Articles posted by Richard Allaway

Searching rather than Googling?

Google has a monopoly on the language of ‘search’. When referring to research on the internet do you ask students to do ‘a search for…’ or do you ask them to ‘google ...’?

The Google search engine is definitely a very useful tool that can be used effectively and efficiently with the correct approach. However there are alternatives tools with which information can be found. The use of these alternatives is well worth exploring with your students. Such an activity would link to the ‘evaluate and select digital information sources based on the appropriateness to specific tasks’ or ‘reflect critically about how information is collected, reshaped, and shared online’ standards within the Technology for Learning Framework.

Three alternatives that are worth exploring are Bing, Wolfram|Alpha and DuckDuckGo. Below I have provided some links, a brief outline of what they are and their pros and cons. I have also shown the results for the ‘kings of france’ should you use each to search.



What is it? Microsoft’s search engine.


  • The ‘image search’ is well developed in terms of easy access to various search filters such as ‘Date’ and ‘License’.
  • Teaching point: with students - try a search in both bing and Google - which gives the best result for the type of information you are looking for? Which is the best tool for the task you are doing?


  • It is weakened by the fact that it doesn’t have as many users as Google. This leads to less optimised results, more spammy and irrelevant results.





What is it? ‘A computational knowledge engine’... so it not a search engine but more of an ‘answer engine’ looking at it’s own databases for the answers. It relies on licensed databases and content entered, tagged and catalogues by Wolfram Research employees.


  • For getting ‘data’, calculations, conversations and localizations.
  • There is a whole range of suggestions on the homepage - have a play and reflect on how it may be useful for the subject you teach.


  • If the data isn’t there - it can’t find it. It is not a search engine.



What is it?   It is an anonymous search engine - it does not keep track of your searches. DuckDuckGo aggregates results from Bing, Yandex and other engines and displays them privately to the 'searcher'.


  • They have a strict one-add-a-page revenue model.
  • Teaching point: with students - try a search in both DuckDuckGo and Google - which gives the best result for the type of information you are looking for?
  • Teaching point: discuss with students the pros and cons of not being tracked by your search engine.


  • There are no personalized results. Like bing it lacks the number of users that Google does and therefore the benefits all that ‘knowledge’ and ‘patterns’ brings.

Building collaborative YouTube playlists with colleagues and students

All staff and students that use the Ecolint 'Google Apps for Education' domains (so anybody with a or email address) has a YouTube account.



YouTube playlists are a convenient place to curate a set of YouTube clips for a whole number of reasons. Maybe you want to provide a playlist to help students revise. Maybe you are working with a set of colleagues to pool resources used for teaching a certain unit or topic. Playlists do not have to be collaborative if you do not wish them to be and they can be public, private or unlisted.

To create a collaborative YouTube playlist:

Choose the first video you would like to add to your playlist. Click on 'Add to', give the playlist a name and then click 'Create'.


Click on the 'the burger' (the three parallel lines) in the top left hand corner of the page to access the YouTube menu.

Click 'My Channel' and then click on the playlist you have just created. Click 'Playlist settings' and then 'Collaborate'. Click the switch to the right of 'Collaborators can add videos to this playlist' and then copy the link that is generated. You can now send this link to the people you wish to be able to collaborate on your playlist. When they click on the link, they will be taken to YouTube and there will be a blue banner for them to click upon to acknowledge their new powers!


Southampton to Cape Town in 1937 - Using ArcGIS Online

This lesson has existed in various forms for the last couple of years. The basis of the learning experience is that students design the route that a plane would have taken in 1937 to travel from Southampton to Cape Town.

This version of the lesson uses ArcGIS Online as the main digital tool for designing and then documenting the route.

Before students start this lesson using ArcGIS Online they should:

  • have had an ArcGIS Online account created for them, they should have accessed it and understand how to open/save content within it.
  • experienced the use of 'Map Notes' as a way of annotating a map.
  • used the measuring tool.
  • experimented with changing the base map.

This document 'An Introduction to ArcGIS Online' will take the students through all of these prerequisite steps.

Travel by Air

Lesson Sequence

  1. Students use ArcGIS Online (mainly the measuring tool and Map Notes) to design their route using this map as their starting point.
  2. Students produce a route card for the journey - I would suggest the use of Google Sheets and some basis spreadsheet skill development [Record basic data, use basic formula].
  3. Students use the route they have designed in ArcGiS Online to produce a Story Map [Share > Create a Web App > Build a Story Map > Story Map journal].
  4. The '1922 World Map (Web Mercator)' Tile Layer by National Geographic is included in the starting map so that students can explore the pre-decolonization names and borders of countries.
  5. The student submits their Story Map (and route card) for assessment. An MYP Individuals and Societies assessment rubric can be found on - produced by Ellena Mart.

Solution Number 1: Roundme

So after several hours trying different approaches and posting on the official Google Help Forum I can confirm that Google’s Street View app will not currently open photospheres from external links.

I intend to outline a number of different solutions. I still want a simple workflow - that allows students to click a link on their smartphone device and arrive in a Google Cardboard ready photosphere - so it is now time to look for third-party solutions.

‘Googling’ the issue lead me to the Photo Sphere Google + Community and then in turn to Roundme.

Roundme is a web and app (iOS and Android) based application that makes the production of engaging photospheres easy. Roundme launched in 2014 and received $3 million of venture capital funding in 2015.


  • It is (currently) free and without advertising - but see also the ‘Cons’...
  • When using an Android device clicking on the ‘Roundme’ logo on an embedded ‘Space’ opens the app (as long as it is installed on the device) and then with one further click the photosphere can be viewed in ‘Cardboard’ mode.
  • It is easy to upload images taken either using a 360° camera such as the Ricoh Theta, the Photosphere function of the Android Google Camera app or Google Street View app on iOS (the Google Street View app is not available for the iPod Touch).
  • Geolocation seems to be one of the core elements of the service.
  • You can add notes to the photospheres as ‘Hotspots’ to add learning potential, teaching points and context.
  • It is possible to link photospheres together using a ‘Portal’ to produce a ‘Space’.


  • It is free and there is no advertising and therefore what is the service’s longevity? (I would happily pay for the service that Roundme is offering.)
  • When using an iOS device clicking on the ‘Roundme’ logo on an embedded ‘Space’ does not open the app (as it does on Android) but instead opens a browser. It would be necessary to know what/where you were looking for within the iOS Roundme app.
  • It is a shame to have to use a third-party solution rather than being able to stay within the Google ecosystem of Street View.

There is good news - Roundme is intending to have a mobile browser Cardboard mode available within the next couple of months.

Problem: I would like to create a ‘Google Expedition’s type experience in my classroom

As a geography teacher I want to take advantage of the teaching and learning opportunities that VR in the classroom presents.

I teach the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme Geography course and part of it is teaching ‘Extreme Environments’. As we discuss glacial landscapes and the processes that are forming them I want to ‘take’ the students to a mountainous location so they can see how it all links together. I want to promote synthesis.

How about the ability to ‘revisit’ a fieldwork location once the data collection is over. ‘Standing’ there within a photosphere once data has been analysed would help a student to reflect upon the location, the data and all the influencing factors.

This is what I want to be able to do:

A student using their own smartphone, clicks upon a link in a digital resource I have produced. This then opens a photosphere on their handheld device in such a way the student can view it (easily) using Google Cardboard.

This doesn’t sound like a big ask does it? Google for Education has the ‘Google Pioneer Programme’ where Google representatives come into schools and run a similar experience using resources they provide.

I have 30 sets of ‘Google Cardboard’, a critical majority of my students have smartphone type devices (either iPhones, iPod Touches or Android) and I have 360° photospheres that I have taken in locations that link to the teaching I am doing - so this is going to be easy…

The Google Street View app is the main Google provided tool for looking at geolocated photospheres. You can view photospheres that you have contributed to as well as ones taken by others. You can share a photosphere using a hyperlink (e.g. this link) however clicking on this link on a smartphone device does not open Street View on the device. The Street View app will not open photospheres from external links.

What is Google Cardboard?

Google Cardboard is Google’s virtual reality platform. It is based upon the utilization of a user’s own smartphone device and a fold-out cardboard headset. This leads to a low-cost system which has much lower requirements for access within an educational setting.

Google Cardboard’s specification were designed by Google but they do not manufacture the headsets themselves. Companies are currently producing Google Cardboard in a range of materials ranging from Cardboard (obviously...) to plastic and metal. Depending upon the materials used and the number purchased costs can range from a few Euros per set to €130+.

Headset schematics and assembly instructions are freely available from Google so a school with a laser cutter could easily produce the headsets if they could access a cheap source of 45mm focal plastic lenses.

I will review the various Google Cardboard headsets I have.

What is Classroom VR?

Classroom virtual reality (VR) is the use of simple, affordable VR platforms as part of effective and efficient teaching.

Classroom VR is based upon an immersive multimedia experience - replicating a physical presence at a location in the real world. A stereoscopic display is created on a smartphone device which is then held by a headset. The user’s face is brought up to the headset to immerse the user in the experience.

I intend to post my journey in exploring the use of VR (focused upon Google Cardboard) in the educational context of the classroom.

Using Google Photos to build collaborative albums

Google has a cloud photo management system - Google Photos - which some consider to be the current best solution available.

This week Google has added the ability to create 'shared albums' - where multiple people can contribute images into a single collaborative album.

This could be rather useful! Imagine a team of teachers or students using a single album to curate photos from a trip or experience. It works online and via the Android and iOS Google Photos apps. As as a 'Google Apps for Education' user you have unlimited storage.


Google PhotosGoogle Photos can be found by clicking on the 'waffle' in the top right hand corner of any of the Google apps. Once you have started to create an album you can then choose the sharing options and choose how the album is shared and who can contribute to it.

Sharing options


Create a custom search engine to focus student research

Using Google to research can be too big at times!

Maybe you just want to give students a curated set of sources to search within. It is possible to create your own search engine that will only search within a certain set of sites or even sections of sites.

Sites to search


  1. Go to and then click on 'Sign in to Custom Search Engine'.
  2. Sign in with your school Google Apps for Education account [].
  3. Enter the URL of one the sites you wish to focus upon into the 'Sites to search' box.
  4. Repeat step 3 for each of the sites you want the students to search within.
  5. It is possible to include individual pages of websites, entire sites and even just sections of websites.
  6. Give your search engine a name and then click 'Create'.
  7. You now have a couple of options:
    1. You can get a link to visit your custom search engine's search box on its own individual webpage (this link could easily be shared with students).
    2. You can embed your custom search engine's search box into a webpage (of your own website, your departmental website or a section of ICT Nations - if you wish)
  8. It is possible to go back and edit the sites your custom search engine search uses etc.
  9. You can create as many custom search engines as your wish - so you could have ones for different projects or even different year groups.


The following search engine could be used to focus student research upon climate change. It only searches the following: and You can use the custom search engine below or at this webpage.

Having a file in multiple Google Drive folders

In Google Drive it is possible to 'add selected items to an additional folder'. This means that you can have a file in more than one folder. You are not duplicating the file - you are just putting access to it in more than one place.

The process:

  1. Select the file you would like to have in more than one folder.
  2. Move the file to one of the folders you want to keep it in. Do this by 'right-clicking' on the file and then choosing 'Move to'. You then need to choose the desired folder.

Move to...

  1. Then click the folder to which you would like to add the file. You are not copying the file. You are just adding access to the file to an additional folder.
  2. Done.

Other keyboard shortcuts for Google Drive on the web can be found here.