COPLAC: Voices of Migration

Experimenting with Digital Tools

For my second post, I will explain my experience creating an Arc GIS Story Map. I used this digital tool to help demonstrate why migration matters, as well as my current state of preparedness regarding the oral history project.

If anyone is curious to view the short presentation I created, please find the link here: My Arc GIS Story Map. Viewing the digital tool might add in some context to the following reflection.

First and foremost, I found the final presentation to be an interesting blend of mapping technology, web images, and textual information. In addition to visual audience captivation, I enjoy how the internet user must manually move the presentation from slide to slide. I find that this helps to engage the audience member throughout the duration of the digital story (don’t worry, mine is not very long). Likewise, while my digital map is presented in a standard format, there are many different thematic styles in which to choose from. All of these technological aspects work to help create an engaging and fascinating presentation.

However, I found the website to be slightly unfriendly to the map creator. Perhaps this is due to my own lack of digital tool experience, but I found the site to be clunky and unintuitive. Simple edits (i.e. changing the presentation theme, saving work, and adding in text pop-ups) were difficult to navigate on the site. While this is my first time dealing with this technology, I felt that the time spend working with the tool did not equate to the quality level of the finished project.

Overall, I think this digital tool would certainly enhance the oral history project. It combines a visually interesting webpage with mandatory user participation. While perhaps there are more exciting styles than the standard format, the digital story map gives internet users a geographical understanding on which to base their learning. If one were to use this technology, I would recommend a thorough tutorial in order to get past the insecurities/frustrations of using a new tool for the first time. All in all, an Arc GIS Story Map, embedded into the oral history web-based project, would help the creators in their narrative storytelling.

If any other COPLAC student used this tool for the assignment, please let me know! I am curious to hear about your experience using the Arc GIS Story Map.

To conclude, while detailed in my story map presentation, I utilized information from Khalid Koser’s International Migration: A Very Short Introduction, as well as labeled for reuse images from Wikipedia Commons. All other information can be attributed to my own knowledge relating to MCLA, North Adams, and Pittsfield.

Thank you for reading! Until next time.








  1. Joe Slama

    Hey yeah so! I had a similar experience. You at least managed to figure out slides, which was helpful; I didn’t make it so far. I do agree it’s a useful tool, but the “tutorials” weren’t very helpful and it was, like you said, highly unintuitive. It would be much more useful to our purposes if it were just better explained by the producers, I felt.

    • Morrison

      I completely agree with you! I think this digital tool can certainly help enhance our final webpage projects, but to unlock the full potential of the site we would need to spend a decent amount of time working through the technology. Or, like you said, have it explained to us in a more user-friendly manner outside of the provided tutorials. Perhaps there are more effective tutorial videos uploaded on YouTube which can help explain the digital tool? That could be something to consider if any of us try to use Arc GIS Story Map in the future. Thank you for reading and responding to my post!

  2. Cali

    I really liked the simple layout of your project. It was really nice to have a geographic context of the area you wrote about, which I believe is one reason the Arc GIS story software is so effective. I also appreciated that you addressed both historic and current migration in your area, well done!

    • Morrison

      Thank you, I appreciate your feedback! I think it is important to try and gain a holistic view of our region’s migration patterns to better understand why migrants have settled in that specific region, both in the past and now in the present. Using the mapping software to help identify those trends is, I completely agree, what makes it an effective tool. Next time, I would like to try and find a more interesting theme than the one I used. I think my current theme worked well for a simplistic mini-presentation, but might become rather limited if I were to try and expand on it.

  3. Megan Kraus

    This is a good setup, but I think it might be more appealing to put more information and make the text larger. It was cool to see how your area was specifically affected, but how does your local area connect to the overall, worldwide theme of migration?

    • Morrison

      Thank you for your comment! I thought the story map theme I chose was rather limiting in terms of visual engagement as the text was rather small. In addition, I found my current theme to work well for a mini-presentation, but I think I would find it limiting if I were to expand outside of my specific region. As for connecting to the overall worldwide theme of migration, I completely agree that my project lacked both broad global connections as well as specific information. In all honesty, I am not quite sure how the migrant communities in the area fit into the themes of global migration. However, I am excited to learn about their stories and to create both a regional and global narrative!

  4. neal


    I absolutely love how you provided a regional lens for this presentation. Giving the users an opportunity to explore and gain insight into your local areas of Massachusetts added a personal touch that I really admire. I agree with your thoughts on this tool, and it’s relieving to know that I’m not the only one who had trouble manipulating the site. Regardless, your finished project is superb and the information you offered is extremely valuable.

    • Morrison

      Thank you for your comment! I think providing both a historic and current regional lens is important in creating an overall narrative of migration for the community. By exploring the history of migration in the region, one can begin to piece together why migrants came to the region in the past and compare those reasons with the situation of migration today. As for the difficulties in navigating the site, perhaps there are better user-friendly tutorials uploaded on YouTube? Either way, you were certainly not alone in having trouble as I got a little frustrated at moments with the site. However, even through your difficulties I thought you created a wonderful presentation. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing your work in class!

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