Free access to digital mapping for Longford schools

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Digital Mapping for schools

Aideen Croasdell, ArcGIS for Schools Programme Team, Esri Ireland; and Joanne McLaughlin, ArcGIS for Schools Sponsor, Esri Ireland.

Up to 9,000 students in over 40 schools in Longford will have free access to Esri’s digital mapping platform, ‘ArcGIS Online’.

On Thursday last, November 1, Esri Ireland, the market leader in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), announced the launch of ArcGIS for Schools, making €500 million worth of digital mapping software available to every primary and secondary school in the country.

The platform allows students to collect, analyse and visualise data on a wide range of topics.

As well as teaching the skills and techniques required for working with GIS, the application enables new ways to study climate change, design cities and towns, explore demographics, understand history, predict future scenarios, and perform many other cross-disciplinary activities.

The cloud-based application is accessible through any device connected to the internet including school computers, tablets and students’ smartphones, allowing pupils to collect their own data in the field.

Interactive project-based experience with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) supports STEM learning for students, and ties in well with the recent announcement of computer science as a Leaving Certificate subject.

The initiative has been rolled out by Esri in other countries across the world, including the UK, Canada, the US, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Australia, and New Zealand.

Students are applying the technology in a wide variety of ways and creating impactful GIS projects.

For example, an Australian school recently mapped and developed solutions to alleviate local school traffic congestion.

ArcGIS for Schools is already in use by 12 pilot schools located across Ireland. These include a primary school and gaelscoil, and at a junior cycle, senior cycle and transition year level.

The programme fits well with the Department of Education and Skills ambition to bring the Irish education system further along the path to being the best in Europe at embedding digital technology in teaching, learning and assessment by 2026, as laid down in the 2018 Digital Strategy Action Plan.