Geology, Homeschooling, Local Travel, My Creations, Uncategorized

Step Up Your Storytelling and Teaching Activities Through ArcGIS StoryMaps

Some of my readers in the Philippines recently reached out to me via Facebook. They have heard about my Geology Tours from other homeschooling families and asked when I could bring it back even if it’s just virtually. It warms my heart to know that families have missed me and the tours I gave before the pandemic. However, creating a virtual tour entails a ton of digital work that I am not equipped to do just yet. I’ve seen museum virtual tours like the ones I posted in my previous article that are so complicated, it would need a team to make them. So I decided to just make it simple, for now, at least.

After a lengthy exchange of messages with my readerships, I brainstormed for how I would go about it. I’m not exactly the most techy of people but one of the things that I do remember while I was working for EDC, a geothermal energy company based here in Philippines, was a lecture about StoryMaps. The lecture was conducted by a colleague at the time who is a geodetic engineer.

I reached out to her and asked for her advise. She suggested that I give ArcGIS Story Map feature a try. And that opened up a rabbit hole for me today.

What is ArcGIS StoryMaps?

“ArcGIS StoryMaps is a story authoring web-based application that enables you to share your maps in the context of narrative text and other multimedia content.” (Source: ArcGIS Website)

Just to expound, ArcGIS StoryMaps, is another platform to use for your stories, class, and photo galleries, but with map component just like I did with our Batanes Tour. If you are going to Batanes for the first time and would like to have an overview of your tour, reading our StoryMap about the islands will give you the locations of the sites you’d visit, some photos, and short narratives. Here’s a link to our ArcGIS StoryMap about our Batanes Tour in 2019.

Story map I made about our Batanes Tour in 2019 using web-based ArcGIS Story Map. Recorded using my Windows.

How can you use StoryMap in Homeschooling?

Creating StoryMaps on ArcGIS helps with learning the basics of Geography – an art (and science) of adding data or information on a map. These data could be a short narrative (or a long one) about a specific site or a video, or a photo. By adding these information on a map, it becomes easy for your child to correlate a photo, for example, to a point or an area on a map. This teaches the kids about map directions, road networks, and other information that he or she can get from maps. It helps a lot with 3D visualization of a specific area too.

Not only that, correlating photos or videos with their corresponding locations on the map makes a road tour, for example, easier to remember. A geologist for example would benefit from such correlation when he or she is mapping the rock distribution in one area. My purpose for creating the Batanes StoryMap was to show my readers where they can find the landmarks and tour sites on the map. This can help give a sense of direction once they visit the islands for the first time in the future.

If you browse through ArcGIS StoryMaps website, you will see different kinds of StoryMaps. There are ones that show the distribution of freshwater around the world; climate patterns; wind patterns; population densities; all those sorts of information. These kinds of information are best presented using base maps but with StoryMaps, presentation of data is made better because of embedded videos and photos. The website is a treasure trove for educators and students! Here’s one example of a StoryMap about Plate Tectonics for Geology students:

By presenting Plate Tectonics through this StoryMap, it becomes easier for students to visualize the concept because of embedded multimedia as well as positions of the land masses on earth with respect to geologic time scale.

ArcGIS StoryMaps may be better suited for high school and college students but it’s never too early to show the idea of making one and the concepts to grade schoolers. I plan to teach my 3rd grader how to build a simple one this year! 🙂

How about you? Are you willing to give StoryMaps a try? 🙂


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