March 4, 2015
Map it to me! Exploring Google My Maps
Have you heard of Google My Maps? I wouldn’t be surprised if you haven’t, and no, I don’t mean the map you go to when you need directions, but the Google tool for building custom maps, routes, etc. As a Google enthusiast and a Tech Integrator at a Google school (and at this point is there a school that supports the use of technology that isn’t Google?) when I found about this somewhat “hidden” tool, well I got excited. That’s because it really can be very useful for both teachers and students in multiple content areas.
Google My Maps allows you to create and save a map that has layers, points of interest, routes, shapes, add text, images, and even YouTube videos to your points on the map and shapes, and import info from a spreadsheet. One of the beauties of Google is that it is all about collaboration (hello 21st century learning goals!), so users can collaborate on a map and when the map is done, you map you can print your map, embed it, and share it. It could be a great way to do a more interactive presentation or as a tool of student collaboration and discovery.
So how can this be used in the classroom?
- Want to show Marco Polo’s route and the Silk Road? Well you can make it an interactive experience, add a route, point markers with info, images, and a YouTube video. This can be a tool used by teachers in a presentation or in a more blended learning environment, or as a presentation created by students or a collaborative class collection of information.
- First day of school in an international school? Send your students a form where they have to fill out their home country and a little bit about themselves, then import that info into My Maps and create an interactive map where students can learn about each other.
- Studying World War II? Why not mark areas of occupation using the shapes tool, add points of info, etc.
- Make an interactive map for Jack Kerouac’s On the Road book.
How this tool can be used is really limited by the creativity of the user, and as the functionality improves, it will only get better. So test it out, and brainstorm. Think about how you can use this tool in your classroom.
How to Get to My Maps
I’ve read articles that say it should show up when you select “New” in your drive, but for me it doesn’t, so I access my maps either via https://www.google.com/mymaps (which I think is the easiest way) or go to https://www.google.com/maps/preview, make sure you are signed in, click the search box, and click create to make a new map or “see all your maps”.
Important Note – You can’t upload a photo directly to your map, so in order to use a photo that isn’t from an online source, upload it to Google Drive and then get the shareable link (make sure your permissions are correct!).