Learning Plans for You and by You

Esri learning plans have evolved into an open tool that you can use to chart a course of study that will lead to the mastery of an aspect of GIS that you define.

Initially, learning plans were a set of learning resources on a focused topic designed to accomplish defined learning goals. These learning plans were (and still are) created by Esri’s team of curriculum specialists. In addition to these plans, you can now create your own learning plan.

If you have an Esri account, you can go to the Esri Academy website and create a learning plan tailored to your professional needs or personal interests. That learning plan can be shared with friends and colleagues, published so others can find and use it, and assigned to others so you can monitor their progress through the plan.

This article describes how you can use these additional capabilities, added at the request of users, to achieve your goals.

Create a Learning Plan

There are two ways to create your own learning plan. You can copy an existing plan and modify it, or you can build a plan from scratch by adding resources from the catalog and/or your wish list.

Suppose you’re a GIS professional who works with ArcGIS Pro and wants to learn how to create Python scripts, but you’ve been putting it off because projects have been coming fast and furious lately. You know scripts will save you time, but you have no idea how to go about learning Python code and syntax. A learning plan can rescue you.

It’s always a good idea to start by exploring what’s already available, so go to the Esri Academy site ( and click the Learning Plans button. Type python in the search box. Although Esri ArcGIS Desktop Professional Certification 10.5 comes up (because the plan includes “Introduction to Geoprocessing Scripts Using Python”), there are no existing plans just on Python.

Go to the Course Catalog ( and search for Python. There are many resources that can help you learn Python scripting, but because you are working with ArcGIS Pro, you can narrow the search results further by clicking the Products drop-down list and choosing ArcGIS Pro.

Now there are fewer results. After viewing the details of each resource, you decide to create a learning plan that includes all of them. To do that, you click the plus sign on the card for one of the items and click Add to Learning Plan. If you aren’t already signed in, the site will ask you to sign in with your Esri account. In the Add to Learning Plan dialog, click Select a Plan, then click Add course to new plan.

Each learning plan must have a title and (optionally) a description. If you publicly share the plan, its title must be unique and it must have a description. The description should provide enough information to help other users understand the plan’s purpose and content so that they decide whether they want to enroll in it.

After adding a title and description, click Create New Plan, then close the dialog box. Click the plus sign on each card and click Add to Learning Plan to add the other four resources to the new plan. Your new learning plan is accessible from your My Learning Plans page.

At any time, you can click the View Courses tab to open a resource and start learning right away. As you work through the resources in the plan, your progress (percent completed) will update. One of the resources has a dashed circle rather than a solid circle next to the resource title because it requires you to self-report its completion. Just click inside the circle after completing it. The Training site tracks completion of instructor-led courses, web courses, training seminars, videos, and massive open online courses (MOOCs) but currently cannot automatically track completions of tutorials, story maps, documents, and teacher resources.

Edit a Learning Plan

Learning plans are intended to be dynamic. Esri constantly adds new resources. As the plan creator, you can add or remove items at any time. Suppose you visit the Course Catalog a week later and see that another Python resource has been added. You can easily add it to your learning plan.
In the Course Catalog, click the resource’s card and choose Add to Learning Plan. Choose your learning plan title in the dialog’s drop-down list. Click Add to Plan, and that’s it. Alternatively, if you know the title, you can add a catalog resource directly from your learning plan by clicking the Edit Plan tab. Start typing the title of the resource in the box under Add Courses and click the title of the resource you want to add when it appears, then click Add to Plan. Click Save Plan.

Share a Learning Plan

After talking with you, a coworker has expressed interest in learning Python too. To help him out, you can share your learning plan just by finding the learning plan on your My Learning Plans page and clicking Share Plan under its title. This will generate a URL for the plan. Using the Share dialog, you can copy and paste it into an email, or share it through Facebook or Twitter using an @ mention with the person’s name.

Assign a Learning Plan

During the six months since you created your Python learning plan, you’ve been promoted and are now a supervisor. Although you no longer perform data management tasks yourself, you want your direct reports to also learn Python so they can realize the same significant time savings you did by scripting tasks. The scripts you created will probably need to be updated at some point, and new ones created.

From your My Learning Plans page, find the plan and click Assign Plan under its title. In the Assign Plan dialog box, insert the email addresses of your direct reports, separated by a space or comma.

You can enter as many email addresses as you want when assigning learning plans. To save time, you can copy/paste email addresses from a text file or from a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet if they are stored in one column with no header row. Add a personal note to the boilerplate email text and preview it before clicking Send Invitation.

Your direct reports will receive this email from with a link to enroll in the plan. After clicking the link, they will need to log in with their Esri account and accept the terms acknowledging that you will be able to see the name and email address associated with their Esri account and their plan progress.

To monitor your reports’ progress in the learning plan, locate the plan on your My Learning Plans page and click the View Assignments tab below the title.

Not Accepted in the Status column indicates a person has not clicked the link in the invitation email. You can resend the email if needed. When enrollees start working through the learning plan, you will see their progress through each resource and the date each resource was completed.

Plan for Success

It’s easy to customize learning plans for your own professional development, share custom learning plans with others, and assign learning plans to others in your organization to increase their geospatial skills and knowledge.

About the author

Suzanne Boden is the training marketing manager at Esri, where she champions the value of lifelong learning and the people and organizations that apply GIS to accomplish big goals. When not working, she’s practicing sustainable gardening in Southern California.