Resource Needs and Pedagogical Value of Web Mapping for Spatial Thinking

Steven Manson, Jerry Shannon, Sami Eria, Len Kne, Kevin Dyke, Sara Nelson, Lalit Batra, Dudley Bonsal, Melinda Kernik, Jennifer Immich, Laura Matson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Web mapping involves publishing and using maps via the Internet, and can range from presenting static maps to offering dynamic data querying and spatial analysis. Web mapping is seen as a promising way to support development of spatial thinking in the classroom but there are unanswered questions about how this promise plays out in reality. This article examines the resource demands and pedagogical value of Web mapping for geographical education for the case of an undergraduate introductory geography course designed to develop spatial thinking in students. Web mapping can be effective but is subject to a range of pedagogical, institutional, and technological caveats and corollaries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107-117
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Geography
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Web-mapping applications were initially developed to publish simple maps over the Internet but more sophisticated and varied projects soon followed. Among the first were applications developed by Xerox in 1993 to publish maps via the Internet, soon followed by the United States Census Bureau creating the Tiger Mapping Service in 1995, which allowed people to graphically query census data. A year later, the United States Geologic Survey launched GeoData Online, a Website for downloading map data (Reed 2003; Plewe 1997). The U.S. National Science Foundation funded several projects in 1994 under the Digital Libraries Initiatives to support the development and research of geographic information and making it available on the Internet. These projects often originated in the public sector as a result of mandates to develop and distribute maps and data (Abel et al. 1998).

Funding Information:
This work is supported in part by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration New Investigator Pro- gram in Earth-Sun System Science (NNX06AE85G), the National Institutes of Health Minnesota Population Center (R24 HD041023), the University of Minnesota’s College of Liberal Arts, and the Resident Fellowship program of the Institute on the Environment. The authors gratefully acknowledge the assistance of the editor and anonymous reviewers. Responsibility for the opinions expressed herein is solely that of the authors.


  • Internet
  • cartography
  • digital maps
  • geographic information science (GISci)
  • technology


Dive into the research topics of 'Resource Needs and Pedagogical Value of Web Mapping for Spatial Thinking'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this