Why Online Maps?

Online maps provide a whole new spectrum of possibilities when it comes to mapping and interacting with data. Exciting new opportunities exist for geography, history, and social studies teachers to have their students find new ways to interact with distant places or the world around them. New Graphical Information Systems (GIS) in particular are transforming the ways that people interact with representations of space. Broadly speaking, GIS include methods that use and present quantitative spatial relationships based on data and are employed in various ways, including cartography, geography, land planning and surveying, and other objectives.

Today there are free, powerful, and intuitive mapping tools like Google Earth and Google Maps (and many others) and many practical ways of using these tools to enrich the curriculum and engage students. There are also innovative ways of incorporating online mapping tools with other Web 2.0 tools, including Google Docs, wikis, and blogs. For instance, one can turn a spreadsheet of geographic data into interactive maps, charts, tables, and even Flash cards. GIS apps are also available on handheld devices and open up new possibilities of “mashup” integration with other popular handheld apps.

We suggest you watch the following video to gain a greater understanding of how technology is transforming the world of maps and mapping:

The New Meaning of Mapping (You Tube Video)

Online Mapping Platforms

A combination of mapping and digital storytelling sets Meograph apart from all other web based mapping platforms.  Billed as 4D digital storytelling, the concept is quite simple, yet powerful.  Tag places on a Google map with a time stamp, description, image and your recorded audio to create a point in the story. When multiple locations are edited, the digital story will play back with the map in the background, highlighting the location and time that they even took place. Further, each event is embedded with the audio that the creator places on each location.

Google Maps
Create your own online maps that can be shared with others for online collaboration. Maps can also be saved when logged into your google account. Once finished maps can be shared with a unique URL or embedded in a blog or website.

Google Map Maker
Google Map Maker allows anyone to enhance current google maps by placing more detailed information about their local community or neighborhood. Users can add detailed descriptions of their campus, local coffee shop, or local paths.

Create a mapping journey using Tripline. Place markers on a map, include text and images and link one location to the next to create a video journey.

Scribble Maps
An online mapping platform perfectly suited for use with interactive white boards. Scribble Maps allows you to create live notations on a world map. Maps can then be saved and embedded on another web site or blog. One unique feature allows a map creator to generate their own key for the unique map.

Quick Maps
A quick and easy method of creating online maps. Simply drag and drop various sized pins, draw lines, scribble free hand and insert text. Once created the maps can be saved and an embed code is generated.

Step Map
This online platform allows users to quickly create maps based on specific regions of the world that include notations, images and video.

Create your own biography timeline and map, add your ancestors, and view them on a historical map.

Time Maps
A virtual map of world history that includes spatial markers, a timeline, images, encyclopedia information, links and slideshows within the timeline connected map.

What Was There
A unique mapping platform that allows users to upload historic images to live maps. Students conducting historical research could include the location base historic images they find to the What Was There map. Once images are uploaded, anyone in the world can view the images as they appear on the What Was There web site.

Create interactive maps and geogames. You can embed the Flash based maps. The Basic version is free.

Users can overlay (mainly historical) photographs on top of Google Maps Street View and add their own story.

Map Visualization Tools

Mapping Worlds
This online resources allows you to visualize the world based on five categories: people, planet, business, politics and living. Each category includes sub categories that provide specific detail. The shape of the map will adjust according to the statistical data assocated with each category. Each unique map can also be downloaded or embedded in a web site or blog.

World Mapper
A fantastic resource for visualizing statistical data in a map format, World Mapper includes 30 main categories, each with sub categories that include a map that is size adjusted based on the data set chosen. Each map can be printed as a pdf poster that includes more in depth data and a brief summary of the information.

Online Maps Tools & Resources

These resources will introduce you to GIS and several online interactive mapping tools:

This introduction to GIS explains Geographic Information Systems, provides real-world examples and “best practices,” discusses GIS in Education and Science, and shows uses for libraries and museums. There are case studies in K-12 demonstrating uses of GIS in the classroom.

Teaching with GIS in the GeoSciences 
Created by Brian Welch, Dept. of Environmental Studies, at St. Olaf College, in Northfield, MN, this section serves as an introduction to Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in Education. There are also Teaching with Google Earth and Teaching with GPS sections.

Teaching with Google Earth 
Created by Glenn A. Richard of the Mineral Physics Institute at Stony Brook University, this section serves as an introduction to Google Earth in Education. He outlines potential uses for students and teachers, shows how to get started, provides a user guide, and offers examples.

How to Teach with Google Earth
Created by the Science Education Resource Center at Carleton College, this tutorial website explains in great detail how Google Earth is currently being used in classrooms throughout the country. There is also an overview on how to use Google Earth for research and resources of data that can be used with Google Earth.

Geography Prezi
Prezi is a zooming online presentation platform, that can also be used as a method to present mapped information. Simply upload a map as the background to your presentation and create an interactive, zooming map with text and images.

Geospatial and Statistical Data Center at the University of Virginia
Provided by the University of Virginia, the Geospatial and Statistical Data Center provides an easy to use Historical Census Browser and also has nation-wide data.

National Geographic: Maps and Geography
You can search for Maps in their MapMachine Online Atlas but National Geographic.com also provides interactive quizzes, games, expeditions and tours as well. Map Machine provides physical and political characteristics of countries and includes aerial views. You can view nearly any place on Earth by population, climate, and more.

Geography World
A Geography teacher from Pennsylvania has put together this award-winning teaching resource. Contents are organized around four major areas: Geographic Information; Geography Games, Puzzles, Quizzes, Trivia; Pennsylvania; and Geography World. Check out the links to Maps and Globes as well as the Geography Quizzes area.

Quia is a quiz and game creation subscription service that has assorted links to geography quizzes and games. Visit Quia Web. Quia also makes it easy for teachers to create their own quizzes and games.

Google Sketchup Google SketchUp allows you to place your models using real-world coordinates and share them with the world using the Google 3D Warehouse.

For more mapping resources please visit Best of History Web Sites: Maps.

Examples of Online Maps

Here are examples of online mapping in the History and Social Studies classroom:

Crisis in Darfur (Google Earth) 
“Crisis in Darfur” is an impressive, interactive Google Earth file from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum as part of their “Mapping Initiatives.” Students can view images of burned-out Darfur villages and gain a deeper understanding of the destruction as a result of the civil strife in the area. The Google Earth file could serve as a useful introduction to the crisis in Darfur and lead to in-depth analysis of its effects and ramifications. Other USHMM Google Earth files include Genocide Prevention Mapping and Mapping the Holocaust.

Immigration Explorer
This New York Times interactive timeline/map shows how immigrants settled in the U.S. over time.

Mapping America: Every City, Every Block
New York Times interactive map that allows users to browse local data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey –based on samples from 2005 to 2009.

This geography game allows participants to donate water to people who live in extreme poverty. The game presents a city or landmark, and you have a short amount of time (5 to 10 seconds) to locate it on a map.

Google Lit Trips
This site contains various Google Earth files that enable visitors to follow the travels of characters from famous novels. For instance, your students could use Google Lit Trips to follow the adventures of Odysseus in The Odyssey or the travels of the Joad family in The Grapes of Wrath. Google Lit Trips is designed with teachers and students in mind as files are organized by grade levels: K- 5, 6-8, 9-12, and Higher Ed.

March of Democracy
This Worldhistory.com map flashes democracy’s “march across history” in 90 seconds.

HyperHistory Online: Maps
Hyper History Online covers 3000 years of history through maps, timelines, lifelines, and graphics. The over 2000 files are grouped into People, History, Events, Maps, Science, Culture, Religion, and Politics. The Map section covers seven periods of World History: Early Civilizations; Greek Colonization; Rome + Han China; Barbarian Invasions; Expansion of Islam; Mongol Empires; A.D. 1500 – 1800. There are also regional maps from Antiquity and World War I and World War II maps.

Xpeditions Atlas
National Geographic offers teacher-tested lessons plans sorted by standard and grade level as well as interactive lessons and a virtual museum called Xpeditions Hall. Students will benefit from the Homework Help section where they can research pictures, articles, maps, and more for reports, presentations, and more. The GeoBee Challenge is a game that features five new geography-based questions every day.

As part of a project to digitize California artifacts, five Google Maps have been created to showcase digitized historical photographs.

Conflict History
This is a timeline and Google Map of world conflicts from 3000 BC to the 1970’s.

This website creates a free Bible atlas illustrated with Google maps.

U.S. Presidents Birth Places
This Google Maps charts U.S. Presidents via their birth places.

The Traveler IQ Challenge
The Traveler IQ Challenge is a fun online geography game that tests your knowledge of various places in the world. Among the topics are World, Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America, and USA Challenge. You need to reach a predetermined score within a set time frame to advance to the next level of the game.

P&P World Map 
P&P World Map is a Japanese website (translated in English) that offers online geographic maps of countries, continents, and the globe free to print. They also allow the user to write text, draw pictures, paint in certain areas, and label locations.

Students Map Neighborhoods with GIS 
This Education World article explains how Geographic Information Systems (GIS), mapping and analysis software employed by the U.S. government, NASA, and other agencies, now is helping students locate and document hazards in their communities and includes tips on how to use GIS in the classroom.

See also:

For more mapping resources please visit Best of History Web Sites: Maps

Video Tutorials on Online Maps

Creating Maps in Google Maps

Creating Google Maps with the “My Maps” Tab
Google Map Maker Tutorial

Annotate Google Earth

Google Earth Learn is a very clever self-paced quiz game designed to familiarize the user with the features and tools of Google Earth. With each level, the user is taught a new feature about navigating Google Earth, with a mini-quiz in order to move onto the next level. Instead of a tutorial, this quiz-game format is very approachable to those of all ages, and highlights many interesting tools that Google Earth has to offer (such as exploring the ocean, looking at satellite images from the past, etc.)

Scribble Maps Tutorial

Umapper Custom Maps Tutorial

Introduction to Historypin

How to Integrate Online Maps and Mapping

Online maps can be integrated in history and social studies classes in a variety of ways. Here are some ideas:

  • Create a virtual tour of a country or historical place.
  • Create a personalized map or a region or state/province.
  • Create multimedia presentations on countries and historic places.
  • Record and map an entire year of movement.
  • Prepare a journey simulation in advance of a school field trip.
  • Record commentary (in Google Earth) of a historical place or area.
  • Compare historical maps of a region with more current ones.
  • Create a natural history map of famous volcanoes and earthquakes.
  • Create a U.S.A. immigration or personal genealogical tour.
  • Create a presentation based on regional artifacts and architecture.
  • Create a customized online map of your community with embedded pictures, video and links to online resources.