Import your floorplans into Prezi to create an interactive map

A couple of years ago I wrote about some interactive maps we'd made of the Library, which we used for induction and teaching - they went down very well. The students are much more engaged by a slick Prezi than a tired PowerPoint, and it's also very practical to have information about the library geographically located in a map, rather than in linear slides. So the maps worked really well as stand-alone web objects to be viewed independently by students and staff, as well as actual materials for live presentations and workshops. You can read the post - Student Induction, Libraries, Prezi, and Interactive Maps - here; it also contains an embedded Prezi map, with which to compare the new version I've created below.

In 2012 we tried to improve the maps a little, including embedded a lot of videos in them - things like the virtual tour, but also information at the point of need, for example '1 minute on... how to photocopy and scan' next to where the printer/scanners are on the map.

This year, we did something I've wanted to do from the start, which is import floor plans to Prezi and create the maps based on those. Previously we simply didn't have good enough floor-plans in a format I could use - hence having an outline of the Library buildings (drawn by someone in the Digital Library team), somewhat awkwardly divided up by me using lines and boxes. Now though, we have a MUCH better interactive map, the basis of which is an imported PDF of our floor plans.

Here is the generic map we display on our Info for New Students page (as always I'd recommend going into Full-Screen mode to view this - press the Start Prezi button then once it loads, click the box icon in the bottom-right corner):

We experimented with various ways of representing the different floors: separate maps for each floor, or one map but with box-outs containing the other floors, for example. In the end we opted for making the ground floor plan of the overall building take up most of each ground floor, but with the other floors contained within the same space. (That doesn't make much sense; you'll see what I mean if you look at the map.)

Unexpected benefits

Once again the response from the students was really good. Quite a lot of our induction talks happen as part of wider introductions to the course, from academics, the Student Union, Careers office etc - just the fact that we aren't using PPT and they all are makes the students sit up and take notice. They've often not seen Prezi before so are impressed by the ability to zoom in on different parts of the Library and talk about them. It really does have more impact, and make people more aware of what you're saying about the Library, than a PowerPoint presentation. (And I say that as someone who still likes and uses PPT a lot, including for a lot of teaching.)

That is the expected benefit of using Prezi, but each year another benefit that occurs is the map instigates conversations with the academics. People from the Departments we're presenting in come up to us and want to talk about the Prezi - they're often impressed by it, and they appreciate the fact that the students took notice of it. I really do think I've found it easier to work with departments after they've seen me using Prezi; it serves as a jumping off point / builds bridges. (Bit of a mix of metaphors there but you get what I mean!)

If you want to try making your own interactive map, here's how

The process we followed at York was this:

  1. Open a new Prezi and edit the template so it reflected our branding
  2. Import the floorplans as a PDF. When you import as a PDF each page of becomes a seperate object on the canvas, to be manipulated: picked up, shrunk, stretched, etc
  3. Stretched the overall top-down view of the Library so it was absolutely massive - after all, everything else has to fit inside it
  4. Placed the individual building plans within the stretched top-down view
  5. Annotated the maps with further information by simply double clicking anywhere on the canvas to type
  6. Put in photographs to give the audience a better idea of where they were in the building
  7. Embedded YouTube vids at all appropriate places (this is very easy with Prezi - you just need the video's URL)
  8. Saved a copy - individual Academic Liaison Librarians then took the generic map and made bespoke versions for each department
  9. Made different versions, by copying the maps, to suit specific needs - so edited the 'path' (the order in which the Prezi moves through all the text and pictures on the canvas) to make e.g. 5 or 6 key points only for a 10 minute presentation, or every single thing on the map for the stand-alone web version ..

An example of a different version of the map (as in point 9) is this iteration I made for my History of Art PG students, with subject-specific information added and non-essential path-points taken out:

We also use Prezi for some teaching but not all. So for my History of Art 1st years, with whom I have an hour on Texts and an hour on images, I use PowerPoint for the Finding Texts session, and Prezi for the Finding Images. The latter was created using a Prezi template - these are really good if you need something nice looking in a hurry. It took me around 2 hours to turn my predecessors PPT into the Prezi you see there.

Non-York examples

Here are other takes on the interactive map:

If you have examples I can add me list, or any comments or questions, let me know below!