Spatial Thinking and Mapping

Workshop Details

Monday, June 15, 10:00am-12:30pm

Location-based learning can help ground course content and projects in space and history. This session will include an introduction to StoryMaps, a tool for contextualizing data and writing about space. The content below includes materials from the workshop, but also other resources to help you get started building a course site.


  • Faculty & facilitator introductions (10 min)
  • Introduction to spatial thinking (25 min)
  • Faculty showcase (30 min)
  • Hands-on exploration of ESRI Story Maps (30 min)
  • Break (15 min)
  • How did they make that? (30 min: 20 min exploration + 10 min debrief )
  • Wrap up (10 min)

Links & Handouts

Instructors & Moderators

  • Blair Tinker, GIS Specialist, Digital Scholarship Lab,
  • Emily Sherwood, Director, Digital Scholarship Lab,
  • Sarah Pugachev, Director, Research Initiatives,
  • Lisa Wright, Digitization Specialist, Digital Scholarship Lab,

Showcase Presenters

  • Stella Wang, Professor of Instruction, Writing, Speaking, and Argument Program

Introduction and Faculty Showcase

Story Maps and ArcGIS Online

  • ArcGIS Story Maps Resources: This page (created by ESRI) provides all the resuources needed to create compelling Story Maps.
  • Learn ArcGIS: This page is the landing site for all of ESRI’s online learning modules. There are many free courses here (including getting started with ArcGIS Online) but by signing in with your U of R ArcGIS Online account you will be able to access extra content and training.
  • University of Minnisota Story Map Curriculum Portal: University of Minnisota has created a whole portal that includes lesson plans, rubriks and example projects to help you teach with Story Maps.


Story Maps is designed to be accessissible but you can still make choices withing hte application that can help as well. Many of these priciples apply not only to narrative content but also any maps that you may include.

  • Include alt-text for images. This is a description of what is contained within an image for screen readers and other adaptive software so that all are able to understand the content regardless of visual ability.
  • Avoid visually challenging color combinations such as red and green, or white font on black background. Color Brewer can help you decide on colors that make your maps more accessible.
  • Underline things that are hyperlinked rather than relying on colored font to indicate the link.
  • Do not “open tab in a new window” as it can be disorientating for those with visual impairments.


When creating a Story Map it is private by default. You can keep it private, publish to the organization (anyone with a U of R ArcGIS Online account), publish to world or share with ArcGIS Online groups.

  • FERPA: It’s important to remember UofR’s FERPA Guidelines when asking students to produce coursework that may be public. While FERPA primarily applies to grades and “any personally identifiable information in the student’s education records,” it’s good practice to discuss any academic work that you want to make public and be sure students are comfortable and consent to doing so.

Further Reading and Resources

Examples and Other Platforms

ArcGIS Online is just one platform that is useful for creating online projects that include maps. There are many other platforms that have different capabilities, costs and learning curves.

Tools and Platforms

Need Help?

This is just a start. We’re happy to help you discuss your project, find resources, and facilitate training. Feel free to reach out to the Digital Scholarship Lab or contact your Outreach Librarian.