This year, Science Literacy Week will keep you moving. Beginning September 16, there are tours lined up, a game-based session around data management, a hands-on Excel workshop, interactive sound demonstrations, and exhibits to explore.
Here is the daily rundown of downtown activities organized by the Library:
Have I been waiting for this to happen…I’ve been using the freely available desktop version of CmapTools for years, extolling the virtues of this classic concept mapping tool, and now the good folks at the Florida Institute of Human & Machine Cognition (IHMC) have unveiled Cmap Cloud.
Concept maps are graphical representations of knowledge – think brainstorming or mind mapping but a little more structured. They usually start with a focus question and run hierarchically, demonstrating the relationships between concepts. One of the great things about CmapTools is that when you connect two concepts together you are prompted to add a linking phrase to define the relationship. Rather than just typing [pie]–[cherry], you might specify [pie]-can be-[cherry]. It turns out that this is not the easiest thing to do. We can write reams of text on a topic but at the same time get rather stuck mapping it out. In this way, concept maps demonstrate our knowledge of a subject area and reveal misconceptions. When we add new information to maps, we build connections to what we already know and meaningful learning can occur. Concept maps can also be used in groups to reach a shared understanding of the tasks at hand, with the added bonus that concepts in CmapTools can have resources attached to them. If you haven’t yet taken the time to explore the software, I invite you to try today and get in touch with me if you have questions.
Back to the Cloud. The desktop version allows you to save concept maps on a public server and create a website for sharing – amazing – but with the advent of the Cmap Cloud, you can also save your maps there and edit them online. I have been using it for a couple of days now and it can be a little slow at times, but many of the features are there. The nice part is that you can make friends with other Cmappers and share folders to work on projects together.
IHMC also have a new CmapTools for iPad. It is free to download but there is an in-app purchase to be able to export maps and sync them with the Cmap Cloud. I’ll be spending some time with it so look for my review on our new mobile apps blog.
The new GeoGratis website is up and running and it looks fantastic. Are you asking yourself, what is GeoGratis? From their FAQ section: “The new GeoGratis is a portal provided by the Earth Science Sector (ESS) of Natural Resources Canada (NRCan). It combines the former GeoPub, Mirage and GeoGratis into a one-stop gateway to search, discover and access 1000’s of maps, map data, imagery and documents.” Sounds good, right? With a clean and functional search interface, search by geographic location, keyword or product type. Who are GeoGratis’s users? Again, from the FAQs: “The data will be useful whether you are a novice who needs a geographic map for a presentation, an expert who wants to overlay a vector layer of digital data on a classified multiband image, with a digital elevation model as a backdrop, or a student who needs the latest document about the geology of a specific region.”
If the data you are looking for cannot be found in GeoGratis, remember to visit the Maps & geospatial data section of the Library website for a comprehensive list of free and proprietary map and data products. As a McGill student, faculty member, or researcher, you can request licensed data using the online geospatial data request form. If you have questions about Geographic Information Systems and Remote Sensing or GIS software, visit McGill’s Geographic Information Centre (GIC).
This week Google Maps announced that the indoor floor plans are available for selected locations on Google Maps for the desktop. Many airports, train stations, shopping malls, and libraries have provided their floor plans on Google Maps. That means, you may be able to choose the restaurant that you would like to eat in an airport or plan your Black Friday itinerary in a shopping mall before you leave home.
Although a number of places worldwide have joined this project, the only location in Canada that made its indoor maps available is West Edmonton Mall in Edmonton. If you were a venue owner, would you submit your floor plans to Google Maps?
I am always astounded by what can be done with geospatial data – here is a map from The New York Times that uses data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (2005-9) to show the distribution of racial and ethnic groups for every city block.