WPGeo is one of the most powerful plugins installed in the wordpress blogging system at blogs.princeton.edu and one with great potential for teaching. In its simplest form, the plugin allows one to associate location information with blog posts by dragging and dropping a marker on a map. The plugin also allows to generate a cumulative map showing all the locations associated with posts on the site with links back to those blog posts. The cumulative map can be used a navigational element, allowing the visitor to discover posts based on location rather than just by title or by the date on which it was published. Blogs are a great research tool for collaboratively creating an archive of materials. When dealing with information that is associated with location, this tool allows you to easily record the location information, but also to generate maps and export map data for use in other applications such as Google Earth.
To get started using the plugin, you must first have a blog on WordPress service. You can request a blog at http://blogs.princeton.edu/request/ or, for course blogs, by contacting the ETC at firstname.lastname@example.org After you have a blog, a few things must be done before you can begin inserting maps into your posts. The first thing you must do is sign up for a Google Maps key. This key is a string of number and letters that allows you to insert Google Maps into your website. The key does not cost anything, you simply provide Google with the URL, or web address, of your website and a key is generated. This key should then be enetered into the WPGeo plugin settings.
- Sign up for a Google Maps key at http://code.google.com/apis/maps/signup.html
- Return to the dashboard of your blog and click on Plugins in the left hand menu. Click settings just below WP Geo in the list of plugins.
- Paste the Google Maps key in the field at the top of the settings page.
After the plugin has been activated and you have entered your API ‘key’, you will find a Google map near the bottom of the page when you create a post. Click in the map to add a marker and then drag the marker to the location associated with that post. The map will then be displayed on the blog. You can customize the display of the maps by going to the settings page for WP-Geo in the left hand menu under ‘Settings’.