ArcGIS Online – The Basics

ArcGIS Online is a webmapping service that can be used to create, view, and perform some analysis of georeferenced data. The “work” is done on a server somewhere that your device is connected to via a web-browser or a web-based application via the internet. This has some important ramifications:

  • You need a good enough internet connection to handle the data that needs to be sent back and forth to achieve what you wish to do.
  • This type of GIS is going to offer fewer tools and analysis options than the ArcGIS desktop software.
  • Depending on the type of account/access you have, data that you create in using the webmap may be lost when you terminate the session and/or if you do not make sure to save a copy somewhere using tools available from the webmap you are using.

The three most common ways you are likely to work with ArcGIS Online as a student are:

Using a Custom Webmap or App

An ArcGIS Webmap or App may have been created for a subject you are doing and the link made available through your course or practical notes.

Depending on what you need to do for your subject, you may need to perform tasks like:

  • load data chosen from within the webmap
  • upload data
  • create data using tools within the webmap
  • undertake visual assessment and analysis of provided data and write up your results
  • print a map to PDF or image file (.jpg for example)

You may or may not need to login to use one of these, it depends on how it has been set up.

If you do not need to login, when you close the browser or your internet connection drops out, you usually need to start what you were doing from the beginning again. Closing the web browser is also a handy tip for recovering if things seem to have gone wrong. Some web browsers may cache information locally and try to recover the previous session, try hitting the alt key alt key and F4 together if you want to force your browser to reload information from the server rather than your hard drive.

If you require a login, the subject that provided the link to the webmap or app will need to advise you on which type of account you need.

Using a Public Account

An ArcGIS public account is a free account available available from Esri for individuals to create and share content (maps and apps) with everyone (publicly). It has limits on functionality and usage, and is not associated with an organisation. These accounts are for noncommercial use only.

If you have access to the Esri Virtual Campus through the Spatial Analysis Labs, this is the type of account we recommend you use to do your training. These accounts are not tied to your enrollment/employment so you will still have access to any certificates from completed courses if you are no longer doing a class or in a role that has access to a Uni ArcGIS Account.

Using your Uni ArcGIS Account

If you have a Uni ArcGIS Account you will have received a login from the Spatial Analysis Labs.

This account gives you access to the Custom ArcGIS Online Environment, though your access and permissions will change depending upon your role and requirements.

All Uni ArcGIS Accounts are also a named-user licence for ArcGIS Pro – remembering to logout when using your Uni ArcGIS account is particularly important if you work across multiple computers.

ArcGIS Online for Research

If you are a research student or a staff member who would like to use ArcGIS online in your research work, register your research project with SAL.

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