Using the ArcGIS Exhibit Instant App in Instruction

2 weeks ago
Esri Frequent Contributor
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One of the most popular capabilities with web GIS with educators over the years has been the ability to create a web mapping application that presented content, themes, or locations on the Earth in a series of "frames" or "slides".   Frames doesn't fully describe its capabilities, though, because the advantage of Web GIS has always been that these "frames" or slides are not static, but able to be interacted with.  That is, on each frame or slide, the presenter or user can zoom, pan, click on features for further information, and do additional things with the map.  Some readers of this essay might remember the "presentation" mode that was a part of the classic ArcGIS Online map viewer.   With the advent of the new ArcGIS Online map viewer, that capability lives on in the Exhibit App!  The Exhibit App is part of the set of Instant Apps, so named because you can quickly and efficiently create them right from the ArcGIS Online map interface.  Exhibit allows you to emphasize different aspects of your map and your data on each slide with the available layer and  basemap options. You can turn on and off the visibility of feature layers in your map depending on the intended purpose of the individual slide.  To learn more about the capabilities in this app, see my Esri colleague's essay about it, here.  

A geomorphology exhibit app:  Use my geomorphology-themed exhibit app to explore, teach about, and learn about landforms:  What makes landforms unique and fascinating?  What do they look like on topographic maps and via ground photographs and satellite images?   Landforms connect well both with human geography and with physical geography and Earth sciences.  They affect local and regional weather and climate, and hence, land cover and land use.  They influence river systems and local transportation routes.  The study of landforms touches a core theme in many of the sciences--change over space and time across the Earth.

Use the forward and back arrows to navigate between the slides to learn about each landform featured:  Where is it located, why is it there, how large is it, and is it protected in a park?  How persistent is it over space and time--what did it look like in the past, what will it look like in 1, 5, or 100 years from now?  Do humans modify the landform, and if so, how?  Use the measure tool to determine the length, width, or area of each landform and compare the results to the size of other landforms.  Use the contour lines to determine the height of each landform and to calculate slopes.  Use the search tool to search on landforms that are outside of this collection.  You could use the Exhibit app in conjunction with my landforms quiz that uses the Map Actions feature in ArcGIS Online, which I created here and wrote about here.  I used the original "set of 100" core landforms from the USGS to guide me on the choice of landforms and the "classic example" of each; for example, the Cedar Creek Alluvial Fan at Ennis Montana was a natural choice for the alluvial fan landform.   Oh, it is perfect!  Look at that fan shape! 



How did I create this exhibit instant app?  To support the above landforms quiz, I had created this web map in ArcGIS Online with a set of landforms.  I used the USA Topo basemap throughout the map, because the USGS topographic maps are perfect for a landforms focus.  Each landform in my map already had its own bookmark.  Creating the exhibit app was as easy as going to the left side of the map, selecting Create App, and selecting the Exhibit App.  My bookmarks were converted all at once to 27 "frames" or "slides" in the Instant App.  Sweet!  When you create any of the apps, you are asked to customize your final experience in a series of steps, which I did, adding things like measure and search tools, a home button, and a front screen showing a few instructions that I typed in.  You can always modify these settings later. 

Then I added popups to each of the landforms with explanatory text and an image.  I made sure that I cited my sources and used public domain or creative commons images, just as I advise students to do.  Because landforms don't just stand alone, that human impact on the landscape also matters, I included 4 land survey locations at the end of the landforms exhibit app, showing the public land survey system, metes and bounds, long lots, and land grants.  Again, ArcGIS Online and the USGS topographic basemaps were perfect to illustrate the differences in these land survey systems. 

Once done, I tested and shared my Exhibit app with everyone.  The Exhibit Instant App lets you page through each slide one at a time, or with one touch, play through all of the frames.  You can also reorder your slides and apply transitions, giving you some of the capabilities you have with PowerPoint, for example, but with much more interactivity and potential engagement by students. 

I created the landforms Exhibit Instant App as a springboard for additional ideas.  How could you use this exhibit app to teach and learn about landforms in your own region?  How could you use this exhibit app to teach about other topics and areas?  For example, you could use the exhibit app to teach about different types of land cover, ecoregions, climate zones, specific cities or regions of the world, demographic characteristics in your own city by neighborhood, or much more.  I am already planning to use this in an urban geography course that I teach to illustrate the differences in urban forms and how urban areas evolved particularly with the advent of streetcars and the automobile. 

You could also ask students to create an exhibit app as a communications tool for their own research topics.  In this way, the exhibit app becomes not only a presentation tool, but an assessment tool for you as their instructor to evaluate student research and an communications tool for the students.  You can use the Exhibit app with time-aware bookmarks and with 3D maps as well. 

A fossil sites Exhibit App in England:  My colleague here at Esri created this fascinating exhibit app of fossil sites in England.  This app makes use of map notes.  This app includes the Lyme Regis coastal site where Mary Anning found the first ichthyosaur fossil as a young person.  So, you could read that story, well told in one of my all-time favorite books, Stone Girl Bone Girl, to your students as they explore the app. 

I look forward to hearing how you are using this app in your teaching and learning. 


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.