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ArcGIS Online Challenge (learning path)

Explore potential uses of ArcGIS Online in your research and teaching at Ohio State

Learning Objectives

Module 1 provides an introduction to GIS (geographic information systems) as an enabling technology and web maps as a medium for communicating geographic information.


Through completing this module, you will:

  1. Identify potential uses and benefits of GIS generally and web GIS specifically
  2. Describe the functions of layers, web maps, and apps, and the relationship between them in ArcGIS Online
  3. Create a web map using the ArcGIS Online Map Viewer


1. Watch Joseph Kerski, geographer and Esri education manager, discuss the "whys of where" in this engaging TEDx Talk (English CC available; est. 10 min.).



2. Read Chapter 1 of The ArcGIS Book titled "GIS Provides a Common Visual Language" (pages 1-14). This chapter covers some key points about web GIS and provides an introduction to how different types of information items - layers, maps, and apps - are related to each other in ArcGIS Online.



1. As an Ohio State affiliate, you are eligible to create an ArcGIS Online organizational account, which is required for completing the various activities included throughout this learning path. Your ArcGIS Online organizational account can be accessed using your Ohio State name.# and password, and the account is created for you the first time you sign in. To create your ArcGIS Online organizational account (or sign in if you already have one), follow the instructions below (est. < 5 min.).


ArcGIS Online log in page showing The Ohio State University option
  • Log in using your Ohio State credentials.
Ohio State shibboleth log in page


2. With your new ArcGIS Online organizational account, you will complete a short lesson using Map Viewer to make a web map by adding and styling layers and configuring pop-ups.


Note: Hosted feature layers must have unique names within Ohio State's ArcGIS Online organization. To ensure the layers you create have a unique name, we encourage you to add your Ohio State name.# to the end of the layer names provided in the instructions for the activity below.


  • Map the Highest Mountains (est. 40 min.)
    • A web map you create in ArcGIS Online is an interactive map that displays geographic information to tell stories and answer questions. In this lesson, you'll create an interactive web map about the five highest mountains in the world. First, you'll create a feature layer from a .csv file and after adding the feature layer to your web map, you will customize pop-ups containing key information, links, and a photo of the mountain. (Credit: This tutorial was originally developed by Esri's Learn Team.)

Brainstorming Questions

Think about the following questions before moving on to Module 2, and reflect on how you might transfer what you are learning to your own work.


  1. In the context of your own research or teaching, what value could geospatial data, methods, or tools add for addressing your topic? In other words, why does geography matter?
  2. Could a web map be an appropriate format for conveying information about your topic? What would be the purpose of the web map, and who would be your audience?

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