You’ve done it. Go ahead and admit it. You’ve searched for your house on Google Maps. In fact the first place you looked in Google Earth and Street View was your house. But Google Map tools are not just a consumption tool, they can be a powerful creation tool for students to tell stories — stories of history, literature, science, and social studies.
The three main tools for map creation are Google Earth, Google Tour Builder, and Google My Maps. They each have unique features and some of them have platform limitations. Google Earth has the ability to visualize the earth in three-dimensional views, and turn on a multitude of layers highlighting specific information and features. Some of the limitations are that Google Earth has to be installed on a computer, so it is not compatible with iPads and Android tablets (you can view, but not annotate) and Chromebooks. Google Tour Builder also does not work on tablets and Chromebooks. The interface is very rich in its text editing ability and the ease of use for creating virtual tours and fly-bys is top notch. The advantage to Google My Maps is that they can be created on Macs, PCs, Chromebooks, and tablets and have a simple, but powerful set of tools.
All three of the tools can be used to create multimedia rich geotags for location based storytelling. I have had students as young as first grade create Google My Maps. Lisa Highfill has a great set of video tutorials for My Maps on YouTube. Occasionally I run into Google Apps for Education domains where My Maps is not turned on, so I created a tutorial on how to turn it on. So stop looking for your house, and have your students create a digital story using Google Map tools this week. For more Google Maps resources, check the Maps page of my website TeachInteractive.org.
Will Kimbley is an instructional technology consultant in California. A former middle & elementary school teacher, and tech coach, he provides professional development consulting and is a regular conference speaker. He is a Google Certified Innovator, YouTube Star Teacher, Microsoft Innovative Educator, & founding CUE Rock Star faculty. Kimbley holds three Leading Edge Certifications. He is passionate about technology integration in the classroom and works diligently to keep on the cutting edge of instructional innovation. Connect with Kimbley via email or on follow him on Twitter.
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