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Digital Pedagogy: ARCGIS

A review of tools, platforms, and possibilities for the OER Project at Brooklyn College

ArcGIS at Brooklyn College

Brooklyn College currently has a trial subscription to ArcGIS, a proprietary GIS mapping software and web application, for the online and the desktop versions. To download the software to your personal computer, you must first activate your Esri account. To do this, get in touch with Mo Ching Li (ITS).



Tutorials: ArcGIS

User Review: ArcGIS

Platforms: Desktop: Windows, ArcGISOnline

  • Starting: ArcGIS for Desktop had 3 software interfaces: ArcMap, ArcGlobe, and ArcScene. Dowloading and Installing were straightforward, once I was able to get my Esri account: as with QGIS, there are hundreds of strange buttons and frames.
  • ArcGIS loads previous projects and shows you a selection to choose from on load. This makes the load time very slow
  • ArcMaps has several map templates to choose from. ArcGlobe only one. 
  • There is an option to “Search” for your data from you local file server, which makes finding data extremely easy.
  • Adding new data (not through the browser) can be confusing initially and a little technical due to having to “set” the folders you want to access data from.
  • There are many symbology options to style maps. ArcGIS uses fonts as its base for many of its symbols, and there are few options for where layers conflict or using your own created symbols.
  • Map production is simple with ArcGIS and utilizes the map frame to display the map output. Creating templates and defining boxes and labels is very easy and intuitive. Again, as with other areas of the ArcGIS system, options are hidden behind other options which are behind further options, which can be confusing for the uninitiated, but once used for a few weeks are quite logical.
  • From a more technical standpoint, ArcGIS has a strong coordinate system interface. When using conflicting datum there are clear questions raised over how this should be dealt with through use of drop-downs with options for transformations. Furthermore, at any time you can select a layer or map frame to see detail on the coordinate system being used. Where the necessary coordinate system isn’t available or where some customization is required, the interface for adjusting the datum is very simple to even the novice, with further options to set favorite coordinate systems or frequently used coordinate systems.
  • Database Functionality: ArcGIS has excellent table and join and database functionality. This can also be technical, and perhaps would require a class or expert help.