GIS Online Classes

All College of the Environment GIS classes for WINTER, 2021 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-442                ESCI-497   
Page Contents:

See also


  • 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 (2.6) (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)



  • 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
    • A free Zoom account is fine if you already have one
    • Or: All WWU faculty, staff and students have Zoom Pro accounts through WWU
      • Pro Zoom accounts allow users to host meetings of any length and for up to 300 attendees
      • To Sign in to your WWU Zoom account:
      • To Sign in from the Zoom Desktop or Movile App:
        • Open the Zoom App
        • Click Sign In (you may need to Sign Out if you have already been using the App)
        • Click SSO (for Single-Sign-On)
        • For the Company Domain enter wwu-edu (with a dash and not a dot)
        • Enter your WWU
        • Enter your WWU universal password

  • Optional Additional User Accounts:
    • VPN access (for remote connection to WWU)
      • All students in a College of the Environment 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.

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 webpages
      • You can also connect to a computer in an ATUS Lab (some of which have ArcGIS Pro installed)


VPN Access for Students

  • All students enrolled in a College of the Environment 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-16 Remote Computer or AH-24 Remote Computer webpage
    • You can also connect to a computer in an ATUS Lab
  • 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 College of the Environment computer labs will be CLOSED for Winter Quarter, 2021
  • Some ATUS computer labs on campus may be open - check with ATUS for hours, availability and software


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

  • 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 College of the Environment 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