Google introduced Maps Engine Lite which bridges the gap between creating basic custom maps in Google Maps and creating custom layers in Google Earth.
Maps Engine Lite allows you to go beyond manually adding placemarks to your Google Maps by uploading a spreadsheet of locations that will be displayed on your map. You can import up to three spreadsheets per map. You can also draw custom lines and shapes on your maps. Like any other Google Map you can invite others to collaborate with you. You can share your map by embedding it into a website. Google Earth Outreach offers a detailed tutorial on how to use the new Maps Engine Lite. I'm looking forward to going through the tutorial and creating some new maps this weekend.
Applications for Education
Maps Engine Lite could be a great tool to use to introduce students to using GIS to interpret data and make decisions based on that data. Here's one way that I might use Maps Engine Lite with students in my area. I could create data sets about ice thickness on a set of area ponds, create a data set about average weekly high temperatures in those areas, import that data into the map and ask students to make predictions as to when the ponds will be ice-free.