Start GIS’ing!

Where to start? >> Teaser activities for exploring ArcGIS Online with no background, no login required >> Guidance on how to learn to use ArcGIS Online; item#12 expressly for educators >> Guidance for educators in planning usage, at a 50,000 foot level >> Blog: Five Favorite US Maps on ArcGIS Online >> Blog: Five Favorite World Maps on ArcGIS Online >> StoryMaps site: TERRIFIC stories in maps of focused topics (plus templates) >> Atlas Projects: Collection of related maps for visual analysis >> Show anyone why kids should be using these tools

This should stimulate exploring, thinking, and dreaming. As to desktop versus online tools, educators are encouraged to start with ArcGIS Online, and move into ArcGIS Desktop only when either (a) local internet access is too slow for the number of students/stations, or (b) you have a specific project for which the horsepower of ArcGIS Desktop is necessary.



ArcGIS Online:

Anyone may sign up for a Free personal/public account. Secure school ArcGIS online organizational subscriptions for instructional use are available. School administrative subscription discounts are available.       


ArcGIS online tutorials

Teaching with GIS: Introduction to Using GIS in the Classroom (no charge)

Today’s students embrace technology outside the classroom, and, when used effectively, technology is an excellent tool to engage students inside the classroom as well. This course presents strategies for integrating GIS to support instruction, discussion, and extended learning on any topic. You will learn how to create and use GIS maps as a framework for understanding the geographic context of current and historical events and phenomena and exploring issues of interest to your local community. Many practical ideas for GIS activities that enhance student learning and critical thinking skills are shared.

Who Should Attend

  • Elementary through community college educators, curriculum coordinators, and educational technologists.
  • Youth leaders and GIS professionals who work with or mentor educators and students.

Esri K-12 Statewide site license:

An Esri Statewide license provides for Instructional, research and administrative use for a states K-12, and K-12 non formal education organizations. MEDB Women In Technology Project manages the K12 GIS Distribution for Hawai`i.

  • ArcGIS desktop software for instructional, research and administrative
  • ArcGIS Online for Organizations Subscription for instructional use.
  • Community Analyst Online Subscription for instructional use.
  • Business Analyst Online subscription for instructional use.
  • Esri Virtual Campus courses for students, faculty and staff
  • Esri Education User Conference and International User conference registrations.
  • Site license resources:
  • Online Spatial classes for educators and students

Esri Education Community Portal

  • FREE Lesson Plans (ArcLessons and Our World GIS Education – good intro with ready to go lessons
  • Connect with others in education
  • Software & Data
  • Career Development
  • Community Blog
  • Resources: GIS in Stem, eBooks
  • Webinars (Where to start, analyzing, intro and many more)
  • Upcoming Community Events
  • Esri Education Programs
  • Follow us


Esri SpatiaLABS

SpatiaLABS are stand-alone computer lab activities that introduce, develop, and reinforce spatial reasoning and analysis skills. SpatiaLABS use current mapping technology and visualization tools to help students see real-world applications of the concepts and skills they are studying. There are more than 60 topics that motivate, interest, and challenge students. Find sample lessons under Levels of Labs link.

Teacher Professional Development and Partnering opportunities:

  • National Science Teachers Association:
  • National Council for Geographic Education webinars:
  • International Society for Technology in Education:
  • Esri GIS in Instruction – YouTube Video Series
  • 2013 National Youth Science Day Geospatial Experience & webinars:
  • Teacher training, GPS books and more,
  • Loaner GPS units: Check with your state Geographic Alliance or
  • GIS Day:

Additional Curriculum:


Esri Press Books, including complimentary desk copies for teachers.  


Free Esri Virtual Campus Courses through (free classes and access to statewide license annual subscription)


Explore who uses GIS technology:


Penn State Geospatial Revolution video series:

GIS for Education: Teachers, Administrators, Policy Makers & Researchers, Students, Parents Case studies, white papers, & books.

GIS for Community Analysis: demographics, trends,

GIS for Your World: Redistricting, Planning, Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) and more.

GIS for Facilities: Portfolio, Operations, Safety & Security, BIM,

GIS for Transportation: Logistics, School Bus routing, Safe Routes to School &

GIS for Planning: School site location, &

Questions? Send an email to for more information on how to integrate GIS technology into your educational programs.  


GIS links and tips provided by Charlie Fitzpatrick, GIS in Schools Program Manager.