September’s GIS Ambassador: Benjamin Lille

September 24, 2019 Angela Alexander

Benjamin Lille is September’s GIS Ambassador of the month! Let’s find out how he’s working towards his goal of making ArcGIS Online a teaching and learning tool used by all educators who teach at a member school of the Fédération des établissements d'enseignement privés (FEEP -Federation of Private Educational Institutions) throughout the province of Québec.

September’s GIS Ambassador of the month is Benjamin Lille, a RÉCIT educational consultant for the Fédération des établissements d'enseignement privés (FEEP - The  Federation of Private Educational Institutions) a service center that provides training and consulting services for staff at member private schools throughout the province of Québec .

“RÉCIT is a network focused on the development of student competencies through the integration of information and communication technologies (ICT). It is mainly through the training, support and accompaniment of teachers that the RÉCIT fulfills this mandate, while developing a culture of networking and sharing.”

We had the opportunity to ask Benjamin about his work as a consultant and a GIS Ambassador and what his plans are to make ArcGIS Online a learning tool that is used by all schools that are members of FEEP.

How did you learn about ArcGIS Online?

I discovered ArcGIS Online when I was looking for new tools to support geographic education. When exploring the ArcGIS Online environment, I immediately saw its pedagogical potential and started working on creating teacher training on using this online software. 

How have you worked towards making ArcGIS Online a tool used by schools that are part of FEEP?

In the spring, I had a meeting with educators at FEEP in hopes of promoting the use of mapping and spatial technology in the K-12 classroom. The result was positive, as I now have workshops planned throughout the year.

Last month, I facilitated a teacher training at Marcelle-Mallet School in Lévis that focused on the use of ArcGIS Online in social sciences. The session started with a presentation on an introduction to ArcGIS Online in French and ended with a hands-on activity for beginners that included ArcGIS Online and story maps. The feedback was positive and some of the teachers plan to implement ArcGIS Online into their teaching this school year.

At the Marcelle-Mallet workshop, teachers told Benjamin as soon as they understood how ArcGIS and story maps work, they quickly realized that it is a very powerful learning tool for kids to use.

Why is supporting the use of ArcGIS Online in K-12 education important to you?

With a teaching background in social science, I believe ArcGIS Online holds a very high pedagogical potential for geographic education and the development of students' 21st century competencies. ArcGIS Online gives teachers the power to create their own custom maps using a very exhaustive, trustworthy and updated database. Teachers can also import open data from municipal, provincial and federal portals in order to create more relevant and updated maps to show their students. ArcGIS Online allows students to create maps and engage in geographical issues through the analysis of data. Story maps offer students a user-friendly environment to express their geographical and spatial understanding of real-world issues.

What are your plans for this school year?

My plans are to continue training teachers in ArcGIS Online. It’s important to show them this powerful tool that not only engages students in their own learning but is also used in the real world across different industries. Ultimately, I would like to see it used more in K-12 education in Québec as it is technology that is relevant and available for free to all schools in Canada.

In December, I have training planned at the Social Science Québec Teacher Association Congress. This annual event brings together teachers, educational consultants, college instructors, university educators, retirees and university students to network and to share new tools that social science educators can use in their teaching. This wider audience will get to see how ArcGIS Online can be used as a learning tool in social science and beyond.

Benjamin’s also teaching educational technology to pre-service elementary teachers at Université Laval. This allows him to integrate ArcGIS Online into some of the program activities so that the student teachers can get exposure to the technology before they are working at a school.

We will continue to support Benjamin’s work and we look forward to working with more teachers from Québec.

Teachers can connect with a GIS Ambassador in their community and begin or continue their GIS journey! Read other inspiring stories about GIS Ambassadors who are supporting schools in their region.

Are you a K-12 educator who’s new to ArcGIS Online? Sign up for an account at k12.esri.ca/#access. Get started with a tutorial and find other resources at k12.esri.ca.

About the Author

Angela Alexander

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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