If you attended one of my sessions with that or a similar title, thank you and I hope the time you spent was valuable. On this page you’ll find the links to the resources we played with along with my notes and other materials for you to continue exploring Google’s geographic related tools. If you have any comments or questions, please write.
Google says their mission is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”. A large part of that information can be represented and channeled through maps. And the mapping tools Google provides can be used in a variety of ways to help your students learn.
The slide show I used during the session, which was basically my outline, is here. You are welcome to use it (and any other material I have posted on this site) for personal use. Remember that I revise these pages every time I do a new session so everything is subject to change.
What is a Map?
When we have this discussion in my sessions, I get a wide variety of answers. Wikipedia and National Geographic offer more formal definitions, if you’re looking for something like that. But nothing is really that straightforward, something that was clearly explained in this scene from The West Wing.
For me a map, regardless of how it’s drawn, is a device for telling stories. That’s especially true when you include all the information that can be embedded in “maps” these days.
Maps is Google’s general purpose location tool that can do much more than just get you from place A to place B. Maps includes a large and growing collection of photographs, including the 360° imagery known as Street View. For even more detail, click the Earth box to see high resolution “satellite” views of an area, some even in 3D. Most features of maps, including Earth view and Street View, are available on their smartphone and tablet apps.
Complete details for using Google Maps is on their help page.
Street View is Google’s collection of street level photographs taken by their 360° camera array. In recent years they have added many miles of images that are far off the street, such as trails in the Grand Canyon and the coral of the Great Barrier Reef.
You can learn more about how Google collects Street View information on their publish page. If you’re interested in how you and your students can easily create and post personal Street View images (sometimes called photospheres), check these directions for using the free Street View app (Apple and Android) on your phone.
I also mentioned a couple of dedicated cameras for taking 360° images and video. One is the Insta360 One (around $300) and the other is the Ricoh Theta V (around $350). Both are easy to use and take great pictures. However, the Insta360 has weaker support for Android devices.
This introductory video will give you a good overview of how to use My Maps.
Here are the My Maps examples we looked at. You can make a copy in your own Drive account if you want to modify a map or just take a closer look (except for the Parks tour). For more ideas on using My Maps in your classroom, check out this list.
Google Lit Trip is a concept created by a middle school English teacher to connect the geographic information in works of literature to the story. He started using Google Earth as the platform but the same idea can be applied in My Maps as well.
We created a map based on information gathered through a Google Form. Directions for doing that, starting with the spreadsheet created by the Form, are here. If you are unfamiliar with how a Google Form is connected to a spreadsheet, there are many tutorials available that will get you started.
There are now two different versions of Google Earth. Earth 9 works in the Chrome browser, while the desktop version is now called Earth Pro.
This video offers a brief overview of the features found in Earth 9.
Most of the features of the browser version of Earth can also be found in the Apple and Android apps for phone and tablet.
If you are interested in learning more about using Google Earth Pro, the desktop software version, the resources from my Getting Going with Google Earth session will help.
Google Tour Creator
This is a very new tool from Google for creating tours that use Street View images. This is part of Google’s VR initiative and no one outside the company really knows where they plan to take it. I’m thinking that Tour Creator will eventually be merged into Earth and connected to the Expeditions project, but that’s just a guess.
You can create your own tours by clicking on the big purple Get Started button on this page. Google doesn’t offer any help information for Tour Creator yet but I hope to have some tutorials on this site sometime this summer.
Google Arts & Culture
The Arts & Culture site includes a large and growing collection of high resolution images and original source documents from art galleries and museums all over the world, mixed with maps and Street View photography.
The project includes three parts:
- Art, thousands of works by hundreds of artists that can be organized by artist, art movement, time, or even color;
- Wonders, collections of maps, Street View, and documents highlighting hundreds of world heritage sites.
- History, exhibits that combine original source documents with other materials to tell the stories behind major events in world history.
An artifact in any of the collections can be added to your favorites and then grouped to create your personal collections. A short tutorial on how to build a collection is here.