GEOG 486
Cartography and Visualization

Lesson Project Tasks


After having read this first lesson, you should have a good idea of the spectrum between 1) cartography for visual communication and 2) cartography for visual thinking. Maps are used in both, but when used to visually communicate, the map is the end goal of the cartography, whereas when used for visual thinking, maps are a means to facilitate the thinking process.

Below is the assignment for Lesson 1, which involves two parts, one on cartography for visual communication, and the other on cartography for visual thinking. This first part is to find a map to critically review and share with the class for discussion. The second is to use the GeoViz Toolkit and respond to the questions provided.

The assignment for this lesson introduces the Map Gallery, and the process we will be using to submit images of our maps to share in the class. After the description of the assignment, is information on how to submit. If you have questions after reading through this page, please post them to the Lesson 1 Discussion Forum.

Part 1 (of 2): Critical Review and Map Discussion

For this deliverable, you will need to:

  1. Find a map to share with the class. Because we will be sharing these with each other online, the map should be an image file that you can upload. The map can be a file you (or colleague) created, from a website, or scanned from a physical source. It can be about anything, thematically. Here are some guidelines, only the first of which is a requisite:
    • Use a static map (that is, it should not be an interactive map or mapping tool).
    • Consider choosing a kind of map you make (it could be your own) or one that is related thematically to your field of work or desired field of work.
    • Consider choosing a map that has a style you aspire to acheive, or exhibits a look you like.
    • Consider choosing a map that is complex, multivariate and/or needs improvements.
  2. Upload the map to the Map Gallery
    • Log in to this site using the LOGIN link on the top menu. An "Assignments" section will appear on the right-side menu. The Assignments and Map Gallery Help page will give you generic assistance on submitting an image, and/or using the Map Gallery, but more detailed instruction on submitting assignments will be included on each Lesson Project Tasks page.
    • Use the Create Submission link to upload your map. On the Create Assignment page:
      • Select "Lesson 1 Map" from the Assignment Type dropdown menu.

      • Type in your name for Author, and the title of the map you are reviewing for Title. A caption isn't necessary because you will write a longer review of the map in a comment.

      • Under Map Image File, use the "Choose File" button to browse to your image file, and click the Upload button. 

      • Click Save at the bottom of the page to submit the map. 
        Note: Because we will be using this process for many of our assignments in this course, assignments are not automatically made public to the class. The instructor has to edit the status of your submission (after you post it) so that the image becomes public, and we can discuss the maps. After you save the submission, you will see your uploaded image (and document) surrounded by a pink box. This means that the page is not public, and only the person that submitted it and the instructor can see it.

  3. On this (currently pink) submitted page, you will also see space for comments. In this space write a critical review of the map. In addition to citing and linking to where you acquired your map, please discuss:

    • Why you chose the map to present to the rest of the class. It can be as simple as you like the symbolization and typography, or maybe the subject is something you know a lot about, is a map you made in the past, or representative of maps you hope to make.
    • The purpose of the map, and what the map visually communicates.
    • What you like about the map. Consider kind of map representation, symbolization, color schemes, classification, visual variables used, legends, typography or anything else. You don't have to speak to all of these items, but think about them.
    • What could be improved about the map. Something can always be improved.
  4. Click Save to submit your review.
    Remember: Due to the way the Map Gallery is used in the rest of the course, maps that are submitted are not published automatically. After you submit your review, you should see it in your Assignments, but not yet in the Map Gallery. The instructor will manually publish the assignments before they can be read and reviewed by others.
  5. After submitting your map and review, please look at other student map submissions for this assignment, and add an original comment to the discussion about the design and function of two or more of the maps. Map submissions, once published, are accessed in the Map Gallery. Click the image for a full-size version. Click the title/link above the image to access the review and/or to add a comment. (If there are no - or very few maps - available yet to review, check back later in the day, or the next day.)

Part 2 (of 2): Geovisualization for Visual Thinking Response

For this deliverable, you will need to use the GeoViz Toolkit in order to respond to the questions below. You are welcome to use any of the data within the GeoViz Toolkit (meaning you don't have to use the '04 and '08 Presidential election data, but of course you can). You will submit this portion of the assignment in Canvas.

  1. Give a synopsis, in your own words, of the GeoViz Toolkit and how we used it in the Visual Thinking exercise.
  2. Use the GeoViz Toolkit to find a fairly strong correlation in one region of the U.S. that is not present in another region of the U.S. Describe and illustrate the obsreved correlation with screen captures e.g. two screen captures, one of each region selected on the map, with the corresponding scatterplot, showing the correlation in one of the regions and no correlation (or an inverse correlation) in the other.
  3. (Continuation from the 2nd question). What additional variables may be at play creating differences in the correlation you observed between different regions? Explain, and look at one or more of those variables using the Toolkit to see how they change beween your two regions. Provide evidence from the GeoViz Toolkit to support observations (e.g. screen captures).
  4. What cartographic decision in the GeoViz Toolkit can dramatically change the visual patterns of the data being mapped (enough to obscure an important pattern or visually highlight an overall minor pattern)?  Hint: it is one of the ways you can change the view of the variable along the top of the GeoMap. Another hint, if needed, it is a primary topic of discussion in our Lesson 4. Explain and show screen captures to demonstrate how this decision affects spatial patterns.

When complete with this second part of the deliverable, save as a .doc, .docx or .pdf. and name it "LASTname_L1" (using your own last name), and submit it to the Lesson 1 - Part 2 Assignment in Canvas.*

Reminder - Complete all of the Lesson 1 tasks!

You have reached the end of Lesson 1! Double-check the to-do list on the Lesson 1 Overview page to make sure you have completed all of the tasks listed there before you begin Lesson 2.

If you have any questions, feel free to post them to the Lesson 1 Discussion Forum.