Higher Education

Elevating GIS Education: Leveraging ArcGIS Hub for University Students and Faculty Support

Lori Delacruz Lewis, assistant director of sustainability for education at Dallas College, created a ArcGIS Hub Intro to GIS Basic Tools for students and faculty. This resource consists of online workshops and tutorials for geographic information system (GIS) technology, aiming to spread GIS in teaching and learning throughout the curriculum in multiple departments.

This educational initiative shows the power of ArcGIS Hub to serve as a one-stop resource. The Dallas College hub site contains videos, learning objectives, lessons, two surveys (powered by ArcGIS Survey123) for learners to take before and after they work through the lessons, and more. In addition, the hub site supports the embedding of maps and apps such as dashboards, interactive maps, and custom apps from the ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World. The Esri education team has worked with Dallas College for many years, particularly the Brookhaven Campus’s geospatial degree and certificate programs, supporting the rigorous use of GIS in teaching and learning through site-visit advisement and online sessions. The team listens to progress and challenges and tells others about their innovations.

The Dallas College system is one of the largest community colleges in Texas. Since 1965, Dallas College has helped almost 3 million people on their educational journey.

Sharing Ideas through ArcGIS Hub

The development of this hub site shows the power of sharing ideas. I sent Lewis a PDF document on recent professional development workshops that I had created for educators . Lewis used some resources in that document as well as her own to create a much more comprehensive and wonderful experience for her community.

To see the difference that ArcGIS Hub can make, first examine the professional development opportunity I outline for educators in a one-page PDF document, a portion of which is shown below.

Section of a PDF supporting a professional development GIS training event.

This type of document is useful for anyone working through a course or in a workshop; it contains links but is a flat and not very engaging document. Compare the image above with the Dallas College hub site

ArcGIS Hub as an Effective Communication Tool

ArcGIS Hub is a cloud-based engagement technology that enables organizations to communicate more effectively with their communities—in this case, helping Dallas College communicate with faculty and students. ArcGIS Hub can be used to aggregate and serve resources and start conversations with internal and public audiences around a specific project, topic, or goal. In this case, the goal was to help the Dallas College community learn about and engage with GIS. Inside and outside educational settings, sites created with ArcGIS Hub have sprung up by the thousands, providing ways for communities to obtain feedback from their residents, for government agencies, nonprofits, and private industry to serve spatial data; and more. The COVID-19 pandemic hastened the adoption of ArcGIS Hub as organizations realized not only the benefits of sharing and collaborating but also the critical need to start doing so, right away. See the ArcGIS Hub gallery for further inspiration.

Lewis said, “ArcGIS Hub was the perfect solution with its drag-and-drop design and built-in interactivity. My goal is to introduce faculty to the many uses of GIS across our curriculum, and I need to engage [the faculty members] in their own time and in their own space. The stresses of teaching from home for 15 months took a huge toll, so I want to create tools that faculty can visit anytime, not just during [another] Teams workshop. It’s become hugely popular, with more than 1,800 visits since it launched in June 2021! On the academic side, we’re hoping to grow our already successful GIS degree and certificate programs, led by our GIS expert, Scott Sires. “

Lewis went on to say, “I’m encouraging faculty to share the hub [site] in their classrooms since we’ll be supporting access to everyone in Dallas College beginning in January 2022. I’m also scheduling a series of student and faculty workshops through our seven campus libraries, utilizing this hub [site] as the launchpad to educate, encourage, and empower Dallas College across our curriculum.”

My colleagues and I used ArcGIS Hub to create the Mapping Hour hub site and serve videos, tutorials, and resources for parents and teachers who wanted to use ArcGIS Online in instruction. In addition to providing interactive and embedded content like Lori Delacruz Lewis’s Dallas College site the Mapping Hour hub site has provided my three teammates and me with a way that we could all collaboratively and quickly create the Mapping Hour content. Equally importantly, the hub site allows us to easily curate the content and keep it current.

How can you get started with ArcGIS Hub? Start with these guidelines and then try a few of these lessons. I invite you to use ArcGIS Hub for your own educational needs to serve as a content tool for courses and workshops—and beyond.

About the author

Joseph Kerski is a geographer with a focus on the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in education. Joseph gave a TED Talk on “The Whys of Where”. He holds 3 degrees in geography and has served as geographer in 4 sectors of society, including government (21 years at NOAA, US Census Bureau, USGS), academia (Penn State, Sinte Gleska University, University of Denver, others), private industry (as Education Manager for Esri for 14 years), and nonprofit organizations (as President of the National Council for Geographic Education, and others). Joseph authored over 75 chapters and articles on GIS, education, and related topics, and visits 30 universities annually. He conducts professional development for educators, writes curricular resources, and speaks in international venues. He has created 5,000 videos, 750 lessons, 1,000 blog essays, a monthly podcast, and authored 8 books, including Spatial Thinking in Environmental Contexts, Interpreting Our World, Essentials of the Environment, Spatial Mathematics, Tribal GIS, International Perspectives on Teaching and Learning, and the GIS Guide to Public Domain Data. He writes for columns such as GeoInspirations for Directions Magazine, Esri GeoNet, and Spatial Reserves. But as a lifelong learner, he feels as though he’s just getting started and thus actively seeks mentors, partnerships, and collaborators.


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