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…

Jan 182009

Here’s a sampler of some new ideas I’ve been developing as part of an online resource to support the new GCSE AQA syllabus A.

Students are presented with an actual brownfield site in Google Earth, together with an imaginary development plan, represented as extruded polygons. They can demolish the buildings and create their own versions, or just edit the exemplar files.

Brownfield redevelopment - what would you do?

Brownfield redevelopment - what would you do?

To demonstrate their understanding of the principles of sustainable urban redevelopment, students edit the KML with ideas on how the buildings can be used. More able students will refer specifically to the socio-economic geography and environment of Shoreditch to justify their ideas.

The actual resource contains a detailed KML file and lots of supporting files including images, panoramas and video, as well as an extended webquest style teaching activity. I hope to be able to publish a couple of exemplars here in due course.

The aim is to create an alternative to standard textbook-type questions, while promoting independent enquiry, creativity and spatial thinking.

In the meantime, Digital Geography is in a minor hiatus while I endeavour to meet the deadlines!

Sep 302008

“Can we do neo-geography this lesson?” asked a student today. Well no because it was supposed to be History. Nevertheless I’ve decided that I’d like my Year 7 students to be able to create an original map by the end of the term using Google Earth/Maps. The kind of map I envisage could include for example:

Hazards on way to school
Land-use in a rural area
Micro-climate study
Affective mapping of local area
Geo-located poems photos or artwork
Geo-located story
Guide for local visitors
A parkour / BMX / skate map
A “know-where” hang out map
A best dog walking route

For example:

map link

Thinking about the skill progression required to elevate younger students into fully qualified neo-geographers would go something like this: (some of the steps require just a few minutes to consolidate, others would need a lesson or two) Google Earth / Maps required!

  1. Find a place / use postcode look-up / search box
  2. Create a placemark / select appropriate icon
  3. Measure distance using ruler – e.g from home to school
  4. Create a path e.g from home to school
  5. Collaborate with others e.g. save placemarks / paths to a shared folder / collaboration tool in My Maps
  6. Organise the Places folder
  7. Use layers to add information to the map e.g roads / Wikipedia / Panoramio / 3d buildings / real-time data e.g weather / earthquakes
  8. Be able to turn terrain on and off and adjust exaggeration
  9. Take a photo with a phone / digital camera and upload to Flickr (issues in some schools – need for parent’s permission?)
  10. Add photos to a place mark (from Flickr  etc) using img tag (from Flickr)  <img src=” replace this text with the link to the photo “>  and use You Tube embed code to add video
  11. Create multimedia tours / be able to adjust tour settings
  12. Add polygons to represent land use / data etc. Be able to adjust colour and opacity
  13. Be able to import data from GPS (optional)
  14. Create simple geo-located graphs using Google Spreadsheets or even easier, Rich Chart Live (see this post)
  15. Complete a decision-making exercise using multiple data sources e.g my San Francisco lesson
  16. Understand relative advantages / disadvantages of different mapping systems for example by using Where’s The Path?
  17. Create a Google account (with parent’s permission) and be familiar with My Maps
  18. Create an original map as a final assignment. More able students could create Sketch Up models / use GE Graph / create overlays to demonstrate advanced neo-geography skills.

The core geographical concepts are based on location, scale and place. Students should be able to collect field data and create a map for a real audience. The learning sequence offers the opportunity for some highly personalised, participatory geography. The best outcomes would see students sharing their work on a blog or some other public community. Any thoughts?

Feb 152006

I’ve just completed an article on the use of Google Earth as a teaching tool to make decisions about wind farm locations. Read article: Investigating Wind Energy with Google Earth

The suggested activites make use of a number of web sites. Creative Commons images linked to Google Earth come from Geograph. The MAGIC interactive map, an excellent UK government resource provides geographic information on a wide range of environmental themes. The lesson also uses the DTI wind speed database.

Investigating Wind Energy gets students to use a number of fairly simple, yet powerful applications to arrive at a decision about a site for a wind farm. They are handling real geographical data, giving the task lots of credibility. Wind energy is an emotive subject and the exercise will get students to question their own values and attitudes. There is plenty to challenge students of different abilities along with an option to extend the activity with some simple modelling in Sketch Up and Photoshop Elements.

I would welcome feedback!