1. Web-based interactive mapping has grown rapidly, giving teachers and students experience with (a) maps in general, (b) dynamic maps instead of static ones, (c) controlling the design and content of the map, and (d) access to more data of interest. On both Windows and Macintosh, with just a current web browser (preferably Java-enabled, though many work even on simple HTML browsers), teachers and students can examine an array of content from a global to a local level.

  2. ArcExplorer Java Edition for Education (AEJEE) is a downloadable, lightweight GIS package for Windows and MacOSX computers (Figure 9.1). As a free tool, it can be installed at school and at home, making it easier for students and teachers to expand their GIS tinkering time. At first glance, it provides a modest set of capacities through a modest set of three toolbars with 20 tools in order to reduce confusion. Yet advanced users can accomplish surprisingly sophisticated analyses by combining the tools’ powers creatively. AEJEE can use data delivered over the Internet via ArcIMS sites. AEJEE projects can also be saved and shared, unlike creations with ArcVoyager Special Edition (ESRI’s previous free tool, with a runtime version of ArcView 3).

  3. ArcView 9 allows users to integrate appropriately documented geographic data that are stored in multiple coordinate systems. ArcView 3 was able to project, on the fly, decimal degree vector data (raster could not be projected). However, ArcView 9 can project, on the fly, both vector and raster data and integrate multiple data sets stored in any coordinate system, as long as the data contain appropriate projection information. This feature alone is enough to make some teachers shift to ArcView 9 because it facilitates data integration. Such integration is not foolproof, because the software cannot perform the projection “magic” if the data do not include projection information, but the software does warn users if they try to integrate data lacking the critical information. Creating the all-important projection information file, for vector and raster data, is easy with ArcToolbox, once the user knows the simple procedure and knows the information for a given data set.

FIGURE 9.1 The U.S. map, showing average annual precipitation superimposed on county and state boundaries, is based on a built-in project in ESRI’s ArcExplorer Java Edition for Education.

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