Welcome to  

Developing Project Based Instructional Units Utilizing ArcGIS Online

a.k.a. Examining Your Environment through the Power of Data (EYEPOD) Advanced Online:  

About this Course

This 40 hour course is designed for educators who are familiar with and who have taught with ArcGIS. Note that this course is not designed for those whose primary goal is to teach GIS skills. Rather, it is designed for instructors of other disciplines who would like to add a geospatial perspective, project based instructional techniques, and the "power of data" to their existing courses. Although you will learn some ArcGIS online skills, the main focus for this course is pedagogy, or how to teach to improve student learning outcomes. Much of the course focuses on secondary educators, but it is adaptable to post-secondary educators as well. 

This course utilizes ArcGIS Online. You are welcome to supplement your instruction with ArcGIS DesktopThis is an open, asynchronous, self-paced course. 

The end result of the course will be your own project based instructional unit. However, you can’t be successful in each module without doing the necessary studio time. This involves development and preparation of deliverables, base maps, and geodatabases.

The assignments in this course are designed to help scaffold experiences for you as a learner. The readings and tutorials are designed to promote your conceptual understanding of how to teach using geospatial technologies and project based instruction. There is no active facilitator. The course is intended to be self-regulated. You are encouraged to view sample projects to gauge your progress toward the final goal. You are encouraged to visit the Support Materials page to find others who teach with PBL and GIS and seek feedback on your project ideas. 

This course utilizes the instructional strategy described in the following:

Markham, T., Larmer, J., & Ravitz, J. (2003).1. Project based learning handbook: a guide to standards-focused project based learning for middle and high school teachers. (2nd ed.). Buck Institute for Educationand The Buck Institute for Education and Boise State University, Department of Educational Technology's PBL Online.


Before you begin this course please confirm you meet the pre-requisites. Please note that a strong comfort level using technology is essential for success in this program.

  • Prior experience teaching with geospatial technology, ArcGIS preferred.
  • Basic spreadsheet skills are necessary for preparing datasets.
  • Access to YouTube, ArcGIS Online, and Google account
  • Possess an ESRI Global Account to register for public access to ArcGIS Online
  • Identify an instructional unit that you will modify to include a geospatial perspective within a project based learning format during the course


Theoretical Framework for EYEPOD Advanced Online

In Project Based Learning (PBL), students experience a process of inquiry in response to driving question. While allowing for some student autonomy, projects are carefully planned, managed, and assessed to ensure students learn key academic content, practice 21st Century Skills, and create authentic products (Markham, Larmer, & Ravitz, 2003). The Legacy Cycle also helps to organize learning activities into an inquiry cycle. It begins with a challenging problem so learners discover information about the problem as the need arises, provides opportunities for continual formative assessment throughout the process, and allows learners to progress by presenting a variety of methods to think about the topic (Schwartz, Lin, Brophy, & Bransford, 1999).

This course combines the complementary cycles. The “Driving Questions” crafted during the PBL Design Principle #2 are equivalent to “Challenges” in the Legacy Cycle, and the Legacy Cycle serves as the framework for the PBL Design Principle #4,  “Mapping the Project”.


Markham, T., Larmer, J., & Ravitz, J. (2003). Project based learning handbook: a guide to standards-focused project based learning for middle and high school teachers. (2nd ed.). Buck Institute for Education.

Schwartz, D. L., Brophy, S., Lin, X., & Bransford, J. (1999). Software for managing complex learning: Examples from an educational psychology course. Educational Technology Research and Development 47(2), 39-59.

The project team is grateful for Esri's support.

The Examining Your Environment through the Power of Data (EYEPOD) Project is funded by the National Science Foundation's Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) program. Award DRL #0929846.

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.