Friday, April 16, 2021

ICYMI - Episode 35 of Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff

Yesterday afternoon Rushton Hurley and I hosted the 35th episode of Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff. We had lots of great questions submitted. In fact, we had so many that we introduced a new "lightening round" into our usual format. Some of the things we shared in the webinar include a cool tool for adding canned comments to Google Docs and Word docs, Paramedic Jet Packs, ideas for creating audio stories, and the answer to the question I'm asked more frequently than any other. 

You can watch the recording of latest episode of Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff right here or as embedded below. 

The next episode will be on May 6th. Register here to join us!

This post originally appeared on If you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission. Sites that steal my (Richard Byrne's) work include CloudComputin, Today Headline, and 711Web.

Tour Creator is Closing - Here Are Some Alternatives

Like thousands of other people, this week Google sent me a reminder that Tour Creator is shutting down at the end of June. I've enjoyed making virtual reality tours with it since the first day it was available. I'm disappointed that Google is shutting it down, but there's no sense crying over spilled milk so I'm turning my attention to alternatives to Tour Creator. If you're in the same boat, here's a selection of alternatives to Tour Creator to explore. 

Story Spheres
Story Spheres is a neat tool for adding audio recordings to 360 imagery. Story Spheres lets you upload short audio recordings in which you describe to viewers what they're seeing, the history of what they're seeing, and the significance of what's in the scene they're seeing. It's possible to upload multiple recordings. When you're done you can can share your Story Spheres story in a blog post, on social media, or any other place that you typically post a link. Take a look at this Story Spheres story about Uluru to get a better sense of what can be done with Story Spheres. Last year I wrote directions for how to use Story Spheres. You can read those directions here or watch my video about how to make a Story Spheres story. 

CoSpaces EDU
CoSpaces is a platform that offers students the ability to create their own small virtual worlds. Unlike the other tools in this list, CoSpaces is an animated environment. I used CoSpaces last summer and early in the fall. It's not a tool that students will use to create a VR experience in a day. Instead, students need to spend at least a few days using CoSpaces to really get the hang of building and animating their virtual worlds. 

Google Street View App
The Google Street View app for Android and iOS offers more than just a way to view interesting places around the world. The free app includes a camera function that can be used to capture 360 photospheres. When you tap the camera icon in the app it will guide you through taking a series of pictures that will be automatically stitched together to form the photosphere. The completed photosphere can be shared with others in a variety of ways including direct sharing via SMS or email, posting on social media, or by contributing to the Google Maps community. The Google Street View iOS app is available here. The Google Street View Android app is available here.

Cardboard Camera
Cardboard Camera is a free Android app offered by Google. The app lets you take a 360 panoramic image that you can share to view in Google Cardboard viewer or similar VR headset. The app will capture any sounds including your voiceover present while capturing the image. Those who use Cardboard Camera on Android can save their VR images in Google Photos where they can be cropped and edited with basic image filters. Cardboard Camera for Android is available here. Here’s a video tutorial on how to use the Cardboard Camera app. 

Unfortunately, Google hasn't updated the app at all since 2018 so I'm not sure how much longer it will be a viable option for creating VR images.

A Related, Confusing Note
In addition to shutting down Tour Creator, Google is shutting down Tour Builder. Tour Builder was Google's alternative method to building tours directly in Google Earth. If you used Tour Builder, you have until the end of June to export those tours as KML files that you can then move into Google Earth. I outlined that process in the video included with the written directions here

If you're interested in learning more about Google Earth and Google Maps, take a look at my self-paced Crash Course in Google Earth & Maps for Social Studies

This post originally appeared on If you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission. Sites that steal my (Richard Byrne's) work include CloudComputin, Today Headline, and 711Web.

12 Good Resources for Learning About National Parks

Tomorrow is the start of National Parks week here in the United States. So I've put together the following list of resources to help students learn about individual National Parks as well as the park system on the whole. 

A Great Book About the Origins of National Parks
Years ago I was camped on the side of a mountain overlooking a beautiful valley in Grand Teton National Park when the history teacher in me came out and I said, "Thank you, Teddy Roosevelt." Roosevelt, more than any other politician, deserves credit for the creation of the U.S. National Parks system. Those who want to read more about Roosevelt's conservation efforts would do well to pick up a copy of The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America. It is by no means a quick read, but it is a great read!

TED-ED Lesson on National Parks
Last fall TED-Ed published a good lesson about national parks. The lesson explains the origins of the U.S. National Parks system and concludes with explanations of the challenges facing national parks managers around the world. The lesson also explains how parks managers try to balance access and conservation while also respecting the rights of indigenous people whose land is often included with national parks. Overall, it's a very interesting lesson that could lead to a lot of good conversations with students. 

National Parks Image Archive
The National Parks Service's Digital Image Archive is an excellent place to find images of U.S. National Parks. You can search the archive by park and or subject. All of the images are free to download as they are in the public domain. The National Parks Service also offers a b-roll video gallery. The videos in the galleries are in the public domain. The b-roll video gallery can be searched by park, monument, building, or person. All of the videos can be downloaded. Some files are quite large so keep that in mind if your school has bandwidth limits and you have all of your students searching for videos at the same time.

Google Earth Nation Parks Tours and Voyages
Google Earth offers a great way for students to view national parks in the United States and beyond. Your students can explore imagery in Google Earth to learn about the topography of a national park. In a lot of cases there is Street View imagery available within national parks and UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Your students might also benefit from viewing tours within Google Earth. To locate a tour you can refine a Google search by file type to .KMZ and then launch the tours that appear in your search results.

Google Expeditions...While They Last
If you have VR headsets available to you, take a look at Google Expeditions virtual tours of the "hidden treasures" of National Parks. Unfortunately, Google Expeditions is shutting down at the end of June. 

Google Arts & Culture
National Parks collections, exhibits, and images are available in the Google Arts & Culture apps for Android and iOS. You can also view them in your web browser. Here's a collection to get you started. 

PBS Videos
Over the years PBS has produced many videos about the National Parks. You can view some of those videos in their entirety on the PBS video website. Search on the site for "national parks" and you'll have a big list of videos to view. Here's a list to get you started.

The Travel Film Archive
The Travel Film Archive is a collection of hundreds of travel films recorded between 1900 and 1970. The films were originally recorded to promote various places around the world as tourist destinations. In the archives you will find films about US National Parks, cities across the globe, and cultural events from around the world. The videos are available on The Travel Film Archive website and on YouTube.

National Parks Bingo and More Games!
Virtual National Park Bingo is a game that asks players to explore a variety of NPS webpages and external resources to complete the bingo board. One of the bingo squares requires taking a national parks virtual tour. You could do that on the NPS website or head to this Google Earth collection to tour the U.S. National Parks.

The NPS Games and Challenges collection includes games about animals and landmarks within parks, drawing and coloring pages, hands-on projects like making costumes, and virtual scavenger hunts.

The NPS games about animals are fun little guessing games in which students see a baby animal and then have to guess what it will look like when it is grown up. For example, can you tell if this is a baby mountain lion or a baby bobcat? 

The NPS Where the Park Am I? game shows you a 360 image taken within a park and you have to guess which park it was taken in. Go here and see if you can spot Acadia National Park (that's the only National Park in my state).

This post originally appeared on If you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission. Sites that steal my (Richard Byrne's) work include CloudComputin, Today Headline, and 711Web.

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