The emergence of map mash-ups continues to provide opportunities for students to go places in the world without ever leaving the classroom. More and more developers are now using the Google Maps and Google Street framework for creating interesting sites for exploring the world’s geography and cultures. MapCrunch taps into the growing archive of Google Street Views, which are detailed on-the-ground snapshots of towns, cities and areas all over the globe.
MapCrunch allows you to randomly tour spots on the earth, or choose your tour by continent, and within seconds, you have zoomed right into something interesting. In the span of a few minutes, I had gone from looking over the shoulders of some scientists on a hike in Antarctica to looking down a rural stretch of highway in Japan to squinting through a fog-filled town center in Scotland.
The benefit of using the Google Map platform is that a user can stay a while in a spot, too, and use the navigation buttons to pull back and get a wider lens on the experience, or shift the view of the window to something else. MapCrunch also provides search nagivation by country or by continent. There is also a slideshow feature. And an interesting overlay on an image shows the latitude and longitude of the location that is being featured.
One word of warning: in the upper right corner of the MapCrunch site, there is a link for Streetviewfunny.com, which is another mash-up of images taken from around the world that is supposed to show funny or strange things taken from Google Street View images. I scanned through and did not find anything too objectionable, but a prepared teacher might want to consider this link when they bring students to MapCrunch.