Geo Tagging WordPress

First, go try it out if you want. Submit something. It’ll help it make more sense. I thought this would be a lot easier than I made it. I tried lots of paths and considered spending various amounts of money to make this easier. Please benefit (probably) from my wandering. I try to link in where I learned different things and, more importantly, I tried to emphasize vocabulary that might be useful to you. My goal1 was to- have a Google2 Map interface that auto-located the device allow the user to drag the marker to adjust the location plot the resulting WordPress posts on a map To make this work you do need a Google Maps API3 key and on the WordPress side you’ll need the Gravity Forms (Costs money but worth it) and Geo Mashup (free) plugins. Gravity Forms will let you create posts via a form and provision form elements via URL parameters. Geo Mashup is the friendliest way I found to display posts on a Google Map based on lat/long parameters associated with the post. Auto Locate I went to a few different places for this but ended up finding/using the handy example posted in the Google Maps API documentation. It took me a while to get there- “geolocation” is the key term. Add it to your […]

wikipedia table

Teaching a Table New Tricks

I’m doing a presentation tomorrow with Jim Groom on how to create mashups without knowing anything about programming. The fun thing is it’s presented using a mashup of communist propaganda posters and that sort of rhetoric. Good clean American fun! It may, or may not, be presented entirely in a fake Russian accent. It will entirely depend on my mood (and Jim‘s). You can also check out the full site here if you’re interested. My example takes a table of information from Wikipedia on Industrial Warfare and steps you through the ways you can change it using SIMILE’s Exhibit. If you bother to look at the actual Exhibit pages you’ll see they link back to the Google spreadsheets to show you what data had to be added to create the changes on the pages. So, you’ll start with this- Step 1 Making this data interactive– so I cut and paste the table into Excel and clean up the data a little bit. I make the html portion of Exhibit. Then I get what’s below- an interesting level of interactivity has been added. You can select/omit/sort the data now. So seeing relationships is a lot easier. Step 2 Adding the visual component– now I felt that we needed something more visual so I added some image URLs and URLs to the […]


Maps of War

Maps of War is a fascinating site of animated maps showing the history of conflict in our world. They include a history of war and leadership (seen above) that walks through American conflicts and links the American President to various wars, a history of religious conquest throughout the world, and an interesting history of imperial occupation of the Middle East. Along with their own maps, the site links out to other animated maps the feature many of the major wars of our time. I remember struggling as I tried to learn history from a textbook. It seemed like months or years would pass by in a matter of paragraphs. These animated maps would have helped foster a sense of continuity as we “marched” through chapters full of events. via Boing Boing

Exhibit and Data Visualization

The kind and brilliant folks at MIT have come out with a new Exhibit API that allows for more flexibility and power. The bonus is that it looks good doing it. I’ve now revised my Google spreadsheet fed history example to use some of the new power. It’s here if you’re interested. In the end I opted to mimic their new presidents layout (much like I mimicked their old presidents layout). This time I had a better reason than pure ignorance of the API (I now have impure ignorance after all). Their new layout is really right in line with what I’d like to focus on this year- data visualization/interaction. The new layout has the map right their with the time line. I like that. Time and location on one easy interactive page. Add in their option to sort and hide/expand sets based on the data you define and you’ve got something really powerful that will help students make connections. A simple example is if I restrict my set to show only “explorers” then suddenly in the map and the time line things change. I notice explorers were mainly earlier and than none were born in the Americas (obvious to you and I but maybe the spark some kids need). Then I switch map views and I see that explorers […]

Google Earth – Proof of Concept Stuff

A while back I posted about using GoogleLookup to get data quickly and easily to make and put into Google Earth via Google Spreadsheets. The example file is at It’s a network link. In Google Earth- click Add– Network Link and paste the URL into the Link box. Here’s some information on how to do this if you’re interested. Put Info into Google Earth from a Google Spreadsheet Things ended up being far easier than I anticipated. The last time I did a networked KML link from a spreadsheet (sounds way fancier than it is) I had to make it myself and go through a different service. Now Google has a nice template all set up to make things work well and it makes things pretty as well. Adding GoogleLookup to the Template So the next thing I did was play around a little with the lookup function. I didn’t do too much. I was just playing around to make sure it would work. This wouldn’t save you much time as it’s only five cities but it you wanted to plot all this information for 50 cities things would start to get a lot more interesting. I just added a few columns at the end of the spreadsheet and then set up the following formulas. I put the lookup […]

Simile Exhibit Project – VA History SOLs

So I finally managed to get Exhibit working. Which is pretty impressive considering I’ve been working on it during NECC and I’ve failed a few times before. The site is up here. The death locations aren’t correct right now but I welcome any feedback you’d care to give. I think it has some really interesting potential in enabling students to interact with and see relationships between different types of data (geography/time/facts/eras). Plus it looks pretty, is interactive and you can click to sort/categorize everything on the fly. I used the same layouts used in their Presidents example. I took what they’d done and changed categories, some css etc. to create information that was more relevant to what we have to study. It was something of a hassle to get this done but I think it was worth it and I’m working on creating a basic template to allow teachers to put the data into a Google spreadsheet and drive the site through that. Here’s a short video showing what it can do. Click here if you can’t see anything below.

What the World Eats

An interesting photo essay from Time that shows you the food eaten by families all over the world along with the grocery bill for one week and their favorite foods. It’s pretty interesting and would make a good way to expose students to other cultures, explore geography, talk about economics and even get into some health related concerns. It worries me how much Coke the family in the picture above is drinking in a week and the amount of processed food some of the families eat is kind of scary as well. I’m not a health food nut so I imagine my own groceries would look as bad all piled up. That might make for an interesting project. Have your students bring the receipt from a weekly grocery trip in and compile a digital image full of all the food their family bought. It’d make for an interesting conversation starter. You could also graph the results, total how many bags of potato chips, how many gallons of Coke were bought. It’d be a great project to do collaboratively in Google Spreadsheets and then export to Swivel for graphing and manipulation If you wanted to go the extra yard it’d be fun to calculate the total calories and the amount of exercise needed to burn them- how many miles of running, […]

Whirligig on MyMaps

I’m working on do something similar to the awesome work over at Google Lit Trips using Google’s myMaps. The novel is Whirligig by Paul Fleischman- very powerful book that’s a quick read. It’s a great novel for this type of project (fiction but almost all real locations). The main character travels to the four corners of the U.S. (on a Greyhound Bus) as an act of atonement for killing a young girl in a DUI accident. I’ve got the main locations mapped (some real specific information in Chicago) as well as most of the route. It will continue to expand as the students progress through the novel. Check it out if you’re interested. I’ll take requests as well, so let me know if you feel something is missing. Now, what makes this useful? I figure you’ve got two options. You use it as a ancillary material to help get the students more involved in the novel. Let them explore the map and get them involved in explaining things and interacting with the information- otherwise it’s just a fancy map. You have the students add the information for the placemarks in Google Earth. Let them decide what is important at each location and

“My Maps” from Google (an actual example)

I figured after being so gushy about the My Maps option from Google I ought to make a good example. So here is a good start on a territorial acquisition map of the United States of America. I did it free hand based on a number of different maps I found on wikipedia and a few other places- so it’s not perfect and it still needs some work but I think it shows what you can do with little effort. Yes, I promise the writing will improve :). The map took about 45 minutes or so to make. Most of that time was spent looking at various maps. I also increased my speed after I figured out I could move points in polygons after I finished rather than having to start all over. I also made a quick screencast covering the basics of the My Maps tools.