Showing posts with label geography lesson plans. Show all posts
Showing posts with label geography lesson plans. Show all posts

Thursday, May 25, 2023

How to Add Google Drive Videos to Google Earth Pro Placemarks

Last week a reader emailed me to ask for help inserting videos into placemarks in Google Earth Pro. His students had recorded videos and saved them in Google Drive. They wanted to use them in their Google Earth Pro placemarks. I was happy to help. 

Before giving you the directions for how to add Google Drive videos into Google Earth placemarks, I should remind you that Google Earth Pro is the free, desktop version of Google Earth that you can install on Mac and Windows computers. (Don't the let the "pro" fool you, Google Earth Pro is free). 

I should also point out that the process of adding videos into placemarks in Google Earth Pro is different from the process of doing the same thing in the web browser version of Google Earth. 

To add a video stored in your Google Drive into a placemark in Google Earth Pro you first need to make sure that the video sharing permissions are set to "anyone with the link can view." Then you need to copy that link. Paste the link into "URL" field in the placemark that you are editing in Google Earth Pro. A video of the process is embedded below. 

Applications for Education
This topic came up because the reader who emailed me was having his students complete an Around the World With Google Earth activity. That activity was based on using the web version of Google Earth which is why they needed directions for adding videos into placemarks in Google Earth Pro.

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

I'm Feeling Lucky - Around the World With Google Earth

Google Earth is one of my all-time favorite tools for teaching geography and history lessons. Two of my favorite ways to use Google Earth in the classroom are outlined below. 

From voyages to games to simple measuring tools, the web version of Google Earth has a lot of neat features that can help students learn about the world. One of those neat features is the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button that is found on the left hand toolbar in Google Earth. Clicking that button will take students to a randomly-selected place in the world. 

On its own the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button provides a good way for students to discover new places. That said, students learn more through the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button  if you give them a little more direction than just "click the button and look around." That's why I created a little question sheet to prompt students to do a little research about the places they discover in Google Earth via "I'm Feeling Lucky." My question sheet can be found here as a Google Doc

This short video demonstrates how students can explore Google Earth in more detail after clicking "I'm Feeling Lucky."

The Amazing Race is the only reality game show that I've watched with interest for as long as it has been on television. Years ago I created a classroom game based on the same premise of the show. Last spring I updated that game with some new graphics and new challenges and then published it as a PDF on

Recording a Google Earth tour is the capstone activity in Around the World With Google Earth. There are a couple of ways that students can do that. Students who are using the desktop version of Google Earth can use the built-in recorder. Students who are using the web version of Google Earth can use a screencasting tool like Screencastify to record a tour

In this short video I demonstrate how to record a Google Earth tour in your web browser by using Screencastify. 

Monday, August 3, 2020

Lessons on Map Projections

The maps pages and education pages of the USGS should be bookmarked by anyone who teaches geography. One of my go-to pages within the USGS education site is this collection of 27 ideas for teaching with topographic maps. In the list of lesson ideas you will find suggestions for lessons about typical geography topics like coordinates, scale, and map projections. The USGS offers a free map projections poster that you can use in conjunction with the lesson on map projections.

You can download hundreds of USGS maps for free from the USGS store. You can also visit the USGS topoView site to download historic maps. One of the ways that I like to use these maps is to overlay them on Google Earth imagery. This can be a good way to compare map projections and map content. This video shows you how to do that.

Projection Wizard is an interesting tool developed by Bojan Šavrič at Oregon State University. The purpose of Projection Wizard is to help cartographers select the best map projections for their projects. Projection Wizard is a more advanced tool than most high school geography courses would need. That said, I would use the Projection Wizard to have students discuss the flaws of  various map projections. We'd also talk about why a particular type of projection is better than another for different types of projects.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

5 Map Creation Activities for Geography Awareness Week

Next week is Geography Awareness Week. As a social studies teacher I think every week should be Geography Awareness Week, but I digress. Looking at maps is fine, making maps is better. Here are five map creation activities that your students can do to increase their understanding of geography.

1. Create a map of a memories.
This is an idea that I got many years ago from my friend Jim Wells. Jim had his students write short stories of happy memories then place those stories on a map. Today, you can have students do this on Google Maps or Scribble Maps. This activity can help students see the significance of place in the formation of memories.

You can even have your whole class contribute to one map by having them enter their stories in a Google Form then using the corresponding spreadsheet to create a Google Maps of stories. A video on how to do that is embedded below.

2. How many Manchesters?
This is a modification of an activity that I did as an elementary school student in the 1980's. I grew up in Manchester, Connecticut. My teacher had us use atlases to see how many other Manchesters there are in the world. Then we had to write a short blurb about each Manchester.

The modern version of this activity is to have students choose a common town name like Manchester and use Google Maps to find out how  many towns in the world have that name. Then on their Google Maps or Scribble Maps students can add placemarks in which they write about interesting things about those towns. Students can add videos and images to their placemarks too. 

3. Create interactive map games. 
GeoGuessr is an addictive geography game that has players guess where in the world a Google Street View image was taken. Players guesses should be based on the clues they discern from the images. You can create your own GeoGuessr game by using GeoSettr. When you visit GeoSettr you'll see two screens. A map with a Pegman on your left and the Street View imagery for the Pegman's current location on your right. Move the Pegman around, zoom-in if you like, until you find the location that you want people to guess. When you've found the right location click "set round" to save the location. When you've set five rounds (locations) your game is assigned a URL that you can distribute.

Mission Map Quest, developed by Russel Tarr, is a map-based tool for creating virtual treasure hunts. The concept is simple, you create a series of clues that players need to follow to identify places around the world. You can add as few or as many clues to your Map Quest as you like. When you're ready to have people try your Quest just give them the web address of the challenge or have them scan the QR code assigned to your Quest.

4. Who lives there?
This is an activity in which students pick a region of the world and you provide them with a list of animals that live there. Then students use digital maps like those found on National Geographic's Map Maker Interactive to determine the aspects of the physical geography that are conducive to supporting those animals.

5. What was there?
In this activity students create maps that feature historical imagery. Students pick a location, it could be their town, and then search online for images of what that location looked like in the past. Students then place those historical image into placemarks on their maps. Take a look at HistoryPin for some inspiration on this activity.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Spacehopper - Challenge Students With Geography Puzzles Based on Street View

Spacehopper is a new geography game that I recently tried on the recommendations of Keir Clarke and Larry Ferlazzo. Spacehopper features geography questions that are based on Google Maps Street View imagery. Spacehopper shows you a Street View image and you have to guess where in the world the image was captured. You can click the clue button to have the country identified before making a guess. After three incorrect guesses the correct answer will be revealed to you. You can play Spacehopper on a global level or you can specify that you only want to see images from a particular continent.

Applications for Education
Playing Spacehopper could be a good way to get students to focus on thinking about all of the information available to them in an image. To make accurate guesses on Spacehopper, students will need to account for clues that could help them identify the pictured locations.  For example, in the image above students can see that it was taken at a beach, there is a sign that they can read, and if they clicked the clue button they would see that it was taken somewhere in the United Kingdom.

As I wrote about Geoguessr last month, while investigating the imagery in Spacehopper your students may become curious about the things they’re seeing. Then when they finally guess and discover the correct answers they may become even more curious about what they’re seeing. I recently saw this happen with a group of adults to whom I had just introduced Geoguessr. They quickly started investigating the Street View imagery in detail and asking questions like “what is the language on that billboard?”

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Google Maps Engine Lite - Create Advanced Custom Google Maps

For years Google Maps had the option for creating custom placemarks and basic shapes in the "my maps" option in your account. But if you want to further customize your maps you really had to do that work in Google Earth. Yesterday, Google introduced Maps Engine Lite which bridges the gap between creating basic custom maps in Google Maps and creating custom layers in Google Earth.

Maps Engine Lite allows you to go beyond manually adding placemarks to your Google Maps by uploading a spreadsheet of locations that will be displayed on your map. You can import up to three spreadsheets per map. You can also draw custom lines and shapes on your maps. Like any other Google Map you can invite others to collaborate with you. You can share your map by embedding it into a website. Google Earth Outreach offers a detailed tutorial on how to use the new Maps Engine Lite. I'm looking forward to going through the tutorial and creating some new maps this weekend.

Applications for Education
Maps Engine Lite could be a great tool to use to introduce students to using GIS to interpret data and make decisions based on that data. Here's one way that I might use Maps Engine Lite with students in my area. I could create data sets about ice thickness on a set of area ponds, create a data set about average weekly high temperatures in those areas, import that data into the map and ask students to make predictions as to when the ponds will be ice-free.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Extreme Environments - A Geography iBook

Extreme Environments is a free iBook that I found earlier this week on the Digital Geography blog. The book has four chapters about challenging environments, the characteristics of extreme environments, the opportunities and challenges of extreme environments, and the potential impact of climate change on extreme environments. Within each chapter students can take notes and create flashcards. Each chapter has clearly outlined objectives. Throughout the book there are interactive graphics and quizzes in which students can test their understanding the topics covered in the book.

Applications for Education
Extreme Environments could be a great resource for students studying glaciers, deserts, and the unique physical geographic characteristics that they contain.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

7 Solid Resources for Geography Awareness Week

This week is Geography Awareness Week. On Saturday I shared a great resource for a geography lesson on interdependence. That lesson is called the Global Closet Calculator and it was developed by National Geographic. Here are seven other good resources that you can use in geography lessons this week or any week.

Stack the Countries is a fun geography app available for the iPad, the iPhone, and the iPad Touch. The game requires players to correctly answer a geography question in order to earn a game piece that they then place into a row. The object is to stack up pieces to reach a target height. When the target height is reached players move on to the next level. offers a series of progressively more difficult geography lessons and quizzes. In the beginning you're limited to one region and or continent at a time. As you master each region or continent you earn badges and unlock new challenges. I really like the manner in which presents the lessons. In each lesson you're shown a country, the country's name is read to you, then you practice identifying it in two ways. You identify countries by choosing the name of the country that is highlighted for you. You also identify countries by selecting the one of the three highlighted that match the name you're given.

Overlap Maps is a free service that can be used to quickly compare the size of countries, states, provinces, and some bodies of water. To create a visual comparison of two countries select one country from the "overlap this" menu and select one country from the "onto this" menu. The comparisons you make are displayed on a map. You can make comparisons from different categories. For example, you can overlap Lake Erie onto New Hampshire. 

To help your students prepare for next year's National Geographic Bee, National Geographic offers the GeoBee Challenge. The GeoBee Challenge is a daily series of ten geography quiz questions. The challenges can be played in apprentice mode or in expert mode. Apprentice mode gives students two tries at every question. The expert mode gives just one shot at each question.

Harnu is an interesting whose is to enable you to discover news, videos, music and connect with people all over the world. To discover news, videos, and music sign-in to Harnu, select a media type, then select a country. Harnu will then give you a list of news stories, videos, or music from your chosen country. To connect with people all over the world sign-in to Harnu, select "send message," select the location to which you want to send a message, then write and send your message. People from that location can see you message and reply to you. And you can use Harnu to select location, find people sending messages from those countries then reply to them.

Place Spotting is a website of geographic riddles. Place Spotting is based on the Google Earth platform. Place Spotting users can create their own geographic riddles or try to solve riddles created by others. The search feature on Place Spotting lets users search for riddles based on level of difficulty, language, region, or creation date.

Geosense is a fun way to use and improve your knowledge of world geography. Players can play against the computer or challenge another player. Geosense can be played anonymously or you can register and have your scores recorded for you. There are four Geosense maps (US, World, Europe, or advanced) that players can select from. Geosense is also available as an iOS app.

Bonus Item! 21 Map Creation Tools for Teachers and Students

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Global Closet Calculator - A Lesson in Interdependence

Geography Awareness Week starts on Sunday. One of the National Geographic resources for this year's Geography Awareness Week that I think is worth giving a good look is The Global Closet Calculator.

The Global Closet Calculator is a two part interactive lesson on interdependence. The first part of The Global Closet Calculator asks students to identify the origins of objects from their closets at home. Students enter those items into the calculator to see a map of the origins of their closet items. Students can also see a map of the items entered by everyone using the Global Closet Calculator.

The second part of the Global Closet Calculator asks students to make decisions about the manufacturing of MP3 players and jeans. Students have to make decisions about the sourcing of materials and decisions about labor practices. A short video introduces the decision options. After making their decisions students see a short video that explains the potential implications of their decisions.

Applications for Education
The Global Closet Calculator could be a good lesson on interdependence for elementary school and possibly middle school students. Students don't have to complete the activity in one session because a restart code is provided to them if they need to quit half-way through the lesson. 

At the high school level you could take the concept of the The Global Closet Calculator and ask students to do some independent research on the material sourcing and labor practices used in the production of closet items. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Tour Guide for Exploring the World On Your Desktop

Back in June Google added a 3D Tour Guide feature to Google Earth for Android. This week Google added that feature to Google Earth 7 for your desktop.

If you install Google Earth 7, by default the Tour Guide will appear at the bottom of your screen. Click on any tour to get started. The tour will fly you over places of note and show you some quick facts about each place in the tour. The tour you play will suggest tours of related places. To find a tours for another location just type that location into the search box. There are more than 11,000 tour locations available in Google Earth 7.

Applications for Education
When I was a kid I loved looking at maps. As an adult I still love looking at maps. Looking at maps raises all kinds of questions in my head about the places that I look at. I know I'm not alone in this practice because I have spoken with numerous students and adults who do the same thing. The new 3D Tour Guide is perfect for folks like us who look at maps and have questions about the places we see. The 3D Tour Guide answers some of those questions for us. And if you're planning to have students create Google Earth tours, the 3D Tour Guide provides a good model for your students to follow.

A Simple Google Earth Learning Activity

The picture that you see to the left is the one that I included in yesterday's month in review post. The picture was taken in Rugby, North Dakota which is the geographical center of North America.

As I was driving yesterday I thought about the picture of Morrison in Rugby, ND and how I might work it into a geography lesson. The idea that eventually came to me was to use the picture at the beginning of an introduction to navigating Google Earth and or Google Maps. I might obscure the "Rugby, ND" part of the picture and ask students to use Google Earth to find the center of North America. Of course, I could use the same activity for all seven continents.

If you want to use the picture above for a simple geography lesson, you may do so. Click it to open it in full-size before downloading.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

21 Map Creation Tools for Students and Teachers

Yesterday, I published a review of MapFab which is a fabulous, free, and simple tool for creating maps  online. Writing that post got me thinking about all of the other free map creation tools that I've reviewed over the years. Google Maps and Google Earth are my favorite tools for creating maps, but not every school allows teachers and students to download it. And creating Google Maps does require you to have a Google account which is an obstacle to use in some schools too. In the list below you will find some map creation tools that don't require registration. And, of course, all of the tools on this list are free for teachers and students to use.

Animaps is a service that was built for the purpose of allowing users to create animated Google Maps. The basics of creating maps in Animaps is very similar the process for creating maps in Google Maps. The main benefit of using Animaps over Google Maps is that you can create a tour of your placemarks that plays through according to the timing that you specify. Another benefit is that you can build in colored shapes to expand and contract to demonstrate patterns. You can also import images to your map from Flickr, Picassa, and Facebook. Click here to watch a demonstration of Animaps in action. You do not need a Google Account to use Animaps, you can register on the site or use Facebook credentials to log-in.

Tripline is a service designed to enable anyone to record a trip they've taken or to plan a trip itinerary. What Tripline is really intended to do is to give you a platform to "present" your trips to others. To do this Tripline allows you to add details to each stop on your itinerary, add images, and add music to the presentation of your trip. When completed your map essentially becomes a slideshow tour. There are a few different ways that you can create trip on Tripline. You can use your mobile device to check-in at different locations and have Tripline plot those points for you. You can do that using Foursquare or by geolocating your Tweets. The other way that you can create trips on Tripline is to plot them directly on the Tripline site.

Build A Map is a service that allows you to build layers on top of Google Maps. This is different than creating maps in the "My Places" feature of Google Maps. In My Places you can only add placemarks, paths, and shaded shapes. Using Build A Map you can add information from data sets, add shapes, and add custom labels. The service is currently in a private beta so you do have to register your email address and wait for an invitation to try it out. In the meantime you can watch the following video overview of the service.

Scribble Maps is a fun and useful application for drawing and typing on Google Maps. Using Scribble Maps anyone can draw and type on a map. All of the zoom options and most of the search options available on Google Maps are available when using Scribble Maps. You can zoom in on an area and then type text, draw a circle or a box around an area, you can even doodle stick figures or whatever you like on your map. Maps created by using Scribble Maps can be shared via email or embedded into your website. Scribble Maps Pro (an upgrade that requires a payment) allows you to import KML files, import spreadsheets, and import SHP files. Importing KML files allows you to add free-hand drawings on top of files that you may have already created for Google Maps or Google Earth. Importing spreadsheets makes it easy to quickly add placemarks to a large number of places. SHP file importation allows you to add custom shapes to your maps.

Quikmaps is a nice map creation tool that allows you to quickly draw, type, and insert icons on a Google Map without requiring you to have a Google Account. You can register directly on the site itself. Quikmaps is similar to Scribble Maps. Placing icons on Quikmaps is a simple matter of dragging and dropping elements. Maps can be shared via email or embedded into your blog or website.

UMapper is a custom map creation tool that allows you to create maps from just about any JPG, PNG, or GIF file. Using UMapper is a simple process of uploading an image and selecting a map service (Google, Yahoo, Bing) as the basis for the map. The finished maps can be embedded into your blog or website. UMapper also offers a platform for creating your own geography game. UMapper GeoDart is a simple game in which players have to locate the places the you specify.

Historypin allows anyone with a Google account to place images within the setting of current Google Maps Streetview imagery. If you don't have images to add, you can simply explore the imagery added by others. To explore the imagery on Historypin, zoom in on a location then select a range of dates on the Historypin timeline.

Mapfaire is a free tool for quickly creating maps that contain simple placemarks. Using Mapfaire you can create a custom map that highlights places you specify. To use Mapfaire just sign in with your Google Account then name your map and start adding placemarks. To add a placemark all you need to do is enter a location then label your placemark. You can publish and edit your maps at any time.

QuizGeo is a site that hosts geography quizzes built on the Google Maps platform. On QuizGeo you can browse and play pre-made geography quizzes or create your own quizzes. All of the quizzes operate in the same fashion of presenting you with a place name and requiring you to click on that place on a map before time expires. To create your own games you need to register on QuizGeo. After registering, creating your quiz is easy to do. To create a quiz just name it, click submit, then click "add questions." To add questions just enter a place or address in the search box then outline that place using the pointer provided and click "save question." You can add as many places to your quiz as you like.

Target Map is a service that allows anyone to create mapped displays of data sets. Users of Target Map can importa and map their own data sets, use data sets from other users, use data sets found online, or manually input data onto a map. When I created my sample map, I choose to manually input data. Target Map allows you to map data for a country, a region, or for the whole world. You can customize the display to make borders appear faint or bold and alter the look of data points. Although at first glance Target Map's user interface might not appear to be terribly intuitive, it is actually quite easy to use if you follow the directions. Target Map is free to use if you agree to publish your maps to the public gallery. If you want to keep your maps private you can do so for a small fee. The first time you create a map on Target Map it is reviewed for quality before it is added to the public gallery.

World Map is a free program developed by the Center for Geographic Analysis at Harvard University. World Map is designed to enable creation, visualization, and exploration of geographically referenced information. In other words, you can build some great mapped data visualizations on the service. To create a map on World Map you can use the more than 1800 data sets that are stored in the service or you can upload your own data sets. The majority of the data sets in the World Map library have abstracts explaining a bit about the purpose and scope of the data. There are five default base maps that you can choose to build upon. Alternatively, you can choose to create your map completely from scratch and upload your own base layer to build upon. Maps that you create on World Map can be embedded into a website, printed, or viewed in Google Earth.

The UN Stat Planet Map allows you to create useful mapped displays of UN development indicators data. There are ten data categories from which you can choose. Within each category there are further refinements possible. You can customize the map to present sharper contrasts between the data indicators, change the indicator symbols, and alter the map legend. To visual the change in data over time, use the time slider at the bottom of the map. Your maps and the data that they represent can be downloaded as PNG and JPEG files for printing.

GeoCommons provides excellent tools for creating and sharing map-based data visualizations. Users can select a from twelve base maps to build upon. After choosing a base map users can select from more than 49,000 public data sets or upload their own data sets. Map creators can add more than one data set to their maps. To complete the visualizations users can specify colors, shades, shapes, and apply numerous filters to determine what is or is not displayed from their chosen data sets. Completed maps can be shared as KML files or embedded into blogs and websites.

Map a List turns Google Spreadsheet information into Google Maps placemarks. The finished product is a Google Map of the information you've selected from your Google Spreadsheets. To create a map from your spreadsheets you need to register for a Map a List account and give it access to your Google Docs account. Map a List then walks you through each step of selecting a spreadsheet, defining the parameters for your map, and choosing placemarks. Just like in Google Maps you can customize the placemark icons that are used in your Map a List displays. Your maps can be shared publicly or privately. Your maps can be downloaded as KML files to use in Google Earth.

Spreadsheet Mapper 3 is a Google spreadsheet script that allows you to create a map of up to 1,000 placemarks based on your spreadsheet data. And because Spreadsheet Mapper 3 is a part of Google Docs you can share your spreadsheets and maps for collaborative editing. Click here for complete directions on how to use Spreadsheet Mapper 3.

Heat Map Tool is a tool for easily creating heat maps or incident maps from a CSV file. To create a heat map all you need to do is upload a CSV file then specify your desired display attributes like scale, colors, and opacity. You can edit the display attributes of your map whenever you like. If you're wondering how to create a CSV file you can do so by exporting from a spreadsheet in Google Documents or exporting from an Excel file. Click here for directions on exporting from Excel. The free version of Heat Map Tool allows you to have up to 100 data points on your map and up to 500 hits per day on your map.

GmapGIS is a free tool for marking and drawing on maps without having to create or use a Google account. GmapGIS provides tools for drawing lines and shapes, adding markers, adding labels, and measuring distances. To get started just visit GmapGIS and select the drawing or labeling tools that you want to use. When you are finished drawing on and labeling you can share your map by sending the link that is automatically generated for your map. You can also save a KML file for your map and view it in Google Earth.

MapFab is an excellent free map creation tool built on top of Google Maps. MapFab offers a few advantages over Google Maps, but the most notable advantage is that you do not have to create an account in order to create your custom maps. To start creating custom maps on MapFab just head to the site and enter your starting location. Then select from the menu of custom placemarks and enter a description. There is a variety of font colors to choose from when you label your placemarks. That same variety of text colors can be applied to your map title too. Just like on Google Maps you can draw polygons and circles on your maps. Also like on Google Maps you can draw lines, but on MapFab you can change the colors of your lines.

Meograph is a digital storytelling tool that provides tools for creating map-based and timeline-based narrated stories. Meograph is still in a closed beta, but they appear to be very interested in the possible educational uses of the service. When you watch a Meograph story (click here to watch one about women's rights in the USA) you will notice that it is very similar to a watching a narrated Google Earth tour. That is because it is based on the Google Maps and the Google Earth browser plug-in. As the story plays you can stop it to explore additional content in the forms of videos, texts, and images.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Visualizing the World's 50 Most Prominent Peaks

The Guardian recently published an excellent interactive data visualization of the world's 50 most prominent peaks. The visualization offers a clickable map of the world's most prominent peaks on every continent. Click on a peak to view it in Google Earth (you need the Google Earth browser plug-in). You can compare peaks in terms of actual height and prominence above their immediate surroundings. The visualizations can be embedded into your blog or website. I've embedded a slightly cropped version below. Click here for the full-size visualization.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Virtually Cycle the Alps

Last week while exploring the Google Chrome Web Store I came across a great site called Cycling the Alps. Cycling the Alps offers dozens of virtual tours of the Alps just as you would see them if you were on a bicycle tour of the Alps. Additionally, you can play games in which you are the rider and you have to navigate your way through courses in the Alps. The video below provides a short overview of some of features of Cycling the Alps.

Applications for Education
Playing the games on Cycling the Alps could be a fun way for students to explore the geography of the Alps. Cycling the Alps includes a profile of the elevation gains and losses throughout each tour. Many of the tours include 3D views of buildings along the way so students can see a bit of the architecture of towns during their tours of the Alps.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Create Mapped Data Visualizations on GeoCommons

GeoCommons provides excellent tools for creating and sharing map-based data visualizations. Users can select a from twelve base maps to build upon. After choosing a base map users can select from more than 49,000 public data sets or upload their own data sets. Map creators can add more than one data set to their maps. To complete the visualizations users can specify colors, shades, shapes, and apply numerous filters to determine what is or is not displayed from their chosen data sets. Completed maps can be shared as KML files or embedded into blogs and websites. The two videos below provide an introduction to creating maps with GeoCommons.

Applications for Education
Creating maps on GeoCommons is definitely a step up in complexity from creating simple Google Maps. Students could use GeoCommons to create visualizations in which they attempt to show correlations between physical geography datasets and human geography datasets.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Have You Been Where the Queen's Been?

In case you haven't heard, this year is Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee. The BBC has a huge collection of resources about the Diamond Jubilee. One of those resources that I like is a feature called Have You Been Where the Queen's Been? Have You Been Where the Queen's Been is a map of all of the places that Queen Elizabeth II has visited during her reign. You can also view the places in a list format. Click on the map to check-off the places that you've been and compare your travels to that of the Queen.

Applications for Education
Have You Been Where the Queen's Been? could be used as part of geography lesson in which students research the places that the queen has visited. Students could investigate why the Queen was visiting each of those places and the significance of her visit.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Alpha Maps - Wolfram Alpha Entries on a Map

One of the aspects of Wolfram Alpha that I like is the "fact sheets" that are available for most topics. For example, if I search for something like Ted Williams I will receive a list of key details about his life. Then if I want to I can print or download that fact sheet.

Alpha Maps is a mash-up of Wolfram Alpha's fact sheets and Google Maps. On Alpha Maps you can enter the name of place and see it on the map with all of Wolfram Alpha's associated fact sheets for that place.

Applications for Education
Alpha Maps could be good tool for students to do some quick, basic research about places that they're studying in a geography lesson. Unlike an atlas or almanac that might have just a map or just a list of facts on one page, on Alpha Maps students see the information about a place layered on top of the places they're learning about.

H/T to Google Maps Mania.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Video - What Can You Do With Geography?

Last week the Google Lat Long Blog posted a short promotional video about some of the professions that utilize geography. Of course, the video is also a bit of a promotion for Google Earth and Google Maps. Watching the video got me to dig into my archives for a few of my favorite resources related to teaching geography. Those links are listed below the video.

101 Ways to Teach Geography
Teaching With Google Earth
Create Interactive Map Quizzes
Geocaching - A Great Outdoor Learning Activity
Geosense - An Online Geography Game
Google Maps for Educators - How to Get Started

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Vintage Travel Films and Posters

On Monday, Brain Pickings had an article featuring this collection of vintage travel posters available through the Boston Public Library's Flickr collection. The posters advertise travel opportunities all over the world in the 20th Century. The collection reminded me of 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.

Applications for Education
The posters and videos could be good to use in a Glogster project about places that your students study in their history and geography lessons. You could also use the posters in Thinglink to have students create interactive historical travel posters.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

World Map - Visualize, Explore, and Publish Geographic Information

World Map is a free program developed by the Center for Geographic Analysis at Harvard University. World Map is designed to enable creation, visualization, and exploration of geographically referenced information. In other words, you can build some great mapped data visualizations on the service.

To create a map on World Map you can use the more than 1800 data sets that are stored in the service or you can upload your own data sets. The majority of the data sets in the World Map library have abstracts explaining a bit about the purpose and scope of the data. There are five default base maps that you can choose to build upon. Alternatively, you can choose to create your map completely from scratch and upload your own base layer to build upon. Maps that you create on World Map can be embedded into a website, printed, or viewed in Google Earth.

The video below provides a short overview of how to create a map using World Map. There are many other how-to videos on the HGA YouTube channel.

Applications for Education
If you're looking for web-based map creation and analysis tools that offer more than you can find in Google Maps, give World Map a try. You might start out using World Map in your classroom by using the data set library then expand its use by having students create and or find other data sets to import.

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