Making Magnificent Maps

The next session I am attending is “Making Magnificent Maps” by Jim Sill. I’ve been wanting to play more with the Google Maps Engine and excited for the opportunity! If you would like to see his presentation page, check it out here. Jim tells us that this session is divided into two parts: the new Google Maps and Google Maps Engine lite.

“The real world is continually changing and our maps should reflect that.” – Ed Parsons, Geospatial Technologist at Google

Screen Shot 2013-10-20 at 10.12.18 AMIf you’ve played with the new Google Maps then you know that it is very different than the old maps. It is still missing some older features, but (according to Google) they are coming! The new Google Maps becomes more detailed the more you zoom. By putting in Ravenscroft (our host institution), it gives me a detailed card in the top left with contact information and reviews! The new directions feature will also give you turn by turn directions based on driving, walking, cycling, and public transportation! I love this feature in my hometown of Miami as well as when I’m traveling! The same features are active on your Maps for iOS and Maps for Android.

Screen Shot 2013-10-20 at 10.18.22 AMAnother cool feature of the new Google Maps is that it gives you some great, specialized tours of different locations. I just looked up Angkor Watt – not only did it show me different information about the site, but in the carousel you see pertinent images and can take a slide show tour! Some of the images are in 3D! This is a great way to take your students on a virtual field trip.

You can also search maps in your region. For example, if I want to find museum in Miami, you can simply focus your map on the city of Miami and type in “museums.” It will then populate your map with museums and you can select them individually from there. A great feature for nerds like me!

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The new Google Maps is entirely cloud based – accessible on mobile, laptops, any device connected to the internet.

Zooming out even further gives you a view of the Earth and the sun in real time! Great way to explore weather patterns, geography, etc.

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The new maps still has the great street view features (walk through the Colosseum or Teotihuacan). Google has a lot of great street views from places most of us will never visit like Mt. Everest and Antarctica.

The next topic that we covered is the new Google Maps Engine Lite. It’s the new map engine and a little different than classic. If you would like a brief tutorial on using the Google Maps Engine Lite, check out this short video by Bradley Lands:

You can also check out the much lengthier instructions offered by Google Earth Outreach as well as Jim Sill’s website on Google Maps Engine Lite.

We jumped into creating a new test map. In the new maps, you can have up to three layers. Just like Google Drive you can share with other users (view, edit, etc).

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By sharing a map with your students, they can create a map of anything: Civil War Battles, Museums, their hometowns, etc. It’s highly adaptable to different curriculum: Social Studies, Science, Language, etc. As a group, we all added our favorite places in America. While it’s not in realtime you can view everyone’s addition by simply refreshing the page!

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Another cool feature is that you can build maps using Google Forms and Spreadsheets. It’s a little tricky to explain here but there are a lot of tutorials online that will help you do this (check out the above links on Google Maps Engine Lite). Just remember that you can only have three layers and 100 points per layer.

What’s really great about this tool is that you can build a collaborative map in a single space. You can then share the map by embedding it into a website or in a file that can be opened in Google Earth.

I have to say, I’m really excited to play more with this tool and roll it out in the classroom!

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5 thoughts on “Making Magnificent Maps

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