Getting Started

Materials found on this website require the user to have a desktop or laptop computer with the capacity to handle the required software and large datasets. The computer should have a processing speed of at least 1 GHz and storage capacity (RAM or Random-Access Memory) of 1 Gigabyte (GB). Most computers manufactured after 2005 should be adequate. For this training website and its content, personal computers should run on the Microsoft Windows platform; Macintosh and others are not applicable


The training lessons contained on this website are free to the public. However, to access the training lessons and data we ask that you register with the project by going to the registration page. Your registration information will be used to improve the website's content and will not be shared.

Basic Software

The lessons and data included in this website are in different computer file formats. Two programs must be installed on your computer to open files found on this website.

The computer program Adobe Reader is needed to download and read documents for the lessons. Follow the directions on Adobe's website to install this program.

You will also need an extraction or unzip program like 7-ZIP on your computer to download and open files that have been compressed to save space. An extraction program such as 7-ZIP is important to have to open large data files from free internet sources. Adobe Reader and 7-ZIP are available online at the website links listed on this page.


Additional Software

The ArcGIS lessons were developed for EsriĀ® ArcGISTM software (v 10.1). A recent version or student copy of ArcGIS must be installed on your computer to complete the lessons. Esri and the Esri Logo are licensed trademarks of Environmental Systems Research Institute, Inc.

The QGIS lessons were developed for QGIS Standalone Installer Version 2.12. QGIS is a free and open source Geographic Information System, which serves as an alternative to commercial GIS software such as ArcGIS. The QGIS name and logo are protected under European law from unauthorized and confusing uses of the trademark.

Some lessons and data included in this website may require additional software. Some of these software packages are freely available while others need to be purchased or used at a licensed institution (such as a university).