Fun with GIS 308: Best Bang

2 weeks ago
Esri Regular Contributor
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On May 27, 2014, the White House announced Esri's contribution to US Education, a billion-dollar commitment. Since then, the offering has grown, and coverage has spread globally. So how can a teacher, school, or district get the best bang from this commitment? See what each can do.


For the Teacher:

  • Best bang comes from learning the basics of ArcGIS Online by yourself. Steps 1-9 of Getting Started take about an hour, and many teachers are content with what they know and can do at that point, all without needing a login. Once you have the basics, build capacity by going beyond #9.
  • See the license map to determine if your school or district has the ArcGIS School Bundle. Talk with your department head, tech staff, or administration about who has set this up … or should.

For the School:

  • Best bang comes when students can log in to create, save, and share (even with just their teacher) -- not just "see and use" but actively build knowledge. This requires logins. Clarify who is managing teacher and student accounts -- organizing usernames and privileges following best practices, such as not using personally identifiable information. Ensure there is appropriate knowledge and capacity among staff in case of absences.
  • Teachers in social studies, science, and CTE are the most common users of GIS, but teachers in every subject and grade (even elementary) are doing it. Identify teachers interested in building GIS skills and sharing with colleagues. Who receives and will share info from Esri's freely available publications, enews, blogs, and webinars? Who has used or will engage in Esri's freely available online instruction? Encourage use of groups and hub sites for sharing content with appropriate participants.

For the District:

  • Best bang comes from making logins easy, standardized, centralized, and free of personally identifiable information. This is easiest through single sign-on, but doable with login/password. Within district websites or SSO application panels for students and teachers, set a choice for ArcGIS Online with appropriate icon and name.
  • Eliminate duplication and reduce operational issues by consolidating separate school licenses within a single district. Contact Esri Schools Team ( for guidance.
  • Build community using groups and hub sites, custom roles and privileges, and good metadata (tags, categories, descriptions) about content and people. Encourage sharing across the district: knowledge and skills, opportunities for collaboration, and examples or templates that all can see, celebrate, learn from, and engage.

Are your students getting their share of a billion dollar commitment? You can help them get the best bang, to build knowledge, skills, and a future!


About the Author
** Esri Education Mgr, 1992-today ** Esri T3G staff, 2009-present ** Social Studies teacher, grades 7-12, 1977-1992 (St. Paul, MN) ** NCGE Distinguished Teacher Award 1991, George J Miller Award 2016 ** ** ** ** Only education can save the world.