Google Maps is a popular web tool that allows people to explore places, find directions to destinations, and create custom maps. However, there are additional features in Google Maps, especially in the new Google Maps Engine Lite, that allows you to modify maps with custom details, such as with images, links, data tables, and labels. By logging in to your Google account, you can create, save, and share your own personal and unique maps with others.

Google maps interface

Key Features

  • Custom route generation between a starting point and destination of choice
  • Exploration of businesses, destinations, and other places of interest
  • Multiple visual modes, including standard view, satellite, terrain, and weather
  • Certain locations support street-level views (Streetview) where you can view certain places as if you were standing at that street
  • Intuitive route and map creation with simple drag-and-drop and point-and-click functionality

Uses for Google Maps

  • Use customized maps to label and outline points of interests and add clarity to discussions such as history, geography, and other topics.
  • Plot the life or journey of a fictional/historical figure through maps, such as where they lived, worked, or traveled.
  • Use streetview to view examples of building architecture and design or to explore different cities.
  • View land use patterns and changing landscapes using the satellite view. Google Earth also provides the ability to view historical satellite images.
  • Create routes that illustrate interesting geometric shapes in a city. These can be used to show kids how cities are laid out and organized using geometry learned in class.
  • Map out bus routes to calculate average speeds and travel times.

Also, Google Maps can be exported as a KML file for use in Google Earth. This can be useful for certain GIS classes.

This video gives you a tour of Google Maps.


Taffe, Susan M. "Using Google Maps in University Classrooms: Engaging Students with Faculty Research through Mapping."

Other Resources

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