Saturday, May 14, 2011

Informational Maps Made Easy #edtech

As long as I mentioned the History Channel in the last post I may as well stay on that topic for the second post of the day. One of my other favorite shows of late has been "How the States Got Their Shapes".  Can you tell I've always been a bit of a history buff?  At any rate I've often been jealous of programs like this one that are able to highlight states on a map and add additional information on top of a map.  B.C. (Before Google) you would need to do some pretty elaborate Photoshop work to make that happen.  Then along came the great and powerful Google Maps.  Now I'll admit that although I still have to submit my application to become a Google Certified Trainer (I've already passed the six tests), I never understood how to add features to a google map.  I've seen others do a very nice job of placing pins and directions on a custom Google Map but it always seemed like just as much work as Photoshopping a map.
That is until today.  In looking for another site to post about today, I became reacquainted with ScribbleMaps.  At first glance, I thought the site was just another "toy" Big deal you can draw on a map?!  but I actually spent some time with this today and have been extraordinarily impressed with it's potential.
Now, you may have noticed over the past few months that I have been trying to shorten the lengths of my posts because I prefer that you form opinions about site recommended here on your own through exploration.  This will be a longer post because there is SO MUCH here.
As the name implies you can draw on a Google Map.  But you can also change the map to OpenStreet, ScibbleMaps (which is basically a blank canvas), something called CloudMade and a version called CloudMade Plus (which I know nothing about but will need to explore), Astral and ESRI (which includes Physical and Topographal maps).  See what I mean about all the potential.
Once you choose your map, you can add features like circles and rectangles.  But the powerful bit is that you can also create multipoint shapes.  So, if you wanted to fill in Illinois for example you could simple follow the contours of the state and then use the fill bucket.
Not enough? What if I told you that you could not only add pins, but icons to mark areas of the map?  Still not enough? How about overlaying an uploaded image of your choosing that is autosized to fit the point you are placing it into?
You can also use the search engine to find map locations, add directions, find businesses and search for other maps that have already been scribbled upon! Additionally, from the menu button you can Save your map, load/import a map, print it or save it as a jpg,  embed it or create a widget, add even more features from the Style Map, Save it as a KML or GPX file, and view it in Google Maps or Earth. See how feature rich this site is all without even signing up for an account!? There are even more things you can do if you decided to sign up for a pro account which is also free!
I really would like to hear your feedback on this one, including how you are already using Scribblemaps or the potential you see for it.
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