One of the key goals of this course is to develop practical GIS skills. The ArcGIS software from Environmental Systems Research Institute, Inc. (ESRI) is by far the most popular GIS software for professionals. Unfortunately, you will find that the ArcGIS software is not particularly "user-friendly." It has exceedingly complicated interfaces and various other surprises—you will get frustrated with this software. The best way to develop your GIS skills, however, is simply by spending time using ArcGIS.
Be prepared to work on the GIS/SCF lab computers on your own computer throughout the quarter and not only during class time. Remote access will NOT work reliably for ArcGIS for various technical reasons.
If you have a Windows computer or virtual machine that meets the requirements, you may download and install ArcGIS with a one-year student license (i.e., the software will stop working after 1 year). It's not required, but it might save you some trips to campus. Click here for details.
There are several resources available if you get stuck: