I’d like to make an appeal to Google for Education to include Google Maps in the Google Apps for Education (GAFE) suite. I’d like to encourage my fellow techie teachers (and not-so-techie teachers) to make the same appeal.
Bear with me on this… here’s my situation…
I’m a thinker. I don’t say this to imply that I’m some kind of super intelligent, Plato-inspired philosophical guru. Those who know me know that this isn’t the case. What I mean is that I like to think about ways to make things better. I get inspired by those who are smarter than me and I think about how I can use their inspiration to improve what I do. Unfortunately for me, and my patrons, I am not necessarily a do-er. I get paralyzed by imaginary road blocks before my plans are ever put into action. In many cases these grandiose plans never make it past my head and we all lose.
Such has been the case for a project that I have had in the works for several years. Each year, as summer break approaches, I have this inspired idea to map, with pictures, where my students read over summer. I make a poor attempt at collecting photos and usually I get a handful of students and teachers who hand me photos. The photos pile up on my desk and I forget about them until the following spring when I’m preparing for summer break. Seeing the pictures reminds me that I want to try the project the following summer. Rinse and repeat.
This summer I decided I WAS going make it happen. I was bound and determined to bring this project to fruition. Our district uses GAFE, so naturally I thought, Google Custom Maps… electronic images.. perfect solution! Except… Google Maps is not part of the GAFE suite. I’m finally putting a plan into action, and I have a real-life road block! Ever the thinker and problem-solver, I came up with my work-around. I’d use my personal gmail account to create the Google Custom Map… not an ideal solution (I prefer to keep my professional and personal accounts separate) but again, I was determined.
After a lot of hoop-jumping, I was able to get the summer reading map created, with pictures, and able to embed it on the school website. It looks the way I want it to look, and the feedback from parents has been very positive. All is good with one small exception: When I’m logged into my school gmail account, I can’t view the embedded map. My best guess is that for some reason Google Maps and GAFE don’t play well together. It should be so much easier to put this plan into action.
Why would Google Apps for Education not include Google Maps in their suite? The GAFE suite is designed to promote collaboration, creativity and communication among global learners. What better way for students to understand their connection to a global community than by helping them to visualize what that looks like?
Including Google Maps in the GAFE suite would invite a multitude of opportunities for other creative, collaborative, educational projects. Imagine students working in groups to map events during the American Revolution, using primary source images form the Library of Congress. Language Arts teachers could create class maps featuring the settings of fictional stories. Science classes could map migratory patterns of various species. High school students could map the global repercussions of current events. Students could create their own custom maps to make connections with places of personal interest. These maps could become part of their educational portfolios.
There may be some very valid reasons that Google Maps is not included in the GAFE suite. I’m guessing that maybe there are privacy issues, or maybe it’s just a matter of money. I’d love to understand the rationale, but I have a hard time believing that providing access to Google Maps would present obstacles that wouldn’t be faced in the other apps in the GAFE suite.
So again, I’d like to make an appeal to Google for Education to include Google Maps in the Google Apps for Education suite. I’d like to encourage my fellow educators to make the same appeal.
What do you think?