Getting Started with Google Maps

map video wall

This is how we added video to maps before Google.

I recently received the following question as a result of my presentation on Locative Media and Other Mashups:

I am currently working with a first grade teacher on a family oral history project and we would like to embed the stories from the families in a map of some sort — meeting 2 or 3 social studies standards with one activity!! I would appreciate some technology pointers from you if you are willing to do that.

I thought I’d share my response here as a brief tutorial tutorial for Google Maps.  If you’ve been on the fence about whether or not to create your own map with Google, I hope this will be enough to convince you to give it a try.

Sounds like you’ve got a really interesting project that would be easy to pull together using Google Maps.

Here’s an example map I created in which student videos describing campus are located on the spot they are describing:

[Because the videos embedded in the map are embedded in this blog post, they are not visible in the balloons.  Click on “View Larger Map” to see the fully-functioning version.]

You could create a similar map with video or audio, pictures, text, or any combination.  To get started, go to http://maps.google.com a sign up for a free Google account, if you don’t already have one.  Then click on “My Maps” and “Create new map.”

When in “edit” mode, you can add pointers to the map and then add whatever you want to appear in the balloon that pops up when you click on the pointer.  To add a pointer, do a search for a location, click on that pointer, and click on “Save to” to choose the map you have created.  It will then appear in your list of pointers when you click back on your map.  Note that it’s easy to wind up with the pointer on your map obscured by the pointer that you found via your search.  Use the checkboxes in the bottom left corner to hide the sets of pointers that you don’t want to see.

If you click on the pointer on your map while in edit mode, you will get several options for the contents of the balloon.  Too add a YouTube video, click on the “Edit HTML” option while editing the balloon and paste in the contents of the “Embed” code on YouTube.  Of course, this assumes that you have uploaded your video to YouTube or have found a video that you want to (and have permission to) use, which is also relatively easy to do.

Once you have finished editing your map, click on “Done.”  You can then click on link to get a URL which you can use to direct people to your map (as I have done, above) or even a code to embed it into another website or blog.  You can even allow multiple Google accounts to contribute to the same map, if that makes sense for your project.

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