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On the Map with Rob Langston

September’s On the Map features Manitoba teacher and Geographic Literacy award recipient Rob Langston. Find out how he used ArcGIS for a Treaty project that will support the learning of Treaty in Manitoba in K-12 education.

This month’s On the Map features a teacher we have known for over 10 years. Rob Langston is a social studies and geography teacher in Brandon, Manitoba who is always busy doing something with ArcGIS! He inspires and engages his students through interesting projects, and activities where they are required to think critically and conduct analysis of data to understand an issue in their community or in the world.

Rob also supports his students in their goal to be the best ArcGIS users in the province – at the annual Skills Manitoba GIS competition where his students answer a real-world question using ArcGIS in under five hours.

Man wearing glasses, smiling.

Rob received the Alex Trebek Medal for Geographic Literacy in 2018 for his commitment to geographic education. " He combines his passion for geography with a unique skill set, which has made a profound impact on the geographic literacy of his students, colleagues, and the wider educational community in Canada." - The Royal Canadian Geographic Society, Past Award Winners.

We are sharing Rob’s latest work with you in hopes that it will inspire you to start or continue your ArcGIS journey in teaching.

What are you teaching this year? How long have you been using ArcGIS?

I am teaching grade 9 social studies and grade 10 geography at a school in Brandon, Manitoba.  I have been using Esri software for twenty years and have been using ArcGIS for approximately ten years. 

Tell us about the treaty project and how you used ArcGIS to support the work.

I got involved with this project through a fellow educator Connie Wyatt Anderson whom I met through my time serving as the Manitoba Representative on the board of Canadian Geographic Education - the education branch of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society.  I served two terms on the board and Connie was board president at this time.  She went on to work for a treaty organization in Manitoba that has  K-12 education programming. In 2020, Connie reached out to me as the organization was looking for a digital cartographer. I was happy to be get involved in this project!

I used ArcGIS Desktop to create and edit Manitoba treaty territory shapefiles. This involved time-consuming work before the fun part of the project could begin - the story telling!

Why did you think ArcGIS StoryMaps was a good app to use to highlight this project?

It was a perfect app for telling the story of the Treaty Territories in Manitoba.  It allowed me to blend many types of media, to take the viewer virtually to areas of Manitoba that they may have never travelled to. In addition, to learn more about the Treaty Territories across the province, as well as students adding their own story of how they live, play and work on land of Treaty Territories in Manitoba. 

There is a lot of Treaty information on web sites, but the goal of this resources was to allow the land to tell the story of Treaties and for people to realize how they live each day on Treaty Territories.  A lot of the focus was put on using high quality images that were taken by myself and the Treaty organization, making them unique and original. These images, combined with high resolution satellite imagery and other story map elements, such as photo galleries and timelines allowed us to create a high-quality product for educators, K-12 students, and the general public to learn more about their relationship with Treaties in Manitoba. 

A powerful feature of story maps is the ability to add videos.  This has led to another exciting addition to this resource, as it includes a video interview with an Elder from Treaty Four on the History of Fort Ellice and Treaty Four. 

What did you do last school year with ArcGIS? What are your plans this year for using ArcGIS?

Last year I infused ArcGIS into all my classes, as well I taught two geographic information system (GIS) courses that teach students both theory and hands on components to GIS.  The first part of the course uses ArcGIS Desktop and in the second part of the course students begin learning ArcGIS Online.  Students finished the semester by collecting and making maps using ArcGIS Collector – an ArcGIS app to collect data, and then created story maps to tell their own story. 

My teaching load has changed a bit this year, as I am teaching grade 9 social studies and grade 10 geography, but I am planning on introducing all students to ArcGIS technology and use it as an effective tool to help students learn about many curricular outcomes this semester.  

Any advice for teachers who are starting their ArcGIS journey?

Use ArcGIS and use it frequently, the more you use this technology the easier it becomes.  One of the many things I enjoyed working on the Treaty project was that I got to improve my ArcGIS skills as I was forced to learn new skills through the map making process.

Thank you, Rob for sharing your work and we look forward to hearing more from you throughout the school year.

The Manitoba Treaty Story Map

We will be highlighting the Manitoba Treaty story map Rob created in an upcoming post. It will feature the Treaty organization that will use this resource to teach K-12 students, educators and the general public about Treaty in Manitoba through their education programming.

New to ArcGIS Online?

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

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