August 7, 2013
Will Social Mapping Transform SESE? 4
The skill of mapping is part of the primary school Geography curriculum. Back in 1999, when this was decided, I’m fairly sure the people behind it didn’t realise the direction that maps were going to take. While GPS, (also known as “SatNav”), had been around since 1994, it wasn’t really until the mid-noughties that people started using them. Furthermore Google and Bing maps were not on the radar at all.
For me, it’s the concept of social mapping that has made mapping more important than ever. Before Google Maps, maps were generally used to find out where you were and how to get to the next place. They could also be used to find out how high certain mountains and hills were and they could give a reasonable overview of what a place was like. I remember looking over Ordinance Survey maps to find out bits of information, and although useful, they are no match for what one can do now. Here are a few ideas of how we could use maps in classrooms today. Should these be part of an updated curriculum?
Designing Interactive Routes
I do a bit of running and I’m currently training for a race. However, currently, I’m in Leitrim and I have no idea where are the good places to run. There are a couple of things I can do. I can search for decent running routes in Leitrim or I can design my own using an online app such as MapMyRun or something similar. MapMyRun allows you to use a Google Map to pick a start point of your run and click on different points on the map for your route. The app measures the distance of your route. When you are happy with it, you can share it with your friends or the general public. Could children design good wlaking routes in their village? How about finding the shortest route to school?
SatNavs are a great way to discover turn-by-turn directions to anywhere. Google Maps has this function too. Can children find the quickest route to their nearest city? Can they find out which is the nearest village to the school? Who lives the shortest distance from school? IF one goes from Dublin to Galway, can children avoid the motorway? How long extra will this take?
Overlaying on Maps
Google Maps allow you to overlay images on top of maps. This can have some really interesting functions. For example, County Clare library has overlaid lots of historical maps for people to see areas back in 1901. There are huge opportunities for children to overlay images in their locality with items of interest.
Embedding Maps on Web Sites
It is easy to grab a Google Map and embed it into your school’s web site. It remains interactive so people can find directions to your school. Can children make these maps and embed them in your school blog? Maybe they could pick their favourite place to visit?
I’m sure there’s lots of other ideas you can try and I’d love to hear of any others.