Education/State of Mapping

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State of Mapping

This unit looks at why are maps important, investigating historical and present uses. It addresses mapping on the web, looking at how the internet has changed the way we view, use and interact with maps. This looks at how accessible map data is and how people are collecting, using and sharing map data. Students are introduced to GPS, how it is currently be being used across various fields.


After presenting this unit, students should be familiar with the following:

  • Different map uses, purposes and influences on society
  • Major factors/biases involved in creating a map (data and cartography)
  • How the digital age has impacted how maps are being created and used


This unit contains one slide presentation. These can be presented all at once (will require a large block of time) or broken out into sub-sections. Each slide an accompany talking points (found in the presenter slide notes in the presentation as well as in a separate document), as well as suggestions for places to break. Included in the notes are suggestions for discussion.

You can access the whole presentation here:

Presentation sections:

Activities and/or Assignments

Impact of Maps

Objective: Students will look at ways mapping and maps has influenced society, leading to key decisions that changed history and geography as we know it today..

Telling a Story with a Map

Objective: Student will explore how maps can not only convey geographic information, but also to provide a bigger and often deeper story about a place. How this story is told and interpreted can influence how one view the world around them.

The Role of Cartography

Objective: The cartography of a map is an important stylistic tool, which can lead to a map's success or failure. The decision to display or not display a feature on a map, as well as the colors and features chosen, play a major role in how end-users understand and interact with the map.

Investigating terms of service

Objective: By using commercial online maps, end users often agree to terms of use that they are unaware of. Here students will investigate what those terms of service are, their benefits and disadvantages, as well as how they impact the maps and how people use them.

Additional Resources

Blank word document templates can be found Media:Blank_Template-state_of_mapping.doc.

Blank presentation templates can be found here.