Story Maps for Education Blog

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Esri Frequent Contributor

Earlier this summer Esri launched ArcGIS StoryMaps, a next-generation digital storytelling tool. Now come join Esri’s StoryMaps team for a free webinar series to learn all about what the new platform can do for your organization. Starting Wednesday, September 18th , 2019, tune in to:

  • Learn how to use ArcGIS StoryMaps;
  • Hear from featured storyteller and National Geographic Explorer, Gabby Salazar;
  • See a sneak peak of enhancements that will be coming soon;
  • Get your story map questions answered.


Webinar imageRegister for the webinar at and read the press release to learn more about the event.

Quiz--where was the above image, placed inside a story map, taken?   Answer:  Auckland, New Zealand.

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Esri Regular Contributor

Last update: October 18, 2020

Spatial analysis has always been a hallmark of GIS, the “numerical recipes” which set GIS apart from other forms of computerized visualization and information management. With GIS we can pose questions and derive results using a wide array of analytical tools to help us understand and compare places, determine how places are related, find the best locations and paths, detect and quantify patterns, and even to make spatial predictions.

"The greatest potential for change and success occurs when we all understand and speak the same language—-the language of spatial analysis." -- Chris Cappelli

What better way to speak that language than via a story map? As people continue to explore and share their world using the medium of story maps, some are venturing beyond the simple map tour mode of points linked to photographs, toward “stories” that examine, explore, and showcase the results of a spatial analysis. We’ll likely see more of these analytical stories as the story map medium is introduced into more GIS courses, particularly at the university level.

As you explore the story of spatial analysis, please KEEP SCROLLING DOWN for a small catalog of analytical story maps. Be sure to visit again as I will try to add to this page throughout the year!

Hot!  This story map is about ArcGIS Hub, a new technology currently in worldwide adoption, for creating and publishing open data in an easy and accessible way. See this gallery of Science Hubs, many of which include story maps. 

Scientists as Storytellers, from Esri's Charmel Menzel of our National Government Sciences Team, as presented at the 2018 American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting. 

Unlocking Information from Imagery in ArcGIS, with use cases and analytical workflows showing how ArcGIS provides an end-to-end experience for doing artificial intelligence (AI) with imagery.

Esri's Applied Analysis site includes a Story Map Gallery of Analytic Case Studies.

Esri's Applied Analysis and National Government Sciences Team's Scientists Communicating with Story Maps Gallery.

A story map with both ANALYTICS and suggested societal SOLUTIONS: Take Action: Tools to Understand and Prepare for Extreme Heat.

Esri's Lauren Scott Griffin's "Analyzing Traffic Accidents in Space and Time" uses the Story Map Cascade to analyze automobile crash data in Brevard County, Florida using ArcGIS Pro. The study addresses important questions such as where are traffic accidents increasing (including as specific hot spots within a road network), and when are the most dangerous times to be driving. You can also download the data, follow the complete ArcGIS Pro workflows, and access additional resources on ArcGIS

Esri's Lauren Bennett’s “Drought Impact Assessment” uses the Story Map Series - Side Accordion Layout to guide the viewer through four stages of an analysis, culminating in a map of statistically significant decreases in soil moisture over a 35-year period, as part of longer term monitoring effort. See the demo of the story map at the 2014 Federal GIS conference (minute 2:14). In addition, this video at minute 6:28 is an example of using Python to schedule a task that can grab data from the United States Drought Monitor and recreate it as a live service that might be inserted into a story map.  

The USDA Forest Service’s Restoration Story Map Atlas uses the same format to show the results of analyses for the Pacific Northwest ranging from identifying the percentage of a watershed that could be effectively treated through active forest thinning, prescribed fire, or use of wildfire, to the results of a bivariate rendering of burn probability by conditional flame length.

 The Center for Research in Water Resources at the University of Texas at Austin uses the Map Journal app to tell the story of flood risk in and around Huarez City, Peru as based upon hydrodynamic modeling results. See the related blog post about this research. 

Other great analytical examples include:

Winners of the 2016 Global Content Challenge, who were required to use spatial analysis and submit entries as a Story Map Journal:




Analysis in the field, or stories of data collected in the field as inputs for spatial analysis, are also very important:

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Esri Frequent Contributor

Are you an educator using Story Maps in your classroom? 

If so:

1. That's awesome, keep up the great work; and

2. We want to make creating and using story maps in the classroom even easier, so we've added some resources to our website specifically for you. Explore this "If you are an educator" section here:

--Joseph Kerski Maps 

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Esri Frequent Contributor

I used a recent hike to Hanging Lake Colorado as an excuse to try some new things with the Cascade Story map app – looping video, link to a map-with-points-from-geotagged photos, testing procedures now that Google folded Picasaweb into Google Plus/Google Photos, and some other features.  Not perfect but I learned some things!




I used Bern’s advice here to add geotagged photos to a web map –

… to create my map tour to get my photos quickly added to ArcGIS Online as points.  I used it as this map:


… which is a part of the above Cascade story map.

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Esri Frequent Contributor

The GIS Day story map is a great way to start your event you are hosting:   - about 15% down on the page.

It includes a short video, too.

You can discuss what story maps are, for example, and how to create one like this (this is a Map Journal story map).

--Joseph Kerski

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New Contributor III

I've been using storymaps in my classrooms for a number of years now.  Non of these classes are strictly GIS or even computer based classes. They range from into history survey's to freshman seminars and science for non science majors.  In each case I have very little time to spend on 'technology' but Storymaps are quite easy to use and with a little as one class session most of my university level students are then able to use the technology to create storymaps that explore our curriculum in different ways.  For instance:  The FYS students have done final projects where they select one of the primary documents we have utilized during the semester (things pertaining to NYC history like Philip Hone's Diary, Jacob Riis' How the Other Half Lives or Dickens' Notes on America. They find locations mentioned in the text on maps, map journeys of characters or similar, and include appropriate quotes and images to create a storymap.  In the history class, I have used storymaps in place of timelines to have students map contemporary events or inventions with images and commentary, or like the FYS to investigate and map characters in readings or to explore texts.  It's a great way for them to get a sense of the spatial relationships of events and ideas.

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New Contributor III

A lightning talk on maps for outreach

I recently gave a lightning talk titled Mapping Your Way to Better Engagement at the 2016 joint conference of the National Association of Community Development Extension Professionals and the Association of Natural Resource Extension Professionals. Preparing for this talk opened my eyes to the potential for Story Maps to help presentations live on far past the last word spoken at any event.

As is always the case when I work on a lightning talk, I spent a tremendous amount of time crafting the slides and story I was planning to share. I knew my talk would reach most of the people at the conference (~400), but I wondered about the best approach to let my message live on past the end of the event. How could I structure my talk so that my "mapping is great for outreach" message might be shared most effectively with a broader group of Extension professionals, whether or not they attended the conference?

A Story Map about using Story Maps

While I was considering how to end the talk, I realized that a powerful way to get my message about Story Maps across AND to let my message live on was to create a Story Map version of my presentation. I quickly modified the last slide of my lightning talk to feature an easy-to-remember address ( and set about crafting my very first Story Map Cascade based on the talk I was about to deliver. 

My lightning talk at the conference ended with a call for everyone in the audience to get mapping (of course!) and to bring home and share the Story Map version of my presentation. In weeks since the conference, the Story Map has been been viewed 170 times, undoubtedly both by people who saw my lightning talk at the conference and those who did not.

Help your presentation live on

If you are searching for a way to share a face-to-face presentation with a wider audience, consider creating a Story Map version of your talk. While this task will require an extra investment of time, it may allow your message reach a larger audience and have greater impact. Although it may not always be possible or appropriate, also consider using a Story Map as the method for delivering your presentation in the first place, which would eliminate the need to create two versions of your talk (which is something I was not able to do this time!).

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Esri Frequent Contributor

Recently I created a “Famous Boots of Wimberley, Texas” story map for four reasons:  First, I wanted to show educators and the general public how to integrate art, history, science, technology, geography, and GIS.  My colleagues and I receive frequent inquiries from people asking how to integrate art into STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) educational programs, and Wimberley’s giant boots are a good illustration of this integration.  Second, I wanted to test the new capabilities of the side accordion story map configurable app.  This app is an easy and compelling way to tell a story.

Third, I wanted to demonstrate that every community has a story, and story maps are a visually compelling, easy-to-create way of telling that story.  When I visited the town for the first time after a series of presentations I gave at the geography department of nearby Texas State University, I learned about the boot project from my town walkabout.  It was so interesting to me that I began collecting information, photographs, and video, and a short time later, I had created the story map that integrates all of these types of multimedia.  The boot project brought together local artists, the Chamber of Commerce, local businesses, and the entire community, and serves as a source of city pride as well as a tourist attraction.  Fourth, it is my hope that my brief story map (see my video) can in some small way inspire people in another location to think creatively about a place-based arts project that can help build pride in their own community.

If I can do this for a community that I had just learned about, how much more can you and your students tell a story for which you conduct more in-depth research and may even have local knowledge about!

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