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Michigan Virtual signs statewide GIS license

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With the signing of a K-12 Geographic Information System three-year software license agreement, Michigan Virtual can provide access to a complete GIS tool for K-12 students, teachers and administrators across the state.

Through a partnership with California-based Esri, ArcGIS technology will be available to provide geographic insight to address social, economic, business and environmental concerns at local, regional, national and global scales to K-12 students and educators.

“Statewide access to this industry-leading software tool and related training will allow Michigan students to engage in real-world project-based learning activities that are relevant and engaging,” said Jamey Fitzpatrick, Michigan Virtual President & CEO. “Our partnership with Esri will enable thousands of Michigan students to develop new skills and competencies in GIS, leading to high-demand career opportunities.”

Andrew Vanden Heuvel, a curriculum developer and teacher for Michigan Virtual developed Teaching with GIS, an eight-week ArcGIS 10 course designed to introduce Michigan teachers to the opportunities available to them by implementing GIS in the classroom.

“The course provides teachers with a practical grounding in the use of ArcGIS as well as the more theoretical aspects of introducing GIS into a broad range of classrooms including social studies, history, environmental science and English,” says Vanden Heuvel.

“With Michigan’s long history of GIS in its schools, some educators have taught ArcGIS for many years,” says Charlie Fitzpatrick, Esri K-12 Schools Solutions Manager. “Now, with the support of Michigan Virtual, every K-12 student in any class or club can use GIS in class and online, building for college and career. Schools and districts can also save money while performing key administrative tasks.”

For the past 10 years, Michigan Virtual has played a key role in accelerating the growth of educational options for Michigan K-12 schools and students through the effective use of online learning. Online classes offered by Michigan Virtual through its Michigan Virtual for Students are popular, providing core, elective and advanced courses to students in school districts that could not otherwise include them in the classes they offer.

“Our virtual campus provides a unique method of expanding the range of courses available to students beyond the normal classroom setting. GIS is a natural fit for this manner of instruction,” says Greg Marks, Michigan Virtual Director of Product Development. “In addition, the Esri site license allows schools across Michigan to integrate GIS into existing high school and middle school courses and create new ones.”

GIS can be used by administrators to identify the most efficient busing routes or to track demographic changes in their local communities. Teachers can use GIS in the science classroom to explore environmental changes including the annual melt of ice sheets or population changes of endangered species. In social studies courses, GIS can be used to illustrate complex social and economic connections such as how a country’s natural resources can impact adult literacy rates. The possibilities are endless.

About Michigan Virtual

Michigan Virtual is a private, nonprofit Michigan corporation established by the State of Michigan in 1998 to serve as a champion for online learning. It is the parent organization of the Michigan Virtual for Students and Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute.

About Esri

Since 1969, Esri has been giving customers around the world the power to think and plan geographically. The market leader in geographic information system (GIS) technology, Esri software is used in more than 300,000 organizations worldwide including each of the 200 largest cities in the United States, most national governments, more than two-thirds of Fortune 500 companies, and more than 7,000 colleges and universities. To learn more, visit http://www.esri.com/esri-news.

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About Michigan Virtual

Michigan Virtual™ (formally known as Michigan Virtual University®) provides online courses for Michigan students, professional development for educators and is the parent organization of the Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute®. As a nonprofit organization with more than 20 years of experience, Michigan Virtual is Michigan’s leading voice in online education. Visit us at michiganvirtual.org.

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