MapSkip Blog

Tweet Your MapSkip Stories

Posted in Site Features, Site News at 11:48 pm by admin

If you have a Twitter account, you can now let MapSkip tweet your stories to the world!

As of today, we have now Twitter integrated into the story editor- which allows you to tweet a link to your latest MapSkip story automatically when you publish. If you have a Twitter account, you can go to your Passport in MapSkip and in the User Information tab you can now authorize a connection between your Twitter account and your MapSkip account.

Just click the link, log into Twitter, and authorize the connection. And don’t worry - MapSkip never sees your username and password in Twitter: We are using the open OAuth protocol, which was specifically designed to allow users of sites like Twitter and MapSkip to connect their accounts without sharing passwords with anybody.

Once you have your Twitter account authorized, you will see an extra field at the end of the story editor in MapSkip, which automatically will be populated with the title of your story - but you can change the text of that tweet to whatever you want. Just keep in mind that MapSkip will add a short link at the end of the text, so you are limited to just 100 characters. Happy Tweeting!

Send Places

Posted in Site Features at 1:28 am by Thomas

We’ve finished a first round of small bugfixes and improvements to the site. Most notable is an improved Send-to-a-Friend email that now features in addition to links to the story also a link to the place.

In connection with this, there is now a new link at the bottom of the open placemarks panel: “Send this place to a friend”. If you click this link and enter an email address, an automatic email will be sent from the server with a link back to the same open place.


Posted in Reading the Tea Leaves, Site News at 1:14 am by Thomas

Today we’ve had our 1000th MapSkip member sign up for the site! Compared to many other social networking and collaboration sites these may be small numbers, but for us, one thousand members and currently almost 1200 stories is biiiig news!

Over the last year we’ve really found an audience for the site and we’ve been able to add many new features and to remove several odd issues from MapSkip, and we are looking forward to much faster growth and to many new and exciting changes to the site in the near future.

After a long break through the summer we are now gearing up for another autumn of coding on the site - first we are planning to experiment and integrate with several social bookmarking and messaging services. In addition we have one large update in the pipeline for later in the year that will significantly add to the usefulness of MapSkip in the classroom and which should also be a lot of fun for all users to participate.

Both Kazumi and me would like to thank all of our users for the great stories that have made MapSkip successful and we are looking forward to many more!

We are committed to maintain this site for a very long time and we hope you’ll join us for the ride. Again, thanks!


Posted in Reading the Tea Leaves at 10:58 pm by Thomas

It’s been quiet here for a while, but we have some exciting new features planned for later this year and we’ve already started working on them… sorry - can’t tell you much more yet. :-)

But in the meantime we’ve seen amazing things happen on MapSkip, with teachers and students from all over the world making the site their own. We love it!

And while we are having a great time following along with students here on the site, let’s not forget that in the current economic climate many classrooms are desperately underfunded - even in supposedly rich places like here in California, many teachers spend their own money to buy teaching supplies for their students. These costs can go into the thousands of dollars!

If you want to make a difference in how our children learn in school, take a look at Adopt-A-Classroom (not affiliated with, where you can donate directly to teachers who will otherwise not be able to teach children as they would like to. Every small donation helps.

Upload Bugs Fixed

Posted in Site News at 12:53 am by Thomas

We had some unfortunate issues with the upload system on the site, which may have prevented you from uploading photos or sounds over the last two weeks.

The bugs have been found and squashed, and the new version of the site with these fixes is now live. As a bonus, the new version of the uploader code is a little bit faster than before since we’ve also rolled out several perfomance improvements.

Our apologies if you encountered this bug while creating new stories!

Performance Goals

Posted in Site Features, Site News at 11:06 pm by Thomas

We are currently experimenting with technologies to increase the page load performance on the site - is admittedly a little bit graphics heavy and that together with the complex data manipulations going on in the background keeps the servers quite busy!

So you may have (hopefully) noticed a speed-up in the page load times as of today since we have started to use Amazon’s powerful CloudFront Network and their S3 Storage solution for many of the files that your browser has to download to display these pages.

We hope to use these services extensively over the next few months for faster service across the globe - we have many users in Asia and Europe that should see marked performance gains from this new setup.

Please let us know if these changes have created issues that we haven’t foreseen - or of course also if MapSkip’s new speed blows your socks off! :-)

Export for Student Stories

Posted in Site Features, Site News at 2:50 pm by Thomas

We’ve added the story export feature to the My Students section of our teacher account interface.

It works very similar to the standard story export, but it creates one text file with the stories for all student accounts associated with the teacher account. This allows teachers on MapSkip to one-click export all student stories for offline review and archiving.

While offline review is the anticipated use for this new feature, please let us know if you find a new creative way to use the exported stories!

Story Export

Posted in Site Features, Site News at 9:23 pm by Thomas

MapSkip is part of a whole galaxy of Web 2.0 sites that invite users to add their creative output to an online database that these users have no control over. And while we have a clear policy in regards to user content (see the link to our Privacy Policy and Copyright in the footer of every page), it doesn’t do our users much good to own their stories if there is no easy way to get their data back.

So to fix this issue we have now added a story export feature to MapSkip - if you are logged in and go to the My Passport page and click on the My Stories link, you will find a “Export All Your Stories” link just under the row of tabs.

This feature opens a new window and the MapSkip site will create a simple text page with all of your stories as one long list. At this point you can simply save this page from your browser’s File menu, or you can cut and paste stories into a word processor on your computer.

Classroom Tool Improvements

Posted in Site Features, Site News at 12:04 am by Thomas

We are still adding new improvements to the teacher interface of MapSkip:

Today’s update will assist teachers with the task of reviewing comments made by their students - in the Student Comments tab it is now possible to just review comments made within the last 7 days.

Also, to gain a quick overview of the comments made, the teacher can just roll over each of the listed story links in this tab and a small layer will pop up with the text of the comment.



Joy in Their Lives

Posted in Reading the Tea Leaves at 1:10 am by Thomas

 Found this today on Twitter:

picture this: two of my boys -arms around each others’ shoulders - reading your kids Mapskip comments; smiles; joy in their lives; thank you

We were so touched by this tweet… we couldn’t have been wishing for a better reaction by our youngest users on the site.

img_9999_2.jpgThe situation in the class room described above is part of an ongoing project between Nespelem Elementary School in Coulee Dam, WA and Presbyterian Day School in Memphis, TN. The teachers in both schools have succeeded in bringing their students together in work assignments and cultural echanges with wikis, Skype calls and also with shared stories, sound recordings and photos on MapSkip.

Judging from this blogpost by Ms. Edwards, one of the teachers at Nespelem, the project has been very successful and it is quite amazing to read about how the students have been utilizing a number of available Web 2.0 tools to achieve their assignments.

These kids are the next generation of true pionieers of the Web!

And may I just point out that both Kazumi and me were delighted to see this photo of MapSkip in the classroom. Thank you. :)

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