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November's GIS Ambassador: Darryl Scott

This month's GIS Ambassador is Darryl Scott, a teacher at Huntsville High School in Ontario.  Find out how this educator has integrated ArcGIS into his classes and what he's doing to inspire teachers to learn GIS.

November's GIS Ambassador is Darryl Scott, a teacher at Huntsville High School in Ontario who's been using geographic information systems (GIS) for more than 10 years now. He's an active member of the Ontario Association of Geographic and Environmental Educators (OAGEE), where he wears a few hats – as a resource developer and a professional development instructor.  Last month, Darryl facilitated a workshop on "The Concepts of Geographic Thinking: OAGEE Strategies and Resources" at the annual Fall OAGEE conference.

A man with glasses smiling in front of a map of Canada.

We have had the pleasure of knowing Darryl for many years. His passion for geography and GIS is infectious.

We recently caught up with Darryl to find out what he's been up to with ArcGIS, both in and out of the classroom. As always, he's been busy sharing his GIS and geography knowledge with others.

What courses/grades are you teaching this year?

I teach grade 9 Geography, grade 11 Forces of Nature and grade 12 Earth and Space Science.

Tell us about how you use ArcGIS Online in your teaching and for student learning

I use ArcGIS Online in both my geography and science courses. For example, in my Earth and Space Science class, I use it to map and analyze asteroid impact events. I also use it to analyze the role of plate tectonics in evolution through geologic time in my web maps.

Recently, my grade 11 students completed a project on where to build a hospital in Muskoka, Ontario. I wanted them to look at a real issue in the region. This has been a hot topic for many years since stakeholders in the area have different views on where to put a hospital.  

The students used ArcGIS Online analysis tools to make an unbiased decision. First, they created drive-time areas to develop ambulance response time maps for possible hospital sites. Then, they enriched the sites to understand the population characteristics in the area.

By using ArcGIS Online, students were able to analyze data based on their criteria, and they gained the data-based insights needed for choosing an optimal location for a hospital.

In the process, students applied GIS in making real-world decisions. Their findings were then shared with the community to highlight meaningful conclusions. I love the authenticity of collecting "actionable data," and this project is a great example of that.

Have you trained teachers in using ArcGIS?

Yes, I have delivered board-wide professional development for geography teachers across Trillium Lakelands District School Board that focused on using spatial data and GIS to teach geography.  I facilitated sessions on getting started with ArcGIS Online, creating geographic datasets, collecting GIS data using GPS receivers, Survey 123, intro to Quick Capture app, and how to use GIS to visualize the concepts of geographic thinking.

This month, I will be working with geography teachers from the Thames Valley District School Board. The goal is to help them build new skills in ArcGIS Online.

Why do you find GIS a valuable tool for teaching and student learning?

I value the use of GIS in my classroom because it is a fantastic tool for building critical thinking skills. It offers the opportunity for authentic real-life problem solving, and there's no better tool available for visualizing the concepts we explore as geography educators. 

I believe that using GIS to teach geography will keep the course relevant in an economy that's reliant on digital skills. Esri technology enables the subject of geography to become the "Science of Where!"

What are some upcoming projects/plans you have in the near future?

My plan is to find new opportunities for my students to apply their GIS skills to solve community problems. The idea of applying the power of ArcGIS and other Esri applications to conduct citizen science intrigues me.  As an active member of OAGEE, I look forward to working with other geography teachers from around the province to build new GIS resources for all geography teachers to use.

Thank you, Darryl, for inspiring fellow teachers to use ArcGIS. We look forward to hearing about the new projects you will be starting in the new year.

New to ArcGIS Online?

If you are new to ArcGIS Online, educators can request an account at

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

For Educators - Let's get started with ArcGIS Online

For Students – Enroute with ArcGIS Online

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