ArcGIS is a powerful piece of software, but the learning curve can be steep.
Think about your learning style and use the tabs of this guide to find the resources that will best help you learn to do what you need to do with ArcGIS.
GIS lets you map data and analyze it spatially.
GIS stands for Geographic Information Systems. GIS software allows you to view, understand, question, interpret, and visualize data in many ways that reveal relationships, patterns, and trends in the form of maps, globes, reports, and charts (definition from http://www.gis.com/ ).
The University of Michigan has a site license for the ArcGIS desktop software, consisting of ArcCatalog, ArcMap, and other components.
All or most Sites and CAEN computers and many other campus-unit administered machines have ArcGIS 10 installed on them. You can also access ArcGIS through Virtual Sites.
Information about installing the software is at http://www.itcs.umich.edu/sw-info/gis/arcgis.php
Other GIS software is available in select locations on campus.