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…

Sep 072014

During the summer holidays I had some contact from Bob Harvey about the Geograph project.  Back in 2005, I really saw the value of the whole idea, but then along came Google Street View. Bob’s message inspired me to revisit the site and add some photographs that I’ve taken in the intervening years since I first joined. Most of my contributions are of locations that a Google camera will never get to see…

photo credit

As term time approached, I started to thinking about some ways that I could try and incorporate Geograph images into more lessons. Here’s a list of some ideas:

1) Teaching copyright issues

2) Lessons on landscapes – based on the ideas of Alan Parkinson and this resource from the Tate and resulting in work like this. One of the learning tasks in my SoW gets students to imagine a recipe for the British landscape and this could be suitably illustrated with a Geograph photo.

3) Overlaying map symbols directly onto Geograph photos in PPT (I need a copy of the OS symbols as individual png files with transparent backgrounds. If anyone has done this already, let me know!)

4) Recognising urban zones / different kinds of land use and general photo annotation practice.

5) Imagining the Geograph view using sketches (as it might have looked in the past / the future)

6) Drawing a sketch map based on solely on the view in a Geograph photo.

For my new Year 8 groups I decided to just rip the entire Geograph idea off and create a mini version for the local area. The idea is to get students to think about how to describe places using geographical terminology and link features with maps. They will use their phones to take an image from the local area. This will be uploaded using a form (Jot Form is perfect for this) and they will add location information using Digimaps. Finally they will describe the features of their photograph and the project will hopefully result in a nice piece of display work. Who knows, some might even contribute their work to the Geograph site!

Here’s the outline of the lesson:

Oct 132013

The single most complex thing I ever made – a virtual tour of a local CBD to illustrate the physical improvements (for the AQA GCSE Geog A spec.) There’ll be no more of this kind of thing – the equipment cost a four figure sum and I never made much back from donations so the fisheye lens and panoramic tripod head have been sold to make way for a travel camera. It took about 3 weeks of work to program the tour itself!

The full scale lesson is at Juicy Geography, though I doubt that many departments ever worked through the whole thing – still might make a nice extension activity for the most able?

Describing Place

 Photographs, Teaching resources  Comments Off on Describing Place
Nov 242012

My Year 7 don’t find this essential Geography skill easy so I created a little learning resource and homework combination for them. Starting with a little “thunk,” they go on to learn an approved “Juicy Geography TM” method for describing a place. The exemplar photos are from the Racetrack Playa, Death Valley. There’s a home learning activity to complete as well.

Describing Place

The homework task:

Homework Describing Place

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!

Sea Arch 360

 Photographs, Teaching resources  Comments Off on Sea Arch 360
Apr 162010

Probably the worst 360 I’ve made yet but there were considerable issues involving an incident with a wave, high tide and a “courting” couple. Also my camera settings were out of whack since it was the first time in a long while that it has  been used in daylight. It’s an image of the arch at Langstone Rock Dawlish. I selected it because of the variety of structural and erosion features evident, and I’ll probably re-make it again next time I’m down that way. Click the image for full-screenness.

_DSC9611 Panorama

The value of brownfield sites: Hams Hall control room

 3D visualization, Participatory geographies, Photographs, Public geographies  Comments Off on The value of brownfield sites: Hams Hall control room
Feb 182010

Developing brownfield sites is generally held to be a “good” thing (at least GCSE students are programmed to think so), however at times it’s worth considering that buildings such as power stations represent a substantial part of our industrial heritage. Hams Hall was a series of three coal-fired power stations at Lea Marston in Warwickshire, constructed between 1928 and 1968. Demolition of the last of the stations took place under cover of darkness in 1993

Hams Hall power station

photo Wikipedia transferred from Geograph. Copyright Tim Marshall

The only building that survives is the control room of Hams Hall substation. The exterior is vaguely reminiscent of a mosque, though guarded with razor wire and liberal coatings of anti-climb paint. Indeed on my first visit, late on a stormy November night, the place was less than welcoming, and I failed to get inside.

Hams Hall substation

Thanks to information from some helpful locals, I was able to return for a closer look. I knew what to expect; a circular control room with an extraordinary glass “flower” roof.

Hams Hall control room

I planned to make a 360 degree image to show the room properly. The floor is covered in glass and it’s extremely dark inside, meaning that the exposures had to be lit with a torch. Here’s the finished panorama on 360 Cities:

Hams Hall substation control room in England

I’ve published the image as a full screen, high quality panorama on a personal page as well, since 360 Cities is getting a little cluttered . Click the image below:

Hams Hall control room

Decrepit old buildings can hide all kinds of fascinating secrets. I don’t believe this building is protected in any way, although it is very well sealed up. Maybe it should be listed? Either way, it’s an important part of the local built environment, and a pretty special place. Perhaps we should get students to think more critically about the value of certain brownfield sites? The substation would make a really great local studies classroom, or some other kind of publicly-accessible building, where the unique roof and control panels could be protected from further damage.