Online GIS Classes

All Huxley GIS classes for Summer and Fall, 2020 will be taught ONLINE. 

The information below is relevant to the following courses (each of which will have additional, course-specific information as well):

  • ENVS-320              ENVS-321           ENVS-322           
  • ENVS-419              ENVS-420/530   ENVS-421/521   
  • ENVS-422/522      ENVS-423           ESCI-497   

See also WWU's Spring 2020 Guide, including the Students section


Page Contents:


  • A personal computer (more details on personal computers below)
    • You will need a computer for Zoom conferences, etc.
    • You will need a computer to run ArcGIS Pro
      • One option is to install / run ArcGIS Pro on your personal computer
      • Alternatively, you can use your personal computer to login remotely to a university computer (that has ArcGIS Pro installed)
  • A webcam w/microphone (either for your computer or via a mobile device, see webcam notes below)
  • A broadband internet connection

  • Optional Additional Hardware:
    • External / additional / larger monitor(s)
    • Printer (especially nice for Cartography class)



  • ArcGIS Pro (2.4 or 2.5) (unless you are using Remote Login to use ArcGIS Pro on a Campus Computer)
  • The Zoom application
    • Note: Depending upon how your instructor sets up their web conferencing / meeting for classes you may not need to install the application - but you probably will want one - and it's free
    • See WWU's notes on Zoom Conferencing
    • You can install Zoom on Windows or Mac as well as on Android or iOS mobile devices
  • Office suite
    • This can be Microsoft Office or similar versions of Word, Excel, etc.
    • Other software for specific courses:
      • ESCI-497: ENVI, Agisoft Metashape and Orfeo toolbox

    • Optional Additional Software if you will be using Remote Login to access campus computers:
      • Cisco AnyConnect
      • Remote Desktop Connection
      • (more details on Remote Login below)


    Required USER ACCOUNTS 

    • A WWU ArcGIS Online user account
      • Free
      • Created automatically the first time you log in to ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Pro
      • WWU uses 'Organization' (or 'enterprise') logins (your WWU ArcGIS account will use your WWU login/pwd)
        • This means you do not have a separate ArcGIS user name and password
        • All you need (to use ArcGIS) is your WWU user name and password
      • See notes on Logging in to ArcGIS Online
    • A Zoom account
    • Optional Additional User Accounts:
      • VPN access (for remote connection to WWU)
        • All students in a Huxley GIS class now have this
        • See more details on VPN and remote login below


    How CLASSES Will Work

    While each course will be unique, most classes will include some combination of:

    • Lectures and Demos will be a combination of:
      • Pre-recorded
      • Live-streamed
    • Discussions will be a combination of:
      • Web conference (Zoom or the like)
      • Chat (Canvas, Piazza, etc.)
    • Virtual class lab periods will be via web conference (Zoom, etc.) - working on lab assignments while simultaneously participating in a web conference
    • Virtual 'office' hours (either with the instructor or the TA) will be via web conference (Zoom, etc.)
    • Lab assignments will be done on your personal computer (or optionally via a remote login to a campus computer, see below)
    • Data transfer (data sets needed to complete the labs or finished assignments) will be done via Canvas or other online methods



    Every student will need to have access to an off-campus, personal computer.

    • Ideally, students will have access to a Windows computer capable of running ArcGIS Pro
    • Alternatively, students can log in remotely to use a campus computer (see notes on the process below)
      • Even w/remote login a personal computer will still be required (to connect to the campus computer)
    • Remote login / operation of the GIS software cannot be done via a mobile device


    The IDEAL computer would be (something like):

    • Windows 10 (64 bit)
      • Multi-core, hyper-threaded
      • 32 GB of RAM (4 or 8 GB minimum)
      • A dedicated graphics card
      • (Basically, something similar to a high-end gaming computer)
    • Large monitor (or multiple monitors)
    • Webcam w/microphone (built in or external)

    Obviously, most students won't have that...

    • If you have an older / less ideal WINDOWS computer ​​​ArcGIS Pro may still work:
    • If you have a MAC:
      • It is possible to install ArcGIS Pro on a Mac (but you first have to have Windows or a Windows emulator installed)
      • To run ArcGIS Pro on a Mac:
        • You will need a Mac with sufficient ram, hard drive space, video card, etc.
        • You will need to install either Boot Camp or Parallels software
          • Boot Camp allows you to create a 'dual boot' computer (both iOS and Windows)
            • If you use Boot Camp you will also need to obtain and install a copy of the Windows operating system
            • Boot Camp is free but there are requirments for the amount of hard drive space, the iOS version, the computer version, etc.
            • Students may be able to obtain a free (student) copy of Windows
          • Parallels allows a Mac computer to 'emulate' Windows (running Windows software such as ArcGIS)
            • You will need to purchase the Parallels software (see student option). There is also a 14 day trial that would allow you to see if it works.
            • Using Parallels for ArcGIS (or other Windows programs using large datasets) will not be as fast as running the same programs / data on a Windows computer
        • You will need to install ArcGIS Pro (see notes on using ArcGIS Pro Off-Campus (on a Personal Computer)
          • ArcGIS Pro is free for WWU students
      • Installing Boot Camp (and Windows) or Parallels so that you can install ArcGIS may work, or may not - and the only way to know for sure is to try it and see...

    • If you have a LINUX or UBUNTO computer you will need to use the remote login option below
    • If you have a SURFACE computer it may work... but you will have to test this to find out for sure


    Webcam Notes

    Most classes will be using web conferencing (Zoom, etc.) for class discussions, etc. As such, a webcam is required to participate. If your computer does not have a webcam:

    • You might be able to buy an external webcam (good luck, they're all sold out at the moment)
    • You might be able to connect your phone or tablet to your computer to be used as a webcam (for the computer)
      • There are apps for both Android and iOS for this purpose
      • In limited testing this seems to work with some phones / apps / computers but not all...
    • You can also use your phone or tablet to join the web conferencing (even if it's not connected to your computer)
      • If you need to be sharing your computer screen (or wish to view the web conference on a larger monitor) you can join the web conference twice: once from your mobile device and once from your personal computer


    MOBILE Devices (Tablets & Phones)

    • Mobile devices are not an option for running GIS Software.
    • Mobile devices are not an option for remote login to campus computers.
    • You will need to have access to a personal computer.
    • Mobile devices can be used for participating in web conferencing (Zoom meetings, etc.)
      • If your computer does not have a webcam you could use a mobile device to join the web conference
    • If you are using a remote login (to campus computers) you may need to use a mobile device (or a second computer) to participate in the web conference


    REMOTE LOGIN (to Campus Computers)

    If you do not have access to access to a computer capable of running ArcGIS Pro you have the option of logging in remotely to use a campus computer.

    • In addition, some classes use licensed software (not available on a personal computer) that will require remote login to a campus computer
    • NOTE: Using remote login may create additional challenges at times (connection speed, data transfer, etc.). Be prepared to be patient and allow extra time to complete assignments

    • To remotely login in to WWU requires:
      • WWU VPN (Virtual Private Network) permissions (everyone now has this)
      • Cisco AnyConnect (installed on your personal computer, free) - software that provides network connection to WWU
      • Remote Desktop Connection (installed on your personal computer, free)  - software that provides the ability to log in to a remote computer
      • Connection to a particular computer via the AH-24 Remote Computer webpage
        • You can also connect to a computer in an ATUS Lab (some of which have ArcGIS Pro installed)
        • AH-16 Computers will be off-line for summer 2020


    VPN Access for Students

    • All students enrolled in a Huxley GIS class have been given WWU VPN access
      • VPN access allows you to remotely log in to WWU's computer network (i.e., you can log in from a personal computer)
      • Once you have a VPN connection (to the campus computer network)  you can:
        • Connect to a specific campus computer
        • Connect to campus servers (the J:/ drive, the U:/ drive, etc.)


    Installing & Using Cisco AnyConnect

    Cisco AnyConnect provides the ability to remotely connect to WWU's computer network via a VPN connection.

    • Download / Install WWU's Standard VPN client (Cisco AnyConnect)
      • Install VPN from off-campus using this link:
        • Currently, Microsoft Edge (non-Chromium-based) does not load the installer correctly on or off of campus
        • Using ChromeFirefoxInternet Explorer, Chromium-based Edge or Safari is advised
      • When prompted, enter your WWU Universal username and password
        • Use for the Group
      • After you sign in, Windows and Mac users will be presented with a download button for the Cisco AnyConnect client
        • Once downloaded, install the Cisco AnyConnect client
        • Chromebook users will need to get the Cisco AnyConnect client from the Chrome Web Store, iOS users can get it from the Apple App Store, and Android users can get it from the Google Play Store. 

    • See also WWU's VPN Installation Notes for more details


    To Use Cisco AnyConnect (to connect to WWU's computer network):

    • Windows: 
      • Start Programs > Cisco > Cisco AnyConnect Secure Mobility Client
    • Mac: 
      • Applications (Launchpad) > Cisco > Cisco AnyConnect Secure Mobility Client
    • If the "Connect to" field is blank, enter the address of the VPN server:
    • Click Connect
    • Enter your WWU username and Password
    • A pop-up message should verify that you are connected to the WWU network


    Installing Remote Desktop Connection

    • Remote Desktop Connection is a free application:
      • Windows:
        • Most Windows computers should have this already
        • If not it is available free from the Microsoft Store
      • Mac:
      • Mobile
        • You can install Remote Desktop Connection on an Android or iOS mobile device, but there isn't much point in doing it: you would not be able to run the GIS software from a mobile device (without a keyboard and mouse) and the screen would be far too small...


    Connecting to a Computer On Campus (Remote Login)

    • Having installed Cisco AnyConnect and Remote Desktop Connection...
    • Open Cisco AnyConnect and login to connect to the university computer network
    • Open the AH-24 Remote Computer webpage
      • You can also connect to a computer in an ATUS Lab
      • AH-16 computers will be off-line for Summer 2020
    • Choose a computer and click the Connect button
      • This should download a small Remote Desktop Connection file
      • Open the downloaded .rdp file 
        • Enter your WWU user name and password
        • Note: you may need to enter WWU\ before your username (e.g., WWU\carsonr instead of just carsonr)
      • This should establish the remote connection to the computer on campus


    • Once connected you can use software on the campus computer as usual
      • You will also have access to WWU servers as usual (the J:/ drive, etc.)
      • You will not be able to use a thumb drive or external drive (you will have to store all of your data and project files in the cloud)


    When DONE using the Remote Login:

    • Store ALL of your data / project files / etc. to the cloud (your U:/ drive, OneDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox...)
    • Sign Out from the campus computer
      • Start / <user> / Sign Out             (or Start / Power / Disconnect)
      • DO NOT SHUT DOWN the campus computer
        • If a campus computer is turned off it WILL NOT be usable again until someone goes into the lab and manually turns it back on
      • From Cisco AnyConnect:
        • Choose Disconnect
        • PLEASE Disconnect (end your VPN session) when you are done
        • VPN connections consume bandwidth and slow down the network


    Using Computers ON-CAMPUS (in a campus computer lab)

    • The Huxley computer labs will be CLOSED for the entire Spring & Summer Quarter
    • Some ATUS computer labs on campus may be open - check with ATUS for hours, availablity and software


    Notes on WWU SERVERS (the J:/ drive, the U:/ drive, etc.)

    • Spring 2020 GIS Classes will not be using campus servers (the U:/ drive, the J:/ drive, the S:/ drive etc.)
      • All data and course materials will be delivered via Canvas or other online methods
      • In general, students will not have access to these servers as they will not be on campus
    • If you need to access files on a server (e.g., your U:/ drive), and you can't come to campus you can connect remotely:
      • Install and use Cisco AnyConnect to establish a VPN connection to the campus computer network (see notes above)
        • Optionally, you can also install Remote Desktop Connection and log in to a computer in an ATUS Lab
      • To connect directly to a WWU Server (without a remote desktop connection) follow the steps below - for Windows or Mac:

      • From a Windows computer:
        • Create a desktop shortcut to a network address:
          • Right-click on Windows Desktop and choose New, Shortcut
          • Enter your username as WWU\username and WWU password when prompted
        • J:/ Drive                \\\spatial
        • U:/ Drive
          • Students:        \\\stu\<username>
          • Faculty/Staff:  \\\user\<username>

      • From a Mac:
        • Open Finder
          • From the Go menu, choose Connect to Server
        • J:/ Drive                 smb://
        • U:/ Drive:
          • Students:        smb://<username>
          • Faculty/Staff:  smb://<username>

      • For other campus servers see: Mapping Huxley Network Drives
      • When DONE using VPN:
        • From Cisco AnyConnect:
          • Choose Disconnect
        • PLEASE Disconnect (end your VPN session) when you are don
        • VPN connections consume bandwidth and slow down the network