GIS Training and Education

One of the many advantages of the Kentucky CPE-ESRI's higher education statewide license agreement (HESLA) is the availability of ESRI's many online training opportunities.

ESRI Training provides many online training courses to become more knowledgeable about the exciting field of GIS and digital mapping. Entry-level courses pertaining to map projections and grid systems, to database fundamentals are available for free to faculty, staff, and currently enrolled students of Murray State University. Intermediate-level courses are available for augmenting current skills, such as learning Python, or working with annotation. Some Advanced-level courses are available for specialized learning, such as working with watersheds or LiDAR data.

 Discovering ESRI's Virtual Campus

ESRI's online training courses occur within their Virtual Campus environment. ESRI offers hundreds of online courses plus paths towards certification for certain applications. For complete details, please consult For a list of current courses available with our Premium Annual User License, please consult the Annual User License course list.

 Registering for an ESRI Virtual Campus course

Any current Murray State University faculty, staff, or currently enrolled students is eligible to register for an ESRI Virtual Campus course. To register, simply email and request a course. If you are new to GIS and ArcGIS, the software is not the standard fare for software and the learning curve is not insignificant. To get familiar with GIS and the ESRI approach to spatial data it is advisable to register for the following ESRI VC courses first:

  • Learning ArcGIS Desktop (for ArcGIS 10)
  • Getting Started With the Geodatabase
  • Basics of Map Projections
  • Working with Coordinate Systems

Please state in the Subject: line, "ArcGIS Virtual Campus Course Request." In the body of the email, please provide the following information:

  1. First and last name
  2. Department and College
  3. Designation: Faculty / Staff / *Student
  4. *Major/Minor/Area of Study/ Year in School
  5. Email address
  6. Reason for request: (personal interest, professional development, related to research or grant, etc. Please provide some details as about once per year CPE or ESRI requests information about use.)
  7. Course or courses you are requesting. Please note details below before requesting more than two courses.

 Using ESRI's Virtual Campus Courses to Your Benefit

The ESRI Virtual Campus courses are a good way to learn about GIS and spatial data while developing good job skills. The Virtual Campus courses not only communicate the "buttonology," the points-and-clicks to make the software function, but also demonstrate good methods, techniques, and science behind the software.

Many Virtual Campus courses are free and do not require you to submit a course request. These free courses are available on the Training front page. Other courses are premium course and are fee-based or are covered under our HESLA agreement. The premium courses frequently take longer than 3 hours to complete (some may take as many 12 hours, and a few require 24 hours), require the user to pass quizzes before the next section becomes available, and usually culminate with an exam. Upon successful completion of the course the students is typically rewarded with a Certificate of Completion.

The Certificate of Completion is also complimented by the Student Dashboard. From the Student Dashboard users are able to track their progress towards course completion, track progress towards certification on software, and maintain records, i.e. a transcript, of all courses taken and grades achieved.

In an academic environment the transcript can be useful. For instance, in the Department of Geosciences, students may enroll in a special projects or special topics course, select a number of pertinent ESRI Virtual Campus courses, learn the related the material, then apply those new skills to a research topic developed in cooperation with their faculty sponsor or mentor. Providing a copy of the certificate of completion may be required as partial fulfillment of the course. Please consult with your faculty mentor, undergraduate adviser, or graduate student coordinator for complete details before pursing this option.

In the professional environment outside of academia, some employers may like see competency in certain GIS areas, such as Python or LiDAR. Providing certificates of completion along with a Virtual Course transcript may help a student get an interview or even employment.