Google Maps, as the name tells, is all about maps. It allows you to see maps in “maps” mode, “satellite” mode and “terrain” mode. One may ask whats so special about a program that lets you see maps? Well for one thing its a free service. Secondly maps are fully interactive and zoom level is up to the street level. However there are a few extensions that make it a very very powerful tool.
First is the “street view” extension. The street view lets you view any given place from the eye level of a person standing at that place, unlike Google Earth which gives an aerial view. This powerful tool takes the usage of Google Maps to a whole new level. You can explore places in a 3D environment, go on virtual field trips, let your imagination go wild with this neat tool. One drawback though, the street view is only available (yet) for North America, Europe and some other areas. Google’s LatLong blog announced yesterday the addition of Hong Kong and Macau in the list. So lets hope that the list will grow and cover the whole globe. For ideas on how to use the street view in your education visit this site about Media Infusion or visit Street View Gallery. Using it is simple, just open Google Maps and for the areas where Street View is available, you will see a small orange person near the zoom controls. Click and drag this little fellow on the areas you wish to see and there you go. All the other functions like directions etc are also accessible in the street view mode.
The other extension is My Maps, which allows you to make personalized maps complete with photos and videos which can be shared on a blog or website. Making maps is easy and quick. Just sign in with your Google account, click on Maps and then click on My Maps. For some quick tutorials on making your own maps click here and for general help on Google Maps click here.
Check out Ah’s map on whale migration in South Africa.
View Whales migration in a larger map