New Course Takes You to the Analytics Frontier

01-15-2020 04:02 PM
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Why is it that a new year combined with a new decade somehow quadruples the sense that new possibilities for “living your best life” have opened up? If living your best life involves growing professionally or seizing opportunities to feed your curiosity, you may be interested in our new, no-cost MOOC (massive open online course), which starts February 26 and runs for six weeks.

Spatial Data Science: The New Frontier in Analytics introduces a term that may be new to some. Most people are familiar with “data science,” not as many with “spatial data science.” If you’re wondering if this is just a new term for spatial analysis, the answer is, “Spatial data science includes spatial analysis, AND it’s much more than that."

Spatial data science refers to the application of spatial data, analysis techniques, and methods that account for spatial properties, like shape, distance, area, and direction. Spatial data science also incorporates Tobler’s Law, something GIS professionals know like the back of their hand, and (simplified) states: “Things that are close to one another are more related than things that are farther apart.”

When you’re analyzing massive amounts of data, taking a spatial approach often reveals patterns that aren’t obvious with nonspatial approaches. Visualizing these patterns on a map often raises questions that spark further analysis, which leads to more insight.

Spatial data science also incorporates things like machine learning models, scripting, and statistics. Most importantly, like data science, spatial data science helps analysts solve problems and make predictions that may lead to breakthroughs on some of our toughest challenges related to the environment, human health, and more.

If you've never participated in an Esri MOOC before, know that they're a hybrid learning model—they contain elements of e-Learning and instructor-led training.

Like e-Learning, MOOCs are self-paced. But like an instructor-led class, they have a defined duration (in this case, six weeks). A new section opens each week, but there are no formal class times—the logistics of holding a set class time would be difficult considering the number of times zones involved in a MOOC. Participants are literally all over the map.

You attend the course when it’s convenient for you. If you want to pull an all-nighter and complete every section on the last day the course is open, you can (though we don’t recommend it). Based on six years of offering MOOCs, participants tend to be more successful when they complete each section during its opening week (or at least start the section).

In the discussion forums, participants can interact and learn together in real time if they choose, just like in an instructor-led class. Sharing questions, ideas, and solutions is a key part of the MOOC experience.

Course videos are recordings but you’ll see Esri experts discussing topics, having real conversations, and sharing valuable information—also just like an instructor-led class.

Participants get free access to ArcGIS software products for use in the course, including ArcGIS Pro. This is cool because not only do you get to try out some of the latest and greatest tech, you get to apply the software in the context of guided exercises—no need to figure out how to get started or which tool does what.

Instead, you’ll be introduced to realistic scenarios and stepped through the workflows to solve a problem. If you’re someone who prefers learning without a lot of hand-holding, there will be opportunities to challenge yourself by extending an analysis or performing a similar analysis on your own.

  • Note: We provide the software licenses, but participants need to download the software and run it on a machine that meets ArcGIS Pro system requirements.

If the new year finds you wanting to expand your professional horizons and explore new technology possibilities, join us and see for yourself what spatial data science is all about. View course details and register at

Oh, and MOOCs have one more similarity to an instructor-led class: completing all course content earns you a certificate of completion from Esri.

About the Author
Suzanne is a Maryland native who enjoys writing about Esri technology and other topics. She is the Training Marketing Manager with Esri Training Services in Redlands, California.