Getting Started with ArcGIS Online

What is ArcGIS Online?

ArcGIS Online is a collaborative web-based GIS from Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) that allows users to create, use, and share maps, 3D scenes, map layers, geospatial analytics and map data.  ArcGIS Online provides access to ESRI’s Living Atlas of the World, and makes it easy to create good-looking and functional web applications featuring maps and geospatial data without writing code (if you don’t want to). ArcGIS Online also serves as a portal to the ESRI secure cloud, where users can add items and data and publish web-based maps.  Additionally, ArcGIS Online is part of the overall ArcGIS system that St Olaf already uses, so ArcGIS Online can be used with and is supported by desktop ArcGIS software, can take data from ArcGIS for Server (now ArcGIS Enterprise), and APIs like the ESRI Javascript API. In other words, it’s an easy-to-use web-based mapping platform that’s fully accessible to and supported by professional-grade GIS tools.

Getting access to ArcGIS Online

At St Olaf College, ArcGIS Online is accessed through your St Olaf username and password. However, ArcGIS Online seats are controlled. If you are a St Olaf faculty or staff member, please drop a quick email to and outline briefly what you hope to do with ArcGIS Online. Want to use it in your course? Sure thing! Want to use map-based assignments in your classes and give ArcGIS Online to your students? We’ve got your back.

If you are a St Olaf student, email too, with an outline what you’d like to use for. We do watch the seats we have in use, so we’ll give preference to academic uses, but there’s likely room for you. Unfortunately we can only offer access and support for ArcGIS Online to members of the St Olaf community.

In addition to ArcGIS Online, ESRI also offers a product called Storymaps as well. Storymaps use ArcGIS Online behind the scenes to create online presentations and web applications that combine maps, data, and your images to tell data-driven stories about almost anything in interesting and compelling ways. Since storymaps are part of ArcGIS Online, you get access to them when you’re added to the list of ArcGIS Online users as well. They’re easy to create and require no coding skills. Behind the scenes, they rely on ArcGIS Online maps, which you’re able to work with in the full ArcGIS Online environment, editing and adding data to that can then appear in your Storymap.

Sold on ArcGIS Online? Of course you are. Use the links below for specifics on how to login and work with the service.

How to login to ArcGIS Online

Access Guided Tours/Tutorials in

How to access ESRI Storymaps

Need assistance?

  • Instructional Technology is here to help. For direct help with ArcGIS, ArcGIS Online, and ArcGIS Story Maps, please email, or call the IT Helpdesk (x3830).