Mapping Mashups

  • Eli
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Abstract

7 things you should know about... Mapping Scenario As part of a large undergraduate history course he teaches about World War II, Dr. Martinez developed a mapping mashup that he introduces to the 150 stu-dents at the beginning of the semester. The mashup, which works with Google maps, represents major events leading up to and during the war. Fundamen-tally, it's a map, he explains, showing them on a pro-jection screen that it works very much like the online mapping tools students regularly use. The map covers virtually the entire globe, and users can move around the world, zooming in and out, showing the area of search as a map, satellite images, or satellite images with maps, dates, and events superimposed. When students zoom in on Europe, they see flags scattered around the continent and into Asia. Simi-lar maps dot Japan, Southeast Asia, and the South Pacific. When clicked, each flag opens a pop-up box that names the location, explains what happened there and when, and shows a photograph of that site at or close to the date in question. Flags correspond to important battles, political events, treaties that were signed, and cities such as Vichy, the wartime capi-tal of France. The text in the box also includes links to articles that talk in depth about what took place in each location and the significance of that event. Stu-dents can zoom in to particular locations and see sat-ellite images of what the place looks like today. They can also get an idea about the terrain where soldiers fought and died. During lectures, Dr. Martinez encourages students to have the mapping mashup running and use it to see what he is talking about. Answers to many common questions are available through the application, and Dr. Martinez finds over the semester that students are answering many of their own questions—and asking him more thoughtful ones—than in pervious semes-ters because the maps integrate content and context. Most importantly, he finds that student comprehen-sion is improved, particularly their understanding of the geography of Europe and the growth, and then regres-sion, of the Axis powers.

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