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17 Posts authored by: tbaker-esristaff Employee

Explore and share the new storymap, Getting to Know GeoInquiries from the Esri schools team.  The storymap walks new educators through the basics of GeoInquiries, including the anatomy of the teacher guide, accessing student worksheets, and interacting with GeoInquiry maps.  It's a great one-stop for learning about GeoInquiries and how to effectively use them in classrooms!  Share the short URL: 

The long-awaited World Geography GeoInquiries collection has released 15  "Level 1" activities and ArcGIS Online maps, based on the content from the award-winning book, Mapping Our World.  The activities are designed for middle and lower-high school geography classrooms, are based on the C3 Framework for social studies, and tied to leading world geography textbooks.  All activities are licensed under Creative Commons for easy reuse by educators.

World Geography GeoInquiries

Currently, the collection includes "no-login" activities studying:


  • urbanization
  • temperature factors
  • seismic and volcanic activity
  • population density plate boundaries
  • political boundaries
  • population growth
  • standards of living
  • the Arabian Peninsula - culture
  • growth of global communications
  • the Arabian Peninsula - physiographic
  • monsoons of South Asia
  • GDP and development
  • Central America
  • sea level rise
  • North American trade



Explore the activities and maps >>


NCSS + NCGE 2019

Posted by tbaker-esristaff Employee Aug 21, 2019

The National Council for Social Studies (NCSS) and the National Council for Geographic Education (NCGE) are teaming up this fall in Austin, TX to bring what is surely to be one of the largest geography education events in the country! Planned for November 22-24, 2019, the event features a growing line-up of GIS sharing and learning.  We'll start tracking the Esri and partner-based presentations below to help give you a heads-up.


Thursday, November 21

  • CUFA Book panel

       Thursday, November 21, 11:15am - 12:30pm

       Location: Room 16B, Austin Convention Center

       Presenters: E-yung Shin, Sarah Bednarz, others including Thomas Baker


Friday, November 22

        Presenters: Thomas Baker, Barbaree Duke, Injeong Jo


Saturday, November 23




Photo credit.

A few weeks ago, I shared Python scripts with Peter Knoop at The University of Michigan.  He was kind enough to share a cool ArcGIS Online wordcloud generator, which as you might have already guessed, I tweaked and ran against ArcGIS Online this morning with a few Valentine's Day related terms: love and Valentine.


The Python script uses the libraries: ArcGIS API for Python, BeautifulSoup (text cleanup), and wordcloud.


The script searches the titles of up to 10,000 ArcGIS Online public maps for the keywords love or valentine and then grabs the description from the maps meeting our criteria.  Using the word cloud library, the most common terms are found in the descriptions and the word cloud created. 


The word "love" was found in the title of 277 maps in ArcGIS Online today. The descriptions of those maps produced this wordcloud.  

Love word cloud


Running the script a second time with "valentine" produced 57 maps with descriptions producing the following wordcloud.



I noticed "pest" showing up in our love wordcloud and the lack of "valentine" in our valentine wordcloud (at least the english version).  Let me know what you see in the wordclouds below.


Happy Valentine's Day!

"By the end of day one with enterprise logins, I'd saved an entire teaching day! I'm never going back to the old, manual way of creating student accounts!" 

      —Matt Winbigler, Science Teacher, Cloquet Middle School (Cloquet, Minnesota)

For teachers that have already requested a free ArcGIS Online organizational account for their school, know that managing student accounts in ArcGIS Online is an important part of successfully using ArcGIS Online in classrooms, but it doesn't have to be difficult.

Why Have Student (and Teacher) Accounts?
Many schools have an ArcGIS Online organization subscription, which can hold 500 or more accounts for students or teachers. Student accounts are great for letting students create, save, and share maps and apps. Student accounts can be used to complete Level 2 GeoInquiries or even make apps to compete in the ArcGIS Online School Competition.


How Do I Make Student Account Management Easier?
ArcGIS Online allows for enterprise logins, which provide a way for ArcGIS Online to talk to your school's or district's student login system. ArcGIS Online supports the two largest student login systems used in US schools today: Microsoft and Google. Teachers will need the help of your school or district IT staff to connect ArcGIS Online with a preexisting login process. 


Share this post or send the link below to your school or district IT staff and tell them you'd like to share ArcGIS Online with all the students in the school or district. Ask them to enable enterprise logins, which is a quick process when following the guidelines detailed in the link below. Keep in mind, this will create new accounts for all students. Depending on your situation, you may wish to keep using any existing student or teacher accounts through the end of the school year.


This short article describes a process where Python was used to harvest metadata from a list of identified ArcGIS Online maps and the maps’ data services. The data were logged to MySQL (with pymysql); a PHP web search and discovery page was created.  The process allows for keyword searching in titles and descriptions of maps and data layers. 



I was approached by a large K12 educational entity (greater than 10k) that wanted to implement SSO for user account creation and authentication.  However, they also wanted teachers to have publisher roles and students to have user roles.


Read more. >>

Single sign-on uses a school district’s identity provider software (such as Microsoft Active Directory or Google G Suite) to support student authentication on devices, when accessing the school network, or when using district software.  Single sign-on provides three broad categories of benefits to teachers: increased instructional time, stability and support across the school, and reduced teacher liability.   Read more >>

(with Python, the Python Imaging Library, and the ArcGIS Online API for Python)


Using geotagged images can be a great way to capture verifiable data in a project-based learning or citizen science exercise. Students can collect data with photographs, share their images to a common folder, and then use this script to map the pictures.


Geotagged images are taken constantly, usually by people with smartphones, perhaps even by people unaware that latitude-longitude information is embedded in the header of the images.  For many casual users, seeing these images in a smartphone’s built-in Photo app with a simple map feature is all the mapping they’ll want.  But, for the carto-literati ...



ArcGIS Online Organizations can accrete user accounts over time for a number of reasons. Bulk CSV based creation of user accounts or single sign-on or simply orphaned accounts from last year's classes all contribute. For bulk user management in ArcGIS Online, no tool is more powerful than the ArcGIS API for Python - however, it should be noted for the non-scripter, GEO Jobe Admin Tools are ....


Read more >>

E-book market growth continues to climb.  E-books, as a share of the worldwide textbook market sales, is estimated to jump from 12.3% to 25.8% from 2013 to 2018 (Statista). The advancement of ebooks (including etextbooks) is nowhere more evident than in education. A projection report from Technavio suggests, 49% of “students” had purchased and used an etextbook by 2015.  


With the rise of ebooks on more powerful mobile devices and the continued growth of digital instructional materials in education, it's worth noting that maps can extend a wide variety of standards-based instructional content in schools (e.g. see the Esri GeoInquiry project to validate this idea). Thankfully, ArcGIS Online maps can be inserted into at least one particularly ebook format: Apple's iBook.  Learn how >>

While GIS analyst and developer careers are readily available, the bulk of professional GIS users are in geo-enabled careers – like civil engineering.  Join the Esri Education Outreach team and Strivven Media’s Virtual Job Shadow as we explore the career field of civil engineering – focusing on storm water management.


Be sure to share this and all of the career videos with your students! 


Sara loved buildings as a girl and planned to become an architect. In college, she discovered art didn't interest her as much as science, math and GIS so she switched to civil engineering. Watch her video to see why she loves being a civil engineer!Civil engineer


Civil engineers design, build, supervise, operate, and maintain construction projects and systems in the public and private sector, including roads, buildings, airports, tunnels, dams, bridges, and systems for water supply and sewage treatment. Many civil engineers work in design, construction, research, and education.


Watch the civil engineer video >>

The human impact of the natural disasters occurring in North America in the last few weeks has been staggering – the result of a complex story of earth’s natural systems and human activities.  Independent of the subject you may teach, consider these pre-built activities, maps, and data to support your inquiry into earth’s systems with your students.


American Literature

Hurricane warning!



How much rain? Linear equations

Rates of population change

Perpendicular bisectors


Social studies

Exploring elevation with Lewis and Clark (elementary)

Climate (elementary)

USA demographics

M2L1 – The Earth moves

M7L2 – In the eye of the storm



Where does the water go?  (elementary)

Climate (elementary)

Weather forecasting  (elementary)

Seismic events: natural hazards (elementary)

Cracked plates

The Earth moves under our feet

Fluid Earth: winds and currents

Tropical storms

Climate change

For over 25 years, the Esri Schools Program has created or collaborated on a variety of instructional materials.  Perhaps you recognize some of these. Maybe you've even used some of them.



Carl Rogers' Diffusion of Innovations is a theoretical model that describes how ideas (and technologies) can be spread over time in a social system. The innovation, communication channels, time, and a social system are all necessary to spread an idea according to the model. At some point, as an idea continues to diffuse it can reach “critical mass”. People in the social system are described based on their roles as either: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, or laggards. Each group of people have typical actions within the system – from the rate at which they adopt a new technology to how they share that adoption. In this way, each group has strengths and weaknesses that must be planned for. For the interested reader, there are several additional elements (e.g. Moore's Chasm, Maloney's Rule)  to be considered in the model; it is worth an extended read.


 Imagine this curve representing the population of all U.S. school teachers – and the major groups they might fall into with respect to technology adoption.  Historically, our materials have been great at supporting innovative teachers and early adopters of technology. Our materials were great at helping people learn our technology – especially useful for application in project focused learning.  Unfortunately, as many of us know, project based learning is not all that commonplace in U.S. schools.  It takes time, resources, an experienced educator – and sometimes even runs counter to a school’s standards-based priorities. This tends to relegate project based learning to the realm of innovative teachers.


 For this reason, in 2014, we began developing GeoInquiries™ - materials targeting the receptive mainstream (Early Majority) to support the Esri ConnectED Initiative - a part of the Obama White House ConnectED Initiative.  Representing nearly a third of the teaching population, the segment's use of GIS quickly surpassed the use of GIS in project focused applications in the classroom.


Mainstream materials are subject-focused and use GIS to help teachers with day-to-day instructional objectives, supporting a range of classroom technologies, pedagogies, and levels of expertise. These materials are free, fast, and open access.  To understand how these materials support a segment of the community, rotate the diffusion curve 90 degrees counter-clockwise.  In addition to visualizing the mainstream Early Majority, we can also see how Early Adopters and Innovators have commonly used GIS instructionally.   (Click the graphic to enlarge.)



While our mainstream solutions, like GeoInquiries and Mapping Our World directly serve the Early Majority of the receptive mainstream in the teaching community, more advanced users, namely the Early Adopters, tend to blend pre-built content with custom classroom activities, while the Innovators tend to work with local and custom  projects.  Keep in mind, these are generalizations about instructional behavior. They don't describe the whole story of GIS use in classrooms.


Today, we commonly see fifty-thousand web hits a month for these mainstream activities and maps. Moreover, with the release this past summer of three new collections (American Literature, Mathematics, and World History) we now offer mainstream materials for all core disciplinary areas taught in school - with added support in the science and social sciences.

Does it work?  We surveyed teachers six months after a short, regional workshop event last year and found that approximately 50% of teachers are teaching completely from or blended with pre-built materials like GeoInquiries.  A smaller group of Innovators (~18%) continues to blaze forward with customized curricula and local projects and other adaptations.  Ideally, we'd love to see everyone teaching around local project work, but in the meantime, a significant body of educators is now teaching with GIS in the standards-based, mainstream classroom.


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