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On the Map with Cailen Langille

July’s On the Map features Cailen Langille, a high school teacher who’s helping students build relevant technology skills and experience through the Technology Advantage Program (TAP) in Nova Scotia.

Cailen Langille is this month’s On the Map educator. She’s the Project Lead for the Technology Advantage Program (TAP) at a high school in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. As described on the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development website, TAP is a program “that connects Nova Scotia’s education system and various technology focused industries. It supports students in developing and modelling the skills and competencies needed to excel in their education, preparing them for a career in the technology sector.”

This pilot program began in the 2019/2020 school year and is available at three high schools in Nova Scotia. In the end, students will earn a high school diploma and a two-year technology diploma from the Nova Scotia Community College at no cost to the students when they complete the program.

We recently met Cailen at a virtual workshop facilitated through Nova Scotia’s Department of Education and we are excited to share her story!

A woman sitting on a horse, smiling.

Cailen has an adventurous spirit at work and in her life. Here she is getting ready to hike Nea Kameni, in Santorini, Greece.

Tell us more about the TAP program

With career exploration and technology integration at its foundation, TAP combines unique classroom learning with experiential learning, including opportunities for mentorships, internships, and placements in co-operative education. This program is preparing our students to attend the Nova Scotia Community College, entering careers such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS), IT data analytics, database administration, programming, and web development. Students spend six years total in the program, completing Grades 9 through 12 as a cohort, before entering college.

Tell us how your students used ArcGIS this year

This past semester, two of my Grade 11 students got to complete a co-operative education placement with the GIS technician at our local town hall. Using technology to solve problems has been a focus of the TAP program. This provided a perfect opportunity for them to put their skills to good use, while helping our local community.

The students were tasked with creating a site of local attractions for their demographic using ArcGIS Online. A lot of information exists for older generations, but the Economic Development Officer was interested in helping younger people connect, whether they moved from a neighbouring county or to a different country.

A male student sitting from of his laptop, working.

A TAP student working on the co-op project with the local town hall.

Other than geography/geology, my background (and passion) is mathematics. My class spent a lot of time learning best practices for statistical methods. The data gathered for this project was mostly qualitative, speaking to their peers about what information/attractions, etc. to include. The GIS technician they worked with provided them with all the existing maps and data used by the town. 

A male student working on his laptop.

 A TAP student working on the co-op project that included using ArcGIS Online to present data and maps.

What were some geographic / spatial thinking concepts your students gained in this activity?

My students were able to approach the problem they were given through the geographic inquiry process, asking questions, acquiring resources, exploring data, analyzing information, and acting on their knowledge. This gave them a framework to follow, and this helped them to develop their solution, from a geographic perspective.

As they worked through their project, they gained an appreciation for the interrelationships between people, place, and the environment. My students also learned the importance of gathering data using sound practices and how crucial it is to interpret and display data in a meaningful, and truthful manner.

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

Before deciding on education as my career path, I studied geography and geology. I was particularly interested in cartography, as it allowed for spatial information to be displayed in so many creatively visual ways. Of course, this led to ArcGIS Online.

At first, I was taken by just how much potential the program had as a teaching and learning tool in education, and how it enhanced my ability to represent relevant data. Back then, my focus ranged from a local level, studying the geomorphology of barrier beaches and the presence of radon gas in Nova Scotia, to a global level, examining the dispersion of active volcanoes in the Mediterranean. I am excited to be able to now share this tool with my students. The features and functionality have grown significantly, and I am excited to be learning along with my students.

What is planned for the next project/activity?

Next year, a new course called the Global Sustainable Solutions will be introduced to my cohort of grade 12 students. This course examines contemporary issues through geography and geomatics, considering sustainable solutions, explored through four main themes: Sense of Place, Security and Sustainability, Sustainable Populations, and Sustainable Communities.

I plan to begin the course by exploring the sense of place through ArcGIS StoryMaps. Through our partnership with the Town of Yarmouth, we would also like to participate in a Smart Cities Challenge. ArcGIS will play a major role in sharing the data we gather, regardless of the focus determined by my class.

Using ArcGIS will allow my students to work through their geographic inquiries using professional tools, producing impressive results. As they prepare to graduate high school, I hope that they gain an appreciation for potential career paths in this field.

Cailen, thank you for sharing your work with us and we hope the TAP program will encourage more students to go into the field of GIS. Perhaps they will be future Esri Canada employees!

New to ArcGIS Online?

If you are new to ArcGIS Online, educators can request an account for themselves and their students at

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

Using ArcGIS Online and want to learn more?

Discover Story Maps
Creating ArcGIS Dashboards

This post was translated to French and can be viewed here.


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