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. To be sure you’re aware of all the features, check out this short video.
- More information about Google Maps
- 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.
- 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.
- Contribute: Do you have budding photographers in your school? They might want to check out Photosphere and contribute images.
- Google Maps eCourse: Lessons that will introduce you to all the new features and exercises you could use with students.
- Google Maps in Education: Tutorials, ideas, examples, help files
- Revamped Google Maps App Aims to Give Users More Content
- Six tips and tricks for the new Google Maps app
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.
- Google Earth Classroom Resources
- Create a custom Google Earth map
- Create a Narrated Tour
- Google Earth User Guide
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
- My Reading Mapped – Over 150 interactive maps of history & science, downloadable & editable files for Google Earth. Great examples for students to study and create their own maps.
- 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
- MyHistro – Create stories that are a mashup of timeline and geography. App and web-based. Explore timelines created by others, or create your own. Export them in various formats, embed them on your websites. Use this to create “lit trips”
- 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
- 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
- Mobile games, gamefulness, and place-based learning
Try something new or dig deeper into a tool you already love. Have an idea for a project for this year? Get started on it. Some ideas:
- Learn more about the new Google Maps
- Try adding your favorite vacation spot to this collaborative map.
- 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?
LOG YOUR LESSON:
Don’t forget to log your blog post when you’re done! When you finish this lesson by fill out the log form. You’ll need the URL of your first blog post to complete the form.
(Credit to the 23 Mobile Things learning project for inspiring this post)