Featured picture of post "How To Create an Interactive Map in Three Easy Steps: A Case Study From Ukraine"

How To Create an Interactive Map in Three Easy Steps: A Case Study From Ukraine

Kyla Ball

Educator Stephanie Woessner helped 17 schools in Ukraine to create an interactive ThingLink map together online. ThingLink spoke to her to hear how it was created, and why intuitive, collaborative and easy-to-master platforms like ThingLink are essential for learning and applying creative skills.

Stephanie Woessner was a teacher for a little over 10 years. She currently works as innovation team leader at a public institution in Southern Germany. She has also worked freelance as a consultant, keynote speaker and teacher trainer for future-oriented learning for about 15 years.  She has been a long-time user of ThingLink – in her words “probably for as long as it exists!”.

In 2020, the Goethe Institut in Kyiv asked Stephanie to facilitate a three day online workshop that would be attended by the 17 PASCH schools in the country. Each school would be represented by one student and one teacher, and after the workshop, the attendees could then present and instruct others in the school community on how to create similar content. The students would present their cities in their own words, in German, using ThingLink and a tool for the creation of Extended Reality content. 

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How this interactive map was created

Step 1: The first day was spent researching, deciding which places to present, collating required information online and taking photos, videos and 360° images of the places. In the student-teacher partnerships in each school, the participants then wrote their scripts. The partnership model worked particularly well as the teachers were able to assist the students with the German language aspect, and the students reciprocated by showing their teachers how to use the tools!

Step 2: On the second day the students created the mixed reality content using Merge Cubes in CoSpaces Edu. They also made virtual museums and they added information to 360 degree photos, using CoSpaces Edu and ThingLink.

Step 3: On the third day of the workshop, Stephanie introduced those students and teachers who hadn’t used ThingLink before to the platform. Students from all the schools then worked collaboratively online to create the joint ThingLink map, which you can explore below.

“Using ThingLink collaboratively worked really, really well.”

The students were all part of the same organizational account, which Stephanie managed. They agreed on a colour palette for the tags, and a common format for each of the text boxes within the tags to ensure the content would be consistent.

Intuitive platforms are essential

Stephanie believes that “production rather than consumption” is the key to future-oriented learning, i.e. acquiring the skills and competencies that Generations Z and Alpha will need to shape our future. So finding and using intuitive creator platforms like ThingLink is essential to the success of this approach. For the workshop, Stephanie collated all the information that the students would need to use the various platforms on a Padlet – so that the students and teachers could check if they had completed all the necessary steps and they could access the tutorials when they needed them. However the actual learning of the skills took place when they actually carried out the tasks themselves.

Other examples of the interactive maps with ThingLink

Collaboratively produced interactive maps like this are something that Stephanie has used for a number of years with students.

“I’ve really come to appreciate ThingLink for a lot of reasons: it’s so easy to use. Learners also don’t have a lot of trouble using it because the functionality is similar to so many apps that they use – you have all the same mechanisms in there. Like double click and drag and drop with an image for instance. ThingLink is something that everybody can use.”

Stephanie Woessner

Stephanie has worked closely with various Goethe Institutes for many years. These institutes are a nonprofit worldwide cultural organisation promoting knowledge of the German language abroad and fostering international cultural cooperation.

The first iteration of this type of map design was in fact created by Stephanie’s French students in Germany. Since they couldn’t go to Paris, they made a virtual tour of Paris using Greenscreen videos, which they presented as an interactive map with ThingLink. She then used this idea with students and teachers at the Goethe Institute in Tokyo in an attempt to present the German-speaking athletes who were to come to Tokyo for the Olympics with information on various places in and around Tokyo.  Students and teachers used Google Street View to create 360 images, CoSpaces Edu to create Merge Cubes and virtual museums, Google Tour Creator to create 360° tours and XPanda (a Swiss app) to create augmented reality content in German. The content was then placed on an interactive map of Japan. Unfortunately this map is no longer publicly available but most of the videos created using Greenscreen technology was extracted and placed on a new interactive map of Japan – below.

“ThingLink is one of those tools that are consistent, and work very well. I think it’s gotten better over the years because there’s all these integrated functionalities and the interface has become much more intuitive and functional, for instance the integrated audio recorder. You can use it for a lot of different, very creative things. The fact that it’s browser-based and that you can easily create 360 degree content  makes it much more versatile than many tools – but it also works on any headset that is out there, so that’s a plus at a time when schools start to buy various VR headsets. I stuck with ThingLink because it’s very good value for money compared to a lot of other apps that are out there.”

Stephanie Woessner

Interactive map example recreated with students in India

The Ukraine interactive map example was so successful that Stephanie was asked to use this approach as the template for similar workshops in Pune and Mumbai, India for the Goethe Institutes there. Below is a map view of India made with ThingLink. Use the icons in the bottom right corner to zoom in and view fullscreen if you prefer.

The legacy of the Ukraine interactive map

In the wake of the Ukraine conflict, the interactive map that began as an educational exercise in practicinga foreign language in a creative way by having students present their immediate surroundings with immersive extended reality technologies has taken on a more poignant meaning for Stephanie and for the students and teachers who created it.

“Even though the project at the beginning was just about having teachers change their practices and understanding the potential of extended reality, it turned into a project that is now a kind of cultural memory. I wanted to share the result of their hard work over these three days because I think it’s really worthwhile seeing what has since been destroyed.”

Stephanie Woessner

Thank you to Stephanie for allowing us to share these inspiring examples of interactive maps. You can see more of Stephanie’s projects at steffi-woessner.de and read her Petite Prof education blog here.

Making data visualization easy with interactive maps

Interactive maps and infographics make data visualization easy. Read our blog post below to see some other inspiring interactive custom maps made by our community of ThingLink creators. There are examples from a wide variety of sectors, including cultural heritage, shipping, industry training, higher education and visitor attractions.

From world maps to art trail maps, here are our six favourite examples of user-created interactive maps in ThingLink!

Unlike other interactive map platforms and providers there is no coding or web design experience needed with ThingLink. Simply build your map then share as a direct link, as an embed, on social media or with a QR code. Any changes you make to your ThingLink map will be updated in real-time.

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