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Learning GIS

Resources for learning GIS concepts and tools, including ESRI's ArcGIS products, and QGIS.

Other Online Learning Options

Many people have created tutorials to help others learn GIS. Finding these tutorials can be tricky, but worth it. Watch out for what version of the software the tutorial is for

Using Google, search for combinations of keywords that will maximize your changes of finding tutorials. For example, if you want to learn how to geocode, you could search for:

  • geocoding tutorial
  • geocoding tutorial site:edu
  • gis geocoding how-to
  • geocoding format:pdf
  • geocoding video

The site:edu part of the search will only returns results from .edu domains. The format:pdf will only return results that are in pdf format.

Other combinations of those words or related words could work to. Be patient, and try different combinations if you aren't finding anything.

ESRI Overview

ESRI, the makers of ArcGIS Desktop, ArcGIS Pro, and ArcGIS Online, as well as other products, have a tremendous amount of learning material available to support the use of their tools.

Accessing ESRI Training

Steps for Accessing ESRI's Training Site

ESRI is the producer of ArcGIS software and they offer many web courses for no fee with our site license. There is a new very easy process to access the Training portion of ESRI's website, as of March 2017.

  1. Sign into your University of Michigan ArcGIS Online account. If you don't have one yet, this process will actually create your account as well.

    1. Go to

    2. Click Sign In, in the upper right corner

    3. Select "Use your University of Michigan Account"

    4. You may be directed to the UM login page, where you should put your uniqname and kerberos login. If you are already logged into a UM site, such as email or Wolverine Access, you might not be prompted to login, and it will just pass your credentials to the ArcGIS Online service

  2. Once you are logged in, at top right, click on your name, then Training

    1. This will open a new tab with the ESRI Training website

    2. Check the upper right section - does it say your name? If so, you should be properly logged into the Training website.

      • If instead of your name, the upper right section says "Sign In," click that. Below the username and password boxes, click on "Sign in with Enterprise Account", and in the next screen, put "umich" into the box before , and then continue. Then select "Using your University of Michigan Account" and proceed to (re)login with your UM credentials on the UM login page.

To consistently access the Training section from the right account, always go to and login, then under your profile in the upper right, go to the Training website

All web courses should appear "unlocked" if you have Training correctly enabled.

Questions? Problems? Want course recommendations? Email

New to ArcGIS for Desktop or ArcGIS Pro? Start here!

Getting Started with GIS - approx. 4 hours

This is a free course. If you are a U-M student or staff member or otherwise affiliated, you should do step 1 above to create the right kind of account. If you are not affiliated with U-M, this course is still available to you, and you can create a public account to access it.

GIS Basics - approx. 2.5 hours

This course is also free, but covers ArcGIS Pro, a newer version of the ESRI software.


A GIS helps people visualize and create information that can be used to make decisions and solve problems. Get an introduction to the basic components of a GIS. Learn fundamental concepts that underlie the use of a GIS with hands-on experience with maps and geographic data.

Other ESRI Resources


SpatiaLAbs, available at , are designed to introduce, develop and reinforce spatial reasoning and analysis skills. Developing GIS and cartography skills are not the primary focus, but you will undoubtedly develop some of these skills while working through these activities. These are targeted at a post-secondary or secondary audience.

Mapping Our World

Mapping Our World, available at , is aimed at a broader audience, from grade school through college.