ArcGIS Online Exercise


This exercise is intended to help you learn some of the basics of ArcGIS Online, a tool that allows you to mark up maps, e.g., add pins, as well as add data layers. Additionally, by looking at geography and adding tsunami-related data, the exercise is intended to give you greater insight into A Tale for the Time Being. Prior to starting this exercise, see the Mapping & GIS readings and videos.

The basic requirements include:

  • Creating an ArcGIS Online account
  • Creating a new map
  • Add two pins to the map with images and text, 2 data layers, and a new base map.
  • Answering reflection questions
  • Submitting your answers and map link to Brightspace as a Word doc.

The written and video instructions below will provide you with more details. The videos are general instructions and focus on the Los Angeles area, so they will look a little different than your work.


PLEASE NOTE: When working in ArcGIS Online, continually save your work. (It does not automatically save or remind you to save.)

Step 1:

  • Create an ArcGIS Online account on the sign-in page.
  • Sign-in to your account and create a new map.

How to sign in and create a new map:

Step 2

  • Search for Whaletown, Cortes Island (where Ruth lives) and Akihabara, Taito, Tokyo (referred to as “Electricity Town” and where the French café Nao hangs out in).

How to find a location:

Step 3

  • Add a map note (pin) to Whaletown, Cortes Island, and one to Akihabara, Tokyo. (Anywhere in the general area is fine.) In both notes, add an image, a title for the image, a short caption for the image (this goes in the description box), and link the images back to their original image sources.

Image selection: For Whaletown, Cortes Island, find a picture of the island or the town and, for Akihabara, find an interior or exterior picture of a Japanese French maid café.

How to add map notes and images:

More on how to get image links for map notes:

Step 4

  • Change the base map to something other than the default map. Chose one that you think might lend itself better or just as well to the kind of information you are presenting.
  • Add 1 data layer that can be found in ArcGIS Online. Search for the layer in the ArcGIS general repository (it is the one at the bottom just below “Living Atlas”). Search tsunami and Japan (in a single search) and select any layer you want. (You can add more than one if you would like.)
  • Add this other data layer I got from GeoCommons. (Ignore when the video says this layer can be found in Brightspace.)

Because this is a Geojson file, you need to unzip the file prior to uploading. If it were a shapefile, you would leave it zipped. We’ll talk more about file types and finding outside data sources in class.

How to change the base map and add data layers:

Step 5

  • Get the sharable link and make sure to make your map public. (This is the link you will include in your Word doc.)

Step 6

Answer the following reflection questions and cut and paste your map link into the doc. (2 paragraphs minimum)

Unless you are a cartographer or geographer, the odds are you don’t fully grasp or maybe don’t think much about distances and locations when reading literary works. Unless you are a seismologist, the odds are it’s hard to wrap your mind around earthquake-related phenomena like tsunamis. In a Tale for a Time Being, geography, as well as the 2011 tsunami in Japan, play a central role, which ArcGIS helps us to grasp and examine. With this in mind, discuss 1.) the impact creating a map in ArcGIS had on your understanding and/or mental picture of the novel (For example: How did it affect or change the way you imagined the narrative and/or the characters? How did it affect your level of empathy for the characters and/or the events described in the novel?) 2.) How can mapping enable us to connect the novel with the theme of the Anthropocene? 3.) How could the map you created be further developed to illustrate those connections? For questions 2 and 3, incorporate aspects from the readings/videos, e.g., the difference between marking a map with points and using data layers.