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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Text to Speech in Google Earth

This is a guest post from Brenda Doucette (@doucetteb) of EdTechTeacher - an advertiser on this site.

Recently, some of our 6th graders came into the computer lab to do research using Google Earth. The teachers on the 6th grade team had spent many hours digitizing curriculum and making Google Earth Tours (.kmz files) for their students as it is a wonderful way for students to experience the world around them.

Today's lesson was a tour of Europe's Physical Features - complete with embedded videos, text and images. One particular group seemed to be having some trouble reading the text as they made each stop on the tour, and they were not progressing with the rest of the class. As I tried to help them with the reading material, I thought about the built-in Apple Text to Speech in Yosemite and wondered if it would work on Google Earth.
  Apple Dictation & Speech

We were thrilled to find out that it does! We taught the student how to turn on this accessibility feature, and we were further surprised to learn that we could change the speaker’s voice and speaking rate. Everyone in the lab has headphones on, so none of the students were singled out. This was a game changer for that particular group of  students as they could now access the same material in Google Earth as their peers. I just love it when Apple products work so well with Google products!

If you are interested in learning more about differentiating instruction, using Google Earth with students, or a number of other topics, EdTechTeacher will be offering hands-on Summer Workshops in 5 cities during June and July.