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Stanford Geospatial Center resources for teaching and learning: Self-paced learning resources

This guide serves as the main information portal for the Stanford Geospatial Center's Support, Services and Collections

Remote Learning Resources

SGC workshop materials

You can download our workshop training materials from Stanford's Box account. If you are a Stanford affiliate and are unable to attend one of the regularly scheduled training sessions, you are welcome to use the SGC Lab to go through these self-paced tutorials with our support staff nearby to answer questions. is our default location for distribution of SGC Tutorial materials, including our instructor-led Introduction to GIS Series. Materials are organized by platform and include Tutorial documents and data downloads.


Introduction to Desktop GIS

For QGIS Desktop -
For RStudio -
For ArcGIS Desktop -
For ArcGIS Pro -
For ArcGIS Online -

This introductory session focuses upon the fundamental concepts and skills needed to begin using Geographic Information Systems software for the exploration and analysis of spatial data using the ArcGIS Desktop platform. Topics include: 

  • What is GIS?
  • Spatial Data Models and Formats
  • Projections and Coordinate Systems
  • Basic Data Management
  • The ArcMap User Interface
  • Simple Analysis using Visualization.


Geoprocessing and basic analysis of spatial data

For ArcGIS Desktop -
For QGIS Desktop -

This session builds upon the skills and concepts introduced in the "Introduction to GIS with ArcGIS Desktop" session and participants will be expected to attend that workshop, or have comparable experience with ArcGIS 10.2. Topics include: 

  • Use of Relates & Relationship Classes
  • Geoprocessing of geographic data
  • Geocoding of street addresses
  • Overlay Analysis
  • Advanced Manipulation of Tabular Data


Data creation & editing workflows with ArcGIS Desktop

For ArcGIS Desktop -

This workshop serves as follow-on to the Introductory and Geoprocessing Skills workshops. Some level of familiarity with ArcGIS is assumed. In this exercise you will use the goal of producing a publication quality map of sugar plantations in Madagascar as the vehicle for introducing some of the more advanced skills necessary to have when working on extensive GIS projects. Topics include: 

  • Creation and management of File Geodatabases.
  • Conversion of XY coordinates data to a Geodatabase feature class.
  • Creating Custom ArcToolbox Geoprocessing Tools using ModelBuilder
  • Georeferencing of scanned map images
  • Creation and editing of Geodatabase Feature Classes
  • Using Definition Queries
  • Working with Annotation Classes
  • Managing Multiple Data Frames
  • Customizing Map Elements
  • Using Extent Rectangles to link Data Frames


Raster! The 'other' GIS data.

For ArcGIS Desktop -
For ArcGIS Pro -

The Raster Data Model provides an effective means of characterizing spatially continuous phenomena, such as elevation, temperature, precipitation and other environmental and climatic characteristics. This workshop provides a targeted introduction to the tools available in ArcGIS for creating, managing and analyzing data in raster form. Topics include: 

  • Types of Raster Data
  • Properties of Raster Data
  • Symbolization & Display of Raster Data
  • Imagery Analysis in ArcGIS 
  • Terrain Analysis in ArcGIS 
  • The Spatial Analyst Toolset
  • Extracting Data from Raster to Vector
  • Map Algebra is a repository maintained by the Stanford Geospatial Center. It currently contains a growing number of tutorials written by SGC staff and others, shared under Open Licensing. We will be forking many more of our Github-based materials to this repository over the next few days, including the materials for our new 101s series for ArcGIS Pro, ArcGIS Online, and QGIS. is Esri’s main tutorial and lessons distribution site for all software platforms, including ArcGIS Desktop, ArcGIS Pro, ArcGIS Online and more. You will find a Gallery with the ability to facet by software platform, applications area, and more. There are also Tracks which combine a series of tutorials to create a complete introduction to a particular application area.

Suggested Tracks

Below I have selected a few tracks that may be of interest to users of the ArcGIS platform for research and teaching.

Getting Started with Maps and Data in ArcGIS Online

A beginner's guide to ArcGIS Online

Try Collector

Use your smartphone or tablet to collect and update information in the field, whether connected or disconnected.

GIS in the Age of Community Health

Arm yourself with hands-on skills and knowledge of how GIS tools can analyze health data and better understand diseases.

Resources for Teaching with ArcGIS Pro

Learn path for your students to become familiar with ArcGIS Pro

Data Collection

Part of a series of paths created for business analytics, this 'Path' represents a fairly comprehensive overview of the various tools for collecting data using the Esri/ArcGIS ecosystem.

QGIS Tutorials and Tips v1.0

The labor of love of Ujaval Gandhi [@spatialthoughts], a Googler in India. Comprehensive and newly updated for QGIS 3.x, these are the best task-based tutorials for QGIS, out there. Available in more than a dozen translations.

QGIS Tutorials and Tips

Data Carpentry trains researchers in the core data skills for efficient, shareable, and reproducible research practices. We run accessible, inclusive training workshops; teach openly available, high-quality, domain-tailored lessons; and foster an active, inclusive, diverse instructor community that promotes and models reproducible research as a community norm.

Lesson materials are all available online, under a CC BY license, for self-directed study or for adaptation and re-use (as "Carpentries-based" training).

Data Carpentry Lessons

Data Carpentry workshops are domain-specific, so that we are teaching researchers the skills most relevant to their domain and using examples from their type of work. 

Geospatial Data Curriculum

This workshop is co-developed with the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON). It focuses on working with geospatial data - managing and understanding spatial data formats, understanding coordinate reference systems, and working with raster and vector data in R for analysis and visualization.

Join the geospatial curriculum email list to get updates and be involved in conversations about this curriculum.

Software Carpentry Lessons

Software Carpentry teaches researchers the computing skills they need to get more done in less time and with less pain.

Library Carpentry Lessons

Library Carpentry workshops teach people working in library- and information-related roles


Getting Started with Google Earth Engine:

The best quick Introduction to Google Earth Engine is the GEE 101 Series of workshops, created by the Google Earth Engine Developer Team:

More Guides and Quick Starts from Google Earth Engine:

API Tutorials:

Machine Learning in GEE:

GEE Developer's Guide:

Planet School

Planet School is aimed at data scientists, software engineers, imagery analysts, and more: anyone who is engaged in working with Earth Observation imagery and interested in learning more about basic EO and geospatial concepts.

Below you'll find a collection of self-guided tutorials with the information you need to get up to speed on tools and technology that will let you get the most out of Planet's data.

Planet 101

A gentle introduction to foundational concepts. New to geospatial data, or working with APIs? Start here.

Building a Toolbox

Get up and running with a collection of popular free & open-source tools for working with geospatial data

Using Planet Tools

Hands-on guides that use Planet's GIS integrations and open-source tools

Beyond the Basics

Hands-on with more focused topics, building on what you've already learned

Working with Planet APIs

Focused guides to common tasks and workflows using Planet APIs

Deep Dives in Python

Ready to take your skills to the next level? Our extensive collection of free and open source Jupyter Notebooks is here to guide you through a number of intermediate-to-advanced level examples.

a free introduction to geo 

Geospatial Analysis, 4th Edition

by de Smith, Goodchild, Longley 

Making Maps for the Web

The NCGIA Core Curriculum

The official reference for this material is: Goodchild, M.F., and K.K. Kemp, eds. 1990. NCGIA Core Curriculum in GIS.
National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis, University of California, Santa Barbara CA.

The NCGIA Core Curriculum literature provides fundamental course content assistance for educators as lecture materials. The compilation is not meant to be a comprehensive textbook, but rather several lecture note outlines.