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Sunday, July 22, 2012

I saw a number of presentations during Esri Ed UC that boiled down to “here’s what I did” or “here’s what my organization” did. These are basically case studies. I can think of only one that addressed “what I/we learned” and “what you can learn from me/us.” We need more presentations that take that extra step to reflect on the experience and share those best practices and lessons learned.

There is a small but active group of education researchers with the Esri Education Community. Their interests are all over the map, but there seems to be some agreement the upcoming release of “Road Map” for research will help guide future efforts. Those interested should join the research Google Group.

The final round of the National Geospatial Skill Competition took place during the afternoon. Six presenters from two year degree program gave five minute PowerPoint presentations with the attendees serving as judges. The results have not yet been posted as this post is published. In retrospect, the one missing element in many of the presentations was a story line. (A story line might take a backseat because of the long list of elements that must be included in the presentations.) Perhaps its time for students and professionals alike to consider a narrative structure to their presentations. I’d argue that’s in part what makes the TED talks so good: they tell stories.

I spent some time with a group of 4H students. I asked them to tell me what impressed them over the last two days. One young lady had a ready answer: a session that highlighted the use of GIS in teaching science. Why was that important? She explained that this generation (her generation) is far more visual than the ones before. Presentations that illustrate, for example, a map of a group of scientists traveled was far more memorable than naming their home countries. We then talked about the use of real and historic geodata in video games (Assassin’s Creed III, SSX), how to engage students in subjects that are not their favorites (tackle things that matter to them, like Macs vs. PCs) and what my name and fellow attendee Avram’s names have in common (they’re both Hebrew names). I feel really good about this group becomes the next generation of leaders. I can give them this complement: they live up to Jack Dangermond’s charge to his staff to be interesting and interested. 

by Adena Schutzberg on 07/22 at 08:44 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

While exactly how to implement ArcGIS Online for an organization such as a college is still a bit murky, I have a much clearer sense on the process of taking data from ArcGIS for Desktop and publishing it as a service. I spent an hour and a half in a hands on lab working through a cookbook exercise to publish first a map tile service (pre-rendered tiles to use a background) and then a feature service (actual vectors that have attributes and can be edited). At this time there are the only kinds of services that can be published via ArcGIS Online subscription accounts.

While the process is relatively simple, there is still quite a bit such a user needs to know including the range of scales when the map tiles will be visible, how to correct errors when the service is created, and how to navigate ArcCatalog to access services. I should note that I had a bit of trouble because I’d not touched ArcGIS for some ten years and I’d not touched a Windows machine in about five. Still, once I got the the first service published and learned some vocabulary for the different interface objects in ArcGIS, I was able to get the second service published with relative ease. 

That said, I can see how less experienced GIS users might still get confused about visiting (which says ArcGIS Online on it) to find services of interest and then have to decide to open them in ArcGIS, ArcGIS Explorer (as we did) or Map Viewer. 

Some in my lab had a tough time remembering to change the search tool to search all content, not just Web content, while others tried to add a definition of a web service instead of the web service itself to a map. In short, we found a number of places where we could “mess up” in creating the services and then trying to use them to create simple maps.

by Adena Schutzberg on 07/22 at 08:13 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

The second day of the Ed UC Plenary parallelled the first. Esri staff and community members discussed education issues. Again, I pulled out what I believe were Esri's intended educational objectives.

Continue reading...

by Adena Schutzberg on 07/22 at 12:31 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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