Building a Location for Lifelong Learning
Later this summer, Esri Training will release the next-generation e-learning destination for Esri users and geospatial learners. The website, currently in beta, has been completely redesigned to offer a fresh user experience, complete with an open learning model, more flexible courses, and contemporary learning incentives.
The new training website updates the Virtual Campus, which Esri launched in 1997 to extend geospatial literacy by making GIS education more widely available online. Back then, the World Wide Web was still relatively young, the term "e-learning" was just coming into existence, and the e-learning concept was years away from mass adoption. But the idea quickly proved its merit. Virtual Campus courses have been enormously popular with students, GIS professionals, and Esri customers around the world for almost 20 years.
Today, e-learning is ubiquitous. So while the new Esri Training site builds on the Virtual Campus's legacy of providing timely, high-quality content, it also delivers the convenience, versatility, and variety that contemporary learners value.
Focused Learning Anytime, Anywhere
The ArcGIS platform has introduced GIS technology and geoenabled workflows to a whole new ecosystem of users. Now, GIS professionals can create maps and other authoritative resources and share them in an organizational portal where knowledge workers throughout the organization can discover, use, make, and share maps of their own. The result is geo-enabled insight and better decision-making across the enterprise.
This also means that employees throughout the workforce must keep their skills up to date. But experienced GIS professionals have different learning requirements than geospatial neophytes.
"Esri training offerings have evolved to reflect that we all have different levels of experience and different learning needs and styles," said Patty McGray, director of customer education for Esri Training Services. "There are new learning trends cropping up on a regular basis, and how we get our information today is very different from 20 years ago, or even 10 years ago."
That is why the new Esri Training site lets users freely move from course to course (no access code needed) and learn continuously anytime, anywhere.
"Virtual Campus began with rather large e-learning courses—some as long as 40 hours," continued McGray. "We're moving away from those large courses and building small, focused, just-in-time pieces of training that better reflect the needs of learners."
This will enable people to develop new skills as required.
Curated, Easy-to-Find Content
For organizations deploying the ArcGIS platform, ensuring that their employees acquire the capabilities they need to work efficiently is important. Esri produces a vast amount of educational content designed to help users of all levels be productive with ArcGIS. And with the new Esri Training website, this content will be easy to find and convenient to consume.
The website will centralize content produced by teams across Esri. In addition to Virtual Campus-style courses, the site's initial release will provide direct access to seminars, videos, massive open online courses (MOOCs), educational classroom activities called GeoInquiries, SpatiaLABS, Learn ArcGIS lessons, instructor-led courses, Esri Press books, and Esri Technical Certification resources. The Esri Training catalog is professionally curated, allowing people to quickly find relevant content and start learning without delay.
McGray pointed out that all material is evaluated, vetted for accuracy and relevance, and organized logically. The site contains great search and filtering tools to help learners find and immediately consume the content that is best for them.
"My personal favorite is that Esri Training will have learning plans," said McGray. "Learning plans will provide a clear starting point and path to developing skills and knowledge on a specific topic. We expect learning plans to be a great tool for individuals and for educators who want to recommend them for their students."
Engaging with Lifelong Learners
Changes in technology will continue to shape how we work. Today's students and working professionals must prepare for the workplace of tomorrow, so making a commitment to lifelong learning is key to possessing the sought-after skills of the future.
Esri Training is designed to be a central location for lifelong learning, where users will be able to explore and have fun as they continually grow their geospatial knowledge and technology skills. As the website evolves over time, elements such as gamification, badging, social communities, and personalization will be considered for future releases.
"Research shows that gamification elements can help with learning and motivation," said McGray. "Personalization will also be important. We want to display content that speaks to you as an individual, such as course recommendations."
While Esri Training is a new experience, its core mission is decades old.
"We are a service organization," stated McGray. "We exist solely to enable our users to be successful."
Learn more about the new Esri Training website.