Sunday, June 28, 2020

An Easy Way to Overlay Historical Maps on Google Earth

Last fall I published a video about how to find historical maps and overlay them on Google Earth. That method works for any historical map that you have the rights to re-use whether because it's in the public domain or because of Creative Commons licensing. There is another method that you can use. That method is built into the Rumsey Historical Maps layer in Google Earth.

In Google Earth Pro (the free desktop version of Google Earth) you will find the Rumsey Historical Maps collection listed in the gallery of layers on the left hand side of your screen. When you turn on that layer you'll see map icons appear all over the map. Zoom-in and click on those icons to view the historical maps and see them layered over current Google Earth imagery. Watch my short video below to see how this process works.

Applications for Education
Layering historical maps over current imagery is one of my favorite uses of Google Earth. Doing this gives students a better view and understanding of how the geography of a city or a geographic area has changed over time.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

50 National Geographic 360 Videos

Watching 360 degree videos is probably my favorite thing to do with my Google Cardboard viewer. A lot of people don't realize that a Cardboard viewer can be used for more than just Google Expeditions. For example, National Geographic's YouTube channel contains fifty 360 videos featuring things like Mount Everest, glaciers in Iceland, elephants, sea turtles, lions, sharks, and polar expeditions.

You don't need to have a Google Cardboard viewer or any virtual reality headset. You can can just view them in your web browser then click and drag to experience the full 360 degree imagery. Of course, it's more fun to do it in a VR viewer.

YouTube's search tools include a filter to help you identify 360 degree videos. Give it a try to find other great 360 degree videos like those from National Geographic.

Applications for Education
One of the things that I appreciate about 360 videos is how they give students a bit more control over what they see and give students a better overall picture of what a place looks like. My hope is that students who view 360 videos like those from National Geographic are inspired to ask more questions and to perhaps travel to interesting places in the future.

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good morning from Maine where the sun is shining and burning off the last of the overnight fog. It's going to be a great day for fun things like riding bikes with my kids and not-so-fun things like mowing the lawn. I hope that you also have a fun and relaxing weekend.

This week I spent quite a bit of time planning a new project and working on a series of videos that I'll be releasing later this summer. I also took some time to look at feedback from the June session of the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp and made a couple of tweaks for the upcoming July sessions (register here). Of course, I also published some new blog posts. The most popular ones are listed below.

These the most popular posts of the week:
1. Five Overlooked Features of Google Forms Quizzes
2. Updated - How to Create Virtual Class Pictures With Pixton EDU
3. Jamboard + Screencastify = Whiteboard Video
4. NASA Selfies - Put Yourself in Space and Learn a Bit About It
5. Five Screencastify Settings You Should Know How to Use
6. Video: The Solar System to Scale
7. How to Use Pictures in Google Forms

Two PD Opportunities in July
The Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp will be held two more times this summer. Register here for the July session of your choice.

In July I'll be hosting Teaching History With Technology. This is a five part course designed to help you develop new ways to create engaging history lessons and projects. Register now and use the discount code THWT2020.

This summer I'm working with a handful of schools and organizations to develop online professional development for teachers. If you'd like to work with me, please send me a note at richardbyrne (at) to learn more about how we can work together.

Thank You for Your Support!
Other Places to Follow My Work
Besides and the daily email digest, there are other ways to keep up with what I'm publishing. 
  • Practical Ed Tech Newsletter - This comes out once per week (Sunday night/ Monday morning) and it includes my tip of the week and a summary of the week's most popular posts from
  • My YouTube Channel - 25,000 people subscribe to my YouTube channel for my regular series of tutorial videos including more than 350 Google tools tutorials.  
  • Facebook - The Facebook page has more than 450,000 followers. 
  • Twitter - I've been Tweeting away for the last thirteen years at
  • Instagram - this is mostly pictures of my kids, my dogs, my bikes, my skis, and fly fishing.

Friday, June 26, 2020

7 New Google Meet Features for Teachers

In a move that clearly is an attempt to match the functionality of Zoom and Microsoft Teams, Google has announced some new features that will soon be coming to Google Meet for G Suite for Education users. All of the new features that were announced address the many concerns about Google Meet that teachers have expressed in the last few months. Some of these features are available now and some will be coming over the next couple of months.

New Moderator Controls
  • Remotely mute all participants.
  • A hand-raising function will be coming soon. This lets students raise their hands in Google Meet to indicate that they want to speak in the meeting. 
  • Teachers will be able to end meetings for all and prevent students from rejoining after the meeting has been ended by the teacher. 
  • Guests can only "knock" or request to join after being ejected from meeting. 
  • The default setting for Google Meet will not allow anonymous guests.
Integrated Whiteboard!

  • This might be the most-requested feature for Google Meet. I've shared a couple of options (here and here) for a DIY whiteboard integration, but this should be a lot easier to use. 

Change Your Background

  • Much like in Zoom, you'll soon be able to use a custom background in Google Meet. 

Features for G Suite for Education Enterprise
G Suite for Education for Enterprise is the paid version of G Suite for Education. There are some new features coming to that version too. Those features include an option to record attendance and an option for break-out rooms in Google Meet. 

How to Use Loom to Make a Whiteboard Video

This week I published a couple of videos about making whiteboard-style instructional videos with Screencastify (you can see those videos on my YouTube channel). Of course, Screencastify isn't the only browser-based screencasting tool available to teachers. Loom is also an excellent and popular choice for making screencast videos right from your web browser.

In the following video I demonstrate how I paired Loom and Google's Jamboard to make a whiteboard-style instructional video. One of the tips that I shared in the video is to use the sharing option in Jamboard to give your students a copy of the drawings or sketches that you use in your instructional video.