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Dynamic Digital Maps

Figure 1. DDM map window, showing conceptual links between objects. Image courtesy of Chris Condit. Click to enlarge.
submitted by Christopher D. Condit, University of Massachusetts Amherst

General Description

A Dynamic Digital Map (DDM) is a computer program that provides a framework for displaying the high quality color maps of an area in a way that is intimately linked to images, movies, analytical data, and text. Figure 1 shows an example of part of a DDM's detailed map window, with links opened to a unit's description, a sample's chemistry and several photos of the area, including a microphotograph of a rock sample. The DDM described here is one of 15 that can be downloaded, along with the tools to make a DDM, by visiting the DDM Project's Home web page .

Figure 2. The home screen from a dynamic digital map of the Springerville Volcanic Field. Image courtesy of Chris Condit. Click to enlarge.
This detailed map area window was opened from the home screen of, in this case, the DDM of the Springerville Volcanic Field (Figure 2). The home screen presents an index map showing the location of detailed maps, along with buttons that open lists or indexes of the content. The index map graphics and the index lists provide links to open maps and photos (saved as jpeg files) and movies, which are stored in separate files. Analytical data are stored as tab-delimited text within the program, and can be exported from it, as text documents, for use out of the program. Note the orange "Guided Tour" button on the lower right side of DDM-SVF's home screen, which will play through a six minute automated tour showing you how to use the program.

Making a DDM from the template requires the use of the relatively inexpensive, multi-platform programming environment Runtime Revolution (www.runrev.com), which has a low learning curve. Once data have been added to the "DDM-Template" and associated files stored in specified directories, a single step creates royalty-free stand-alone programs for Linux, and all Windows and Macintosh operating systems.

The DDM program matching the user's operating system can be downloaded from http sites. The DDM program can then access its associated data directly from that site with no browser needed. Alternatively, the entire package can be distributed and used from CD, DVD, or from flash-memory storage. A more detailed description of the DDM can be found in Dynamic Digital Maps: A Means to Distribute Maps and Associated Media via Web and CD.

Uses of the Program

The DDM-Template was created so teachers, students and researchers could use it to publish an integrated story about a map area. Any given DDM can contain text (for example, Guidebook articles and image captions) aimed at three different levels, chosen by the user in a "Preferences" page. It can also be used to publish large analytical data sets, placed in context, so data can be displayed by clicks to sample sites that are placed directly on their map or image location. Geographic features and data sites can be easily searched for and located on the map or image, and the data likewise searched for and displayed almost instantaneously. A DDM can be used for both teaching and industrial applications. The State Geologist of Massachusetts uses the Dynamic Digital Map of New England to provide water well drillers a first cut at locating the bedrock type in which they are drilling. They do this by opening the map segment for their area and displaying the geologic thematic map type, and entering their site's latitude and longitude in to the DDM search routine. The map centers on that area, and they can then examine the unit descriptions in the area so located.

Audience and Setting

I use DDMs for my junior level petrology class (see the article Bringing The Field Into The Classroom By Using Dynamic Digital Maps To Engage Undergraduate Students In Petrology Research in JGE by Boundy and Condit, 2004). We also use it in GeoSci 101 to get my Physical Geology students to pre-run an all day field trip across the Berkshire Mountains. Alternatively, we sometimes use two other field trips as "virtual" excursions in labs when freezing rain or snow prevents getting into the field (see the Berkshire VR Field Trip and the Deerfield Basin VR Trip documents), or when students have access problems due to wheel-chairs, broken legs or other like issues.

Examples of Educational use

Assignments

How to Get the Software

No cost for the DDM-Template, DDM-Cookbook, and tutorial videos all can be downloaded from: http://ddm.geo.umass.edu/ddm-template/

A more detailed description of the DDM can be found in Dynamic Digital Maps: A Means to Distribute Maps and Associated Media via Web and CD.

How to Use this Software

An open source program, the "DDM-Template" into which you can insert your data, and an accompanying 66 page "DDM-Cookbook" on how to do this can be downloaded from the DDM home page , along with numerous DDMs that demonstrate this potential. Making a DDM from the Template requires the use of the relatively inexpensive, multi-platform programming environment Runtime Revolution (www.runrev.com), which has a low learning curve. Once data have been added to the "DDM-Template" and associated files stored in specified directories, a single step creates royalty-free stand-alone programs for Linux, and all Windows and Macintosh operating systems.

References

Boundy, T.M and Condit, C.D., 2004, Bringing The Field Into The Classroom By Using Dynamic Digital Maps To Engage Undergraduate Students In Petrology Research, J. Geoscience Education, v. 52, no. 4, p. 313-319 (September issue cover).

Condit, C.D., 1999, Components of Dynamic Digital Maps, Computers & Geosciences, v. 25, p. 511-522.

Condit, C.D., 1995, DDM.SVF: A prototype Dynamic Digital Map of the Springerville volcanic field, Arizona, GSA Today, v.5, p. 69, 87-88.

Condit, C.D., 1995, Dynamic Digital Map: The Springerville Volcanic Field: Prototype color digital maps with ancillary data Boulder Colorado, Geol. Soc. Am. Digital Pub. Series DPSM01MC (CD-ROM for the Macintosh); v. 4.10.95 size: 36.7 megabytes.

Condit, C.D., 2005, Dynamic Digital Maps: A Means to Distribute Maps and Associated Media via Web and CD in Soller, D.R., ed., Digital Mapping Techniques '05 – Workshop Proceedings: U.S. Geological Survey Open-file Report 2005-1428, p. 105-118.

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