Practical Ed Tech Tip of the Week – 3 Ways to Map Stories

Creating mapped stories is one of my favorite activities to help history students see the significance of location in historical events. Most of the time I have students include dated placemarks on the mapped stories that they build. Here are three free tools that students can use to map stories.

The Google Earth Tour Builder allows students to create Google Earth tours in their web browsers. The Tour Builder uses a slide-like format for creating tours. Each slide or stop in the tour can have a date or range of dates attached to it. The tour plays in same sequence as that students build stops in their tours. Have students create the stops in the tour chronologically to tell a timeline story.

Odyssey.js is an open source map creation tool from CartoDB. Through Odyssey.js you can create mapped stories in three formats; slide, scroll, and torque. In all three formats viewers will see a location on a map along with the text and pictures of your story. The slide and scroll formats are fairly straight-forward, you click through slides or scroll through a story. The torque format allows you to connect elements of your map to a timeline. Odyssey.js does not require you to know how to code, but it might feel that way the first time that you open it. Read the documentation in the tutorials carefully and you should do well with Odyssey.js. I spent thirty minutes trying it this afternoon. My biggest tip from that experience is to remember that you are writing your story in the dialogue box rather than writing it on the map. The map is simply there to support your story.

StoryMap JS is a nice tool for creating mapped stories. On StoryMap JS you create slides that are matched to locations on your map. Each slide in your story can include images or videos along with text. As you scroll through your story there are simple transitions between each slide. StoryMap JS integrates with your Google Drive account. To get started with StoryMap JS you have to grant it access to your Google Drive account. StoryMap JS will create a folder in your Google Drive account where all of your storymap projects will be saved. With StoryMap JS connected to your Google Drive account you will be able to pull images from your Google Drive account to use in your StoryMap JS projects.

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