Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A Tour of the New Google Earth - Google Earth in Your Browser

This morning Google released a completely new version of Google Earth. The new version is designed to be used in the Chrome web browser or in a new Google Earth Android app (iOS version coming eventually). I spent about an hour trying out the new web version of Google Earth. Then I recorded the video that is embedded below.


A few thoughts about the new version of Google Earth. First, it appears that Google is placing an emphasis on having users view places rather than discover places on their own. Second, while you can create a series of bookmarks that isn't nearly as powerful as creating your own recorded tours as you can in the desktop version of Google Earth (fortunately, that is still available). Third, the option to layer images over locations seems to be missing in the web version of Google Earth. Overall, I'm disappointed that Google seems to have stripped-down Google Earth in the name of making it faster for web use. Of course, I reserve the right to change my opinion on this new version if or when Google makes the new version as robust as the old version.

A Crash Course on the History of Movies

Thanks to Open Culture I learned about a new Crash Course that should be fun to follow for the next sixteen weeks. Crash Course Film History promises to take viewers through the evolution of movies from a technical perspective as well as the cultural evolution of movies. The first episode in the series goes back before the invention of film and discusses the first "illusions" and performances before then covering the invention of film and slides. Watch the first lesson as embedded below or jump here to follow the whole series as it becomes available.

Dotstorming Adds Helpful New Features

Dotstorming is a good tool for hosting online brainstorming sessions and or general gathering of ideas from an audience. I've featured it in some of my workshops over the last couple of years because it is quick and easy to get a lot of people using it at once. On Dotstorming you can have people submit ideas in the forms of text, image, and video links. All submissions appear in a grid where viewers can then vote and comment on the submissions. Recently, Dotstorming added a couple of new features that teachers will find helpful.

Dotstorming has always let users add images to their submissions, but now the process is a little easier than it was before. In the past you had to use a specific "add image" command to add an image. Now you can just paste the URL for an image into a submission and the image will appear.

The second new feature is the option to clear a board. Choosing to clear a board will remove all comments and votes that have appeared. The original submissions themselves stay on the board.

Applications for Education
The improved "add image" option should make it a little easier for students to include images in their submissions to a Dotstorming board. The "clear board" option will be useful to teachers who want to re-use the same board for multiple classes. The "clear board" option will also be useful if you want to have students vote at the beginning of a lesson and have them vote again at the end of the lesson.

Learn more about Dotstorming in this video that I made for new users.

Speak to Go - Explore the World With Your Voice in Virtual Reality

Speak to Go is a new Google WebVR experiment. Speak to Go lets you explore the world in virtual reality by just speaking the name of a place. Speak into Speak to Go and you'll be shown Street View imagery of that place. For example, I spoke the word "Maine" and I was quickly taken to Acadia National Park in Maine. Had I been more specific and said "Portland, Maine" I would have seen imagery of Portland.

Speak to Go is designed to be used with phones inside of virtual reality headsets. However, it can also be used in the Chrome web browser if you allow access to your microphone. The imagery isn't as immersive in the web version as in the VR version, but it is still good.

Applications for Education
Speak to Go is a nice option for exploring virtual reality imagery without the need to touch a screen or click a command. In the web version, Speak to Go makes exploring Street View imagery slightly more accessible to everyone.

H/T to Maps Mania for the link. 

Monday, April 17, 2017

5 Good Resources for Teaching and Learning About the American Revolution

Today is Patriots' Day. Here in Maine as well as in Massachusetts and Wisconsin it's an official state holiday. The day commemorates The Battles of Lexington and Concord. As a New Englander this is a good day to review some good resources for teaching and learning about the American Revolution.

Teaching American History has a series of interactive lessons about the American Revolution that are suitable for middle school and elementary school use. The lessons are divided into three chronological sections; 1775-1778, 1778-1781, and Treaty of Paris 1783. All of the lessons in the first two sections ask students to locate a place on a map. Students then answer a question about that place. After answering the question students are given a short text lesson. The lessons appear in chronological order. In the section on the Treaty of Paris students move through a series of placemarks on a map to learn about the terms of the Treaty of Paris.

America, A Narrative History is a text published by WW Norton. As a free supplement to the book, Norton has published ten Google Earth tours. These tours include major themes and events in US History. The list includes the Revolutionary War, the path to the Civil War, WWII, the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, Lewis & Clark's expedition, the Indian Removal Act, Pre-Columbian North America, the national parks system, and the 20th Century power grid. All of the tours include multiple images and references. Some of the tours also have "tour questions" for students to answer.

Pictures of the Revolutionary War is a compilation of images about the Revolutionary War. The images in the collection chronicle the stirrings of rebellion in the pre-revolution years, the war from both American and British perspectives, and events following the Revolutionary War.

Crash Course has a ten part series on U.S. History. Included in that series is Taxes & Smuggling - Prelude to Revolution.



Keith Hughes offers Colonialism for Dummies as part of his series on U.S. History for Dummies.