Ideas for Hosting Virtual GIS Day Events

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08-07-2020 10:06 AM
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Despite the changes our world has experienced this year, GIS is still here.  In fact, GIS is more important than ever.  The pandemic has raised global awareness of the relevance of GIS as a decision making toolset that enables people to build healthy communities, resilient cities, and a more sustainable planet.  Thus, GIS can be justifiably celebrated as never before, as an essential technology for applying geography and spatial thinking.  One of the ways to celebrate GIS is through hosting a GIS Day event. View the essay below and this video for ideas on how to do exactly that. 

GIS Day banner.

Since 1999, GIS Day has served as a way to help others learn about geography and the real-world applications of GIS that are making a difference in our society. It's a chance for you to share your accomplishments and inspire others to discover and use GIS.  This year, GIS Day will be held on Wednesday 18 November 2020, although you can certainly choose another day to celebrate what your organization is doing with GIS.  

Realizing that many GIS Day events will occur online this year, how can your government agency, school, university, company, or nonprofit organization host such an event?  Whether you Zoom, Skype, Facebook, YouTube Live Stream, Google Hangout, Adobe Connect, GoToWebinar, or use another method, see below for a selected list of resources and ideas.  

If the high attendance figures for online GIS-based conferences over these past 6 months are any indication, your audience this year for GIS Day could be much larger than in face-to-face-only events of the past. Use this opportunity to go big!  Think creatively about how to highlight the good people in your organization, how you use GIS, and the positive difference it is making to your community, and hence why it will matter to your audience. 

Consider using engaging tools such as ArcGIS Hub, the ArcGIS Experience Builder, or a story maps collection as the front page for your event!

Teach a hands-on workshop!  Focus on a tool that you are excited about, or perhaps a data set that your organization is proud to have created.  Need additional ideas?  Try this GIS Day story map.   Show off some of your favorite maps in the ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World.  The Mapping Hour is a series of hour-long videos that you could use as is, or for ideas on tools and approaches to teach and instructional guidelines.  Each Mapping Hour video focuses on how to use an aspect of the ArcGIS platform, such as Survey123 or ArcGIS Online, in teaching and learning.  GeoInquiries and Learn ArcGIS lessons provide additional content.  

See these stories here and here that I compiled from a few of the 1,500 GIS Day events held last year all over the world to discover what people have done to make this day extra "spatial".

Make it interactive!  Create a map-based quiz, or use the existing ones that I created such as Name That Place, Sounds of Planet Earth, or Weird Earth.  I created each of these using the capabilities of ArcGIS Online, such as the presentation mode.  Some are in story map form, such as this Wyoming Map Quiz.  Try this fun and engaging collection of Treasure Hunts.   You could even use Kahoot or another fun online quiz format in conjunction with maps and images. 

Show this new Pioneers of Geography and GIS Treasure Hunt quiz.   Solve a series of 20 questions--each focuses on a geography or GIS pioneer and hints at a location somewhere in the world where the pioneer was born or worked.  To answer the question, frame the solution within the viewfinder using the map's pan/zoom functions.  You could use it for an icebreaker, a contest, or as a fun break in between longer presentations. 

GIS Day pioneers quiz.

GIS Day pioneers of geography and GIS treasure hunt quiz.

Put your GIS skills to the test with this new GIS-themed crossword puzzle.   Consider these clues:  16 Across:  A spatial term denoting features that overlay, or ‘cross’ each other.   40 Across:  Type of thematic map in which areas are symbolized in proportion to a variable that represents a summary of a geographic characteristic within each area.  69 Down:  University of Kansas cartographer George, who devised the natural breaks classification.  295 Down:  The standard deviation of the residuals (prediction errors).  How are you doing so far?  Use this crossword in your event as a contest, awarding kudos to the person or team to get the most clues in, say, 5 minutes.   A GIS themed crossword puzzle.

GIS crossword puzzle--hundreds of clues from easy to difficult are included to test your GIS expertise!

The resources pages on the GIS Day site provide additional lessons, posters, videos, and other items you could use.  

Need more inspiration?  OK, how about 101 more ideas including sending a thank-you note to a GIS or geography teacher and producing a GIS Day song.

Once you've gathered your team, and planned what you will do, register your event here.  With your registration, you will receive a software donation (5 ArcGIS for Personal Use licenses to each GIS Day host for you to give away as you see fit), and event support (help with any questions or resources).

If you don't want to host an event, no problem!  You could use the web map to find an event of interest to you, and join that event!

Stay tuned, follow us on Twitter, and visit the GIS Day website often to hear more about opportunities for the global GIS Day community to come together to celebrate GIS Day virtually with Esri this year.

Hosting virtual GIS Day events.

What will you do for your virtual or face-to-face GIS Day event this year?

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About the Author
I believe that spatial thinking can transform education and society through the application of Geographic Information Systems for instruction, research, administration, and policy. I hold 3 degrees in Geography, have served at NOAA, the US Census Bureau, and USGS as a cartographer and geographer, and teach a variety of F2F (Face to Face) (including T3G) and online courses. I have authored a variety of books and textbooks about the environment, STEM, GIS, and education. These include "Interpreting Our World", "Essentials of the Environment", "Tribal GIS", "The GIS Guide to Public Domain Data", "International Perspectives on Teaching and Learning with GIS In Secondary Education", "Spatial Mathematics" and others. I write for 2 blogs, 2 monthly podcasts, and a variety of journals, and have created over 5,000 videos on the Our Earth YouTube channel. Yet, as time passes, the more I realize my own limitations and that this is a lifelong learning endeavor and thus I actively seek mentors and collaborators.