Princesshay case study: Google photospheres to the rescue…

 Google Maps, ICT, Photographs, Public geographies, Teaching resources  Comments Off on Princesshay case study: Google photospheres to the rescue…
Dec 262014

Back in 2009 I created a visual resource for GCSE students to illustrate the urban redevelopment of part of Exeter’s CBD. The case study perfectly fitted the AQA GCSE syllabus and proved very popular, but a recent change in the Google Maps API broke the linked maps.

Now that Google have helpfully provided the Google Views service that supports photospheres I’ve been able to improve the resource. I’ve also taken the opportunity to go through the pages updating links and trimming the student task. The panoramas are not as high quality as the originals and they lack the embedded hotspots but at least they now work with Google maps again. Click the image below to go directly to the linked photospheres of Princesshay or head over to Juicy Geography to find the updated resource in its entirety.


For AQA spec A the relevant parts of the Changing Urban Environments syllabus are:

Housing – the attempts to satisfy the increased housing needs of the population in different parts of the city.

Traffic – impact of increased use of road transport on the environment and solutions aimed at reducing the impact.

Revitalising the image of the CBD by improving the physical environment.

Recently I have used the presentation below to introduce and recap the case study…

Self-guided virtual field trips in Google Street View

 Google Maps, Student work  Comments Off on Self-guided virtual field trips in Google Street View
Feb 152013

I’m currently seeing some excellent work by Year 11 students who used Google Street View to identify and comment on different features of the flood prevention scheme at Boscastle. With almost ubiquitous coverage of the UK, there’s lots of opportunities to set students off on similar virtual voyages of discovery.

The original task was set on my GCSE Posterous. Here’s a really excellent example of a finished piece of work by Rowan…

Dec 162010

The concept of History Pin from We Are What We Do and Google is beautifully simple. Young people spend time talking with people of an older generation about their old photographs and associated memories. The photos and stories are uploaded to the History Pin website, where they can be viewed through Google Maps and Street View. A little piece of history is created.

Here’s a short video explaining more:

It took a little while, but we finally persuaded some wonderful older people to visit a small group of Year 8 & 9  in our Student Support Centre. Over the course of two sessions, the students found themselves asking dozens of questions; in fact the original purpose of discussing photographs was quite subverted by the quality of the dialogue itself. In the end we only got to add one photo to the History Pin data base, but we’ll certainly run future sessions and try and expand the project further. History Pin is my discovery of the year!

Sep 302010

Around this time of year I like to teach the essentials of weather forecasting to Year 8. I always cover the basics of the relationship between air pressure and weather; the objective being to arrive at a point where students can create their own forecasts using the BBC synoptic chart as their sole source of information. The pressure chart is available from the tab above the map, and the isobars can be animated through a four day prediction, allowing the students to make multiple forecasts.

Originally I used a web page from Juicy Geography as a weather studio background, but happily there are now better alternatives. The most recent one I’ve come across, via GMM, is a Google Earth based  interactive weather map background.

I’ve tried to work out who the developer is, so I can thank them, but I haven’t had any success yet. It appears to be a work in progress, and I can’t figure out how the option to add your own logo works.  Undoubtedly it’s a very useful classroom tool, especially in conjunction with a pocket video camera. Once the symbols have been added to the map, it will play through an animated tour of the UK, forcing students to make very concise reports in a limited amount of time.

The live weather layer in Google Earth, with the real time cloud and rainfall display, provides an additional source of data for making close-range forecasts of the next few hours. Here’s how to find it:

This year I’ll get students to complete two forecasts, both short and long range, and as usual, I’ll film them, ready to play back the recording on the day of their predictions. Students do find this an interesting and rewarding experience.


 Google Maps, Teaching resources  Comments Off on Dimensions
Sep 232010

A new term, a new resolution to get back into sharing stuff, and a little time to explore some recent online resources. Let’s kick off with…


BBC Dimensions is all about illustrating the scale of events, places and objects by creating overlays over interactive maps of the local neighbourhood. For example, the pressing question as to how much of the school grounds would be swallowed up by one sweep of a deep sea trawler’s net is answered thusly:


Other overlays juxtapose events such as the Gulf oil spill, the Bhopal chemical accident and the Chernobyl radiation leak in an immediate and compelling way. RE teachers can demonstrate the distance covered by pupils if they walked the route of Hajj Pilgrimage in the local area, while lessons on WW2 might be enhanced with an illustration of the blast radius of a German SC500 bomb landing on the classroom. History, Science RE and Geography curricular links will be obvious.

I worry that being a prototype, this fantastic visualisation tool will be quietly sidelined next time there’s a round of budget cuts, so if you find it useful, it might be worth leaving feedback for the developers.

Jul 042009

Fox's Factory Wellington (26)

My Year 8 project Wellington Stories aims to create a series of geo-located, short stories, poems and videos; and is reaching maturity. The students have created a really interesting series of short pieces that explore their relationship with place. These have all been mapped and the real-world locations tagged with QR codes. The final stage of the project is to publish a photographic record of the QR codes, and to contact the local press with details of the project. Thanks to all those who’ve commented on the work so far.

For those who haven’t seen “Wellington Stories” yet – here’s a short sample:

GC’s poem: Upon Cloud 9
KC’s video poem: The Wellesley Cinema
JV’s story: My story of Woolworth’s
GA’s movie: Wellington Youth Centre
EB’s story and videos: Bike Jumping

google link Download all the stories as a Google Earth file

Related posts here and here.

May 162009

The personal geographies project outlined in part 1 of this post has now been published.

Setting up the website:
While the students have been busy creating their stories, I’ve been experimenting with the best way of publishing their work, given the constraints of a filtered network and the e-safety imperative. Originally the plan was to publish the stories on Posterous as this site isn’t filtered (yet) and it offers the advantage of overwhelming simplicity. However it didn’t seem to work well in school (an IE6 issue?) and it doesn’t support the embedding of Google Maps. I was also attracted towards Google Sites because many of the students have Google accounts, and it would have been easy for them to contribute and edit their work and manage photos and video from within the Google network. I wanted members of the public to be able to comment on the students work, but niether Posterous nor Google Sites feature comment moderation, so I looked elsewhere for a solution. I’ve settled on a blog – with just one post on the home page and the rest of the content published as pages. It’s not ideal – for example there’s no point in subscribing to the RSS feed, but it’s easy to manage comments and embedded content, and hopefully I’ll be able to give some of the students authoring rights. The project site is located at Wellington Stories.

The stories:
The students are busy creating their stories and many have opted to use photos and video. In order to sustain momentum, I got them to produce a short placeholder story for their individual page. Each story gets it’s own page on the blog, a unique QR code, and a placemark on a Google My Map.

View Wellington Stories in a larger map

I was delighted with the placeholder stories which are short, funny and completely immersed in local place. Try a sample – the poignant My Story of Woolworths, and a response to antisocial behaviour: A tree caught on fire are good introductions.

Next steps:
During the course of next week students will start tagging the physical locations of the stories with QR codes and we’ll start a photographic record of the project. We’ll also start uploading some of the more detailed multimedia work and the local paper will be contacted in order to encourage people to download a QR code reader.

Please visit Wellington Stories and drop the students a comment or two!