On Thursday 13th June we ran our very first Digimap for Schools webinar. While we had a few sounds issues (which we will make sure are resolved for next time), the session was found to be reasonably useful by most of the 55 participants. Before commencing our virtual tour of Digimap for Schools, we asked participants to gauge their level of confidence when using Digimap for Schools in the classroom. While most suggested reasonable confidence when using the service, a few indicated anxiety about using the service in the classroom. We were really pleased to see those teachers in particular participating as our aim of the day was to increase confidence and possibly share a few ideas. We went for a topical theme and gave a tour of the service using Andy Murray’s upcoming Wimbledon appearance as our theme. We digitized over centre court, added a photo of Andy holding up a cup and created a 0.5km buffer around centre court to identify which streets will hear the crowd roar if Andy fulfills our hopes on finals day! We followed the virtual tour with a Q&A session which was particularly useful for us here at EDINA:
Q: Is it possible to automatically colour a building to identify land use?
A: Regrettably no. Because the background maps are images only, you need to digitize the building using the polygon tool changing fill colour as you go.
Q: Can I delete saved maps?
A: The only way to do that currently is to contact firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us which maps to delete. The ability to delete maps was asked frequently so we will be looking at how to deliver that functionality to you so it can be done locally by yourselves.
Q: Can I create subfolders of maps for different classes?
A: No, however you can filter/order maps according to entries in the class field. Again this question was asked by many so we will be looking at delivering this functionality.
Q: Will the annual password change purge all my saved maps?
A: No, your saved maps will be unaffected by the password change.
Q: Can I preview my map before generating a pdf?
A: No not yet but we already have on our development path the aim to have that function is place for you returning after the summer break so that before the pdf, jpg or png are generated you will be able to see the extent the map will cover in the map window and be able to move that around.
Q: Can I change the photo size on the map?
A: You can click once on the photo and see a larger version but you cannot change the size of the photo on the map itself. This was asked for several times so we will look into offering this flexibility.
Q: Grid reference points – can I save them and/or add multiple ones?
A: No the grid reference tool is not an annotation you add to the map, it is a temporary response to a map click only. There was interest in multiple grid references so we will look into the feasibility of this.
Q: Can the buffer tool be used along a line?
A: No it works on a single click only. However we could extend the buffer tool to work on digitized line annotations also. Again, we’ll look into the feasibility of doing this.
Q: Can children access Digimap for Schools from home?
A: Yes all they need is internet access and a browser and they can use the school login to access the service from home.
Q: Can you offer a route card type function for Duke of Edinburgh activities?
A: That’s not on our immediate development plan but it’s one to keep in mind.
Q: Can I add multiple markers by entering postcodes?
A: Not currently and it’s not on our immediate development path although we have considered a gpx upload function. We’re not sure if there’s huge demand for this.
Q: Is there a file size limit on the photo upload tool?
A: Yes, the file limit is 10MB per image.
Q: A student friendly summary sheet would be helpful
A: A user guide written by Mark Williams (age 14) is available http://digimapforschools.edina.ac.uk/cosmo/home?page=resources
Q: Can charts from Excel be imported onto the map?
A: Yes. If you save your Excel chart as a picture and select the jpeg option, it will be in a format that the Add Photo tool will be happy to accept.
Q: Is there a Digimap for Schools app?
A: No there’s not an app but the service has been optimized to work on Safari browsers on iPads.
Q: Can you enter a grid reference range and see the map within that area? I’m thinking about recreating maps from exams.
A: Not really but if you enter the superset grid reference into the search box you will be taken to that grid reference. Darren from Ordnance Survey also added Ordnance Survey are in discussions with Examination Boards exploring the possibility of obtaining past paper extracts that could be integrated within the service.
Q: Will the service extend beyond the UK in the future?
A: Maybe if demand exists!
Q: Is there any way of showing Geological information on a map?
A: If you have a photograph or an image in jpeg format then yes it can be added to the map. There is of course also a wealth of digital geological data that the British Geological Society makes available. Adding this geological data to Digimap for Schools is something we have considered but haven’t detected as much interest in compared to say e.g. historical data and/or aerial photography.
Other discussion points included a general interest in MapStream (http://mapstream.edina.ac.uk) EDINA’s web mapping service for use in desktop GIS. There seemed to be a bit of interest in MapStream and even a request for a dedicated webinar. Prior to deciding to subscribe to MapStream a school needs to decide upon a desktop GIS to use the service in, but we are happy to run a webinar demonstrating MapStream in a variety of desktop GIS. Email email@example.com if you are interested in a MapStream webinar, we’d love to hear from you! We had several schools identify problems with losing annotations from saved maps. We’re actively working to identify what’s causing this intermittent problem. Again if you’ve experienced lost annotations please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org because we really need as much evidence as possible to resolve this problem.
We wrapped up the session asking if the webinar had been useful, over half of participants indicated it had, which was great to hear:
‘thank you very much, we have found this very useful’
‘thank you very much – has really helped to clarify some points’
‘accessed this webinar from home via iPad without any problems – just had to download an app to open the webinar’
‘I think this is a really good way of sharing information and it is nice to know I’m not the only person sitting in my room after school! thank you’
‘we love digimap’
‘thank you for your help today. If you offer further webinars I would be interested in attending’
‘Superb session. Thanks’
‘Use digimaps a lot in school with different year groups. thanks’
We will be making a video of the session available very soon. Watch this space!