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Put images on the map

April 12, 2010

I have always enjoyed maps, so it’s not surprising that I love Google Maps. Whenever I take a trip, I create a personal map there with markers for the airport, hotel, restaurants, and other key locations. I enjoy having a mental picture of how they all relate geographically.

A professor can create maps to share with students in a class. The map might take the form of an assignment where students have to calculate distances or research connections between landmarks. Maps can also have images attached to them, lending added realism to the great detail provided by Google’s street maps, satellite views, terrain views, and (in many cases) photos from street level.

Here’s how to make your own map and add images:

  1. Go to Google Maps and log in with a Google account
  2. Click My Maps, then “Create new map”
  3. Add a title and decide whether the map should be public.
  4. Find locations with the search bar
  5. Click a marker and select “Save To” to make it part of your map
    (or get directions and click “Save to my maps” below the destination)
  6. Use the Placemark, Line, and Shape tools to add items
  7. To add a photo to a Placemark:
    • Click Edit and choose Rich Text .
    • Click the photo icon above the description field
    • Enter the URL of the photo and click OK (Flickr is a popular source of images)
  8. If you want others to be able to edit the map, click “Collaborate”
  9. Click Save and keep working, or click Done to finish

To locate maps created by other users, click “Show search options” to the right of the search bar. Instead of “All results” choose “User-created maps.” I picked a few to share here as examples. “Millennium Park in the winter” by Leor Galil shows images of Chicago’s newest park and gives brief descriptions. James Pickrell’s “Wildebeest Migration Map” is a demonstration that shows an area in Kenya and features videos as well as photos. I made a map of Toledo, Spain last summer and added photos to it for this article. Here are some ideas of ways you might add images to your own maps:

  • Current exterior of a building
  • Archaeological dig site images
  • Historic images of a location
  • People and places in a book
  • Famous route – exploration, migration, invasion
  • Outdoor sculptures in a city
  • Field trip plan – hotel, event venue, sights, restaurants

Images can also be added to Google Earth. At Notre Dame, Professor Tobias Boes had students develop a Google Lit Trip in GE 13186, “Fictions of the Known World.” I did a quick search and did not see a comparable way to add images to saved personal maps in Expedia or MapQuest.

Notre Dame recently released, a campus map based on Google Maps. Users can create custom maps and embed them in websites. Mobile devices are also supported.

Further reading

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