Friday, May 15, 2020

Google Maps in Data Studio

For a while now, Data Studio has had the ability to visualize data in map form. However, recently this feature was upgraded to be able to display "geo" data in Google Maps within a report. Geo data is essentially just data that represents a street address, city, country, etc. 

I had previously created a travel log report for a family member, which allowed them to update a Google Sheet with different locations they had visited, and it marked them on a map in the report. (Yes, I sometimes create reports for fun. Don't judge.) The travel log allows filtering by year, trip name, or trip operator, and I updated it to include the Google Maps functionality when it became available. Now, the map narrows in on an area of the globe when a trip is selected AND allows the user to zoom to street view and look around. Not education data, I know, but a fun way to revisit past trips until we can travel again. Check out a sample copy here (including directions to make your own). 

I started wondering if there were ways a report using this feature could become part of a student learning activity. I played around with exploring map data of Civil War battles using data I found online, but didn't get too far with it. I ended up creating a Massachusetts Cities and Towns report (based on Wikipedia entries) that allows the user to explore information like population, government type, county, and town seal. 

While I did create the data source for this report myself, I realized that it could just have easily been created by students submitting data via a Google Form. Wouldn't that be fantastic? Say your third grade has 350-ish students, and you ask them each to research one of 351 Massachusetts cities or towns, gathering population, government type, county, and a link to the town seal. Students put their findings into a Google Form, which results in a Sheet that becomes the source for a report like this one!

I would LOVE to hear some other ideas for learning activities like this, where data is collected by students, submitted via a form and then displayed on a map. If you've got an idea, I'll help you pull it off!

Google Maps in GDS: Examples and Resources

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