Geo Tools are one of those resources that get students excited in the classroom, and thankfully, it’s also one of those things that Google does particularly well. With Google Maps, MyMaps, the phenomenal Google Earth, Street View and VR integration; Google has it covered in the Geo space. Using these tools in the classroom can be a great way of not only engaging your students, but immersing them in the content in new and exciting ways. Let’s mash it up!
In issue 6 Will Sederino gave us some great tips on how to use Google MyMaps to create personalised Google Maps with your students. The ability to collaborate on MyMaps and share with peers is a huge asset to a learning tool. This allows us to be creative in the way we use the Maps we make as well. By importing our MyMap creations into Google Earth, we can take people on a journey.
Google Earth has come a long way since version 1 in 2001. Now that it is a web-based app, we can enjoy access to anywhere in the world, from anywhere in the world – including in our classrooms!
Google Earth has for a long time allowed us to search for places and bookmark them for future reference; usually our home address, workplace and perhaps our favourite landmarks and holiday destinations. But within the My Places menu, there is a function that enables you to take the students in your class on a journey through a literacy text, historical event or even a cultural tour. By mashing up your MyMaps pinned locations with Google Earth using an imported KML file, you can truly immerse people in your journey.
From MyMaps to Google Earth
In my example I have simply dropped a series of pins around the Melbourne coastal Bayside area, taking in significant landmarks and points of interest from the Bayside City Council’s Coastal Trails.
The great thing about this process is that it imports not just the locations, but any information that you have added to the description in MyMaps. Of course, the descriptions in MyMaps allow you to add extra elements to your journey such as links to Street View, Google Arts and Culture, photos, as well as any other links to relevant, credible websites.
To take it to the next level, if you have Google Cardboard or another VR headset available, providing links to the 360° photos and giving the students the opportunity to stand in locations and look around can provide yet another point of view to engage and immerse your students.
Check It Out
Google Lit Trips – a resource of literary texts with premade KML files to import into Google Earth. Requires you to register (free of charge) so you can receive a downloadable KML/KMZ file to match the books. Many of the Lit Trips have excellent novel study notes with accompanying links to other resources. Eric Curts gives a great tutorial on using Google Lit Trips in his blog ‘Control+Alt+Achieve’
Written by Guest Writer – Ben Sandison