When I start exploring maps and geography apps and tools, I can get lost for hours. Throw in photos and history and you might not see me for days.
With the development of online maps and mobile geolocation apps, there are endless possibilities for educational uses. Whether it’s exploring far-flung or nearby locations with street view, viewing historic maps overlaid in Google Earth, building customized “literature/history trip” maps or pinning scanned historic photos in HistoryPin, there’s something for everyone. So let’s just dive in and explore a bunch of tools and ideas.
TOOLS & IDEAS
Google Maps rolled out a new interface in 2013, so you’ve been using it for a while now. But to be sure you’re aware of many of the features, check out this short video. I find it’s still a good introduction to basic features, even though it’s dated.
- More information about Google Maps – get all the latest news about Google Maps options.
- Your personalized maps are now in My Maps (help files for My Maps)
- Explore: Use the “show imagery” option hiding on the bottom right of the screen to see photos and 360 degree images. Use street view to explore neighborhoods. (This article is a bit out of date, but the info is still very useful!)
- Street View isn’t just for streets anymore – check out these Icebergs and the Aurora Borealis,
- Create: Personalized memory map of locations important to the student. Save locations for a future trip. Share your favorite locations on a group map.
- Try adding your favorite vacation spot to this collaborative map.
- Contribute: Do you have budding photographers in your school? They might want to check out Photosphere and contribute images. Make your own 360 images with the Street View app or with a camera.
- Google Maps in Education – Tutorials, ideas, examples, help files.
- Google Maps Tips
- 21 Best Google Maps Tips and Tricks That You’ll Love
- 20 ways Google MyMaps can enhance lessons in any class
Some Google Earth features are integrated into the Google Maps interface, but the standalone desktop application has many more features. Create personalized tours of locations related to a book or research project. Turn those tours into videos that “fly” from location to location right in Google Earth. Explore 3D views of many cities. Use the history timeline feature to explore changing landscapes over time. Explore the many layers of information that can be overlaid on the maps.
- Create a custom Google Earth map
- Create a Narrated Tour
- Google Earth User Guide
- Google Earth in the Classroom
- Teaching with Google Earth
Reading a book or doing a research project with a strong geographic component? You and your students can create tours of the locations mentioned and add photos, notes and more to add further context. This can be done in Google Maps or Google Earth.
- Google Lit Trips site has lots of resources and examples.
- Creating a Google Lit Trip tutorials
- How to Map Spreadsheet Data in Google My Maps – Collect information and/or data in a spreadsheet and import it into a Google Map.
History Pin, WhatWasThere, SepiaTown
HistoryPin, WhatWasThere and SepiaTown are sites that encourage users to add their own photos and stories and pin them to locations on an interactive Google map. They offer views of locations over time and insights into the history of a location. Use street views to compare historic views with current views. Check out History Pin in Schools for ideas and instructional materials. The HistoryPin mobile app helps you find photos and information about your surroundings while on the go.
- Contribute: Students can gather, scan & edit their own family photos and old postcards to post to the site. Or work with local historical society or the public library history collection to select photos to share. Images can include descriptions of the photos and stories related to the location.
- Collaborate: Work with community members to gather history of the area, stories around certain events and so on.
- Tours & Collections: History Pin has options to create collections of photos around a topic or a tour of locations.
- Research: These sites are treasure troves of images and stories. There might be photos of locations in books that students are reading or locations they’re studying in history. Students could find information about the towns and countries where their families are from. Or see what their favorite vacation spot looked like in the past.
More Tools and Ideas
- Chronas History – Intriguing mashup of maps, history, wikipedia content and more. Scroll down the page a bit to the “read me” section to figure out how it works. It’s worth it!
- Story Map – Build a map that tells a story.
- Virtual Field Trips – Nice collection put together by Capital Region BOCES SLS
- Travel the World from Your Classroom: Free iPad Apps for Virtual Field Trips – Great list of ideas from Edutopia
- One Globe Kids – “Watch students from around the world share with you their hometowns, languages, and cultures.” (Review on Edshelf)
- GeoGuessr – Fun game that helps you develop map and geography skills. You land in the middle of random streetview somewhere in the world. Move through the streetview looking closely at surroundings to gather clues about where you are.
- MAP – “Let me introduce you to a new bio-optical knowledge recording and dissemination system, responding to the trade name.” Very funny video.
- 40 Maps That Will Help You Make Sense of the World – These maps present data in creative and interesting ways. Use as examples for creating data based map infographics. (some may not be “school safe”)
- Smarty Pins with Google – Fun trivia game.
- Infinity of Nations – Great culture quest activity from the Smithsonian focusing on the native cultures of North, Central and South America. Strong mapping component.
- Scavenger Hunts – Create a scavenger hunt around your library, school, community. Use QR codes to provide clues and information. Or use geocaching tools to lead students from one clue to the next.
- Photos + Maps + Apps and Maps and Checking In – Pinterest boards from the 23 Mobile Things project with lots more great ideas
Try something new or dig deeper into a tool you already love. Some ideas:
- Learn more about the Google Maps, create your own map for a classroom lesson, a field trip, vacation.
- Create a Lit Trip with Google Earth
- Explore the fascinating layers of information that can be placed on Google Earth, particularly the Global Awareness layers.
- Upload a photo to HistoryPin or create a tour there
- Try your hand at creating a QR code based scavenger hunt
- Explore some apps for you iOS or Android device
If there are other tools and ideas you’ve wanted to explore, try them. Have fun, explore and most of all, share what works and doesn’t work in your blog post.
YOUR BLOG POST:
- What tools did you use? How did they work? Share your successes, failures & tips.
- How might you use these tools with your students?
- What other teachers could you collaborate with on a map based project?
*TURNING IN YOUR ASSIGNMENT
- Write & publish your blog post.
- Copy the URL for the post.
- Return to the lesson page on the CanvasLMS site.
- Use the SUBMIT ASSIGNMENT button in the CanvasLMS page and paste in your URL.
*Only for students participating in the workshop for PD credit hours through the Canavas LMS system.
(Credit to the 23 Mobile Things learning project for inspiring this post)