Software Access and General Overview

Our program provides virtual software access to students 24/7. The most up-to-date versions of ArcGIS for Desktop Advanced, ERDAS Imagine, and Adobe Illustrator are the primary GIS related software utilized to complete course assignments.

eDesktop - GIS

Software Access

We currently offer two methods for students to access GIS related software via Virtual Desktops. eDesktop for GIS uses Windows Remote Desktop Protocol and GIS Virtual Apps & Desktops uses Citrix. GIS Virtual Apps & Desktops is the preferred choice. Not only does it work on both Macs and PCs but it also allows students to use tablets and other touch screen devices. Adobe Illustrator is only available on the GIS Virtual Apps and Desktop option.

Other GIS Applications are installed and available on both platforms so students can choose whichever service works best for them based on their internet connection and their computer. These Virtual Desktops allow students to access software and data directly from the GIS Online program servers. Student's connections are distributed evenly among the GIS servers by our Load Balancer and Session Broker systems. The Session Broker will also attempt to reconnect a student to their previous work session if they were accidentally disconnected.

Roaming profiles are used to provide a seamless experience regardless of which GIS server is used. Additionally, all users of the virtual desktops for GIS are assigned a "Student Folder" where they can save large data files (typical of GIS) mounted as S:\

Network Drives


Student's personal network storage (10Gb limit shared)


Student's personal web storage (10Gb shared with H)


Read-only access to class data and samples


GIS online specific personal storage, Instructors have access to assist students with assignments.

The transcript for the video above can be downloaded here.  

System Requirements

  • Both eDesktop and GIS Virtual Apps and Desktop are MAC and PC friendly.
  • Even though students will not be installing GIS software on their personal machines, we recommend the following hardware requirements listed on ESRI's ArcGIS Desktop 10.2 System Requirements page.
  • To make the most of the flexibility that online education offers you need a fast internet connection, at home if at all possible.
  • We recommend 10 -15 Mbps download speeds for a good end user experience. High-speed Internet or Broadband (defined by the FCC as 25 Mbps) would be optimal.
  • Are you curious if your internet connection can handle the job? Check out this speed test to learn more.

Requirements to Participate

  • Students should be fairly knowledgeable about computers and how to navigate the internet. We will jump right in to GIS software and will not have time to teach these basic computer skills. Students who are comfortable navigating the internet, exploring new software programs and troubleshooting will do well in this program.
  • Participating in our online courses includes activities like: downloading and uploading files, watching and listening to recorded presentations, participating in live meetings, and using eDesktop for GIS.