All of the GIS software resources needed for your GIS class will be provided as part of the GIS course you are enrolled in. Every computer in Saddleback's GIS computer lab has the most current licensed version of ArcGIS Desktop used in the course. Most course exercises and activities can be completed on these computers during class time.
Some supplemental material and GIS-related student activity may require web-site or other open-source or cloud-based GIS applications although none will require complex software installations or other student expense.
In addition, as may be needed, students are free to use one of the two computers in the Learning Resource Center's Tutoring Services computer lab that are pre-loaded with the most current ESRI ArcGIS software used in class. The LAP is not open on the weekends so you must have time during the week to access these computers if you do not have access to the software elsewhere.
Also, if desired, students may acquire a free, 6-month or 1-year subscription to ESRI's ArcGIS Desktop software. It is suggested that students take advantage of the free trial software after you have completed the GIS course and learned how to use the program. This will also extend the time (by six months to one year) that you will have fully licensed access to the ArcGIS software.
In any event, before downloading or installing any software, it is very important that you make sure your computer meets the software requirements. ESRI, the software developer, lists current requirements on their website. Follow installation instructions and limitations carefully.
There is a multitude of data available on the web. Here are some useful resources for GIS data and remote sensing images. Some data is free, some is not. In either case you can learn about the types of data commonly used in GIS applications.
- GeoComm California Statewide Data
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Geospatial Services
- ESRI and the Geography Network
- U.S. Census Bureau
- EROS Data Center (USGS) - Remote Sensing Imagery
- SANDAG San Diego Association of Governments
There are many more sources of GIS data. Try searching for "free GIS data" to see what else is available. The list is always changing and is always interesting to see what new sets of geographic data become available.