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326 Posts authored by: jkerski-esristaff Employee

Coordinated by Esri's international distributors and Esri's international and education teams, the Esri Young Scholars Award program was launched in 2012. Winners are honored each year at the Esri User Conference. The program recognizes the exemplary work of current undergraduate and graduate students majoring in geospatial science disciplines at international universities. Winning entries are selected by a university panel formed by Esri's distributor in the recipient's respective country. Award winners typically travel to San Diego to present their work and join 20,000 GIS professionals in a week-long program of presentations, workshops, and social events,  This year, the students will be recognized virtually. This year, 27 Young Scholars were awarded from 6 continents, and their work spans covers topics ranging from traffic and safety, indoor navigation, hydrology, augmented reality, historic districts, school graduation rates, bicycling, and much more, in studies spanning local to global scales.  To accomplish their work, they performed some deeply insightful spatial analysis using Esri GIS software, incorporating existing data sets along with their own generated data, created web mapping applications, conducted a wide range of field work from water quality monitoring to interviews, used UAV and other new tools, and more. The scholars honed their communication skills by creating graphs, charts, maps, story maps, and posters, many of which are visible below.  


See for yourself! Use this story map that features the work that these fine Young Scholars have done that my colleagues here at Esri and I created.


  • Study the Young Scholar's posters and explore the methods, data, and tools that they used.
  • Show your students, colleagues, and others how GIS helps make wise decisions and build a better world.
  • Use the story map to get a sense for the diversity of scales, themes, and problems that can be addressed with GIS.
  • Use the story map as an idea of one of the story map templates (a slideshow) that you could use to highlight students, or issues, or projects in your own work. 
  • Think of the Young Scholar program and be inspired that the future of GIS is in good hands!


Selection of 2020 Esri Young Scholars and their work!

Selection of 2020 Esri Young Scholars and their work.  For more detail, see this story map.

What do you want to see in society?  This may seem like a question too deep for an essay in a geospatial technology community platform such as GeoNet, but I submit it is one worthy of consideration.  I submit that in this pivotal and disruptive time. we, the GIS education community, will have a major role to play in helping shape education.  Hence it is appropriate for us to ask, "What are our educational and societal goals?", and therefore, "How should education be structured so achieve these goals?"  

Re-inventing Education to Remain Viable
Most of the people I have interviewed and worked with over the past 25 years in this field state that the ultimate goal in using GIS in education is to foster spatial thinking, critical thinking, and problem solving to empower decision-makers in the workforce to build a more sustainable, economically vibrant, healthier, happier, society with opportunity for all.  Thus, teaching with GIS has never been just about the tools.  The tools, and even the data, are just means to a greater goal.  There's no doubt that education will in many respects look different in 2030 than today, and indeed, I would argue that education should continue re-inventing itself to remain viable.  Even so, I believe that education will continue as a powerful means to achieving a vibrant society.  Furthermore, despite a few 1990s articles saying that GIS would "disappear" in the 21st Century, GIS has not only endured, but prospered, despite changes in Information Technologies and community needs, as a relevant set of tools, data, and methodologies.


The time is Now for Geospatial Thinking

This is undeniably a pivotal time for GIS.  At no time in history have maps, dashboards, and infographics been so depended upon by so many, as over the past year's crises around COVID-19, wildfires, and societal issues.  Many educators believe that spatial thinking is critical not only to geography, environmental science, and city planning, but also to civil engineering, history, language arts, business, health, economics, data science, and other disciplines.  They believe that the infusion of spatial thinking and mapping tools can be done and needs to be done at all levels, from primary school through university level, in after-school clubs and lifelong learning environments.  Educators can use GIS tools, data, and skills to provide a focused, professional, affordable education that (1) reflects and (2) anticipates workforce demands.

Five Forces Important to GIS in Education
What do we want the GIS education landscape to look like in 2030?   How can educational institutions lead the way?  One way is to recognize the forces that have brought us to this pivotal moment in geospatial technology education.  These forces include geoawareness (awareness of Earth issues such as urbanization, energy, health, climate, natural resources, and others) is at an all time high), geoenablement (the general public empowered with web based maps), cloud-based geotechnologies (which improve access and engagement), citizen science, and storytelling with maps.  

I submit that these are the 5 forces that bring us to a pivotal moment in geospatial technology in education and society.  Your list may include different forces, and I welcome your comments below.


Five Trends in GIS Technology
It may also be instructive to recognize five trends that have brought us to this point:  I submit that 3D analytical tools, the blurring of the lines between BIM (Building Information Management), CAD (Computer Aided Drafting and Design), and GIS, real-time data enabled by the Internet of Things, enterprise and web GIS, and automated intelligence and machine learning tools and algorithms (AI-ML) are the five most important trends.  A key component in AI-ML is image recognition using remotely sensed imagery such as from UAVs (drones), Lidar, and even ordinary webcams and in-vehicle dashboard cameras.  Make certain that you teach components of the manifestations of these trends in your programs.  


Five Skills Useful in the GIS Profession
I also believe it is instructive to recognize and nurture the top 5 in-demand skills for graduates versed in geotechnologies:  (1)  Be curious.  Asking good questions is a key part of the process of scientific inquiry.  It also helps students to be tenacious in learning tools and practicing new methods.  (2)  Be able to work with data and be critical of it.  Recognize the benefits of each data set as well as its limitations, and the ethical implications of mapping.  This is the focus of the data book and weekly blog that Jill Clark and I co-author, Spatial Reserves.  (3)  Learn key geographic and geotechnical foundations.  Scale, systems thinking, symbology, classification, geodesy, and map projections--these still matter!   (4)  Be adaptable and flexible, willing to go outside your disciplinary (or regional) comfort zone.  (5)  Develop good communications skills.  Learn how to build a variety of web mapping applications and be able to present orally and visually with them.  Learn how to write peer-reviewed articles.  Despite the rise in geo-awareness that I described above, you will need to give your "elevator speech" to stakeholders, your provost, your deans, your board of directors, your community, and others.  Therefore, have different lengths of this speech (your 30 second, your 1-minute, your 5 minute, your half hour, and so on) at the ready.  Recognizing these forces, trends, and skills can help us to construct the types of programs and courses necessary to teach Modern GIS methods and workflows.


Changes in the Workforce
The tools in GIS are changing, but the workforce is also changing.   Rapid technological innovation, globalization, demographic shifts, climate change and geopolitical transformations are having an unprecedented impact on the work and skills landscape.  On the one hand, technologies bring exciting opportunities, both for businesses in terms of their productivity, and for the workforce in terms of replacing dangerous and repetitive tasks with high-skilled work.  On the other hand, as cognitive abilities and tasks that were once thought to be reserved for humans are increasingly being carried out by machines, there is growing concern about the impact on jobs and the subsequent risks for government, business, and people. The World Employment and Industry Outlook found that automation and digitization look different across different industries, there is a net positive outlook for jobs – amid significant job disruption, the division of labor between humans, machines and algorithms is shifting fast, new tasks at work are driving demand for new skills, and that everyone needs to become lifelong learners.   All of this brings opportunity for educators to build programs that will educate the future workforce.  


Recent reports from the World Economic Forum have recommended building communities of action, including industry-specific task forces, comprised of senior executives, educational and reskilling experts, and representatives from government and trade unions, to identify common challenges and opportunities and align on an action-oriented agenda.  These communities develop guiding insights and recommendations, curating action for systems change. Four essential components were common in the report's examples of successful transitions for workers:  (1) Competitors in the same industry chose to work with each other to create a new pool of talent. (2) Government provided proactive support, (3) A third party with cutting-edge information on skills and jobs provided a coordinating function. (4) Relevant training and skilling services were available locally and online.  


Changes in Education
GIS instruction is rapidly changing, in the larger dynamic of education.  One thing is clear about modern GIS instruction:  There are many pathways, approaches, and tools.  Increased choices admittedly brings some uncertainty in the community.  This lends itself to the perfect time to re-examine goals for our courses, programs, and campuses.  Educational forces that were gathering steam in education have been augmented by the COVID health crisis.  What should be taught face to face versus online?  What is the proper mix in each discipline between teaching theory and practice?  What should the balance be between individual versus group work?  Hence, the tools, the workforce, and education are all changing.  What and how should students learn in geotechnologies in the 2020s?  Who needs to know which components?  My contention is that some students need to know a lot of GIS. All students need to know some GIS.  Are traditional GIS tools and workflows such as overlay, buffer, and geocoding important?  If so, how can these be melded with skills in sharing, using field data collection apps, creating web mapping applications, and integrating models with Python?  Initiatives such as the GeoTech Center have provided peer-reviewed course outlines, and documents such as the Geospatial Technology Competency Model provide frameworks to keep us focused on what matters. 


Selected Instructional Strategies
We are living in times that many of us dreamed about only a few years ago--a time of instant data, powerful tools that are easy to use, and the ability to share our research results in mapped form, just to name a few.  If your GIS is not becoming simultaneously more powerful and easier to use, then you need to ask serious questions of your GIS provider.  Given the plethora of graphics-laden help files, videos, and lessons, some instruction has shifted to helping students "learn how to learn", and emulating the kind of resource gathering, networking, and problem solving that they will use in the workplace.  You have choices on creating your own instructional activities, using someone else's, or a combination of the two.  If you are using your own, get used to curating them often.  But, use that curation as an opportunity for improvement.  Given the above array of tutorials and other resources, modern learning styles, and wizard-driven GIS workflows, I recommend that any lessons you create should avoid including long how-to directions or screen shots. 


Building Campus Support
Don't go it alone.  In your GIS work on campus, hold hands-on workshops (virtually now and later, face to face) that demonstrate the benefits of GIS for faculty and students in business, history, health, economics, and other fields.  My colleagues and I on the Esri education industry team have resources to help you in this endeavor.  I also encourage you to work with your campus facilities staffs.  This could provide internship positions for your students as they work on mapping campus infrastructure and on campus safety initiatives.  Field apps such as Survey123 and Collector could help facilities management (FM) operations.   In turn, embedding GIS in your campus FM could build additional support and stakeholders in your arguments for why GIS is essential on campus.  Consider using ArcGIS Hub and partner with local agencies for student projects.  Don't neglect the coding side of modern web GIS:  Use Arcade, the lessons on the ArcGIS Developers site, and Jupyter Notebooks to teach these skills.  I also encourage you to work closely with your data librarians--make them your allies, and even consider building a geospatial center in your library as some campuses have done.  Consider enrolling in the Esri community maps program and build maps of your campus, such as what Cal Poly San Luis Obispo has done.  You'll have a real client--the ArcGIS Online worldwide community, and a product the students can look back on and be proud of. 


Stick With It
2030 is not that far away--let's get busy! I encourage you to stick with this endeavor of instruction with GIS and about GIS.  Teaching with any inquiry-driven rapidly changing tool such as GIS is challenging.  But, it is infinitely worthwhile for the sake of our students and the planet.  This decade will be exciting for geotechnologies, and you have a key role in achieving the aforementioned goals in education and society.  For a deeper look into the points I raise here, see my story map on this subject, and the recorded video of a selection of this content. I welcome your comments below.

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.

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!

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.

Join me in an online Teaching Geography in the 21st Century course through eNetLearning. 


As the COVID-19 situation makes sadly and abundantly clear, geography is more relevant now than ever before.  Furthermore, the maps and dashboards that you and millions of others have been looking at were created using powerful web based mapping tools.  You have access to these same tools as an instructor, and so do your students! 


Coffee cup and globe How should modern geography be taught?  What approaches, tools, readings, activities, and data should be used to foster engagement with the geographic inquiry process?    This course will include discussion, videos, readings, short assessments, and hands-on activities with interactive 2D and 3D maps, infographics, field surveys, storymaps, and more.   The course is 5 weeks in duration, asynchronous, offering 3 hours per week of immersion, and is aimed at primary and secondary educators who will ultimately use these techniques, tools, maps, and perspectives with their students, though the course is open to anyone.  will take you to the registration form. 


Course Outcomes:  By the end of this course, participants will be equipped to:



1)      Identify, describe, and discuss the urban, economic, environmental, land use, natural hazards, health, and population issues foundational to geography at different geographical and temporal scales.

2)      Apply geographic principles to effectively teach geography with the geographic perspective.

3)      Understand how to incorporate geospatial technologies, including dynamic web maps, charts, and data, to teach geography.

A few of the maps and investigations covered in this course.

A few of the maps and investigations (left, human impact on the planet, and right, natural hazards of all kinds) that we will cover in this course. 

We have heard from colleagues in higher education GIS that there is an ongoing need to keep our community connected during these times of rapid change in education and technology.   Join your colleagues in higher education and the Esri education team to learn about tools, data, curricular materials, and teaching approaches during these informal brown bag chats.  Each chat will feature a short presentation about a GIS resource followed by plenty of time to ask for more information of the speaker and to chat with the community.  Each session will be recorded so you can watch it asynchronously if you wish.  Keep checking this blog to view the recordings as they will be uploaded after each brown bag session. 


Schedule and recordings: 


First TUESDAY of every MONTH at 12 NOON (ET), 11 AM (CST), 10 AM (MDT), 9 AM (PDT)

Duration:  45 minutes including Q&A.


Date: Tuesday, June 2, 2020 | 12 NOON (ET), 11 AM (CST), 10 AM (MDT), 9 AM (PDT)

Topic:  Teaching with and using the QuickCapture App.  

  • Topic lead: Ismael Chivite
  • Note: Download the QuickCapture app from the iPhone AppStore or Google Play Store before the brown bag, if you would like to follow along the demo.
  • Link to recording and use the password: 1t?p5fbh
  • Quick Capture learning resources


Date: Tuesday, July 7, 2020 | 12 NOON (ET), 11 AM (CST), 10 AM (MDT), 9 AM (PDT)

Topic:  Teaching with and using the Experience Builder to create customized web mapping applications


Date: Tuesday, August 4, 2020 | 12 NOON (ET), 11 AM (CST), 10 AM (MDT), 9 AM (PDT)

Topic:  Linking Survey123, web maps, story maps, and dashboards for effective data collection, analysis, and communication. 


Complete this survey for September to December brown bag chat topics. Please vote and tell us your topics of interest.


Date: Tuesday, September 1, 2020 | 12 NOON (ET), 11 AM (CST), 10 AM (MDT), 9 AM (PDT)

Topic: TBD

  • Topic lead: TBD


Date: Tuesday, October 1, 2020 | 12 NOON (ET), 11 AM (CST), 10 AM (MDT), 9 AM (PDT)

Topic: TBD

  • Topic lead: TBD


Date: Tuesday, November 3, 2020 | 12 NOON (ET), 11 AM (CST), 10 AM (MDT), 9 AM (PDT) 

Topic: TBD

  • Topic lead: TBD


Date: Tuesday, December 1, 2020 | 12 NOON (ET), 11 AM (CST), 10 AM (MDT), 9 AM (PDT) 

Topic: TBD

  • Topic lead: TBD

A new set of 10 ArcGIS Pro lessons empowers GIS practitioners, instructors, and students with essential skills to find, acquire, format, and analyze public domain spatial data within a GIS environment to make decisions.  Described in this video, this set was created for 3 reasons:  (1) to provide a set of analytical lessons that can be immediately used, (2) to update the original 10 lessons created by my colleague Jill Clark and I to provide a practical component to our Esri Press book The GIS Guide to Public Domain Dataand (3) to demonstrate how ArcGIS Desktop (ArcMap) lessons can be converted to Pro and to reflect upon that process.  This essay is mirrored on the Spatial Reserves data blog, and my migration reflections are below and also in this video.

Summary of Lessons:

  • Can be used in full, in part, or modified to suit your own needs.
  • 10 lessons.
  • 64 work packages.  A "work package" is a set of tasks focused on solving a specific problem.
  • 370 guided steps.
  • 29 to 42 hours of hands-on immersion.
  • Over 600 pages of content.
  • 100 skills are fostered, covering GIS tools and methods, working with data, and communication.
  • 40 data sources are used covering 85 different data layers.
  • Themes covered: climate, business, fire, floods, hurricanes, land use, sustainability, ecotourism, invasive species, oil spills, volcanoes, earthquakes, agriculture.
  • Areas covered:  The Globe, and also:  Orange County California, Nebraska, Colorado, Texas, Brazil, New Zealand, the Great Lakes of the USA, Canada, the Gulf of Mexico, Iceland, the Caribbean Sea, and Kenya.
  • Aimed at university-level graduate and university or community college undergraduate student.  Some GIS experience is very helpful, though not absolutely required.  Still, my advice is not to use these lessons for students' first exposure to GIS, but rather, in an intermediate or advanced setting.  


Why use these lessons?  The lessons offer 8 unique advantages:  (1)  The lessons engage students by focusing on the geographic inquiry process, beginning with the problem to be solved, such as the optimal site for siting a new business in a metropolitan area, the rate and pattern of the spread of an invasive species, the ideal locations for growing tea in Kenya, assessing reservoir and dam vulnerability in the event of a hurricane, and more.   (2)  While those working through the lessons build solid GIS skills (building expressions, joining data layers, intersecting, projecting, georegistering imagery), skills are not limited to "learning more GIS".  Skills in data management and communication are a prominent part of these lessons.  At the end of each lesson, students are asked to communicate the results of their research in a variety of ways, including sharing to ArcGIS Online, making a short video, and creating a web mapping application such as a story map.  (3) A significant proportion of each lesson touch on accessing, formatting, projecting; i.e. developing data competencies.  Helping people make wise decisions about the data, and giving them practical skills in doing so, is one of our chief goals with these lessons and the book.  A balance is struck between engaging with enough data to provide a realistic scenario, but recognizing that "more is not always better."  (4)  The same lesson is available in an ArcGIS Desktop (ArcMap) format and an ArcGIS Pro format, so that those still hesitating about migrating from ArcGIS Desktop to ArcGIS Pro can use these as an example that it is not only possible, but there are many advantages to doing so.  (5)  Questions posed in each lesson focus on thoughtful reflection about the data and the process, such as, "what difference would data at a different scale have on your analysis results?", "what was the most significant thing you learned about natural hazards in this lesson?" and "if you had more time, what data set might you have also wanted to include in your analysis?  Where do you think you could obtain such data?"  (6) These lessons have been tested and refined over several terms with students across many universities.  (7) An answer key is available for each lesson.  But in keeping with the reflective nature of these lessons, often there is no "single correct answer."  (8)  A lesson on building an ecotourism map in New Zealand allows students to use their gained skills in an independent project where they decide what themes to choose, what data to use, how to process it, and what problems to solve.  


How to access the lessons:   The ideal way to work through the lessons is in a Learn Path which bundle the readings of the book's chapters, selected blog essays, and the hands-on activities..  The Learn Paths are split into 3 parts, as follows:


Solving Problems with GIS and public domain geospatial data 1 of 3:  Learn how to find, evaluate, and analyze data to solve location-based problems through this set of 10 chapters and short essay readings, and 10 hands-on lessons:


Solving Problems with GIS and public domain geospatial data 2 of 3:


Solving Problems with GIS and public domain geospatial data 3 of 3:


The Learn Paths allow for content to be worked through in sequence, as shown below:


Learn path

Learn path

Learn path

Sample Learn Path for the public domain data activities.


You can also access the lessons by accessing this gallery in ArcGIS Online, shown below.  If you would like to modify the lessons for your own use, feel free!  This is why the lessons have been provided in a zipped bundle as PDF files here and as MS Word DOCX files hereThis video provides an overview. 


Public Domain data gallery

Appearance of content items in the public domain data activities and reading gallery.  The gallery includes lessons, data, readings, and the answer keys. 


While the intent is for learners to actually download or stream the data from the original sources as an important part of the learning experience, the data for each lesson in zip file format are also included, in this ArcGIS Online gallery.  The reason the data is provided is because we recognize that sometimes, bandwidth is limited and/or the data portals are slow, change, or are temporarily offline. 


Titles of the 10 Lessons:   See below.  For more information, see the detailed metadata for the lessons here
Lesson 1: Assessing impacts of climate change on coasts, ecoregions, and population globally.  
Lesson 2: Siting an internet café in Orange County, California.  
Lesson 3: Siting a fire tower in the Loess Hills, Nebraska.  
Lesson 4: Analyzing floods and floodplains along the Front Range, Colorado.  
Lesson 5: Assessing potential hurricane hazards in Texas.  
Lesson 6: Analyzing land use and sustainability in Brazil.  
Lesson 7: Creating a map for an ecotourism company in New Zealand.  

Lesson 8: Assessing citizen science portals and analyzing data about invasive species.  
Lesson 9: Investigating 3 hazards: Gulf oil spill, Eyjafjallajokull volcano, and Haiti earthquake.
Lesson 10: Selecting the most suitable locations for tea cultivation in Kenya.   



The intent of the lessons was that they were to be used in conjunction with reading the book.  Therefore, the contents of the book have also been placed online.  The book chapters are in this gallery. The book not only discusses sources and types of spatial data, but also issues such as assessing data quality, open data access, spatial law, the fee vs. free debate, data and national security, the efficacy of spatial data infrastructures, and the impact of cloud computing and the emergence of GIS as a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model.


Since the book was published, ongoing social and technological innovations and issues continue to change how data users and data providers work with geospatial information to help address a diverse range of social, economic and environmental needs.  Therefore, we established the Spatial Reserves blog to promote a current, ongoing dialogue with data users and providers and post frequent assessments of new tools, data portals, books and articles, curriculum, and issues surrounding spatial data.  Recent entries include "Imagery--It is what it is--well, not always.", "Be a wise consumer of fun posts, too", "The Application for Extracting and Exploring Analysis Ready Samples (AppEEARS)", reflections on a new article about the geospatial data fabric, facial recognition technology, and a list of the top 12 sites for Landsat data.  A selection of these blog essays are listed in the book's resources page at Esri Press.


Reflections on Migrating Lessons from ArcMap to ArcGIS Pro.  Readers of the GeoNet education blog are familiar with the rapid change of the field of geospatial technologies, coupled with rapidly changing educational and workplace needs.  I contend that given these changes, the content and skills we must teach, and the means by which we teach, must also change. Given the wide variety of tutorials and help files containing graphics and videos, networks and the tools to collaborate, ask questions, and share ideas, students, faculty, and GIS professionals have an amazing variety of learning options at their fingertips.  


Thus, I do not believe we need to be focused on tool-based approaches, such as how to geocode, how to georegister, and so on, but rather, how to solve problems using GIS.  (For a related discussion, see David DiBiase's Stop Teaching GIS essay).  We need to help students "learn how to learn" whether in GIS (and, I contend, in any other field), emulating the kind of resource gathering, networking, and problem solving that they will assuredly use in the workplace.  Some might argue that writing and asking students to go through lessons such as the 10 I describe above is no longer needed.  In my experience in teaching for over 25 years at the university level, I still find that this style of lesson still has a place in learning, as students using these go through an entire workflow of geographic inquiry, including asking geographic questions, gathering data, analyzing data, making decisions, making assessments, and communicating the results of their research.  Another reason why I created the above lessons is so that you can place each lesson side-by-side to compare the ArcMap version and the ArcGIS Pro version. 


My observations after creating ArcGIS Pro versions of each of the ArcMap lessons are as follows:

  1. I have used these lessons in several different universities, including at the University of Denver, and always pose a survey question about ArcGIS Pro at the end of the course.  In 95% of the responses, students have stated that they found ArcGIS Pro to be easier to learn from than ArcMap, more intuitive, and more powerful.  Several students each term tell me that the use of Pro was one of their primary reasons for taking the course, because their employer asked them to learn it.  And moving forward into the 2020s, Pro will see further adoption and more importantly, further evolution. Every time it evolves, it becomes more powerful and easier to use at the same time. 
  2. As an instructor, you have a choice of either creating your own lessons or using existing lessons.  There are no shortage of existing lessons, ranging from the ArcGIS Learn library to shared higher education resources (such as GeoTech Center and iGETT), Esri and university MOOCs, and many other resources.  Many of us, however, became instructors because we enjoy creating and customizing curriculum for specific courses and programs.  If you are keen on migrating some of your existing ArcMap lessons to ArcGIS Pro, I did it, and so can you.  Yes, it will take some time, but I find migrations (migrations is plural here, as I have lived through many such software migrations!) are like when you get rid of things while moving your own residence--it is a good opportunity to purge old content and make things even better.  Perhaps you can get a graduate student to assist you in this effort!
  3. I found that my ArcGIS Pro lessons were shorter than the ArcMap lessons for several reasons.  The first reason is that the workflows in ArcGIS Pro are so much more logical and straightforward than in ArcMap.  In ArcMap, for example, when you needed to georegister an unprojected historical map or aerial photo, you are cast into a zone that sometimes left students wondering, "what step do I do first?" whereas with ArcGIS Pro, you are placed into wizard-driven "Step 1--do this, make these choices, satisfied?  If not, here are some adjustments you can make.  OK - on to Step 2..."  Ditto for hundreds of other tools and processes:  These are much easier to follow and learn from using ArcGIS Pro. The second reason is you don't need to screen shot everything any longer, and in fact, I implore you to please not screen shot very much, because (1) There are many good existing resources for use if a student gets stuck on a certain section.  In the past, I admit that all of us did have to create our own graphics and screenshots because these were by and large all the students could use as instructional resources, but no longer!  (2) Students, being the resourceful people they are, will not read your precious screen shots very much if at all.  They know there are other resources and will find them if they have difficulty.  Of course you can provide guidance as to where these resources are, but just like anything else these days that people want to learn, such as fixing a faucet or playing the ukulele, there is a video, a graphic, a tutorial, on everything from geocoding to writing Arcade expressions and more.  (3) If you do screen shot to excess and make your lessons consequently long, you will remain in a continuous cycle of having to update and curate your lessons.  Please, don't do this!  Rather, spend less time updating curriculum, and that new-found time creating new curricular ideas, teaching techniques, and furthering your own research.



Metadata for Public Domain Data Lessons

Metadata for Public Domain Data lessons.  I look forward to your comments below.

Teaching and learning about demographics and population change in an effective, engaging manner is enriched and enlivened through the use of web mapping tools and spatial data. These tools, enabled by the advent of cloud-based geographic information systems (GIS) technology, bring problem solving, critical thinking, and spatial analysis to every classroom instructor and student (Kerski 2003; Jo, Hong, and Verma 2016).  Several developments make this the ideal time for educators to embrace these tools and data sets for teaching these topics. First, population patterns change over space and time, providing the perfect data and themes for investigation using 2D and 3D maps in a GIS environment. Second, modern GIS is a platform that enables maps and applications to be saved, shared, and embedded into presentations and multimedia, forming a collaborative learning environment. As analytical and cartographic tools have migrated to the web, they can be used on any device at any time using only a standard web browser (Manson et al. 2013). Third, the open data movement places an array of rich, varied demographic data sets from the local to global scales in the hands of educators and students. These data include those from the U.S. Census Bureau and other national statistics agencies. Fourth, GIS was created to be a tool to investigate real-world issues, and therefore teaching with GIS is conducive to a multidisciplinary, problem-solving learning environment using real data (Milson and Kerski 2012).


Why teach about population change, demographics, and lifestyles?   These topics are multi-scale, multi-disciplinary, connected to content standards, and relevant to 21st Century issues.  They are interesting, changing over space, time, and scale.  They are tied to Problem-Based Learning (PBL), and are aligned with an inquiry-driven approach ("What if we change the classification method?  Change the location?  Add a variable?").  Teaching these topics with GIS offers the opportunity for fieldwork and collaboration, fostering skills in media fluency, scale, and systems thinking.  On the research side, population's dynamic nature and its impact on culture, land use, and the environment make it a continually fascinating and important area of research.  On the campus administration side, demographics affect alumni networks, future online and on-campus student number and background, funding sources, and much more. 


Here, I describe 10 activities that can be used to teach about population, population change, demographics, and lifestyles.   Each can be used in a variety of different courses including those in GIS, environmental science, geography, history, and even business and sociology as single activities or multi-day activities.  These 10 activities all use the ArcGIS platform, from Esri, including ArcGIS Online, ArcGIS Pro, ArcGIS Insights, and Business Analyst Web. The advantage of the  ArcGIS platform is that it includes (1) spatial data; (2) maps; (3) analysis, classification, symbology, and measurement tools; (4) field apps; (5) web mapping applications; (6) a community of users.  Over 1 billion maps are accessed daily in this platform serving millions of data users.  


(1)  Examining global patterns using ArcGIS Online.  The Living Atlas of the World is a curated and growing body of content covering a multitude of scales. Population growth, ethnicity, density, cities, and other themes can be quickly accessed, combined with other layers, queried, and used in presentations. Many of the layers contain data that extends back in time; others forecast into the future.  Using this web map of a selected set of variables from the Living Atlas opens the door to investigating population growth rate, life expectancy, birth rate, and mobile phones and land lines for world countries.  You might start by showing a more easily understood variable such as total population or population density.  You might introduce the topic of population by showing these videos of an area with low population density vs. one with a high population density.  Life expectancy can be analyzed over time, by opening the data table and by using the time animation slider bar.  I almost always map the Human Development Index (HDI) over time, because it is an index that includes variables about health and education, fostering fruitful, interdisciplinary discussions.  For additional analysis, sign in to your ArcGIS Online account, save the maps in your organization, change the symbology or variables mapped, and add other layers from your own tables, the Living Atlas, or from ArcGIS Online.

Mapping population data.

Left:  Comparing demographic variables by country using ArcGIS Online.  Note slider bar that provides temporal analysis capability.   Right:  Mapping Human Development Index (HDI) by country over time. 


(2)  Sub-country investigations.  Provinces, neighborhoods, and other administrative and political areas in many countries can be investigated.  Start by browsing for population in the Living Atlas or searching for open data hub sites.  For example, investigate purchasing power and other characteristics of the population and of businesses in Germany with this interactive map and set of data, from Germany's 16 states to the neighborhood level.  With this and other premium content in the Living Atlas, you will need to sign in to ArcGIS Online with your ArcGIS Online organizational subscription to access the map and data. 


Mapping total births by neighborhood in Hamburg Germany clearly shows the differences between those without children in the city center (partially encircled by the ring road) and southeast along the Elbe River versus neighborhoods to the northeast and northwest of the city center. 


(3)  US Census demographics investigations.  Start your US Census data investigation with the Living Atlas content authored by the Esri demographics team.  At the time of this writing, 78 layers exist covering 89 different American Community Survey tables, each with dozens of field names, covering age, employment, income, housing, insurance, education, veterans status, and even internet connectivity.  This already vast array of data will continue to grow as 2020 Decennial Census data becomes available.  Use the phrase “current year ACS” to quickly find these layers. You can find these layers by searching the Living Atlas website, or directly within your map by using Add > search the Living Atlas. You can also find the layers within this ArcGIS group that categorizes the layers by topic.   The ACS data support field descriptions, have improved boundaries over the boundaries on, and are accessible throughout the ArcGIS platform, which means you can use it in ArcGIS Online, ArcGIS Pro, Insights, and even in field apps such as Explorer.   I was recently working with faculty from the University of Arizona, for example, and we investigated one of these layers, the percent of households in Tucson with no internet access (below).  For further information, see these guidelines on how to quickly make an ACS map.


Data about internet access.

The ACS data on percent of households in Tucson with no internet access mapped in Tucson shows some sharp boundaries.


To access US Census data, you can certainly still use the workflow that was standard fare in most GIS courses and workflows for years:  Access, download and unzip the boundary files that you need, such as block groups, census tracts, and county boundaries.  Access a different node on the site, download and unzip the demographic data that you need.  In ArcGIS Pro, join the demographic data to the appropriate "bounding polygons" and save to a new layer.  Rename field names from "P01" names to field names that can be more readily understood.  Then, symbolize and analyze the data.  While this workflow teaches key skills, many steps are required to bring the data to the point at which it can be analyzed.  I am convinced that this workflow is no longer completely necessary, as the Living Atlas workflow suggests. 


(4)  Mapping and filtering census data at different scales.  Using the ArcGIS Online map viewer, you can investigate the relationship between such variables as median age and median income, explore consumer and other behaviors, study the patterns of diversity, and examine how many of those variables change over time.  Start with the popular demographics web map, and symbolize on a variable of interest.  More data is not always better; hence, the filter tool can be very useful to reveal patterns. Below, I filter on the counties where the average household size is 2.75 and above. 


Census map of counties with at least 2.75 people per household.

Census map of counties with at least 2.75 people per household.  Note the suburban areas around Chicago, Atlanta, and Washington DC, some Native American-predominant counties in South Dakota and Arizona, and counties in Utah, Texas, and California that appear for a variety of reasons. 


The above layer contains quite a bit of attribute data and layers.  If you prefer to begin with a simpler map, use this map that contains a smaller number of layers.  Consider using the map to ask questions such as, "Where is the median age lower than the surrounding areas, and which factor(s) are pulling down the median age (certain types of employment, a military base, a university, a prison)?  Where does the median income increase as the median age increase, and where does that trend break down, and why?  How does your community compare to others of the same population, and what are some reasons for the differences?   


(5) Mapping past change and future projections.  How has population changed in the past, and what are the projected trends into the future?  To investigate these questions, use this map containing 2018 data and projections to 2023.  After I opened this map, I changed the scale to the zip code level, and changed the style to reflect changes in 2018 median household income compared to that projected in 2023, as shown below.

 Population change map.


Comparing household growth rate 2010-2018 to 2018-2022 by zip code in southern Kansas, showing areas that have experienced high growth and will continue to do so, where growth will decelerate in the future, where growth will accelerate in the future, and where growth has been slow and will continue to be slow.  This uses the relationship type of symbology. 


(6) Deeper analysis in ArcGIS Pro and ArcGIS Insights.   All of the data described in these guidelines can be brought to ArcGIS Pro and ArcGIS Insights.  The primary reasons to consider teaching and conducting research with census data in ArcGIS Pro and ArcGIS Insights are to teach additional GIS skills, and to take advantage of the many analytical tools that exist in these products.  ArcGIS Pro has the most tools of any ArcGIS product, including a bridge to the R statistical package and spatial statistics functions such as Build Balanced Zones, Spatial Autocorrelation (Global Moran's I), Cluster and Outlier Analysis (Anselin Local Moran's I), Hot Spot Analysis (Getis-Ord Gi*), and Colocation Analysis.  ArcGIS Insights has the advantage of unique visualizations for data such as chord diagrams.  In the example below, I brought in the popular demographics layer into an ArcGIS Pro project and am now using the Enrich tool to add some behavioral data that was not in the original popular demographics data layer. 


Analyzing census data in ArcGIS Pro.

Analyzing census data within ArcGIS Pro, here showing the patterns of people who "bought a travel book in the last 12 months" in Lincoln, Nebraska, after running the Enrich tool. In my case I am using this in a lesson that invites students to consider an optimal location for a new bookstore and coffee shop.


(7)  Demographic and lifestyle investigation using Business Analyst Web.   Business Analyst Web, an Esri Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) toolset, is also extremely useful for population analysis primarily because of its (1) demographic data; (2) lifestyle and consumer behavior data; (3) business location data; (4) mapping and spatial analysis tools; and (5) ability to create customized demographic reports and infographics.  Its data covers multiple countries at multiple levels of geography.  The lifestyle and consumer behavior data includes hundreds of variables, ranging from pet ownership to health insurance coverage, from commuting patterns to work and leisure activities, tapestry segmentation, and much more.  It also includes millions of business locations, sales volume, and other data, literally from A to Z - automotive repair shops to zoos.  Everything you need to conduct analysis with rich sets of data are at your fingertips in Business Analyst Web, but it is also a part of the ArcGIS platform, so you can import and export maps and layers from it to ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Pro.  


Business Analyst Web investigation

Comparing county population to the locations of two convenience store chains--Allsup's (blue points) and Casey's (red points).   This activity is available here

(8) Visualizing and understanding migration over space and time in 3D.  Web mapping applications focused on population data abound.  For example, one set of storymaps that can be used to analyze global population and its influence on urbanization, agriculture, and other aspects of our world is the Age of the Anthropocene.  Another set of apps is the "cool maps" gallery, and one map in the gallery is a 2D and 3D visualization of incoming and outgoing migration for every country in the world over 4 different time periods.  This visualization presents estimates of the number of international migrants by destination and origin, using Trends in International Migrant Stock data from the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Use this visualization to compare one country's change over time in terms of numbers, and in terms of where migrants travel from and to.  For example, you can visualize the increase in Australia's immigration from South Asia and East Asia relative to its traditional immigration from western Europe, and the increase in the absolute numbers of migrants as well.   The same map can be used to investigate the immigration to the UAE to support the infrastructure development there, as well as the continuing challenges facing Somalia and the resulting out-migration from there.  Ask students:  Which patterns did you expect to see, and which were surprising to you?  Why? 

Migration map.

  Visualizing incoming migration to the UAE across space and time with the Global Migration Map.


(9)  Comparing demographic patterns across 100 global cities.   The Urban Observatory is a mapping and visualization tool that allows for over 100 cities around the world to be compared across more than 50 themes.  Created by Richard Saul Wurman (founder of TED), RadicalMedia, and Esri, it is an easy-to-use, powerful teaching tool. Themes include work (such as zoning), movement (such as roads, transportation noise, airports, and traffic), people (such as population density and growth), public (such as the ParkScore and health resources), and systems (such as current temperature and flood zones).   Click on "Launch App" to compare cities and themes of your choice.  These will be displayed in three side-by-side maps that are interactive and at the same scale.  Because some variables are from real-time feeds, you can use the Urban Observatory to teach about commuting, time zones, and seasons.   How does the site and the physical geography of each city affect population density? Which of the urban geography models apply to each of these cities? I use the data service's senior population theme frequently in conjunction with population pyramids to compare Tokyo to Accra, for example.  Why is the senior population for Tokyo so much higher than for Accra or Lagos?  If you find the Urban Observatory data fascinating, and want to dig deeper with additional data, see my colleague Jennifer Bell's published layers in ArcGIS Online.  

Urban Observatory.

Comparing senior population in Accra, Lagos, and Tokyo using the Urban Observatory.


(10)  Additional web mapping applications.  Other population web mapping applications that I frequently use while teaching include the following.  For more detail about these tools, see this ArcWatch article and this GeoNet essay. 


A new story map on the theme "Where are people moving?   I particularly like investigating the county-by-county migration map toward the end of this story map.


The NASA SEDAC CIESIN Global Population Estimation Web Mapping Application allows for population pyramids and other information to be queried for any user-defined area on the planet, allowing regions to be easily compared.  One of my favorite parts is its use of population pyramids, in my opinion one of the best tools ever invented to teach and learn about demographics. 


State to state inflow and outflow migration, mapped with the distributed flow lines tool in ArcGIS Pro.  Why do Texans tend to move to other warm states?  Why do people who move out of North Dakota tend to move to Minnesota?  Popup graphics allow exploration for how the flow changes over time.   There are even selected county inflow and outflow maps, too!   The US Census Bureau flow mapper shows county-by-county in and out migration in a queryable map format.  The state-by-state migration map and set of charts from the New York Times shows migration in yet a different cartographic style, also shown here.  


I also make frequent use of the Esri Wayback imagery and the Esri USGS historical topographic map viewer to examine how urban and rural areas have changed (or not changed, as the case may be) over time.  The Wayback immagery shows high-resolution satellite imagery for the past 6 years, globally.  The Esri USGS map viewer shows topographic maps for the past 80 years for the USA.  I also ask students to use the Landsat Lens web mapping application to examine changes from human impact around the world using 20 years worth of Landsat image scenes, starting with Abu Dhabi with stops at the Aral Sea, Shanghai, Las Vegas, the Arabian Desert, and elsewhere.  I also frequently ask students to make swipe maps with 2 different time periods of an area using the Landsat Explorer web mapping application.  Maps with rich and deep content are sometimes tied to lessons, such as this map showing counties in farms, rainfall, and population change during the 1930s Dust Bowl, part of the Geoinquiries library of lessons


Images from selected population change and demographic tools. Graphic showing selected additional useful population analysis tools.  Clockwise from upper left, CIESIN, US Census Flow Mapper, ArcGIS Online Geoinquiries Dust Bowl, USGS Esri historical topographic map viewer, and state inflow and outflow migration maps and data. 


Now start exploring these data sets, methods, and tools, and I look forward to reading your comments.



Jo, I., J. E. Hong, and K. Verma. 2016. Facilitating spatial thinking in world geography using web-based GIS.  Journal of Geography in Higher Education 40 (3): 442–459.


Kerski, J. J. 2003. The implementation and effectiveness of GIS in secondary education. Journal of Geography 102 (3): 128–137.


Manson, S., J. Shannon, S. Eria, L. Kne, K. ****, S. Nelson, L. Batra, D. Bonsal, M. Kernik, J. Immich, and L. Matson. 2013. Resource needs and pedagogical value of web mapping for spatial thinking. Journal of Geography 113 (1): 1–11.


Milson, A., and J. Kerski. 2012. Around the world with geospatial technologies. Social Education 76 (2): 105–108.


Given that location matters in business, and that Esri location analytics tools and geospatial data are increasingly used in business workplaces, how can faculty effectively teach principles and applications in location analytics?  This blog, which will be refreshed often, aims to assist business faculty in fostering critical thinking skills, spatial analytics skills, and problem solving in their students. 


This essay includes:

  • 10 key messages for faculty to share with colleagues and students about why location analytics matters to business education.
  • Hands on activities aimed to foster location analytics skills.
  • A syllabus for a short workshop on location analytics. 


For more information, see the Location Analytics in Business Education landing page.  

10 Key Messages 


  1. Businesses exist to add value.
  2. Location is vital to all aspects of business.
  3. Location analytics adds value to business.
  4. Location analytics are increasingly used in decision making in business.
  5. Location analytics enables businesses to achieve their mission, serve their customers, and benefit society.
  6. The world of business is in a state of continual change.
  7. Location analytics enables businesses not only to manage current operations, but to plan for and enable change. 
  8. Cultivating location analytics skills increases an individual employee's value to a current or future employer.
  9. Adding location analytics courses and programs helps any School of Business become more vibrant and relevant for their campus and the greater society.   
  10. Location analytical tools, data, and output increasingly exist in a cloud-based environment, which offers a rich platform for collaborating, analyzing, and communicating.  


Feel free to use all or a subset of the attached slides that expand these messages.

Slide about the value of business and the value of GIS.

Slide about the value of business as part of the attached presentation. 


Hands-on Activities


The attached example hands-on activities about (1) regional business patterns, and (2) choosing the optimal location for a business have been used in a variety of schools of business, and focuses on developing spatial thinking, critical thinking, and problem solving with GIS.  Along with each lesson is the answer key. 

Slide from Business Analyst Web.

Location analytics in Business Analyst Web as part of the attached lesson. 


For additional hands-on activities including Learn Paths of multiple lessons, including the above tools as well as ArcGIS Pro, see the Learn ArcGIS library of business-related lessons.


Location Analytics Workshop Syllabus


The following 10-item syllabus for a short (1 to 3 hour) workshop on location analytics is one that has been tested and used in many university and college settings, for an audience of students, faculty, university administrators, or all of the above.  However, the syllabus can be adapted and modified as needed as audience, time available, and needs change.   


At the beginning of the workshop, state who you are (as the speaker) and why the audience should listen to you.  Provide a background along with an explanation of why you are passionate about location analytics.


1.  What challenges are communities and societies confronting from a local to a global scale? Health, energy, water quality and quantity, rapid urbanization, economic inequalities, ecosystem degradation and species loss, climate, natural hazards (floods, hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, mudslides, tornadoes, others), sustainable agriculture, vibrant but sensitive tourism, public safety, locating the optimal site for goods or services, and others are global problems that increasingly affect our everyday lives.  All of these issues and problems have a location component.  Hence, location analytics will increasingly be depended on for smart decision making for a healthier and more sustainable future in government, private industry, nonprofit organizations, and academia?


2.  What challenges do businesses regularly confront?   Site optimization, understanding consumer behavior, supply chain management, assessing risk, understanding demographic and behavioral trends, corporate security, enhancing company reputation, and many others.  All of these have a location component.  Hence, location analytics are used by all businesses to achieve their corporate and societal goals.  One such set of challenges exists during the COVID-19 crisis, as detailed on this operational awareness page about business continuity and recovery.


3.  What are the key components comprising Location Analytics?   Components include technology, data, and communication instruments. 


(3a.) Technological components to Location Analytics:  Geographic Information Systems (GIS), web mapping, remote sensing, and Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS)/Global Positioning Systems (GPS).  This technological framework for Location Analytics exists increasingly in a cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) environment.  This framework allows for web mapping applications, such as dashboards and multimedia maps and apps, to be built upon it, shared, and used.


(3b.)  Data:  Consumer preference, lifestyle, demographics, environmental, location of competitors, suppliers, stores within the same franchise or chain, distributors, and more.  All of this data contains a location component, such as street address, latitude-longitude, city-country combination, place name, census enumeration area, or political area from town to country.  All of this data exists as either points, lines, polygons, tables, images, or grids.  Much of this data is scaleable from local to global scale.  Much of this data exists as cloud-based Data-as-Services, accessible via ArcGIS Hub sites, open data sites, Business Analyst Web, and libraries such as the ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World.   


(3c.)  Communication instruments:  The output of the work done in Location Analytics is increasingly varied, and ranges from 2D and 3D maps, web mapping applications, tables, charts, dashboards, infographics, and other multi-media visualizations.  The boundary between maps and visualizations is increasingly blurred, as the number of tools multiply.  


4.  List the 10 key messages provided above, or a subset, depending on the needs of the audience and the goals of the speaker.


5.  The SaaS environment for tools and spatial data offers several key advantages for today's business students, faculty, and business professionals:   


(5a.)   The tools can be accessed on any device, anywhere, at any time.  This vastly increases the number and diversity of people who have access to use the tools to analyze the data, and people who can view the results.  


(5b.)  The data available for use in business education mirrors the "big data" movement, increasing in velocity, volume, veracity, and variety.  The data arise from a variety of sources, from near-real-time and real-time data feeds, to data from academic institutions, government agencies, private companies, and nonprofit organizations.  Much is available aggregated at the neighborhood level.  Much data on current information and projected information are updated on a regular basis.  Much data is documented in terms of its scale, lineage, source, accuracy, format, permitted uses, and other characteristics as metadata. 


(5c.)  The tools update on a regular basis.   With each update, the tools become easier to use, better documented, and more powerful. 


6.  Provide several powerful, engaging case studies clearly showing the use cases for who uses location analytics.  These include Fruit of the Loom, Starbucks, Esri, Chick Fil A, John Deere, and others.  See a selection of videos in the middle of the Business Analyst overview page.  For more case studies, see those on the business education landing page and on the Esri industries page.  


7.  Explain why should the audience should use location analytics:   For students, Learning and using Location Analytics adds value to business content knowledge, in marketing, management, risk assessment, and supply chain.  Location Analytics adds value in skills such as proximity, routing, choropleth mapping, geocoding, creating infographics, reports, and storymaps.  Location Analytics adds additional skills in presenting, communication, and cartography.   For instructors, it helps them to teach core content in more relevant and exciting ways.  It helps anyone understand how to work more effectively with data, how to consider change over space and time, how to consider scale in business, how to think critically, and how to solve problems.  


8.  Lead a short activity in hands-on mode, in a teaching lab or via a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) mode in any classroom, or online, using Location Analytics.  Use any of the attached activities or other resources mentioned on this page.  You could begin by comparing two different types of businesses (bail bonds and car washes map in Oklahoma City) or the Starbucks around-the-world "Manhattan Coffee" map in ArcGIS Online, or the San Bernardino County parcels with property values, and then move to an activity that incorporates analytics, such as analyzing convenience store regional chain patterns (attached) or siting a new business.


Image of business analytics.Business analytics image.

Images from Starbucks analysis map (left) and property values map (right) in ArcGIS Online. 


9.  Encourage your audience to dig deeper, given the skills they have just learned and practice, into ArcGIS Online, ArcGIS Insights, or Business Analyst Web (overview of slides attached to this essay) with the data they have been using in the previous step.  Start by noting patterns and relationships.  Zoom in and zoom out and note how patterns sometimes change as the scale changes.  Then change the symbology and classification.  Filter the data on different criteria by building expressions.  Add additional variables, such as demographics or consumer behavior at different scales and analyze the patterns and relationships.  Map competitive businesses and business that aid another business.  Then, create reports, infographics, and storymaps, and share your results. 


10.  End the workshop with a discussion of how the audience can learn more about Location Analytics.  Selected key resources are as follows: 


(10a.)  The resources on the business education landing page. 

(10b.)  Obtaining an account on (via, for example, the university's existing Esri license or via the ArcGIS Developers site).

(10c.)  Taking a free, fun, and rigorous Esri MOOC, especially the Location Advantage MOOC that focuses on business.

(10d.)  Taking courses and watching webinars on the Esri training site, on analysis tools, field apps and tools, and reporting tools. 

(10e.)   Learning about Python and Javascript via the tutorials on ArcGIS Developers site.   These tutorials show in side-by-side fashion, how the code runs the map.  The tutorials ask you to make adjustments in specific lines of code, and there is instant gratification as the map changes when you make these adjustments! 






We have always been fascinated with our home:  The Earth.  Our blue-and-green oasis of life in the solar system has been the subject of poetry, music, novels, scientific investigation, and—maps.  For centuries, maps have stirred imaginations, inspired explorations of the unknown, and helped us understand our planet.  Far from the static documents of the past etched on clay tablets, wood, film, and paper, today’s maps are interactive and digital.  They can be combined with charts, satellite images, databases, photographs, videos, and other data to help us make sense of our world.  They help us navigate to the library or to grandma’s house on an everyday basis, help us understand our communities and our world, and how to build a more sustainable and resilient future.   These maps have become ubiquitous—on our smartphones, computers, in our vehicles, in trains and airplanes, and just about everywhere we turn.


These digital maps and the everyday activities that depend on them are possible because of Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and other technologies:  Remote sensing, computer science, and Global Positioning Systems (GPS, or more broadly, Geographic Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS)) to name a few.  However, people make these technologies effective, applying them to solve problems.  People using these maps and tools cultivate a spatial way of thinking, looking at the world from a geographic perspective, examining patterns, relationships, and trends, making wiser decisions about the future. These decisions include planning urban greenways, mitigating invasive weeds, locating the optimal site for wind energy, studying groundwater withdrawal impact on aquifers, and many more, from local to global scales.


Why Use GIS on Earth Day and in Environmental Science Education?
The central themes that scientists have studied for years have in recent decades become topics on daily news feeds, increasingly affecting our everyday lives. During the COVID-19 crisis, maps, dashboards, and infographics produced from GIS were viewed by the millions per hour, helping people and communities make wise decisions and plans.  Connecting students with real-world data and issues builds spatial bridges in the brain and appeals to multiple ways of learning. Students learn to transfer knowledge, to inquire strategically, to connect to their community, and to solve problems with real data.  Studying environmental issues with GIS lends relevancy and real-world contexts to these issues. Spatial analysis appeals to today’s visual learners.  


Using GIS provides a way of exploring a rich body of content and a framework for holistic thinking about the world. GIS provides a set of skills grounded in content standards and fosters critical thinking about data and methods. Students using GIS grapple with current, relevant, important issues in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) disciplines, social studies (geography, history, economics, and civics), language arts, and other subjects.  These include sustainable agriculture, natural hazards, water, energy, historical events, weather and climate, and more.  GIS enables these issues to be analyzed spatially because they all have a geographic component—they occur somewhere, and change over space and time.  Students see the big picture and understand how different patterns and trends are related. Students become involved digital citizens that can use technology in meaningful ways to ask the “what if” questions, test hypotheses, and model scenarios.   The questions stem from a firm foundation in content, the spatial perspective, and spatial skills.


GIS can foster each of the Center for Ecoliteracy’s six core ecological concepts:  Networks, nested systems, cycles, flows, development, and dynamic balance. GIS allows variables to be input, modeled and modified so that the dynamics of environmental processes can be studied. Hungerford and Volk (1991) defined nine key ecological concepts necessary for environmental education programs:  Individuals and populations, interactions and interdependence, environmental influences and limiting factors, energy flow and nutrient cycling, community and ecosystem concepts, homeostasis, succession, humans as members of ecosystems, and ecological implications of human activities and communities.  GIS can enhance the teaching of these concepts. The NAAEE’s definition of environmental literacy (NAAEE 2011) includes four interrelated components: competencies, knowledge, dispositions, and environmentally responsible behavior.  Because the use of GIS involves the same tools used by scientists, GIS fosters learning each component.  Teaching with GIS also connects well with several of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, such as water quality and quantity, energy, climate, and sustainable cities.

10 Ways in Which GIS Can Be Used in Earth and Environmental Science Education

GIS can be used in a wide variety of ways. GIS has rapidly evolved into a cloud-based SaaS (Software as a Service) environment, and thus is more accessible and approachable than ever before.  GIS tools such as ArcGIS Online can be run on any device, at any time, using a modest web connection.  Certain maps and tools can also be used offline.  GIS can be accessed in a classroom with one computer and a projector, in a computer lab, and in the field. GIS can be used in multiple disciplines and to analyze a myriad of issues.  Explore a few or all of these selected ways to use GIS in teaching and learning about the Earth.


1.  Ask questions. Asking questions is the first part of scientific inquiry, forming the basis for knowing what types of environmental data to collect and what data to analyze and what decisions to make. GIS does not ask the questions, rather, it is the person using GIS who asks the questions.   Be curious about the world.  How does acid mine drainage in a mountain range affect downstream water quality? How will climate change affect global food production?  Where are invasive plant species living in this alpine valley?  Giving students a reason to learn is powerful.  Start your journey with The ArcGIS Book.  Then examine this series of Mapping Hour videos that demonstrate how to cultivate asking questions in the context of learning GIS tools.


The opening page of The ArcGIS Book, an excellent interactive way of discovering the world of GIS, and teaching with it.


2.  Examine change over space and time. The Earth is a dynamic planet.  Environmental phenomena interact, move, and change.  Begin by comparing change over time using satellite imagery for the past six years using the Wayback imagery app, or for the past century in the USA using historical USGS topographic maps using a web mapping application.  Explore changes in seasons for precipitation and soil moisture around the world using the Water Balance App.

The Wayback imagery app can be used to examine natural and human-caused changes to Planet Earth, here, the changing water levels at Lake Mead.


3.  Explore human-environment interaction. How does the environment affect people, through such characteristics as daily weather and long-term climate, native plants and animals, landforms, the availability of water, local and regional natural hazards, and the type of predominant soils? Conversely, how do humans affect their environment?  Begin by examining ecological land units with this interactive map, and then examine urbanization, agriculture, and other land use with the Landsat Explorer app.

 Comparing Landsat imagery on the Arabian peninsula to detect changes in agriculture and urbanization using the Landsat Explorer app.


4.  Explore environmental content. Not only does GIS use enhance earth and environmental studies, but also conversely, a firm grounding in environmental content enhances the use of GIS.  One way to begin exploring map-based environmental content is through the ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World. The atlas includes thousands of data layers from ocean currents to biomes, from watersheds to energy production. As the name implies, it is curated, continuously updated, and includes live feeds from buoys, stream gauges, seismographs, weather stations, and other data sources.  Many maps and data layers are available through an ordinary web browser, while some require an ArcGIS Account to use (a link to a free account is here).


5.   Work with data. Data skills are especially critical in the modern world, due to data’s increasing volume and diversity, and given its often sensitive and politically charged nature.  Using GIS involves managing databases, tables, maps, feeds, imagery, vector and raster files, to name a few.  Start by using ArcGIS Online:  Modify Map, add data, change the symbology.  Change the classification and note how the map’s appearance changes.  Filter the data.  Tutorials, MOOCs, and lessons can help you begin.   Be critical of mapped data, however: Understand who created it, how often it is updated, its scale, and other aspects via its metadata, as this book and blog invite you to do (Kerski 2015).


Teaching and learning about data sources, data quality, and societal issues surrounding data is the focus of the Spatial Reserves book and blog.


6.  Collect data in the field. A new citizen science field app was created for Earth Day by the Earth Day Network, the Wilson Center, and the US Department of State, using the App Studio for ArcGIS by Esri.  It invites you and your students to find, photograph, and classify plastic pollution in your community.   Another tool is Survey123, which allows you and your students to quickly create a field survey, collect data into it, and map and analyze the results.  Data from other citizen science tools such as iNaturalist can be brought into a GIS environment for spatial analysis.


Using these tools, students can understand, “How does pH vary along this stretch of river, and why? How do tree species and tree height change depending on slope angle, slope direction, and why?  Fieldwork has additional benefits:  Louv 2006 and others have shown that if students do not receive repeated and deep immersion in natural places while young will not value or appreciate natural places and associated issues as adult decision-makers.  Sobel’s “Beyond Ecophobia: Reclaiming the Heart in Nature Education” (1996) states that essential to helping students to understand environmental issues in distant lands is to cultivate connections to the local environment, teaching about local systems. “What’s important is that children have an opportunity to bond with the natural world, to learn to love it, before being asked to heal its wounds,” Sobel wrote. This can be done through his stages of empathy, exploration, and social action. 


7.  Solve problems. GIS was created specifically to solve problems.   A series of GeoInquiries are short lessons that invite you to dig into natural hazards and environmental issues, each tied to a single interactive web map with no log in required.  A library of Learn ArcGIS lessons digs further into specific problems and skill building, from predicting the weather to assessing landslide and flood potential.


8.  Gain career skills. GIS was a green tool long before “green” was popular. GIS began in the mid-1960s, just before the first Earth Day in 1970.  GIS is used on a daily basis to benefit the environment, from protecting elephant habitat in Africa to planning urban greenways in the local community.  GIS offers career pathways increasingly in demand according to the U.S. Department of Labor (Gewin 2004).  Students who are well grounded in the spatial perspective through GIS are better able to use data at a variety of scales, in a variety of contexts, think systematically and holistically, and use quantitative and qualitative approaches to solve problems. In short, these graduates are better decision-makers.  View these videos and interviews with people using GIS everyday on the job.  Share your skills with others by becoming a geomentor.  Learn more about mentoring here and here.


9.  Communicate your results. Sharing and collaborating is how today’s complex problems will be solved.  As environmental science has become more quantitative and analytical during the past century, GIS is the perfect tool in which to study processes through databases, maps, and spatial statistics.  Yet there is still plenty of room for art, creativity, and qualitative data.   Start by examining multimedia storymaps and consider making one of your own on a topic of your choice.


Part of the Age of the Anthropocene set of story maps showing the human imprint on Earth; here, patterns of specific agricultural crops.


10.   Act.  Students engaged in GIS and environmental studies engage in the geographic inquiry process:  Asking geographic questions, acquiring geographic resources and data, analyzing geographic data, assessing and making decisions from resulting geographic information, and acting on that geographic information. This often leads to additional geographic questions, and the cycle continues.  However, using GIS is not just to gain skills and knowledge:  Don’t just get discouraged: Be encouraged to act.  Once litter or invasive species are studied and mapped, what can be done about them?  How can a plan be implemented, stakeholders gathered, and results achieved?  Discover how people are using GIS to solve problems in society in different professions in these case studies.


Modern GIS is a platform upon which sound environmental decision making is based.  GIS is a system:  As with any system, it is comprised of many pieces.  Give yourself time for the journey, but the key is to start.    People empowered with GIS and data can make a positive impact on our world!


Gewin, Virginia. 2004. Careers and recruitment: Mapping Opportunities. Nature. 427: 376-377.

Hungerford, Harold R., and Trudi L. Volk. 1998. Curriculum Development in Environmental Education for the Primary School: Challenges and Responsibilities. Essential Readings in Environmental Education. Champaign, IL: Stipes.

Kerski, Joseph J.  2015.  Why data quality matters --now more than ever.  Directions Magazine.  


Louv, Richard. 2006. Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books.

NAAEE. 2011. Developing a framework for assessing environmental literacyExecutive Summary. NSF project report. Washington, DC: North American Association for Environmental Education.

Sobel, David. 1999. Beyond Ecophobia: Reclaiming the Heart in Nature Education (Nature Literacy Series, Vol. 1) . Orion Society.


Selected maps and tools described in this essay.

Selected tools and maps described in this essay:  Clockwise from upper left:  An agriculture story map, the ecological land units of the world map, the Landsat Explorer app, and The ArcGIS Book.  Try them!


A comprehensive guide to spatial data science courses in the Esri Academy has been published.  This guide helps you find those that are most applicable to the topics you are teaching or learning in the emerging and rapidly expanding field of data science.  An introduction to the guide describes its contents and explains its purpose, and here is a direct link to the guide.   


The guide lists items in three broad groups—Learning plans, Technology, and Capabilities—and categories, such as ArcGIS and Python Scripting, and Predictive Analytics, so that you can see the big picture.   Resources listed include:

Self-paced web courses, Training Seminars and videos, Tutorials, Videos, and story maps. 

One of the easiest ways to teach and learn with online GIS tools, data, and activities is with Learning Plans and Learn Paths because they offer a sequenced way of learning specific content and tools.   What are they and how can you use them?


I.  Learning Plans


A Learning Plan is a set of resources (readings, hands-on activities, videos) that is sequenced for learning about a particular topic.  You can choose plans from a wide variety of topics, scales, and specific Esri GIS tools.  By signing in to Esri training (, you can track your own progress through plans that you have chosen, identify plans that you would like to take in the future, and assign plans to your students.



A sample Learning Plan, for Spatial Data Science, showing the courses, videos, and seminars that comprise it.


Dozens of Learning Plans are available.  We’ve highlighted a few below, and you can browse the catalog for others (filter by Format) based on your interests and needs.


Recommended Learning Plans for new GIS users:

  1. ArcGIS Online Fundamentals:
  2. GIS Fundamentals:
  3. Fundamentals of Mapping and Visualization:

Recommended Learning Plans for select topics:

  1. ArcGIS Technology for Spatial Data Science:
  2. Image classification using ArcGIS:


II.  Learn Paths


A Learn Path is a set of resources (readings, hands-on activities, videos) from the Esri Learn ArcGIS collection that is sequenced for learning about a particular topic.   You can choose from among many tools and topics; each of which features Learn lessons that have been created by instructors at Esri and at universities.  Each path and lesson is kept current with the latest tools and data sets.  To discover available Learn Paths, see:


Dozens of Learn Paths are available.  We’ve highlighted a few below, and you can browse the Learn collection for others (filter by Type) based on your interests and needs.


Recommended Learn Paths for new GIS users:

Getting Started with Maps and Data in ArcGIS Online.

1.  A beginner’s guide to ArcGIS Online.


2.  Try ArcGIS Pro.

Get started with the essentials of ArcGIS Pro.


3.  Resources for Teaching with ArcGIS Pro.

Learn path for your students to become familiar with ArcGIS Pro.


Recommended Learn Paths for select topics:


1.  GIS in the Age of Community Health.

Arm yourself with hands-on skills and knowledge of how GIS tools can analyze health data and better understand diseases.


2.  For Geospatial Analysts:

Create a project, ingest data, process data, analyze data, share/publish results.


3.  Solving Problems with GIS and public domain geospatial data 1 of 3: 
Learn how to find, evaluate, and analyze data to solve location-based problems through this set of 10 chapters and short essay readings, and 10 hands-on lessons:




Sample Learn Path, for Geospatial Analysts activities in the path.   

Given recent events, how can you effectively teach GIS online?   Join Esri higher education team to learn about tools, data, curricular materials, and teaching approaches during these informal virtual office hours.   We’ll present resources and take your questions. Sessions will be recorded so you can watch it asynchronously if you wish.


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Teaching online entails more than recording face-to-face content and placing it in an online environment.  Pedagogical shifts need to take place while keeping student learning, course goals, and program objectives at the forefront.  Fortunately, GIS has a 20-year history of online education, so there are successful models to follow.   Advice for teaching online is widely available, and selected resources are below.   And although designing a online course takes time and planning, don’t try to design a perfect online course right now.  Focus on what is essential. Realize that many students will access materials on their phones and with limited internet, so videos may not be practical.  Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.


Selected guidelines about teaching online: 


Recent advice about placing your courses online in light of the health emergency: 


Resources for converting to online courses from several universities: 


Lessons learned from years of online teaching, from Muki Haklay, University College London: 


Brief guidance from Inside Higher Ed: 


For more tools, books, data, and other instructional resources, see attached.  Updated 20 March 2020. 

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