By the end of the two-day course I feel like I’ve learnt a lot. Having had very little experience of using Arc GIS and teaching myself to have a basic understanding of the programme, I found that the course has already been invaluable to me for a range of reasons:

  • It allows you to see where the gaps in your knowledge are

The presentations go through a lot of the possibilities in the features and applications of Arc GIS Desktop. So even if the course does not cover something in detail, it makes it easy to know the names and places where these features may be found so that you can research the more relevant ones to your personal needs in future.

  • It has allowed me to gain a greater understanding of the language

Explaining what you want to do is extremely hard if you don’t know the language used in GIS. Hearing other people use the language has improved my understanding and reminded me to try to use the correct terms in the future, especially when troubleshooting with a colleague or through internet searches.

  • Meeting new people and making connections

A range of people attended the course, the majority of whom were working in or studying archaeology or ecological sciences. Attendees also work at a range of organisations and universities. I was very lucky and started talking to someone who had completed their PhD recently and had knowledge of databases that could be of interest to my project. It has therefore been a place to make connections for my project and future career.

  • Improving navigation through Arc GIS

Arc GIS has many different options and buttons that may not be the most intuitive. I have often found that, to know how to do something in GIS, is quite difficult without being guided there almost every step of the way. But with the help of this course, there are paths that I will know how to take in the future, on my own.

  • Learning less relevant applications could make me more employable in the future

Even where some of the course was less relevant to my PhD I was able see the benefits in using features and applications like GIS online and ArcScene. This GIS online platform allows your data to be accessed by all and would not be appropriate for my PhD, but I could where the benefits would lie in knowing how to display data to the public, if in future I was able to work for an NGO for example.

  • Learning from your mistakes with guidance

There is no better way to learn something than to make mistakes and learn from them. With the bonus of having someone there who’s able to explain where you have gone wrong, the learning and correcting part is much more efficient. This leads me on to my last point:

  • I have learnt a lot more than I would have done in a short space of time

Very self-explanatory but I feel like this is one of the biggest benefits to going on courses like this. It’s hard to know what to teach yourself, but this course has been all the basics and more in one fell swoop to get you on your way.

Helen Ford, Envision Phd Student