What you are doing can be done in AE very, very easily. Create a solid layer (white), make a mask on it the size and shape you want (small circle, I'm guessing), change the blending mode and opacity to give it that soft light look you want, and then animate its position.
As someone new to After Effects, I would highly suggest you go here first. Take a day (or five) and go through all the (free!) resources linked there. Do it BEFORE you start your project. You will be much less frustrated with AE and will have a better end product.
It's not the wrong place, it's just we can't tell you how to work After Effects. That's like asking us to teach you how to write sonnets in French.
Your description of "soft transparent light" doesn't help much. At its most basic, that's just a shape so open the manual and look for Shapes. Then research how you can make that shape change over time either by keyframing the shape's vertices or by using a mask. Then you can start copying and pasting—layering— copies of the same shape layer. You can add glamorous effects like moving highlights or moving fog or clouds or fractals to the inside of the shape. You can make the shape look like it is floating above the map by adding lights, a camera, and shadows. But using AE's 3D interface requires about 9 times as much study and practice as 2D projects.
If you are in a college course that teaches After Effects, talk to you instructor for inspiration or get together with your peers in a study group. After Effects is hard, really hard.
As Bogiesan says, AE is a hard program. It's difficult to learn because it's rather deep. There are often many ways to do something. For example, look at the answer Dave LaRonde gave you when you asked this question on the Creative COW forums. It will also give you a lighter version of something moving across the screen. It's just different.