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Maryland Schools Enhance STEM Education With GIS Agreement

The State of Maryland has signed a statewide software license agreement to make geographic information system (GIS) technology available for all K‑12 classrooms and formal after-school programs.

The company chosen for this agreement is Esri, which originally partnered with the State of Maryland Department of Information Technology when it entered an enterprise license agreement (ELA) in September, 2011.

The Esri education license is intended to empower Maryland's education system to produce a workforce trained in the use of GIS technologies already used by Maryland's state agencies under the 2011 ELA.

"States want all students to build skills in integrative thinking, analysis, problem solving, and communication, and GIS fosters these," said Charlie Fitzpatrick, Esri's K–12 schools solutions manager, in a company release. "Many businesses and government agencies in Maryland use GIS to solve problems, and now all kids, educators, and administrators can as well."

As part of the agreement, Esri is also providing an unlimited Virtual Campus annual user license (AUL), which gives access to online self-paced Virtual Campus courses to Maryland educators and students. These are primarily technology courses in ESRI software and include courses in more than 90 subjects, including:

"Free access to GIS for all elementary and secondary school classrooms and formal after-school programs will help us achieve our goals to increase STEM-related education," said Stewart Bruce , GIS program coordinator at Washington College in Chestertown, MD, and administrator of the state license, in a prepared statement. "It will also be a very useful resource in our environmental projects."

Bruce has set up a Web site for Maryland teachers interested in requesting GIS software or learning more about it at. A web-based GIS curriculum for elementary and secondary schools is also available on the site.

Jack and Laura Dangermond founded Esri in 1969 as a small research group focused on land-use planning. The company's early mission was to organize and analyze geographic information to help land planners and land resource managers make well-informed environmental decisions. Today, more than 1,600 organizations belong to the Esri Partner Network.

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About the Author

Kevin Hudson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Oregon. He can be reached at [email protected].