Saturday, July 22, 2017

#mysteryskype interactive maps with mapchart.net

One of the necessary tasks when doing Mystery Skypes is to track which states your class hooks up with. In my classroom I put up a poster size map of the United States and strung little papers to each state we had Skyped with. Students referred to it often to determine what states we might still be Skyping with.

The problem with the poster was that it took time to update and could only be seen while in the classroom. Parents couldn't see it and neither could my admins. I looked for a few different digital solutions so I could post the same info on our class website. I finally came across mapchart.net, which turned out to be an easy-to-use solution and very useful for many other applications as well.

Mapchart.net is a mapping creation website. Its free and very simple. The user selects a map, color codes it, then exports the map as a jpg file that can be used anywhere. Map data can be saved and modified later.

The steps I outline here are the ones I used to create my Mystery Skype map, but the steps are the same for any map you want to create.

First click the United States drop down menu and select States.
The 3 easy steps to create a map are on the left side of the screen (or the bottom if it's a very wide map). Start with Step 1 and choose a Fill color. I selected only green because I only wanted to show one level of coloring (the states we Skyped with). If I were to compare different areas, regions of the United States for example, I would need to select multiple colors. There are other options to choose as well.
In Step 2 type a label for each color that appears on the map. Since I didn't want the user to be confused with the default color I added a label even though I was only using one color.
Step 3 is for downloading the map and saving it for later use. To download a jpg file click on Convert to Image and then Download. It saves a jpg you can use anywhere - class website, in Twitter, email, etc.
To save the map data to update later click on Save-Upload Map Configuration. On the next screen click the Save Map Configuration button and the map data is saved as a simple text file.
 
After the next Mystery Skype its time to update the map. Open the text file you downloaded earlier, copy all of the text, and paste into the bottom half of the screen shown above. Your earlier map configuration will appear and you can add the additional states or make whatever edits you need.

As you can see, this is an easy-to-use solution for tracking your connected states. I always sent out this updated map to the parents so they could be reminded of the friends we made during our Mystery Skype sessions. What methods do you use in your class?


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