Google Maps is used everywhere, from helping people map their trips to playing prominently in cool Websites where visitors can use Google Maps to find amazing online content.
Now Google is creating a free online course where participants can learn much more about Google Maps, including how they can use it to expand their own horizons or build better online content themselves.
The new "Mapping with Google" class will run from June 10 through June 24 as part of a self-paced online course "developed to help you better navigate the world around you by improving your use of the new Google Maps, Maps Engine Lite and Google Earth," wrote Tina Ornduff, the Maps program manager, in a May 28 post on the Google Lat Long Blog.
Participants will be able to complete a Google Maps or Google Earth project using the skills they learn in the course and can earn a certificate that shows their accomplishments in the class using Maps. In the class, attendees can explore the features of Google Maps, Google Earth or both.
Registration is free for the course, which will include a combination of video and text lessons, activities and projects, according to Ornduff. "You'll learn to do much more than look up directions or find your house from outer space," she wrote. "Tell a story of your favorite locations with rich 3D imagery, or plot sights to see on your upcoming trip and share with your travel buddies. During the course, you'll have the opportunity to learn from Google experts and collaborate with a worldwide community of participants, via Google+ Hangouts and a course forum."
Not everyone who takes the course has to be planning to use it to earn a certificate in Maps, according to Google. Other reasons to take the class include learning new things about Google's mapping tools in general, without necessarily completing the course, or to simply learn about certain Maps or Google Earth features that participants are seeking.
The Google Maps lessons and project will be taught by Google Maps product managers Daniel Demetri and Beth Liebert, while the Google Earth lessons will be taught by Google Earth product manager Peter Birch.
Earlier in May, Google unveiled innovative updates for Google Maps at its annual Google I/O developers conference, including a more interactive look and feel.
The new Google Maps takes a novel approach to how people use online and mobile maps, gaining the ability to instantly respond to user inputs, making recommendations on places to visit and highlighting information that matters most during a map inquiry. The next generation of the Maps service essentially will create a map that is unique to each user and his or her needs, based on the input from the user.
With the new Maps features, users will also be able to uncover the best local destinations of all types, with detailed labels popping up that provide brief place descriptions and icons that highlight business categories and other useful information, such as which restaurants are recommended by your Google+ friends.
The revamped Maps also feature images of destinations more prominently for users, as well as presenting improved directions and tours generated from user-submitted photos.
The coming updates for Maps were the source of rumors since earlier in May as the conference approached.