Website review by Jenny Bristol, Common Sense Education | Updated July 2021

ZeeMaps

Interactive map maker is powerful and customizable, but not intuitive

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Grades
6–12
Subjects & Skills
Social Studies, Communication & Collaboration, Creativity, Critical Thinking

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Pros: It has spreadsheet import features, customization and collaboration options, and a Google Maps foundation.

Cons: Some features in the nonintuitive, clunky interface don't work as you might expect, such as importing and route planning, and subscriptions are expensive.

Bottom Line: For the right lessons, it has a lot of potential, but overcoming the interface might slow you down.

Teachers can use ZeeMaps either to present information to the class or to challenge students to create map-based projects to share or collaborate on. From mapping presidential birthplaces to a tour of interesting geologic features to  the highest and lowest elevations in each state, there is a way to use ZeeMaps in any school subject. Students can map out the settings in a novel, fault lines, the route of explorers, the sites of important battles, and much more. You can also crowdsource information, allowing the whole class to contribute to a larger project.

It's probably most useful to people who already have spreadsheets of data to import. For basic school projects, schools can use the free version of ZeeMaps, but for more sophisticated published maps that are meant to be viewed many times, you'll need a paid subscription. If working with maps is well integrated into your curriculum, a subscription with its expanded functionality might be a good value. Paid subscriptions include the ability to export latitude and longitude, have more than one map administrator, show real-time traffic, do advanced map editing, have unlimited multipoint routes and unlimited maps, and more.

 

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ZeeMaps is a customizable, interactive map-making website where users can create, update, and publish their own maps, all based on the Google Maps API. These maps are great for presentations, reference, or integration into a website. The free version of the site allows for some basic functionality and up to 100 lifetime views per map, so serious users will need to pay to subscribe for more flexible terms. Users can manually input location markers on the map, they can crowdsource input using HIPAA-compliant options, or they can import from a spreadsheet or KML/KMZ file. A synchronized, cloud-based spreadsheet can keep the map updated. Map entries can have custom markers, including images, and users can add custom informational fields for each type of marker. Text, photos, audio files, or YouTube video links can also be added to each location, and marker group labels are shown in a legend.

ZeeMaps' functionality includes the ability to highlight countries, states, cities, zip codes, counties, or hand-drawn regions with color; use heat maps on interactive maps or map images; edit via a robust editing grid or perform bulk edits; annotate maps; and use a route planner option. When maps are done, users can share their map's link, publish the map on a website, print the map, or export it as a PDF or PNG image. Google Analytics is also available to track map visits.

Using ZeeMaps, students can peruse maps already created or crowdsourced by others to learn about poets reading their own poetry, legendary monsters, Florida gas stations with high-octane gas, crime scenes, and more. That flexibility gives the tool a lot of potential. It can empower students to think of the world in new ways, and make connections between locations and events or people.

But if you want a tool that's easy to use right away by people with little map experience, this site might be a bit challenging. Unlike with Google Maps, you do need to know the exact locations you want to map; you can't type in the name of a business or attraction and have its address show up. Also, importing locations from existing Google Maps (that have been exported to KML/KMZ format) doesn't populate those locations as ZeeMaps-style markers. Thus, those markers can't then be used in the included-but-nonintuitive ZeeMaps route planner, and the site doesn't count them in the number of entries on that map. This site definitely requires a bit of setup, but if ZeeMaps offers what you need in a customizable map tool and its shortcomings aren't an issue, it can be a useful resource.

Overall Rating

Engagement

Any map lover will enjoy fiddling with the detailed map-building tool, but those who want to build a quick map right now may get frustrated with the finicky nature of the interface.

Pedagogy

Some learning can be had from exploring premade maps, but students will get the most out of creating their own themed map on a topic of interest. Building maps with ZeeMaps can be tedious, but the result is satisfying.

Support

The site includes a few videos and articles to get users started, but in-depth help is a bit lacking. It will take most people a while to get the hang of using the interface.


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