Yesterday was a busy day at Google with the release of My Maps and a Mac version of Google Desktop. My Maps makes it easy for anyone to create their personalised Google maps, by simply positioning a marker and adding text or media to create an interactive map. I made this in ten minutes. The marker listings on the left are neat, but can't be rearranged, which is a shame.
My Maps includes line and shape drawing tools and the maps can be saved as KLM files for use with Google Earth. However, I think there are there are a some features missing which prevent it from being as useful as it might be. The most important is the absence of any embed code, it would also be nice to measure distances between markers. An RSS feed for updated maps, tags and tools that enable collaborative work on maps, (think classes), are also be on my wish list.
There are some problems with video from third party sites. Google Video and YouTube work fine, but Videoegg did not, and the HTML disappeared, others have also commented that Google strips some HTML elements. Having said that clips from Veoh did work, so I suppose it's trial and error. A final worry is that this may have detrimental effects on some mapping services such as QuikMaps which provide excellent tools and support. Whatever the benefits of My Maps we need these third party innovators
I believe My Maps will strengthen the case for using Web 2.0 and social software in schools. Because it is so quick and easy to use, teachers and students should find plenty of uses, in all subjects and areas of study.