Monday, September 9, 2013

How to Use Google Maps Engine Lite - A Short Video Tutorial

Google Maps was updated earlier this year (if you're logged in with a Google Apps for Education account you may still the old version). The update was more than just a facelift for the browsing and search experience. The update included a switch to Maps Engine Lite for people who want to make their own maps. While you can still use the old version if you want to (open the settings menu and select "classic" maps) it is probably just a matter of time until everyone has to use Maps Engine Lite to create maps on Google Maps.

Creating maps through the new Maps Engine Lite is a different process than the process used for creating maps in "classic" Google Maps. If you want to try your hand at creating a map with Maps Engine Lite, Bradley Lands has put together a nice tutorial to help you get started. That tutorial is embedded in the video below.

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.

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.