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14 Posts authored by: ASchutzberg-esristaff Employee

Happy 2019! Ready to learn? 


These massive open online courses are free and those who complete a course receive a certificate. Students work at their own pace when they have time. Come join us!


Going Places with Spatial Analysis is a six week course that covers why geography matters and how to think like a geographer to solve problems that involve location.


Do-it-Yourself Geo Apps is a four week course that introduces code-free ways to turn a map into an interactive application on the Web or a mobile device.

Esri Fall 2018 and Winter 2019 MOOC News


Change is afoot! I want to update you about changes to how you register for our courses and the latest course schedule. That map above? It's one of the maps you make in the Cartography. MOOC. 


Registration: Smoother than Ever


Esri MOOCs are now managed like other Esri training courses. You’ll find them in the Esri training catalog. Here’s a link for MOOCs by date


Once signed in to Esri training site with your Esri credentials, you can find your course and register with a single click. I encourage you to check which e-mail address is associated with your Esri credentials. Many e-mails sent to MOOC students bounce due to inactive e-mail addresses. Most individuals can review and change your e-mail address by clicking on your name at the top right to open the menu and then selecting Profile and Settings. If you are part of an ArcGIS Online organization you may need to contact your organization’s administrator.


Remember that registration closes at the end of the second week of each course. We cannot enroll students after registration closes. My advice: when in doubt, register! There are no downsides to registering: it’s free and no notation is ever made on your training record unless you complete the course. If you do not start the MOOC or complete only part of it, the MOOC will simply disappear from your My Schedule page after it closes.


System Check


Earth Imagery at Work and Cartography. require ArcGIS Pro. All students registered for those courses should have a computer that can run the software. MOOC students are provided with software and a named user license; the license is revoked when the course closes.Here’s a test to see if your computer can run ArcGIS Pro


2018 Third and Fourth Quarter MOOCs


Do-It-Yourself Geo Apps: Sept 5 – Oct 3, 2018 (four weeks; all content opens on the first day)


John Shramek, who helped develop and has been teaching The Location Advantage MOOC, will teach this offering. While much of the course has not changed and focuses on building apps without any programming, John enhanced the exercises to introduce students to Survey 123 and Operations Dashboard.


Cartography.: Sept 5 – Oct 17, 2018 (six weeks; new content opens each week)


This is the second offering of the course from Ken Field, Edie Punt, John Nelson, Wes Jones and Nathan Shephard. Student feedback suggests this course, which highlights ArcGIS Pro’s cartographic features, is also a great introduction to the software.


Earth Imagery at Work: Oct 31 - December 12, 2018 (six weeks; new content opens each week)

Kevin Butler leads students through scenarios highlighting how imagery is used in a variety of disciplines including disaster response, agriculture and commercial business. Students are often surprised at how many imagery exploitation tools are available in ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Pro.


2019 First and Second Quarter MOOCs



Do-It-Yourself Geo Apps: February 6 - March 6, 2019 (four weeks; all content opens on the first day)


Cartography.: April 10 - May 23, 2019 (six weeks; new content opens each week)


Earth Imagery at Work: April 10 - May 23, 2019 (six weeks; new content opens each week)




The training site includes MOOC Common Questions and a form where you can ask specific questions. 


Educators can contact me directly via GeoNet or e-mail at


I’ll see you in class!


Adena Schutzberg

MOOC Program Manager

The Esri MOOC team has transferred the certificates  of completion earned during 2014-2017 from the Udemy platform to the Esri training website. MOOC students can visit their My Learning Activity page and sign in with their Esri credentials to view them.


Our programmers transferred nearly 30,000 certificates, but some are not yet linked to the correct student's Learning Activity page. If you believe a certificate for an Esri MOOC you completed on the Udemy platform is missing from your page, contact us via the form at the bottom of this page. Please include your name, your username and the name and date of the course. We'll find it and add it to your page.


In addition to printing the PDF certificates, the MOOC team encourages educators and students to link to them from CVs, resumes, portfolios and LinkedIn profiles via their unique public URLs. For example, here’s the certificate for the first Esri MOOC I completed back in 2016. 



We look forward to awarding more certificates of completion in the third and fourth quarters of 2018!

Past and future MOOC students attending the Esri User Conference in San Diego are invited to our very first MOOC MeetUp on Tuesday July 10 from 11:30 AM - 12:30 PM in the convention center room 25 A.


- Get the latest information on the MOOC program

- Meet fellow MOOCers and MOOC instructors

- Provide feedback and ideas

- Play games

- Win prizes


Please come by! No RSVP needed!

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.

I received this question earlier this month: “My students use Chromebooks. Can we run ArcGIS Online on them?” I queried my colleagues on the education outreach team and here’s what I learned.


  • Yes, you can run ArcGIS Online on Chromebooks! One colleague “does it all the time, as do thousands of schools.”


  • “The only ‘outside apps’ that you can use are those that work in ChromeOS. So, get used to using Google Docs and Google Sheets [and other products] etc., instead of MS-Office or TextEdit/Notepad or the like.”


  • “The only adjustment I had to make was when we created a table to use, we had to use Google Drive, because [we could not] save anything locally.  But, in the end that was actually very good to do because then I could show them that their students could contribute to a Google Drive table in crowdsourcing mode.”


  • “Actually, you CAN save locally on some devices, but not on others. My [inexpensive] Chromebook has a built-in hard drive (as do many), and I can store locally. But you can also on Gdrive, and so, now that you can connect AGO to Gdrive, the key (as always) is ‘Where did you put it and what did you call it?’"


  • “My Chromebook, MacBook Pro, and Windows 10 Surface Pro3 all power up equally swiftly. I actually like the touch of my Chromebook's keyboard best of all the 5 physical keyboards I use.”


  • “For ArcGIS Online, the ‘biggest tiny aide’ (not counting a second display) to kids on ANY type of computer -- Mac, Windows, or Chromebook -- is having an external mouse. Kids are surprisingly good on touchpads, but a mouse on any device yields improved control, especially in 3D.”


  • “I often go to schools and look at the screens without looking at make/model or keyboard, and sometimes cannot tell if they are using Chromebooks or not.”


  • “My Chromebook is a 4-yr old ‘minimalist’ device, so it does not have as big a screen or as fast a processor or as much RAM, but can attach an external monitor and Ethernet cable. In running ArcGIS Online activities, it matches the performance of my Windows and Mac devices whether all three are hard-wired or on Wi-Fi. I have used it in exhibit booths right alongside my other devices, and people ask about ‘OK, but how does it work on a modest Chromebook’ because all they can see is the monitor, and are a little shocked, and pleased, to learn that's what they've been watching.”


  • Chromebooks have a built-in "end of life" and at some point will stop working with a message like this: "This device will no longer receive auto-update." When a device reaches Auto Update Expiration (AUE), it means that the product model is considered obsolete and automatic software updates from Google are no longer guaranteed.


  • Here's the latest from Charlie, who got a new Chromebook (5/18). "I splurged on what Laptop Reviews called their pick of the year for “budget student device” ($240) — Samsung Chromebook 3 with 4gbRAM, Celeron processor, and 32gb internal flash drive. Setting it up took — seriously — 1 minute. Turn it on, sign in, and all my software (since it’s all online) settings and browser memory is in place. I fired up with version 56 ChromeOS and the longest process (4 mins) has been an OS update that I initiated, going from 56 to now 66. I don’t like the new keyboard quite as much as the old (it’s a little wider, with a little bigger keys and more distance between) but not bad. The new machine fires up faster, the screen is gorgeous, brighter and crisper even at the same size and resolution, and everything works faster. Oh ... and Google gives me 100gb for 2 years, which would be $47/yr [if purchased separately].


  • What to recycle the old one? "Google will take it back, no charge. ...Google sent me a shipping label."


  • Chromebooks can now run Android apps! That means you can run, for example, Explorer for ArcGIS on a Chromebook. Says Charlie: "Can be phone-shaped or full-sized, and possibly in between."

    running explorer on a Chromebook



I invite you to add other wisdom about ArcGIS Online on Chromebooks in the comments.


By Adena Schutzberg


The last blog post with this title, part III, was published in June 2015. In it, David DiBiase, Director of Esri’s Education Outreach team, addressed the future of Esri’s MOOC program. I’m going to pick up where David left off. 


The MOOC portfolio did grow, as David suggested it would. Still unsure what a MOOC is? At Esri, MOOCs are massive, open, online courses on GIS topics that:


  • Cover a single theme
  • Involve four to six weeks of instruction, with two-three hours per week of study
  • Require registration but are free to take
  • Run once or twice a year with firm start and end dates
  • Provide certificates to students who complete the course material
  • Introduce students to subject matter experts from across Esri and its community


By the time I joined the Education Outreach team in July 2016, Esri offered four different courses. David introduced the first two, Going Places with Spatial Analysis and The Location Advantage in the previous articles. Two others made their debut in 2016:  Do-It-Yourself Geo Apps and Earth Imagery at Work. Each of those courses brought new topics and teaching and learning techniques to our students.  


Do-it-Yourself Geo Apps Encourages Student Directed Projects


Do-It-Yourself Geo Apps introduces Esri tools to build geospatially focused apps without coding. The MOOC was a departure from the first two courses in a number of ways. First, Do-It-Yourself Geo Apps is only four weeks long and all the content is available when the course opens. Second, the course offers guided exercises as did the first two course, but also encourages students to apply what they learned to a topic of interest in “Do-It-Yourself” exercises. Finally, students are encouraged to share their apps with one another and to provide helpful suggestions and feedback. The course continues to draw more than 10,000 registrations for each offering. Some of the most active participants have been high school students and staff at New York City Parks.


A student project from Do-it-Yourself Geo Apps: Mapping Genomes using GIS - DNA Lung Cancer Map

A student project from Do-it-Yourself Geo Apps: Mapping Genomes using GIS - DNA Lung Cancer Map


Earth Imagery at Work Lets Students Drive ArcGIS Pro, Interact More with Instructors


Earth Imagery at Work introduces students to the power of imagery in agriculture, utilities, disaster response and other disciplines. The exercises highlight imagery tools in ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Pro. While we were excited to show off the imagery capabilities of ArcGIS Pro, we knew it added a layer of complexity for students. We were concerned that not all registrants would have access to computers that could run the software. Even if they could, they’d need to manage large downloads and navigate a named user license. We were very pleased that 70% of enrolled students successfully installed and gained hands-on experience with ArcGIS Pro that first time around. That percentage has remained steady in subsequent offerings. Many students worked with ArcGIS Pro for the first time during the initial offerings.


Instructor Kevin Butler interviews Susanna Crespo, Esri Agriculture Industry Manager in a video from Earth Imagery at Work.

Instructor Kevin Butler interviews Susanna Crespo, Esri Agriculture Industry Manager in a video from Earth Imagery at Work.


We added a new interactive elements to Earth Imagery at Work. Instead of lectures the instructor interviewed Esri staffers about how they use imagery. Further, we set aside an hour during the offering for an Ask Me Anything (AMA). During that time, Instructors and other guests are available, live, to answer student questions about anything! Participants type their questions and answers, so the event is easily accessible and completely self-documenting. You can see the topics covered in this AMA, hosted at GeoNet, from last October. Student feedback on the three AMAs held in recent courses has been very positive and we plan to offer them in all future MOOC offerings.


Cartography. Taps a Team of Mapmakers and the Creative Lab


As we launched Earth Imagery at Work we began exploring possible topics for the next MOOC. A few ideas came and went. One idea, a course on cartography, gained momentum. In time, key stakeholders were on board, and we started crafting exercises and videos. The Cartography. MOOC draws on the Do-It-Yourself Geo Apps idea of open ended exercises. It includes “stretch exercises” for those who want to see what they can do on their own. The course, unlike previous MOOCs, is team taught. Students will enjoy lively group discussions videos featuring five of Esri’s cartographers.


instructors Ken Field, Nathan Shephard, and John Nelson, three of the five-person teaching team, chat during a Cartography. video shoot. Esri’s Creative Lab, produced, directed and filmed each of the six course videos.

Instructors Ken Field, Nathan Shephard, and John Nelson, three of the five-person teaching team, chat during a Cartography. video shoot. Esri’s Creative Lab, produced, directed and filmed each of the six course videos.


As David noted in previous parts of this series, the MOOC program relies on the support of teams and resources across Esri. As we nailed down the vision for the discussion videos for Cartography., we were lucky to have the enthusiastic support of Esri’s Creative Lab. The Lab is responsible for Esri’s graphics and video productions. The producers, directors and editors contributed their talents to make the videos professional, entertaining and informative.


Growth Prompts a New Delivery Platform


With five MOOCs in our course catalog and more than 111,000 students enrolled, we took a hard look at the backend technology that powers our program. We’d partnered with a company called Udemy since the launch of the first Esri MOOC in 2014. Udemy provided our learning management system (LMS), which hosted the course content, kept track of student progress, and importantly, provided certificates of completion. As the number of courses and students increased, we were ready to explore a new delivery platform.


We turned to Esri’s Educational Services team and began imagining our dream LMS. We gathered input from students, instructors and other stakeholders to draft a specification. Programming began in 2017 and in February 2018 we offered Earth Imagery at Work directly from Esri’s training site.


Earth Imagery at Work was the first course to run on Esri’s own platform in Feb 2018. 

Earth Imagery at Work was the first course to run on Esri’s own platform in Feb 2018.


Hosting the MOOCs ourselves has several benefits. First, MOOC registration follows the same procedures as all other Esri training offerings. Students log into the training site, select a course, register, and see the course on their schedule. When they complete the course, their certificate is added to their dashboard. (A note for students who took MOOCs between 2014 and 2017: We are working to add past MOOC certificates from Udemy courses to each student dashboard this year. Udemy certificates have been updated to Esri certificates as of July 30.) Second, as MOOC students get familiar with the training site, they’ll see other seminars, courses and workshops of interest. Finally, we are looking forward to enhancing the platform to encourage more social learning.


Keeping MOOCs Fresh


We regularly review each course to keep it up-to-date as technology and student interests change. In some cases, courses refresh to highlight new features and options. The Location Advantage, for example, was updated in 2017 to show off new features in Business Analyst Web App. In other cases, we find demand for a “Season 2.” In a TV show, a second season means all new stories. In the case of our flagship course, Going Places with Spatial Analysis, Season 2 will include all new content, new exercises and new technology. In its first season, the course introduced spatial analysis using the core analysis tools of ArcGIS Online. In Season 2, coming in November  February 2019, it will maintain a focus on spatial analysis but use the new workflows of Insights for ArcGIS.


We invite those new to Esri MOOCs, as well as our returning students, to learn with us throughout 2018 and beyond.


[If you are unfamiliar with the entire Esri MOOC story, please read the firstsecond and third parts of this series.] 

[Originally published in Esri Insider, June 22, 2015]

By Jim Baumann


Looking into the Future                             


David DiBiase is Director of Esri’s Education Outreach team and former Director of the John A. Dutton e-Education Institute at Pennsylvania State University. I recently had the opportunity to chat with David about the importance of offering Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) as part of Esri’s well-established education program. In the third and final part of our discussion, David talks about the future of the MOOC program at Esri. [Read the first and second parts of our discussion.]


Baumann: What’s in the future for MOOCs at Esri?


DiBiase: Many students express excitement about the capabilities of ArcGIS Online, and appreciation to Esri for offering the course. Many are experienced ArcGIS users. Many others are new to Esri. The company is pleased with the response. We plan to offer Going Places with Spatial Analysis two or three times in 2015, depending on demand.


Summarizing data in ArcGIS Online

By summarizing data in different ways you can reveal patterns, answers questions and support further analysis.


We’ve also designed a second MOOC. Course design begins with a target audience, which in this case is current students and recent graduates of business schools, both bachelor’s and MBAs. We assembled a team of Esri people with recent business degrees to advise us, and we have a small group of GIS-savvy B-school faculty members who are eager to help. We want to help folks coming out of B-schools see how location analytics can give them a competitive edge in a tough job market. We’ve titled the MOOC The Location Advantage. We offered it for the first time in May and it is now in progress.


Based on the reception of Going Places with Spatial Analysis within and beyond the company, I expect Esri will develop a suite of MOOCs to help expose our technology and outlook beyond our existing user base. We’re already discussing the possibility of a third MOOC to be developed in late 2015, but we haven’t settled on an audience or topic yet. Meanwhile, we’re mindful that free, large-scale online courses are expensive to build, maintain, promote, and run. Whether Esri will be able to sustain this effort remains to be seen. But I like to think that if we continue to attract both the large numbers of enrollees and positive reviews, we’ll be able to grow our MOOC portfolio in years to come.


Density surface in ArcGIS Online

Creating density surfaces can simplify complex data and bring new insights to support decision making.


Baumann: What sort of educational opportunities are available from Esri for those students that have taken the MOOC and want to continue learning GIS?


DiBiase: We define success in part by the number of MOOC students who seek to learn more about GIS and Esri. At the conclusion of each MOOC offering we suggest a number of next steps. Students can seek out further training opportunities provided by Esri’s Training Services group (, including self-paced web courses and seminars. They may also move on to Learn GIS (, Esri’s newest education destination, where they can join an ArcGIS Online organization for free and access additional case-based self-study exercises. We also encourage students to check out Esri’s ArcGIS for Home Use license, which enables anyone to run ArcGIS for Desktop on their personal computer for noncommercial use. The Home Use license also includes an ArcGIS Online subscription account. Finally, we’re happy to discuss formal education opportunities at leading institutions, both online and on campus.


Baumann:  How important do you believe MOOCS are in educating people about the power of GIS?


DiBiase:  Back in 2003, the US Department of Labor identified “geospatial technology” as a high growth tech industry, along with biotech and nanotech. At the same time, however, they pointed out that awareness of the industry remained low. We’re still struggling to achieve mainstream awareness of our technology and our field. MOOCs may be helping.

Esri has a loyal and energetic following among its customers and friends. You can think of that as a kind of constellation of individuals and organizations that orbit Esri. However, business-to-business companies like Esri struggle mightily to reach people beyond their orbit.


Population Exposures in ArcGIS Online

Students explore population exposures: locating the nearest monitoring stations or, finding the predicted exposure.


Our goal is to reach people who may not know what GIS is or haven’t heard of Esri. In the context of higher education, we want to reach beyond the traditional map-conscious disciplines like geography to others such as health, business, engineering, computer science, and even the humanities. Attracting the interest and participation of these disciplines has always been a challenge for my team. I personally am not aware of any strategy for broadening our reach beyond our own constellation than MOOCs, because MOOCs are an opportunity for people to exercise their curiosity and expand their horizons. MOOCS are a low-cost, low-risk means to explore things about the world that you might not encounter otherwise.


I think there are a lot more people who would be interested in GIS if we expose it in a way that is not only challenging, but also supportive and fun, and that’s what we try to do with these MOOCs. I believe this is one of the best strategies we have for helping the wider world understand the power of the geographic perspective and the effectiveness of geospatial technologies to bring geography to life. Time will tell if that hunch is right, but from this early vantage point I’m optimistic.


About Jim Baumann

Jim Baumann is a longtime employee at Esri. He has written articles on GIS technology and the computer graphics industry for more than 30 years.

[Originally published in Esri Insider, June 15, 2015]

By Jim Baumann


Developing Support for the Program         


David DiBiase is Director of Esri’s Education Outreach team and former Director of the John A. Dutton e-Education Institute at Pennsylvania State University. I recently had the opportunity to chat with David about the importance of offering Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) as part of Esri’s well-established education program. In part II of our discussion, David talks about developing support for the program. [You can read the first part of our discussion here.]


Baumann: Did you have any difficulty getting the project approved and pulling together the Esri team to create and manage the MOOC?


DiBiase: No, it was really just a matter of timing. I met with Esri president Jack Dangermond and Education Services division director Nick Frunzi early in 2014. I presented the idea that we could create a free online course that would enable thousands of learners to “test-drive” the spatial analysis tools in ArcGIS Online. They agreed to support it on the spot.


David and Linda in a course Video

David DiBiase and Linda Beale are faculty members for Esri’s “Going Places with Spatial Analysis” MOOC.


We went right to work and built a fabulous team. Our “MOOC team” includes members of my own Education Outreach group in Marketing, the Training Services group in Education Services, and Geoprocessing team members from our Products division. In addition, a number of employees from across the company have stepped up to volunteer as teaching assistants who answer questions and give advice to our online students. It’s really been a great collaborative effort.


Baumann: Why did you decide to offer an intermediate level MOOC on GIS, rather than an introductory class?


DiBiase: We want to create large-scale online courses that complement offerings by colleges and universities, not compete with them. Providing no-cost access to the analytic capabilities of ArcGIS Online is not something that a higher education institution can do without our help. Our hope is that educators will use our non-credit MOOCs as assignments or supplementary activities in their own for-credit courses. We also provide technology and staff support to institutions that request it for their own MOOCs. Whether it’s ours or an education partner’s MOOC, the key is to reach a mass audience that is, to some extent, new to GIS.


Using ArcGIS Online in Going Places with Spatial Analysis

In the “Going Places with Spatial Analysis” MOOC, each week students have the opportunity to explore problems through spatial analysis using ArcGIS Online.


Baumann: What were the results of your initial offering of the MOOC?


DiBiase: Our pilot offering of Going Places with Spatial Analysis opened in September 2014. It’s a six-week online course that includes free access to ArcGIS Online. We chose to limit enrollment for the first offering because everything about the course was new. So, we invited the first 1,200 students who expressed interest in participating. We offered the course again this March and the registration was nearly 22,000, so the program is building.


In Part III of our discussion, David talks about the future of the MOOC program at Esri.


About Jim Baumann

Jim Baumann is a longtime employee at Esri. He has written articles on GIS technology and the computer graphics industry for more than 30 years.

[Originally published in Esri Insider, June 8, 2015]

By Jim Baumann


Recognizing the Potential for Implementing a MOOC Program at Esri


David DiBiase is Director of Esri’s Education Outreach team and former Director of the John A. Dutton e-Education Institute at Pennsylvania State University. I recently had the opportunity to chat with David about the importance of offering Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) as part of Esri’s well-established education program. In part I of our discussion, David talks about first recognizing the potential for implementing a MOOC program at Esri.


Baumann: You recently introduced MOOCs to Esri’s education program. Tell me how this came about.


DiBiase: Well, it wasn’t just me. I had the idea, but nothing would have come of it without the cooperation of leaders and staff members across the company.


We’ve followed the lead of several higher education institutions that introduced MOOCs about maps and GIS. The largest of those so far is “Maps and the Geospatial Revolution” offered by Penn State through Coursera. Students in that MOOC indicated that they wanted to learn more about this subject, and that spatial analysis was the topic they most wanted to explore. The primary audience we had in mind was tech-savvy young professionals who are familiar with data analysis and want to learn more about the special capabilities of spatial data analysis.


David DiBiase

David DiBiase.


I joined Esri three years ago as leader of the Education Outreach team. The strategy I proposed for higher education was to complement our long-time efforts to support educators with new kinds of support provided directly to students.


I believed then and still believe now that we need to spark a grass roots interest in and demand for not just our technologies, but for the fundamental geographic approach that our technologies bring to life.


When I arrived at Esri in 2011, it wasn’t clear how we could do that. Then MOOCs came along in 2012 and revealed a global mass market for free online education. This phenomenon provided the channel we needed to reach learners beyond the disciplines that traditionally include mapping and GIS in their curricula. I had a lot of experience in online teaching and learning from my years at Penn State, and Esri too had experience with web courses since the 1990s, so MOOCs seemed like a natural next step.


Baumann: How did you determine that a MOOC would fit into Esri’s existing education program?


DiBiase: Esri’s education enterprise is diverse, and is spread across the entire company. For the most part, however, our education offerings serve people who already use our technology. What’s new about MOOCs is that they provide a way to engage with people who are curious about the power of spatial thinking and geospatial technologies, but who may not be GIS users or even have heard of Esri.


Most higher education institutions use our ArcGIS platform to some extent. In fact, 70 percent of the top 400 universities in the world (as ranked by the Times of London) maintain Esri education site licenses. However, in many institutions, GIS is concentrated in a few academic departments and administrative units. Most college students never encounter GIS during their prescribed courses of study. My team has struggled for years to encourage adoption of the geographic approach across the college curriculum. MOOCs provide a way to engage thousands of current students and recent graduates across a broad spectrum of disciplines who seek a competitive edge in the job market, or who are simply curious about the technology. This is a new channel for Esri.


In Part II of our interview, David discusses how he developed the support he needed to implement the MOOC program at Esri. In Part III, he talks about the future of the MOOC program at Esri.


About Jim Baumann

Jim Baumann is a longtime employee at Esri. He has written articles on GIS technology and the computer graphics industry for more than 30 years.

Educators from all over the world have assigned high school, college and graduate students to complete all or part of an Esri MOOC as part of their coursework. We at Esri are pleased to have these students join our massive open online courses!


If you are an instructor exploring using a MOOC as part of assigned coursework, please review these best practices to ensure your students are successful.


1. Complete the MOOC before assigning it to your students.


I strongly encourage you to complete any MOOC you plan to use in a course before assigning it to your students. That way, you can confirm you know how the course works and that it covers relevant material. If that is not possible, I encourage you to take the course along with the students so you can tackle the content together.


2. Communicate to students that they are responsible for meeting course deadlines.


MOOCs are run on schedules and each course has a list of Dates to Remember. You and your students need to understand and stay ahead of registration and course deadlines.


3. Ensure students register before registration closes.


Students register for each MOOC by logging in to the Esri training site with their (Esri enabled) ArcGIS credentials. Registration typically closes two weeks after a course opens. We are unable to add students to a current offering after the registration cutoff date.


When a student successfully registers, the course will appear on the student's My Schedule page. If a student registers within the first two weeks of the course, the student may start the course immediately, but there may be a delay of up to two business days for course ArcGIS (organizational) accounts to be set up.


We send an e-mail on the course start date to registered students but we encourage students to put course start and end dates and the My Schedule URL on their personal calendars. 


4. Emphasize the need to differentiate between, and document, the two sets of course credentials.


Students will use both an (Esri-enabled) ArcGIS account (which they may already have) to register for the course and sign in to the course and an ArcGIS Online organizational account (either a course ArcGIS account which we provide for all students or if the MOOC allows, they can use an existing one ) to access software. You as instructor should be familiar with these types of credentials.


5. Encourage students to help one another and their fellow online students.


Make sure you and students know where to go for help.


For help with course exercises, students should:

  • Visit the course Help tab


For help with general MOOC or account questions, students should:

  • Visit this Help page (accessible when not logged in to the course)
  • Visit the course Help tab


6. Know requirements for a student to receive a Certificate of Completion.


Students can earn a certificate by “touching” all the course content. A student can do that without learning anything or completing a single hands-on exercise.  


New content each week. Thus students must wait for the final content to be available to complete the content required to earn the certificate.


To confirm students complete specific exercises or learning objectives, you may want students to send a link to a finished map or provide a screenshot of an analysis. You may also assign your own exercise/assessment that students will complete using the provided software during the course.


7. Plan for student ArcGIS Online accounts, their content, and associated software licenses to “disappear” when the course is over.


The temporary course ArcGIS accounts and any content saved in them are deleted after the course closes (the exact time and date is noted in the Dates to Remember pane on the Dashboard tab). Software licenses associated with the course accounts (ArcGIS Pro, ArcGIS Business Analyst Web App, etc.) will be revoked after that time.


If you or your students want to keep the maps, apps and other products in their course ArcGIS Online accounts, this post from MOOC instructor John Shramek discusses options for doing so.


8. Use your school’s own ArcGIS Online accounts to complete the exercises if possible.


Students in some MOOCs may use existing ArcGIS Pro licenses and ArcGIS Online organizational accounts to complete the course content; details are provided in the exercises about accessing those software products. If your institution has access to such licenses and accounts, I encourage you to use these school accounts if possible. When students use these school-based licenses and accounts, any content students build will be available after the course ends.


9. Point Students to the "How to Be Successful" Document


I wrote How to Succeed in an Esri MOOC for students (all students, not just those who were assigned a MOOC by an instructor) to help them be successful.


10. Contact me.


If you need help related to using a MOOC in a course, please contact me directly at

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:


Check box for send member e-mail about license changeIf you’ve not run into it yet, have a look at your Manage Licenses tab. Select a member to review his or her licenses and click Configure. You’ll find that, by default, the little checkbox near ASSIGN or in the case below UPDATE, is checked on. That means that when you assign or revoke a license, the user will be informed by e-mail.


The checkbox in context.


Sometimes, of course, we ArcGIS Online administrators want to be stealthy. We want to assign licenses without the member knowing. That’s what we like to do in the Esri MOOC program, but until now, it was not possible. That meant thousands of e-mails went out to students before the course began. Those thousands of students scratched their heads and then sent e-mail asking what that odd e-mail meant. My colleagues and I sent thousands of e-mails in response. It makes me tired just thinking about it.


As of Sept 2017, all ArcGIS Online administrators can silently and stealthily assign or revoke licenses by unchecking that box. I am looking forward to assigning Business Analyst Web App licenses for the Location Advantage MOOC students for the fall offering starting Nov 1.

Esri offers five different Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). My recent experiences suggest our MOOCs are still a bit mysterious to students, educators and professionals.


In this post, I want to highlight how our MOOCs are different from Esri’s other free e-Learning offerings (Web Courses, Training Seminars, Videos and Tutorials).


E-learning options menu from the Esri training page, including MOOCs.


1. While some free e-Learning resources are accessible to everyone, others require you or your organization to own qualifying products under maintenance.


MOOCs are free to almost anyone, anywhere who wants to learn. All required accounts and software are provided for the duration of the course, without cost.


2. E-learning resources are video- or text- based; there is no interaction with the instructor or other learners.


While there is no “real time” instruction in an Esri MOOC, each course is led by an experienced instructor. MOOC instructors guide students and encourage students  to help one another. Many students note that learning from one another is the best part of the MOOC experience.


3. E-learning resources are available on demand. Students can take them when they need to learn or review a topic or technique or whenever they feel the itch to learn.


MOOCs are more like college courses. Students must register and exercises and other assignments must be completed by the end of the course.


4. E-learning resources run minutes or up to a few hours.


MOOCs run over a few weeks. The course material is most commonly introduced week by week.


5. E-learning resources typically cover specific skills on specific software products. A typical course is "Customizing the ArcGIS API for JavaScript Widgets.”


MOOCs focus on broader topics such as spatial analysis, location analytics, building apps without coding, applications of imagery, and cartography. While students use Esri software, MOOCs are not designed to train students to use specific features or software packages.


6. E-Learning Web Courses include quizzes and exercises; other learning formats depend on videos and text.


Here again, MOOCs are more like college classes. They include video lectures, step-by-step exercises, class discussions and quizzes.

Esri offers five different massive open online courses (MOOCs). Here’s why you should become a MOOC student.



  1. You, and most anyone, anywhere, can take an Esri MOOC for free. You need just a computer, browser and an Internet connection.


  1. You learn about interesting and applicable topics including spatial analysis, location analytics, building apps without coding, applications of imagery, and cartography.


  1. You gain hands on experience with ArcGIS Online, Business Analyst Web App, ArcGIS Pro and other Esri products.


  1. You tackle one or more lessons available each week, whenever you have time, at your own pace.


  1. You complete a MOOC in four to six weeks.


  1. You receive a certificate when you complete a MOOC. It looks great listed on your resume or LinkedIn profile.


  1. You meet and interact with experts from Esri and students from all over the world.


  1. You experience top notch teaching and learning. More than 95% of students rate Esri MOOCs “very good” or “good.”


  1. You can apply what you’ve learned directly to your professional, academic or personal projects.


  1. You continue your lifelong learning journey by quenching curiosity and adding to your experience.

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