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12 Enhancements to ArcGIS Online Educators Should Know About

ArcGIS Online is a mapping platform that provides users access to data, Web applications and Web maps. Read about the latest ArcGIS Online enhancements and new capabilities that you can incorporate in your classroom in the fall.

This month, ArcGIS Online has been updated with a number of enhancements and features. This will not change any of your current lessons and activities that you have already created using the current ArcGIS Online, but will improve the user experience, make available additional data, and add some really cool new features. Here’s a quick rundown of 12 changes  you’ll discover in ArcGIS Online.

Map Viewer

  • Buttons for commonly used layer actions appear as you hover over the layer, making them easier to find and use. Note: The arrow next to the layer name is no longer present to access the context menu.
  • You can add search results to a map notes layer. When you perform multiple searches, you have the option to add each location to the same layer or create a new layer for each result.
  • Access to layer options is now streamlined. Buttons for common actions, such as change style, show table and perform analysis, appear directly under the layer name along with a button to open the full set of actions for the layer.
  • The sign-in experience is enhanced so you can stay in the map viewer to sign in.
  • The New Map button includes a drop-down list of your recently viewed maps.
  • Smart Mapping
    • You can set the transparency per feature with Counts and Amounts (Size),varying how much transparency is applied to each location based on a numeric attribute value. With polygon layers, you can choose to adjust the size range automatically, providing better visualization at all zoom levels.
    • Polygons can be set to auto-adjust their widths and transparencies to avoid symbol crowding and too-small symbols.

There is no need to click the arrow next to the layer name to access a context menu now. You can access buttons for common actions (change style, show table) directly under the layer name.


  • A new Analysis button is now available at the top of the map viewer to make it easier to find. The original "perform analysis" option is still available from the layer menu.
  • It is easier to discover and add specific Living Atlas layers optimized for analysis to your analysis workflow.
  • You can specify the starting points interactively for Create Viewshed, Create Watershed, and Trace Downstream tools.

ArcGIS Content

  • A new Living Atlas Contributor app is available for nominating maps and apps to the Living Atlas of the World.
  • There is more direct experience for accessing the Living Atlas of the World within the ArcGIS Online website. Within the gallery, Esri Featured Content includes a Living Atlas maps section. The map viewer now has a Browse Living Atlas Layers option for adding layers. This replaces the Browse Esri Map Layers option.
  • The Arctic area basemaps, including Arctic Imagery and Arctic Ocean Basemap, are no longer in beta.

You now have an option to add Living Atlas layers to your map directly from the Add button.

Visit the ArcGIS Online help page to review the complete list of changes and updates to ArcGIS Online, and access help documents, frequently asked questions and a number of other helpful resources. 

To access ArcGIS Online curriculum-focused resources created by the Esri Canada Education and Research group, visit:

About the Author

Angela Alexander is a K-12 Education Resource Developer on the Esri Canada Education and Research team. She has over six years of experience working with educators across Canada. Angela is responsible for producing geographic information system (GIS) and curriculum specific resources, conducting and creating custom workshops for educators and judging and developing the question for the annual GIS Skills Ontario competition in Waterloo, Ontario. Angela has a Bachelor’s degree in Geography and Sociology from the University of Western Ontario and completed the Applied Digital Geography and GIS certificate program at Ryerson University.

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