Google Maps Session at #GTAUK

During the Google Teacher Academy UK I ran a 30 minute session on Google Maps. It was a bit of a whirlwind of a training session but hopefully allowed the participants the chance to briefly play with Maps and also to think about how we could use Maps in a different way.
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Here are some of the highlights:


10 minutes

  • San Francisco map from 1915 – mapping has come a long way. 95 years of progress.
  • Classroom ideas – Google Streetview, seeing Tom teaching PE, exploring Whitby Harbour and Abbey during work on Dracula with Year 6.
  • Classroom ideas – James and the Giant Peach, using the map to tell a story.

10 minutes

  • Activity time – add a placemark and continue the story in the Story Map

10 minutes

  • Practical thoughts about classroom use
  • Mashup Magic – some examples of the API use


Google Maps GTAUK Page

One of the strongest elements of the Google Teacher Academy is the huge resource that has been accumulated on the GTAUK wiki. Each presenter has had a page that they have populated with a vast amount of links and all sorts of resources for people to explore further. Here are a few of mine and be sure to explore the rest on my Google Maps page.

Mashup Magic:

Google Maps in Other Languages:

Google Maps beyond Earth:

Activity: Story Maps

On the wiki I have outlined two different activities for the participants to look at but with little time to explain them we used the Story Map idea. I gave a simple story starter in a placemark on Westminster Bridge in London:

It was exactly where they said it would be. The Thames swirled below me from a passing barge as I lifted it too my chest.

The bridge seemed quieter than usual, and yet I could feel eyes watching. Which way now? I needed to get moving. I had already spent too long.

I turned and pressed on.

The participants would then choose from a number of story paths I had drawn on the map using the line tool, adding placemarks and continuing the story. It was a simple idea that showed the collaborative potential of maps that is often overlooked. You can see our efforts below.

View GTAUK – Story Map in a larger map


One of the last things that I showed was the amazing Kinomap that allows users the ability to map a video route such as a bike ride or a run. I showed a cyclist doing a tour of the Googleplex – well worth a look. (It also has a mobile app you can download)

An amusing diversion

If I could do it again?

There are a couple of features of Google Maps I wanted to emphasise and demonstrate more clearly, time was a little tight and I probably didn’t do them justice.

Distance Measurement Tool – can be added from the Labs link at the top and appears in your maps “Created by Others”. It is really useful as a comparison of units of measurement. It even has Smoots, which the GTAUK planning team spent a bit of time talking about the day before the event.

URL Shortener – the links provided for Maps is always really long. Again from Labs there is the URL Shortener. But the trade off is that you lose the option to grab the embed code.

Place Pages – recently added to the mobile version of Maps, it is really handy to have a single page of information about landmarks and search results. From a search result placemark look for the More Info link – it is a single web page summary about that place pulling in photos and information from other sources. Useful for classes when they are doing any type of research.

Collaborate – each map gives you options to collaborate with others. From the top of your map find the Collaborate button on the left, opposite the Edit button.


I hope that those of you who were with me in the sessions enjoyed them and took away something you could use in the classroom – and for those who weren’t, that there is something in this blog post or in the wiki to instigate some ideas. Please let me know.

1 Comment

  1. Not sure of the quote origin above but there was a review of the book Plot in yesterday's Independent that said it was a novel take on non fiction to do a biography on an acre of land. Clearly Time Team on Channel 4 has the 3 day online review portion of the market sewn up, but I wonder .. compared to the radical change that the wheelie bin has made to the quality of life of dustbinmen .. how much visualisation in google maps technology helps. Again with the Independent (no relation), the front page image/statistic/message/graphic combo has to drag your hand onto the paper on the newstand, emotional buying in is much harder (John Lennon).

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