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On the Map with Kyle Wittmaier

May’s On the Map features Kyle Wittmaier, a teacher and avid user of ArcGIS. Let’s find out what he’s been mapping with his students.

Currently, Kyle is teaching Civics and Careers, Travel and Tourism and Introduction to Spatial Technologies at Grand Erie District School Board in Dunnville, Ontario. ArcGIS is integrated into the daily curriculum of the spatial technologies course, enabling students to spend ample time utilizing the software within a problem-based learning framework. In the travel and tourism course, ArcGIS facilitates exploration of key concepts like travel interrelationships and the determinants of tourism destination success.

We touched base with Kyle recently to hear more about his work.

An image showing a male teacher standing and pointing in front of a projected screen showing a map of Washington, DC.

Kyle is an innovative and dedicated educator who integrates ArcGIS extensively into his teaching. He prioritizes hands-on learning and problem-based approaches in both spatial technologies and travel and tourism courses, enabling students to explore real-world scenarios and develop a deeper understanding of key concepts. 

What are some ArcGIS activities that you have done with your students?

In my three years of teaching at the secondary level, I have used ArcGIS in numerous activities with my students. Here are some of the things I have done, so far:

Earthquake Analysis
Using ArcGIS Online, students have engaged in the analysis of earthquake data, examining the frequency of occurrences and the spatial relationship with tectonic plate boundaries. This hands-on activity leverages real-time data provided by the United States Geological Survey (USGS), offering students a dynamic learning experience. The initial framework for this lab was developed by my colleague, Jonathan Fletcher.

A screenshot showing the title slide of the Quick data, cool map activity.

Similar to the activity Kyle used with his students, in the Quick data, cool map activity, you will learn how to access recent earthquake data from USGS to create a quick map in the ArcGIS Online Map Viewer. You will use GeoJSON  data to make your map.

Chemical Spill Impact Study
Students have used the trace downstream tool in ArcGIS Online to investigate the potential ramifications of chemical spills, fostering an understanding of environmental hazards and their downstream effects.

Suitability Analysis
Students have used ArcGIS Online to engage in suitability mapping labs, employing a multi-criteria decision analysis approach. Many of these have been adapted from resources from my colleagues and Learn ArcGIS. Examples include locating a new Tim Hortons in Huntsville and locating a new hospital in Loudoun County, Virginia.

ArcGIS Apps
My students have used
ArcGIS StoryMaps, ArcGIS Dashboards, and ArcGIS Instant Apps to share their analysis and findings.

A screenshot showing a swipe map from the student map of lakes in the world that have experienced severe drought. The map shows Lake Urmia in Iran.

Student story map: Reveal Lake shrinkage due to severe drought.

Why is ArcGIS a tool you use for teaching and learning?

In high school, I discovered ArcGIS and its power to solve real-world problems, which sparked my interest. Through my undergraduate and Master of Arts (MA) studies in Geography, I used ArcGIS extensively, I even used it for my thesis. During my teaching placement, I worked with Jonathan Fletcher, a GIS Ambassador, who showed me how ArcGIS can enhance student engagement and foster critical thinking. Now, as a teacher myself, I prioritize ArcGIS because I know it offers students unique learning opportunities, steadily increasing its use in my classrooms each year.

Why is it good for student learning?

ArcGIS aligns well with the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) approach, enabling students to engage with material they find intriguing while meeting curriculum expectations. It supports student choice in assessments and accommodates individual pacing. In the spatial technologies course, I foster a "low-floor, high-ceiling" environment with ArcGIS, where students easily access the software to demonstrate learning and are encouraged to challenge themselves. This focus enhances engagement by connecting tasks to real-world scenarios, particularly in emergency response and management studies.

A screenshot showing a map of the historic cholera outbreak in London, England.

Student map: Explore the 1854 Cholera Outbreak in London. This is an example of a completed lesson from Map a historic cholera outbreak from Learn ArcGIS. Students use GIS to learn about a historic real-world example of geographic problem-solving.

Thank you, Kyle for sharing your work and experience with ArcGIS. We look forward to learning more about your upcoming activities.

More stories

If you want to learn more about what educators and GIS Ambassadors are up to, explore our On the Map collection of stories.


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Happy Mapping!

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.

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