After listening to him describe what his subject was about, we devised a simple, quick, easy and relevant activity that would not just give his students an awareness of how diverse their backgrounds are, but the output was also something he could use as a talking point to introduce his subject (Managing in International Contexts) during the first lecture.

By using a Google Form to capture only their preferred name, home country and home town, we were able to plot everyone’s origin on a map using an online tool called MapAList.

The fantastic thing about MapAList is that it is ‘set and forget’. In the process of setting up the map, it asks you to select the Google Sheet where your form data is stored, through a user-friendly interface. It automatically finds the columns in your spreadsheet for country and hometown and uses this information to plot the pins on the map. Just for extra convenience, the map auto-updates every 24 hours, so Anthony doesn’t have to do anything to keep his map current.

The setup involved the following steps:

  • We created a Google Form and set it up with the required questions. Since Anthony was also interested to know some other things about the new cohort generally, he also added a couple of other questions:

  • Next we connected it to a Google Sheet using the green ‘sheets’ icon. This step is particularly simple because a sheet is automatically created for you if you haven’t created one yet.

  • Next we logged into MapAList and followed the steps to create a new map. In the process of creating the map, MapAList guides you through selecting your Google Sheet, choosing the right variables to map the location and choosing what to use as a map key.

  • Once we had created the map, we used the embed code from the Share option on the View tab to embed the map back in UTSOnline underneath the tidy navigation tiles on the welcome page in his subject.

  • Here is screen shot of what it looks like in UTSOnline:

This might sound complicated, but in actual fact, Anthony has been comfortably managing this system with no further assistance since the day we set it up. All he needs to do is to clear the data in his spread sheet before the start of each session so that the points on the map are only for new students to his class.

Preparation activities don’t have to be complicated or arduous. By tying the activity to the context of your subject in an interesting way, you might find that your students are more engaged and enthusiastic about their learning for the session ahead.

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