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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Using Today's (5/16) Maps in the Classroom

Two maps appeared online today. One, the Made in New York Digital Map shows the startups in New York City. It has received quite a lot of buzz, especially from the technology press. The other map, The AFL Players' Indigenous Map 2012 showing the home areas of indigenous soccer players in the Australian Football League, received far less. The two maps illustrate how two different organizations are using the medium to make sense of the world in 2012.
Made in NY Digital Map
AFL Players' Indigenous Map

These two maps could be the basis of a classroom comparison/contrast project. Half the students could explore the NYC map and the other half the Australian map, considering questions like:

  • Describe what the map shows in one sentence.
  • Who made the map?
  • Who did they make it for?
  • Why did they make it?
  • What are the benefits for the maker?
  • What are the benefits for the user?
  • Why is a geographic perspective important for this topic/story?
  • What kinds of questions does this map prompt?
  • What might you change about how the map looks (cartography or interface) to make it more effective?
  • What might you change about the content (add more, remove some) to make it more effective?
  • Could you convey the same information in a static (printed on paper) map? Why or why not?
  • What one thing did you learn from the map that you didn't know before?
Then, together, the class could compare the goals, techniques and success of the two maps in achieving their goals. 
  • What do the maps have in common?
  • What is different?
  • Which of these maps is more likely to spur the user to action?