BOX 8.3

ArcVoyager was created by the K–12 Education Group at ESRI in the mid-1990s, at a time when many teachers had little or no experience with computers. The ArcVoyager software program ( is an application of ArcView GIS. Literally, it is a stripped-down version of the industrial-strength ArcView. It is customized in terms of its functionality to give novice users a graduated experience with some of the capabilities of GIS. Consisting of four ramped levels, ArcVoyager takes users from a simple beginner interface called “Exploring Key Concepts: Teach Me” to a fully functional GIS program called “Creating New Worlds: Turn Me Loose.” The program interface and its GIS functionality become gradually more complex as students move through the four levels, allowing learners the opportunity to increase their mastery and comfort level before progressing to the next level.

ArcVoyager’s levels differ in terms of the number of buttons or options as well as the freedom users have to see maps versus create their own maps.

  • Level 1. “Exploring Key Concepts: Teach Me” is a hyperlinked help file. It offers no capacity for starting projects. It introduces people to geographic concepts, GIS concepts, and data and computer issues through a hotlinked progression of text and images. It is a text that also allows users to practice or demonstrate mouse skills.

  • Level 2. “Viewing World Snapshots: Show Me” is an ArcView project with a heavily customized interface, which has a few buttons, a few tools, a few menus, and 20 layers of world-level data classified and symbolized in an unchangeable manner. At this level, visualization and identification are possible, but analysis is not possible at least on screen.

  • Level 3. “Designing Global Adventures: Point Me” has more tools, buttons, menus, and data than Level 2. It also has an open-ended ability to add data sets. The preexisting data sets provide starting points for exploration, analysis, and presentations at world and regional scales.

  • Level 4. “Creating New Worlds: Turn Me Loose” has the same interface as Level 3 but with no starting data. Users are on their own to create their own maps from scratch (Figure 8.7).

FIGURE 8.7 A screen display from a user-built map generated from Level 4 of ArcVoyager. The user has chosen to display the world data in an orthographic view, centered on 10 degrees north and 160 degrees west; earthquakes have been brought in as a text file and classified and symbolized.

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