What is a Map? – And a New Crash Course in Geography

For as long as I can remember I’ve enjoyed looking at maps. Whether it’s a standard Mercator projection printed on paper or a digital map, looking at maps sparks curiosity in my brain. I’m certain that’s why I always enjoyed teaching geography and why I spend so much time today teaching others how to use digital mapping tools. 

What is a map? And why are there so many variations of maps? Those questions and more are answered in the second lesson in a relatively new Crash Course on Geography

By watching What is a Map? students can learn how maps evolved over time, the political implications of maps, and how maps are used to represent data as well as locations. 


Applications for Education

Before showing this video to students ask them what they think the definition of a map is. 

A related activity that I used to do with my 9th grade geography students was to have them to create their own maps of their towns or states and then compare with their classmates’ maps. I did that to illustrate the idea that there can be many interpretations of geographic information. That’s a lesson the video above reinforces.