Practical tips for keeping up with your training

Staying ahead of the curve with spatial skills, mastering AI and Machine Learning and leveraging the latest ArcGIS products demands a healthy appetite for learning. In this episode, Ta, Simon and Josh share their insider’s guide to keeping pace with the latest trends in GIS – from following tech influencers for innovative hacks, to practical courses on product offerings.


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    Expand your GIS horizons

    Intro: If you do know someone who specialises in something, follow them, and find out what they're doing and what they're teaching. A lot of these individuals, make a lot of that content and that learning material available.

    Disclaimer: This podcast is brought to you by Esri Australia. To get your hands on more short, sharp and immediately usable resources, head to the Esri Australia website and search for goldmine.

    Ta: Welcome to GIS Directions. I'm Ta Taneka.

    Josh: I'm Josh Venman.

    Simon: And I'm Simon Jackson.

    Ta: It's great to have you back again, Simon.

    Simon: So, GIS technology, the pace and how quick this change is so fast these days. And personally, I find it a bit of a struggle to find time to keep my skills fresh.

    Josh: Yeah, look on that topic today we're going back to school. Well, thankfully not really, but we are going to take a look at some different approaches you can take to expanding your GIS mind and keeping your professional development moving forward, keeping it relevant, keeping it interesting.

    Ta: This is probably one of my favorite topics that we've discussed.

    We actually have a saying from my home country, I'm from Zimbabwe, and in Shona we say “saykudzidza hakuperi and that means “learning never ends”. And I love a good learning session. So, the use of social media to interact with and engage with industry specialists, just various ways of learning, are you doing, are you teaching, are you hearing, are you seeing, so I'm, I'm really excited about this.

    Josh: I love what you said there Ta but I'm not going to try and repeat it. But, but look talking about that sort of concept of continuous development and learning, isn't GIS a discipline where a lot of things stay the same, you know about Kriging and you know about cartography, what are we learning? What are we continuously learning?

    Ta: So that brings us to the start of this What are your favorite ways of learning here?

    Simon: Well, I guess the three of us have got something in common that we all have been instructors. We do classroom training.

    I kinda miss being able to, not only as an instructor, but as a student being able to have a dedicated set of, you know, two or three days to sit down in a classroom with an experienced instructor to just focus on whatever topic it is that you're kind of engaged on. How about you?

    Josh: Yeah, look, I think that's a good point, our shared experience in being at the front of that classroom.

    And what I'm reminded of is the wide variety of types of learners that used to sit in front of me in those classrooms. You've got folks who really like to follow a set pattern of instructions, do the exercises and others who really like you to draw pictures and make it very visual for them.

    So, there's something unique about that classroom experience, which hasn't gone away. It's just gotten more difficult in recent times.

    Ta: So definitely our hats off to classroom training. I think with our current environment and situation that we're all in, we definitely have to give a shout out to on demand learning and virtual learning.

    This is probably one of my favorites, having training courses that are available to me from any location and being able to do it at my own pace, if I hit a problem, I might say go to a search engine to find out how to fix that specific issue and I find it's the same with, you know, on demand learning.

    If I have a training course that I can quickly and easily access, according to my own schedule, it makes it easier for me to learn. So on demand. Learning for me is probably one of my tops.

    Josh: Yeah, I think that's a, that's a good one. And again, it highlights the potential differences in the way people like to learn.

    Cause I know in conversation with you Simon, we both express the same history that we might have signed up for dozens of Udemy or Coursera courses,

    Simon: I'm an expert at signing up for courses...

    Josh: and not finishing them. So, you have a particular angle on training that works really well for you, don't you?

    Simon: There's so much content out there, both from Esri but also just all the other online content that's available. On one side, I suffer a bit of FOMO. Like there's so much of this content. I am really good at signing up and registering for all these courses. And a lot of the time I don't commit, it just doesn't work for me.

    So whilst I do recognise a self-paced learning is, is very useful, for me, I need a bit of structure. I need some deadlines. I need sort of know that I can sort of chip away at this. My preference is the Esri MOOCs, which have a set kind of time period where you sign up and then you have homework to do each week and you have to kind of complete it in the blocks of work.

    Josh: Have you done those too Ta?

    Ta: Yeah, I've definitely enrolled in MOOCs. I think they're fantastic because again, over a number of weeks, you get to do a course. I like because it's like short, sharp tips and you get to do something in an hour. And I really loved the beginning and intro courses.

    So MOOCs. Yep. Definitely because I have been working with GIS tech for a while, but for beginners definitely

    Josh: And that site, let’s you come at it either as a kind of persona, like what kind of GIS user you are or from a technology product perspective, doesn't it? So you can start a path based on what you're doing or, particular product that you're going to learn.

    Ta: Yeah, absolutely. I think that, that's probably one of the other things that I really like about it is it enables you to specify either based on product or pathway that you want to learn.

    Josh: And here's a question. Do you have to have the software to do a MOOC and do you have to have the software to do the learn ArcGIS stuff?

    Simon: So for the MOOCs, I've been doing one recently, which is the, the imagery one, and I've never really had the need to sort of do anything with drone products.

    It provided me access to Drone2Maps. So last week I actually spent some time building some 3D products from some sample drone imagery. It was a lot of fun and it's not something that I would have typically played around with.

    Ta: With the, you do need to have access to the relevant software at a specific level.

    The beauty of it is, however, you can get access to a trial. So, if you go online you can get access to a trial, and then you can start to use the software as well as the lessons, and you get access to that for at least a month, I think which has plenty of time to at least do a couple of those one hour learning sessions.

    Josh: That’s really good.

    Simon: One of the things you got me onto Ta Was the, is it the John Nelson? The, short, the very bite-size…

    Ta: The one-minute map hacks.

    Simon: Exactly. I've learned so much from that series. It's amazing.

    Josh: That's one we shouldn't underestimate, and I think, I think it's one you brought up when we were talking about, doing this episode Ta, but the power of the people, you follow those who you respect and you love what they do and kind of voraciously follow whatever content they put out.

    Ta: Yeah, definitely industry specialists. So I'm a huge believer in, if you do know someone who specialises in something, follow them, and find out what they're doing and what they're teaching. A lot of these individuals, make a lot of that content and that learning material available.

    I do love a little bit of LinkedIn as well as Instagram, you know my socials. So if I go online, I can see a lot of the content that for example, John Nelson has shared, it makes it so great to actually follow these individuals, get to know what they love, what they're passionate about. And I love that.

    Simon: So, Ta how do you find these, these heroes, these knowledge experts, like you mentioned LinkedIn, but you know, if you're kind of just fresh to LinkedIn, how do you actually, find where they are and discover these people?

    Ta: Honestly, the Esri community. so formally called GeoNet. But if you go to the Esri community and you look up, for example, a product, say ArcGIS Pro off the top of my head. Ready? Steady pro! So, say ArcGIS Pro you go to the thread about ArcGIS Pro and you'll see, all of the industry specialists who have either engaged with the community posts or Esri staff who actually specialise in that.

    Kory Kramer for example, is one of them, former desktop lead, and now he is, part of the client experience team and he's listening to client feedback and community feedback. And, um, that's really where I started off. So go to the specific industry where you find all that info and then, and look for the individuals or go to the product, just like Josh said before different pathways, right. Product or outcome. Go to enterprise or pro find the specialist who's have engaged with many, many users and then start to follow them.

    Simon: That's a good tip. Thanks.

    Josh: How about you, Si? What's your, your source of heroes?

    Simon: I find quite a lot of the Esri product teams are on Twitter. So I spent a lot of time looking at some of the popular hashtags related to spatial. So as simple as kind of ArcGIS or, or Esri or just GIS, there's a GIS chat one that's quite interested to see what people are talking about and yeah, they, they're also very receptive just to reaching out and ask them questions and engaging with whatever they're up to. That's how I follow them.

    Josh: I think that's something that's changed in a good way over the years is, it used to be a bit of a one way distribution channel when, uh, someone like Christian, the guy on the ArcGIS JavaScript team. He does some awesome posts around visualisation using the JavaScript API but he, he regularly welcomes conversations around what he's doing and the stuff he's put up on GitHub. So, you know, really, really approachable. You're right.

    Simon: Josh. I had a question for you. So we've kind of covered a lot of the Esri content that you can learn, but, I think it's quite important to, to compliment your GIS skills with other technologies that we kind of brush up against.

    For myself, I've been trying to sort of learn about Azure and the various offerings on the Microsoft cloud platform and how Esri can kind of leverage that. But I know you've been playing around with Kubernetes and that's a new deployment option for ArcGIS Enterprise. I have no idea how I would even go about learning that stuff. So what's, what's your learning pathway been there?

    Josh: That's a, that's a good one. I mean, there's a couple of things that I've gravitated to recently, which are connected with ArcGIS and Esri, but you know, a lot more to do with the enterprise stuff in general. So Kubernetes, was one of them. And the path I followed there was the actual site which actually includes links to lots of free training and kind of material to get you familiar with it.

    But you know, what I actually did to speed up my learning was, follow an Udemy course, which was titled something like Kubernetes for newbies. And it covered all the basics and that's exactly what I needed to get to grips with the challenge ahead.

    The other one that I'm kind of drawn to is the developer side of things. Right now I'm doing a JavaScript course with Codecademy, which is proving to be really useful. And that just lets me lift my game in understanding other people's code in projects that use the ArcGIS dev tools and writing my own.

    Ta: I'm actually on the Esri academy, the training academy, and I'm looking at courses, intro to web GIS, for example, just to get an understanding of how we can speak to the user community about extending the reach of their GIS.

    I've actually looked at LinkedIn as well. Those are, you know, two of my favs.

    Simon: This is the LinkedIn learning or…?

    Ta: Yeah, LinkedIn learning. So they have a couple of foundational courses there, actually they had a little test that you could do for ArcGIS products, which I passed top 15%, wad up, wad up! Thank goodness. Right. So LinkedIn learning is great. And then just to get my teeth into something a little bit meatier, the Esri Academy.

    Simon: For me, the certifications are also useful for me because it, I don't know, I got some skin in the game then as soon as I actually applied to one of the certifications, kind of feel like I need to you know, tick off all of the curriculum I need to learn before we actually kind of, before I actually take the exam, have you guys done any certifications or do you see the importance of them?

    Josh: I definitely see the importance of them. It's kinda hard to pick the right ones sometimes, but I've got some under my belt, but um probably aging a little bit now. But the certification path, I mean, that's another one that goes through the Esri academy. Isn't it? And, that's a concept just worth briefly talking about is the idea that this continuous learning and perhaps certification might be part of KPIs for some organisations that might actually be a deliberate path of progression in your career.

    Simon: And let's face it, I guess. Either at your current job, but also for a future job, you kind of want your CV to stand out in that pile, I think certifications will kind of give you that credibility that you know what you're talking about. So, I'm big fan of the certifications, both Esri and others as well.

    Josh: Hey Ta, question for you. I know you've put together the around migration from ArcMap to ArcGIS Pro.

    That's a kind of articulated learning experience. How did you come to the ingredients you stitched together for that?

    Ta: Yeah, it's honestly a summary of everything we've discussed. So the most important thing is A) the technology changed, so we wanted to make sure that everyone kept up to date with the new technology.

    And then we were looking at different styles of how people learn. So some people are doers, some people are seers, some people actually need to just listen to it. So, we literally scoured all the resources we'd come across. We created a whole lot of resources together, and then we created this curated digital journey that literally enables people to follow the bouncing ball when migrating from Map to Pro.

    So that was really focusing on tech changes in technology and how people learn then putting all of that together so that everyone could have something that was relevant for this huge technological change.

    Simon: So whatever your preferred learning method, there's going to be an option for everyone. I think it's worth recommending taking some time to review this content and consider adding it into your own personal development plan to help brush up or learn new skills.

    Ta: Absolutely. And to help accelerate your learning experience we've added all the resources that we’ve spoken about today to our website. That's And if you're enjoying this podcast, please make sure you follow us wherever you get your podcasts and tell your friends about us and feel free to give us a five-star rating as well. That'd be great.

    Simon: That'd be great. Yeah. Six stars! Thanks for tuning in.

    Josh: Until next time.

    Ta: Happy mapping.

    Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are solely those of the hosts and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of Esri Australia.

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