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On the Map with Canadian Geographic Education

Canadian Geographic Education is this month’s On the Map featured partner. Let’s find out how they are using ArcGIS to enhance the resources they create for their education program.

April’s On the Map highlights Canadian Geographic Education’s (CGE) use of ArcGIS in the resources they create. CGE is the educational committee of The Royal Canadian Geographical Society (RCGS). Their goal is to elevate geographic education in Canada through the development of engaging bilingual K-12 resources that cover a variety of topics that are tied to curricula across the country.

At our recent Esri Canada GIS in Education and Research Conference, the K-12 group joined forces with a couple of education partners to facilitate workshops. Eric Nadeau from RCGS facilitated the English ArcGIS StoryMaps session with Esri Canada. His role as an Education Program Coordinator at RCGS is to develop and implement a variety of educational programs and learning resources.

After the successful in-person workshop, we thought it would be great to feature some of the resources the group created with the use of ArcGIS to support learning in K-12 education. Let’s find out more about their work.

A man and woman smiling at each other while standing in front of a large screen displaying a satellite map.

Eric Nadeau (Education Program Coordinator) and Michelle Chaput (Director of Education) from Canadian Geographic Education (Photo credit: Tanya Kirnishni)

Tell us about the recent projects at CGE that utilised ArcGIS

ArcGIS was used in our #ExploreCan program, where we connect classrooms virtually with explorers, researchers, and knowledge keepers as they share stories of science, art, history, and culture in Canada. ArcGIS maps and story maps on relevant themes are created as complementary learning resources for these virtual events.

We created an ArcGIS Hub to organise and share our collection of story maps, learning activities, and recordings from past ExploreCan virtual events, making it easier for educators to find and utilise these resources.

We also love to make use of ArcGIS Survey123 during our in-house educator workshops that we offer at our headquarters, Canada's Centre for Geography and Exploration, located at 50 Sussex Drive in Ottawa. Survey123 is a powerful tool that facilitates outdoor fieldwork and data collection, and it's great for experienced educators and educators who have never used this type of application before. One of our favourite exercises involves surveying the diversity of trees in our neighbourhood!

Why did you use ArcGIS for these projects?

We've found ArcGIS StoryMaps to be a great learning tool for a number of reasons. Their narrative-based presentation style helps us to contextualise topics in an effective way and increase student engagement using their wide range of interactive features and multimedia capabilities. The format also allows for self-guided learning, as we're able to give students opportunities to further explore specific topics of interest. And of course, our particular focus is on geography education, so being able to easily integrate maps into a story design for geographical context or to spatially orient a reader in a narrative, really make story maps an invaluable tool for us. 

We've also enjoyed ArcGIS Hub and Survey123 for their ease-of-use and functionality. Survey123 in particular has been a very effective tool for educators and students partaking in data collection, allowing them to easily interpret and share their results.

A screenshot of the ExploreCan program.

#ExploreCan is a program created by CGE in partnership with Exploring by the Seat of Your Pants and Canadian Heritage.

Why do you think ArcGIS is a valuable tool for teaching and learning?

In general, ArcGIS tools have allowed us to promote the acquisition of skills and competencies that are fundamental to geography education, ensuring that students are better prepared to face global challenges and become effective change agents. Tools like the ArcGIS Online, StoryMaps and Survey123 can help inspire curiosity and exploration both inside and outside the classroom, while encouraging students to develop their spatial and critical thinking skills and make important connections to their own communities. In addition, the fact that these tools have so many features which are all very easy to use and integrate with each other allows for a wide range of applications and differentiated learning opportunities.

What’s next? Any new projects/activities in the horizon in 2023

We are very excited for a new year of our Cross-Canada Virtual Road Trip program, which started at the end of March! In partnership with Parks Canada and Exploring by the Seat of Your Pants, this program offers the opportunity for elementary school classrooms in Canada to hear from experts, scientists and park rangers working in Canada’s national parks and historic sites.

We also have an upcoming project with our Trebek Initiative Grantee and glaciovolcanic cave explorer, Christian Stenner, who is researching the caves below Mount Meager in British Columbia, Canada’s only currently active volcano. We are planning to use ArcGIS Online and StoryMaps, for both of these projects as supplemental learning resources for students.

We wish Eric the best in his new ArcGIS endeavors, and we look forward to working with him and the CGE team again. Connect with them on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter using @CanGeoEdu. Check out more of their work on the Esri Canada Partners in Education page.

A screenshot of partners from the Partners Hub.

Esri Canada’s Partners in Education page allows you to explore content including resources that partners have created for the K-12 education audience.

New to ArcGIS Online?

If you are a K-12 educator new to ArcGIS Online, you can request an account for yourself and your students at
Explore the Esri Canada K-12 Resource Finder to find other resources for your class.

Check out the following beginner resources to get started with ArcGIS Online:

For Educators - Let’s get started with ArcGIS Online
Explore the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

For Students – Enroute with ArcGIS Online

Want to learn more?

Discover Story Maps
Creating ArcGIS Dashboard

About the Author

Angela Alexander is a K-12 Education Specialist in the Esri Canada Education and Research group. She has over 15 years of experience working with educators across Canada. Angela focuses on producing geographic information system (GIS) and curriculum-specific resources, and conducting and creating custom workshops for educators. She manages the GIS Ambassador Program and is the Technical Chair for the annual Skills Ontario GIS competition. Angela also writes monthly posts for the Esri Canada Education and Research blog, highlighting K-12 educators and partners, new ArcGIS resources and GIS-related events.

Profile Photo of Angela Alexander