Interactive Maps with Google Drawing

Using tools like Google Drawing reminds me of the Maker Ed movement because it allows students to bring together raw shapes and colors to explore the possibilities.

Since ditching the worksheets, I have learned so much about how to push my students to do more with basic tools. Here are the steps my use to make interactive maps.

1. Individuals or Groups?

Since Google Drawing has collaborative work space possibilities, it needs to be decided whether or not the product should be completed by groups or individuals. I often consider how much time we have, how many different variations are likely to turn out, and how much students could benefit by working together versus making their own decisions.

2. Insert an Image

I like having my students pick their own outline maps to insert using the search (without leaving Drawing) because it allows them to decide whether the format or the quality will work.

3. Insert text boxes.

When students are first learning how to make maps with Google Drawing, I give them some labels and ideas about what to include. Once they gain some fluency with the tools, the goal is to use the lesson question and themes to make labels and decide what text would be most appropriate for the map.

4. Link Text Boxes to Resources

Here comes the interactive part. Any shape, including text boxes, can become a clickable link. By making the text box a link, the entire box becomes the link, which works great on touch screens. The best part is that the links are preserved when the drawing is downloaded as a PDF.

5. Download as ...

This is one of the features that I love about Google Drawing. Your work can be downloaded as a PDF, SVG, JPEG, or PNG. These formats make it easy to add rich content to projects made with other programs or online sharing possibilities.

6. Share a Link or Embed a Drawing

Publishing the work with a reflection on what was learned is a great way for students to catalog learning artifacts. This makes it easier to share it later in a showcase portfolio.  

Link the PDF in Drive to a png. The png can also be used to promote the work on social media.