Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Interacting With Graphics and Maps

Google recently announced that they are opening their Map Maker up to the United States.  In their own words: Google Map Maker allows you to add and update geographic information for millions of users to see in Google Maps and Google Earth. With Google Map Maker, you can:
  • Add places of interest such as your local restaurants, cafes, schools and more.
  • Edit and update details for existing places.
  • Help avid hikers by mapping trails, be it for a casual walk or an adventurous trip!
  • Get driving directions and also help in making them more accurate.
  • See what your peers are mapping in specific areas.
A very detailed Getting Started Guide explains toolbar features, how to navigate in Map Maker, different views on Map Maker, specific instructions for street view on Map Maker, labs features, your Map Maker profile, Map Maker settings, markers and information windows, getting the links to places, how to add points of interest, mapping in your language, and system requirements.  There is also a comprehensive list of countries in Google maps. 

Users can sign in using their Google or Gmail account; one and the same I believe. Once a user has entered in the new information it will be confirmed before it appears on the maps. I attempted to show the driveway used to get to the County Recycling bins.  Time will tell if this becomes a permanent fixture on the map.

Believe it or not there are Mapping Party Kits available.  After checking the terms of service there does not appear to be an age limitation. 

Thanks to Richard Byrne for this info on his blog post of April 19, 2011 at Free Technology for Teachers.

A blog called NewsLab has posted two videos which instruct users in the creation of interactive graphics.  Although the NewsLab blog is designed to be read and used by journalists these two web sites offer ways to manipulate data that can be used in the classroom and for personal use as well.

One of the sites, Many Eyes is an experiment brought to users by IBM Research and the IBM Cognos Software Group.  Registration is required for this by entering in an email address and password.  Users are invited to explore visualizations, data sets, leave comments and visit topic centers.  Participation is in the form of creating a visualization in just three easy steps:  choose a data set, choose a visualization style, customize and publish.  A quick start guide is available as are visualization types and data format and styles.  The seven visualization styles are:  analyze a text, compare a set of values, see relationships among data points, see parts of a whole, see the world and track rises and falls over time.

This is a very simple visual that I created using one of the styles under compare a set of values.

The second instructional video at NewLab extends the use of Google Maps.  It is by far simpler to use and for that reason might be more advantageous for students at the lower levels or those with fewer online computer skills.  Using Google Docs create a two column spreadsheet.  In the first column put the address.  Name the place of interest in the second column.  Click on the Insert tab at the top to change the data into a widget that can be embedded into a place of the users' choice.  Below is a simple map that I designed showing my favorite places to get books.

This is the link to the video that very easily describes how to do this.
How To Make A Google Map

Thanks to Larry Ferlazzo for a post earlier this month at his blog, Larry Ferlazzo's Web Sites of the Day about these two videos.

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