. Both the version and the size will be arranged in the renewal without users needing to do anything. The "standard" version will work great for most users, while a special "careers" version will include extra software useful for those steering toward GIS careers. All bundles will have at least 2000 logins, and larger situations will receive a jumbo size.


Existing ArcGIS Online Organization contents and logins will be retained with the refresh. This is a dynamic environment; components get incremental updates several times each year. Next generation beta versions are already available for Map Viewer and Dashboard, and the new Experience Builder expands on the powers of Web AppBuilder. The hugely popular ArcGIS StoryMaps template continues to add capacities, as do Survey123, Collector, QuickCapture, and Explorer. Latest features are always available from the "What's New" page. Access to all these "essential apps" and "field apps" will continue built into all logins in the refreshed School Bundle. (Any activities involving publishing will still need a user role with publishing privileges).


The School Bundle already includes a "premium app," Community Analyst, and the refresh will add its web-sibling, Business Analyst. Both are powerful research tools, and Business Analyst also has a mobile app. Access to either requires the Organization administrator to assign licenses, which can be done singly, in bulk, and as a default for new logins.


Standard Apps


All those tools in the "standard" ArcGIS School Bundle can be used on any connected computer or tablet, and some even on a smartphone. The "careers" version Bundle will add a set of advanced applications: ArcGIS Pro Advanced plus Extensions and Drone2Map for robust Windows (only) computers, online tools GeoPlanner and Insights, and Urban Suite (which pairs online tool Urban with CityEngine for robust Windows and MacOS computers). (ArcMap is not included in this refreshed Bundle; for more info, contact

The refresh makes this an ideal time to explore implementing single sign-on. This streamlines access (even in remote learning), reduces login troubles, and can prevent sharing of personally identifiable information ("PII"). It is also time to encourage users to manage their content, by delete-protecting what must be preserved, sharing only what is needed (and only where necessary), and deleting expired or test contents. Administrators can use the built-in tools and third-party tools to explore the Organization's contents and to delete expired users, contents, and groups (see guidance).


Get ready for an exciting year, with tools that can be used at school, at home, and beyond, at any time, on any connected computer, tablet, or smartphone.


[[KEY UPDATES Aug 3 and Aug 9 2020]]

On July 31 2020, all ArcGIS School Bundles reached an expiration/renewal point. In late July, eligible old model Bundles were renewed with the August 2020 version. In the new ArcGIS Schools Bundle, usertypes play a key role, especially the GIS Professional Advanced ("GIS_Pro_Adv"). 

  1. As noted above, new School Bundles are of two designs: 
    1. "Standard" (includes ArcGIS Online core products + Business Analyst and Community Analyst). Standard bundles have only Creator usertype logins.  
    2. "Advanced" (= all of Standard, plus ArcGIS Pro and several other desktop and online tools). Advanced have both Creator and GIS_Pro_Adv usertype logins.  
  2. Bundles that have been renewed may show alerts for licenses issued beyond the number available, resulting in "negative licenses." ArcMap is no longer part of the ArcGIS School Bundle. ArcGIS Pro licenses were previously "independent licenses" that could be assigned but are now "built into" the GIS_Pro_Adv usertype logins available in the Org; new or renewed School Bundles have no "independent licenses" of ArcGIS Pro to be assigned. CityEngine licenses were previously independent licenses to be assigned but are now part of "Urban Suite." To resolve these license alerts, revoke the previous licenses. After revoking expired licenses, new licenses can be configured.  
  3. Creator usertype can do everything GIS_Pro_Adv usertype can do except run ArcGIS Pro. To run ArcGIS Pro, the usertype must be GIS_Pro_Adv. Admins can adjust usertype easily. Any user expecting to use ArcGIS Pro must have the usertype set to GIS_Pro_Adv. Setting that usertype automatically provides access to ArcGIS Pro 
  4. After setting usertype to GIS_Pro_Adv, extensions for ArcGIS Pro can be assigned, all at once. 
  5. Admins should consider carefully their new user defaults, knowing that only GIS_Pro_Adv usertype can run ArcGIS Pro. 
  6. The "Change usertypes" video at this address is helpful: As the video indicates, it may be prudent to review the default settings for "New User." 
  7. License admins should log in and check the account. If you have issues, email 

I have been able to judge the ArcGIS Online Competition for US High Schools and Middle Schoolssince it began.  I’d like to offer some tips to teachers and students as they consider creating competitive projects for the 2020-2021 school year.


1. Start with a clearly stated question.

This isn’t a book report. It’s an investigation aided by maps. Tell readers what you want to know, learn, or are curious about. This frames the entire story map and may mention how you plan to tackle the question or problem.


If most of your story map is telling about others’ data, stories, or information, then you may want to reconsider your question.


2. Storymaps have always been more competitive than apps.

According to the competition rules, you can submit apps.  But one has yet to win.  They don’t compete well because they usually don’t tell a clear story without explanation.


Regardless, all maps must be understandable. Include a legend or clear narrative to describe a map’s content.


3. The best projects involve collecting some data outdoors.

The data might be environmental, historical, or social but there’s no mistaking the extra mile a student takes when collecting, mapping, and analyzing their own data in conjunction with other relevant GIS data.  If COVID-19 or similar is active during the 2020-2021 school year, judges’ expectations will respect public health guidelines.


4. Customize your map pop-ups.

Few things are more disheartening than seeing beautiful data only to be let down by pop-ups that aren’t configured - or image links that are broken.  In fact, broken images in map markers are probably as common as unconfigured markers/pop-ups.


5. Fill out the metadata!

The item details page contains the storymap’s metadata.  Fill it out.


6. Check the national rules from Esri about media inclusion.

If the national competition limits storymaps to two non-student created images, don’t use more.  Check the number of videos and length allowed.  These limits are in place to ensure the final story map clearly shows student work - and not just a collection of media from around the web.


Keep in mind that not all states judge based on the media limits, guidelines, and rules in the national contest.  A story map that does well in a state competition, may not do well in national judging.


7. Analyze some data

I’ve seen a lot of maps containing markers with a bit of text and maybe an image.  The maps can be beautiful and stories compelling, but fundamentally, geographic data analysis (visually or with tools in ArcGIS Online) will always standout.   A buffer has a starting point - but don’t stop there. 


Bonus tip: Optimize large datasets that you build.  If you post a map layer with many vertices and columns of unused data, consider optimizing the layer so that it loads quickly.


Good luck!

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The 2020 ArcGIS Online Competition for US High Schools and Middle Schools was gearing up for the final quarter when March arrived. Just one of the 35 participating states had completed their work; the rest expected final pushes by students even into early May. Coronavirus brought serious roadblocks as students lost connectivity, devices, guidance, inspiration, and even the chance for fieldwork. Still, more than 500 in 29 states persevered, submitting storymaps about their research projects.


Competition process graphicSee 2020 results


There were new guidelines in place for 2020, increasing attention to maps and analysis, limiting use of imagery and video. Coupled with the spring shakeup, most students had a harder time this year. The overall stats camouflage the difficulties, because the 527 entries is the most ever. But one single school provided over 40% of all the entries, meaning most of the other 76 schools with entries had some tough sledding.


We therefore decided not to focus attention on a tiny handful of prize winners, but rather to highlight what viewers, teachers, and students should look at in these projects, and especially to see how some students did a particularly good job with this element or that.


Competition results storymapGo to 2020 results


When I was teaching geography to 8th graders, over my chalkboard was a sign:

"Geography = 3 Questions: What's where? Why is it there? So what?"

This is the crux of the competition: to identify and research a chosen phenomenon in a specific region, discover and illuminate the patterns, and lay out the impact, using GIS. By far the hardest part of the competition is formulating and answering the three questions. This, and the technology involved in meeting the challenge, is what draws some people.


At Sauk Rapids-Rice High School in Minnesota, this is why they do the project as part of 9th grade Geography class. All 320 students spent three weeks in late winter diving deep into the process of geographic inquiry. Students from three of the four teachers had just finished projects when lockdowns struck, and some chose to keep tinkering. They came up with a question, wrestled with data to analyze it, and prepared storymaps, addressing a bunch of state educational standards [see 8.3] along the way. "This makes people think. It's high-level thinking, geographic content, soft skills, and some kids even already want to do it when they're older," said teachers Brianne Wegter, Melissa Gebhardt, and Andrew Weber. These teachers followed a great plan: rely on exposures to intro materials in middle school and early in 9th grade, then launch into the project for a good chunk of time, well into the year. Their results speak volumes.


Explore all the results. See how some students met and even exceeded the expectations. Enjoy the way students see the world, and investigate and answer their own questions. And plan for the 2021 Competition.

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