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GIS Foundations

University of Alaska Fairbanks via edX


GIS is a framework for gathering, managing, and analyzing data. Using the principles of geographic science, it integrates many types of geospatial data, analyzes their relationships, and organizes them in layers of information for visualization and improved understanding. This course focuses on ESRI’s ArcGIS software, the industry standard. Jack Dangermond, CEO of ESRI, describes GIS as “uncovering meaning and insights from within data.”

Participants in this course will learn GIS concepts, tools, and processing applicable to problems in a variety of fields. The course is designed for self-study with lessons covering GIS applications on real-world problems, and prepares learners for more advanced applications such as 3D GIS and GIS Image Analysis, the two other courses in the GIS Essentials Professional Certificate.

GIS, once an esoteric technology limited to geographers and data scientists, is now available to everyone. Thousands of organizations in virtually every field are using GIS to analyze data, make maps that reveal patterns and relationships, share insights, and solve complex problems of local to global significance.

Verified track learners will receive an ArcGIS Pro license in addition to unlimited course access and a verified certificate.


Week 1: Introduction to GIS

  • What is GIS?
  • History of GIS
  • GIS data types (vector and raster)
  • GIS file types (File Geodatabase, Feature Class, Shapefile, Table, GeoTiff)
  • Coordinate systems (geographic and projected)
  • GIS applications and ArcGIS Pro access

Week 2: Getting started with ArcGIS Pro Software

  • Project set up in ArcGIS Pro
  • Introduction to Geoprocessing tools
  • Introduction to feature class (point, line, polygon)
  • Working with attribute table
  • ArcGIS best practices

Week 3: Spatial Analysis using Geoprocessing tools

  • Point analysis
  • Line analysis
  • Polygon analysis

Week 4: Map Layout and Charts

  • Create your first GIS map
  • Add basic map elements to a map layout (title, scale, north arrow, descriptive text)
  • Add advanced map elements (map grid and overview map)
  • Create charts
  • Format and analyze charts

Taught by

Santosh Panda, Chris Smith and Anushree Badola

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