Late last week I received an email from a reader who was looking for some help with Google’s My Maps tool. She wanted her students to be able to measure distances between two or more places without having to sign into the map as editors. This can be accomplished by simply right-clicking on the map and selecting “measure distance” then click two or more points on the map to measure.
While we’re on the topic of maps, I want to remind you of National Geographic’s Mapmaker Interactive which also has measuring tools for students to use. Students can measure distances on Mapmaker Interactive by selecting the polygon drawing tool on the left side of the map. As students draw lines the distances appear on the map.
National Geographic’s Map Maker Interactive offers seven base maps on which users can create custom map displays. After choosing a base map students then choose layers to add on top of the map. For example, students can select the Ocean base map then choose Tropical Cyclones layer to display on the map. Map Maker Interactive also provides drawing tool and marker icons that can be added to any of the maps.
Applications for Education
One drawback to National Geographic’s Map Maker Interactive is that your maps cannot be embedded into other sites. But you can download your maps, print them, and share links to them.Overall, the ease of use and the variety of themes makes Mapmaker an excellent alternative to creating maps on Google Earth. In fact, in some ways it’s better because you don’t have to install anything or register to use Map Maker Interactive. Adding layers to Map Maker Interactive is also more intuitive than adding layers on Google Earth.