Utilizing Google My Maps in the Classroom
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Our students are entering a world where they must both engage with maps and map-based software on a daily basis and communicate effectively through digital tools and media. Incorporating projects that allow students to build skills along these lines therefore has the potential to provide them with significant benefits. To that end, in Spring 2011, I introduced a Google My Maps project -- "The Roadrunners’ Guide to the Ancient World" (2019) -- into my Ancient Travel and Ethnography class. The Roadrunners’ Guide was an interactive map with color-coded markers on a custom Google My Maps leading to travel-guide style descriptions of ancient cites, built by students in WordPress. This project led to increased student engagement, original and detailed projects, and a marked increase in student ownership of and pride in their work, which Conley and French (2011) among others see as key factors in student success. This experience, repeated in different courses and semesters, convinced me that Google My Maps provides teachers a versatile, valuable tool to help students build course specific knowledge and universally valuable skills with digital tools which, as Pfannenstiel (2010) notes, even modern students often struggle to use in academic and professional settings.