Maps are perhaps one of the oldest tools for teaching. For years they were hung above the chalkboard for easy access by teachers to point to with their long wooden sticks. Globes were required classroom tools and they are printed in the front of every student planner available.
(Side note: Can you imagine teachers in the 50s asking their administrators for the latest in long pointer technology? That makes me laugh considering the tools teachers ask for these days.)
I have a new favorite tool and it is My Maps, from Google. Most people have used Google Maps and Google Earth. Think of My Maps as something of a mashup between the two.
Here’s what it looks like
On the left is the legend. Here you can name your map, add layers, add collaborators with the share button (just like Google docs, sheets, slides, etc..), and preview the finished product. You can turn off and on layers and select individual pins from this menu.
This is a map that I collaborated with some fellow teachers on at a Google Apps for Education conference last weekend. As you can see, we were given the narrative that a zombie outbreak had occurred. The house pins are the locations of our schools where we are sheltering. There is a layer for resource locations, an escape route, and infected areas. This is one fun, engaging way to teach this to teachers but there are hundreds of use cases for this too.
At the top is a search bar for finding specific locations. Just under this from left to right is an undo and redo button, selection tool, add marker button, line drawing tool, direction tool, and scale tool.
Here are some screenshots that show the workflow of adding a marker/point:
First, give the marker a title and description. The description can be as long or short as you like. You can then change the color, make it a different icon, and even create a custom icon from an image you have or a Google Image. After choosing your icon, click save, then you can upload a picture that will show up when that marker is clicked on.
The other option that is important to share here is the “draw a line tool.” You can draw a line or shape (shapes can have different colors and be transparent, and even their own pictures), as you will see below, or directions using whatever mode of transport you choose. Watch the gif below to see how to draw a shape covering Greenland. Beware, the end is shocking..
That’s right, Greenland is very small. About the size of Algeria. Our session facilitator, James Sanders, showed us this little gem. I recall my teachers telling me how the top and bottom of maps are blown up since they are on a sphere that has been made flat, but nothing prepared me for this!
So, you can see how Google My Maps creates new opportunities to interact with our world and new ways to learn about it. Maps will always be a large part of our teaching and this is a great example of a 21st century map tool.
Bonus! Antarctica is not that big either!