Press Releases

For Immediate Release: July 30, 2013

Contact: Keith Hovis 651-582-8275 or

Minnesota Schools to Gain Access to Free Geographic Software

New agreement between State and ESRI will help schools integrate cutting edge technology into curriculum

ROSEVILLE – With geospatial technologies quickly becoming one of the fastest growing technology fields according to US Department of Labor, the Minnesota Department of Education has negotiated a statewide license with ESRI allowing their Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software to be available to all K-12 schools, public and private, and non-formal educational organizations and programs at no cost.

To see the rapid expansion of geospatial technologies, one would need look no further than the growth of smart phones, which give people instant access to mapping software and a personal global positioning system (GPS). Smart phones are just one of the many applications of GIS technology. By increasing access to Esri’s GIS software, students across the state will gain important geotechnology skills that will help them achieve rigorous academic standards leading to career- and college-readiness.

Minnesota is the 23rd state to enter into an agreement with ESRI. Schools that register to receive the software will be able to integrate the technology for administration and instructional uses. Administration uses include such jobs as facilities management, school safety, demographic analysis and transportation. Some curriculum examples include:

Literacy: GIS provides opportunities for students to create and examine multi-layered maps, charts and other kinds of informational text—a key skill for 21st century literacy.

Science, Mathematics, and Career and Technical Education: The STEM disciplines require students to work with various forms of data and to construct arguments based on those data. GIS is a tool that supports instruction in these areas while encouraging student engagement in mathematics and science concepts.

Social Studies: The revised (2011) Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards in Social Studies call for students to develop geospatial skills through representations and technologies in order to acquire, process, and report information in a spatial context. Using GIS, students will engage in geographic inquiry, a process in which they ask geographic questions and gather and analyze information to solve problems and create plans.

On July 31st, from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, the Minnesota Department of Education will provide an introductory GIS workshop at Stewart Hall at St. Cloud State University. Three Minnesota educators, along with a representative from ESRI, will share background on this innovative technology and provide further information on how it is already being utilized in schools.