Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis



First Advisor

Jerry Mitchell


The purpose of this study was to explore teachers’ perceptions of Esri Story Maps as effective teaching tools. Story Maps are a relatively new web application within Esri’s web-based GIS platform, ArcGIS Online. They combine digitized, dynamic maps with other story elements (i.e., title, text, legend, popups, and other visuals) to help the creator effectively convey a message. The relative ease associated with using and creating a Story Map as well as the simple, non-technical interface makes them ideal for use as an educational technology. Survey data were collected at several professional development events in the spring of 2014 in Columbia, SC where a total of forty-two participants were introduced to the concept of a Story Map and then given a hands-on demonstration on how to use the web application. Analysis revealed that the participants perceived Story Maps to be user-friendly, interactive, and engaging. They felt their students would enjoy using the technology and even articulated that Story Maps could help present materials that meet academic standards. Furthermore, they conveyed a willingness to collaborate with colleagues to create interdisciplinary Story Maps as teaching tools. Participants expressed more neutral sentiments concerning the ease with which they created a web map and navigated ArcGIS Online and therefore communicated a slight preference for using pre-made Story Maps over creating their own. Several obstacles stand in the way of successful implementation, including inadequate technology resources at schools, a need for additional training, and a lack of time. It is recommended that teacher preparation programs begin using GIS and Story Maps as teaching and learning tools for preservice teachers. Additionally, professional development for inservice teachers should focus on the specific pedagogical applications of the educational technology and not just the technical skills required to operate Story Maps. It is also recommended that local, professional GIS users provide sustained technical support and serve as mentors to educators looking to use GIS and Story Maps in their classrooms.


© 2014, Caitlin Strachan

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Geography Commons