Using online tools to support mapping, visualization and interpretation in the IB DP Geography Internal Assessment


  • To explore online tools that will support students when they are mapping, visualizing and interpreting data for their IB DP Geography Internal Assessment.
  • To explore Swiss data layers that may be useful for IB DP Geography students completing their Internal Assessments.


  • Tool Number 1 >
    • Available in English, French, German, Italian (and Romansh).
    • You can add layers of swiss data.
      • Add the ‘National Map 1:10000 (grey)’
      • Add the ‘Accidents involving a bicycle’
    • Layers ‘pile’ on top of each other - you can change their order and transparency in the ‘Maps displayed’ section.
      • Change the order and transparency of the layers
    • Change topic and explore the available layers
      • Each time you ‘Change topic’ you need to re-add layers
    • Easily add fieldwork sites from a .kml (Google Earth file).
    • What layers could be useful for students looking at fluvial changes with distance from source? [by holding the mouse pointer of the name of the layer it previews]
    • Draw & Measure on map
      • Use the ‘Line’ tool to highlight an area
        • Use the ‘Text’ tool to label something
      • Explore how you could ‘save’ and ‘share’ the map with these annotations.
    • Share and Print tools
      • How could these tools help students add a map to which they ‘have added value’ to their IA?
  • Tool Number 2 > ArcGIS Online without an account >
    • > Map
    • Easily add fieldwork sites from a .gpx
      • Download this file - it is in a .gpx format that is produced by most GPS units. Once you have downloaded it to your desktop just drag and drop it into an the open browser window.
      • Change symbols to make the sites clearer to view by clicking on the icon that looks like a circle, square and triangle.
    • To start working with the data - use this file - it is in a .csv format. Excel and other spreadsheet applications can save as .csv. Download it to your desktop and then just drag and drop it into an the open browser window.
      • Choose an attribute to show
      • Select a drawing style > Counts and Amounts (Size)
      • Change the base maps.
    • How would a student add a map (from this service) to which they ‘have added value’ to their IA?
  • Tool Number 3 > ArcGIS Online with an account > use your own or the (short-term) login provided and go to
    • > Map
    • Replace the fieldwork sites and fieldwork data as you did before.
    • Advantages 
      • Saving maps
        • Adding layers of information
    • Adding extra layers
      • Add > Search for Layers > In ArcGIS Online
        • ‘Terrain’ > Altitude > you to need to change the transparency of the layer
        • ‘Valais’ - look at the layers available from Valais 
          • Different cantons share in different ways!
      • Add > Browse Living Atlas Layers > 
        • The ‘Living Atlas Layer’ is an extensive set of layers collated by Esri.
        • Share useful layer suggestions in the comment box below.
    • Add > Add Layers from Web > 
      • Adding the Swiss Topological map as a base map.
      • Adding layers from
        • Support available on
        • Use to find the legends of the layers you use.


Southampton to Cape Town in 1937 - Using ArcGIS Online

This lesson has existed in various forms for the last couple of years. The basis of the learning experience is that students design the route that a plane would have taken in 1937 to travel from Southampton to Cape Town.

This version of the lesson uses ArcGIS Online as the main digital tool for designing and then documenting the route.

Before students start this lesson using ArcGIS Online they should:

  • have had an ArcGIS Online account created for them, they should have accessed it and understand how to open/save content within it.
  • experienced the use of 'Map Notes' as a way of annotating a map.
  • used the measuring tool.
  • experimented with changing the base map.

This document 'An Introduction to ArcGIS Online' will take the students through all of these prerequisite steps.

Lesson Sequence

The year is 1937 and you work for Imperial Airways. The company has just taken delivery of a small fleet of Short Empire Flying Boats, with a range of 1200 km and an average speed of 300 km/h.

Your job is to design a route so that these Imperial Airways Short Empire Flying Boats fly paying customers from Southampton, United Kingdom to Cape Town, South Africa. You are racing against other groups (companies) to produce the fastest (safe) journey.

You need to decide as a group/class the maximum distance that is safe for a flight stage, the time taken to refuel the flying boats and the hours within which the planes can fly. In 1937 planes did not have radar so would not fly at night!

Use ArcGIS Online, with it’s measurement tool, to design your route. Each stop needs to be at a settlement with a significant population.

You should produce a route card that includes the start and end point of each stage of the journey, the distance, the duration and the take off and landing times.

As you will have to stop at different places on route to refuel or to stay overnight, you will also need to prepare an itinerary of what you would do at each stopping point. Remember in 1937 the journey was part of the holiday! You will present your itinerary as an ArcGIS Online Story Map.

ArcGIS Online - Southampton to Cape Town Support Sheet

  1. Students use ArcGIS Online (mainly the measuring tool and Map Notes) to design their route using this map as their starting point.
  2. Students produce a route card for the journey - I would suggest the use of Google Sheets and some basis spreadsheet skill development [Record basic data, use basic formula].
  3. Students use the route they have designed in ArcGiS Online to produce a Story Map [Share > Create a Web App > Build a Story Map > Story Map journal].
  4. The '1922 World Map (Web Mercator)' Tile Layer by National Geographic is included in the starting map so that students can explore the pre-decolonization names and borders of countries.
  5. The student submits their Story Map (and route card) for assessment. An MYP Individuals and Societies assessment rubric can be found on - produced by Ellena Mart.