Long time readers of History Tech already know how much I love maps. They how much I love Google goodies. So they also know that Google Earth and Google Maps just might be the sweetest tools of all time.

And recent changes in Google Maps make the tool even better. They’ve created a separate map creation tool called Google My Maps that makes creating online maps easier while storing the completed maps in your Google Drive.

Too sweet.

This fall, I’ve had the chance to work with all sorts of teachers and districts as they’ve moved deeper into the Google world. Google My Maps just adds another piece of Google goodness to the GAFE world.

With the new Google My Maps, you have the option to create your maps directly from your Google Drive page so it’s even easier to create, access and share your custom maps. The update also makes it easier to store and find your maps.

Creating a custom map is just as simple as creating and opening a new Google Doc, presentation, or spreadsheet. Just select “New,” then “More,” then “Google My Maps” to start creating geography goodness.

my maps 1

One problem.

As of December 18,  it doesn’t seem as if My Maps has migrated yet into Google Apps for Education domains. So if you’re in a GAFE school, you’re gonna have to be patient. But I can’t find any clear info on when or if that migration is going to happen. Cross your fingers. (If anyone knows more about this, post a quick comment below.)

You can also access My Maps directly online. After logging into your Google account, create your map and your finished creation will appear in your Google Drive. (I did try logging into my GAFE account using this method, hoping that it would appear in that Drive. But no luck.)

Just like the old version of My Maps, you can save places, driving directions, add photos and videos, and more. But it does have a few new features:

  • Share your map like you would a Google Doc.
  • Use different colors to make parts of your map stand out.
  • Label your features directly on the map.
  • Import locations from a spreadsheet.
  • Organize your places with layers.

Need some help creating your custom maps? Head to the help center. But always remember – there is a difference between Google Maps and your customized maps. You can get to your old maps and to the new creation tool by accessing the Google Maps site and clicking the My Maps link.

my maps 2

I’m loving the ability to easily share my customized maps with others and allow them to edit the maps. I like that my maps are now stored in Drive – giving me the chance to create separate folders, perhaps for different classes or different topics.

You and your students will also like the ability to import Google Drive spreadsheets (or other CSV files) directly into the map layers. Say you want kids to create a map documenting the different Freedom Ride beginning and ending points. Quickly create a Google Sheet with the different locations and boom . . . finished map.

Pretty cool. This is why I’m in love with Google.