I recently have become enamored with ESRIs Story Maps. I have always been a mapper. I conducted many areas of geologic mapping as an undergrad and worked with creating GIS maps as a consulting geologist. I even created a GIS based map of our maple trees for our "maple sugar conglomerate". To say mapping is a passion is an understatement. I have framed maps in my living room. So, when I read the ESRI tweet about Story Maps, I was all over it! I immediately saw a use for it in telling a family story of my grandfather's immigration from my genealogy research. Plus, another way to include maps in my teaching and bridge the Geologist/Educator in me. Score!
What I love about Story Maps
1. Story Maps allow for open source data and web based map services to be combined with photos, videos, audio and text.
2. It is an interactive presentation program.
3. They are easy to create.
4. Users can create their own maps with custom layers and incorporate them into the Story Map.
5. They are versatile, interactive, systematic and precise.
6. They can be used in any discipline. As an Educational Technology Integration Specialist, a versatile web-based app is a necessity!
Why should you use Story Maps?
Because they are awesome. In all seriousness, here is the nitty gritty. Using Story Maps and utilizing maps in various activities increases student cartographic skills. You might be asking why students still need cartographic skills in 2017 when we can just type in an address on our phones and out Google/Apple Maps or Waze just directs us where to go. But cartographic skills include spatial reasoning, which is a big advantage in problem oriented projects and approaches. Spatial reasoning is the ability to mentally re-arrange objects without physically touching them. Without spatial reasoning we can not comprehend direction, recognize landmarks or effectively use roads and highways, let alone realize spatial distance to properties such our closest neighbor. Spatial reasoning is a crucial skill in many disciplines and careers, most importantly science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
We use spatial reasoning in our every day lives. Every Time you re-arrange the refrigerator to make room for a new addition or pack a bag to go on vacation. When you pack the car to take your son/daughter to college and everything has to fit just right or someone will be riding on the roof like Grandma from The Beverly Hillbillies. An engineer will use spatial reasoning to visualize the forces on a bridge, a geologist to predict the movement of tectonic plates, a mathematician to visualize geometric patterns and calculations.
Some ideas for using Story Maps in your curriculum and life