Articles in category "Geo Tools"

You can now go back in time using Google Earth for web

Google Earth's biggest change in four years and how it links to IB DP Geography.

Google, making the biggest change since 2017, has added the ability to go back in time to the web based version of Google Earth. With 'Timelapse in Google Earth' you can look back at the past 37 years of satellite imagery in some locations. This feature was a much loved tool on the desktop version of Google Earth and now users can make use of it on (in my opinion) Google Earth's flagship version - Google Earth on web.

Looking back in time anywhere

To explore Timelapse in Google Earth, go to - you can use the handy search bar to choose any place on the planet where you want to experience the passing of time.

If you are already in Google Earth on web you can click on the ship's wheel on the left hand navigation menu. This is Voyager - Google Earth's storytelling platform. Then choose 'Timelapse in Google Earth'.

Looking back in time at some suggested locations

Google Earth has curated some locations and stories to check out →

Changing Forests - gives you 11 locations - such as soybean farming [Bolivia], cattle ranching [Bolivia] and Palm Oil Production [Indonesia].

Fragile Beauty - gives you 8 locations - such as rivers meandering [Bolivia] and changing coastlines [US].

Sources of Energy - gives you 11 locations - such as coal mining [US], solar farms [China] and wind farms [US].

Warming Planet - gives you 10 locations - such as the Columbia Glacier [US] and Aral Sea [Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan].

Urban Expansion - gives you 10 suggestions - such as Las Vegas [US], Shanghai [China] and Dubai [Dubai]

Google has also uploaded more than 800 Timelapse videos in both 2D and 3D for public use at These videos are available for download. You can select any video you want as a ready-to-use MP4 video or sit back and watch the videos on YouTube.

In collaboration with their partners, Google will update Google Earth annually with new timelapse imagery throughout the next decade.

Read more →

Google - The Keyword - Time flies in Google Earth’s biggest update in years [15 April 2021]

Google - The Keyword - 3 ways Liza Goldberg uses Timelapse to explore the planet [15 April 2021]

Weekly post #25 - WeVideo, stepping back in time with Google Maps and helpful educators sharing!

WeVideo - use these videos to get started

At International School of Geneva - Campus des Nations we have a WeVideo subscription available to all students. We tend to try and focus the use of WeVideo on the younger students (Years 7 to 9) and Adobe Premiere Pro available (via the school's Adobe Creative Cloud subscription) on years 10 and 11.

These videos from @WTSVT act as a great introduction to WeVideo and show some of the features that make its use with a class effective and efficient →

Google Maps - stepping back in time with Google Street View’s archives

Google Street View’s archives - London Bridge

Using Google Maps you can access Google Street View’s imagery archives and see how a place has changed over time.

Work though this process to see for yourself →

  1. Open Google Maps and go and find London Bridge.
  2. Drag and drop the yellow ‘Pegman’ onto London Bridge.
  3. → Left click on the yellow man at the bottom right of the map and, keeping the mouse button held down, drag him across the screen, only letting go when you are on top of London Bridge.
  4. When Pegman lands, the map changes to show you Street View imagery. 'Turn around' until you are looking at the Shard.
  5. A dark grey box appears at the top left of the map. Click the tiny clock symbol in the dark grey square.
  6. Use the slider that appears to go further back in time, then click on the small image above the slider. Street View will then show you historical views. You can change the year by clicking on the slider again. You can also navigate your way around Street View just as you would in a more up-to-date map.
  7. To exit Street View, click the back (left) arrow in the original dark grey box.

Historic imagery isn’t available for everywhere in Street View.


Earning badges, certificates and accreditations to show your competencies

There are lots of 'edtech' companies out there producing some excellent applications for use in the classroom. The better companies are also focusing on ensuring they have the resources available for educators to learn how to maximise the use of their tools.

BadgEdTech is a great site that summarizes all the badges, certificates and accreditations out there for educators to earn.


Teacher tutorials on YouTube all in one place

You can find an explanation video on YouTube for most things! Hence the term 'University of YouTube' →

University of YouTube

A teacher out there in EdTech world (and I am not sure who) has curated a whole spreadsheet of useful explanation videos for Google Workspace apps. Check out the spreadsheet here.

Google Earth on web digital skills progression

Google Earth digital skills progression

This is an initial attempt at a 'Google Earth on Web digital skills progression'.

The skills are not intended to be sequential. It is more about identifying the skills we expect students to join the secondary school with, the skills we will develop with them in the first three years of secondary school and then what we expect them to have mastered by the end of their fifth year.

Feedback gratefully received - Ecolint staff via email, others via Twitter @richardallaway or @digitaltech_edu.

Foundation [skills that can be expected from students joining Year 7]

Look (Search) for a specific placeUsing the search tool on the left hand side toolbar.
Turn on latitude & longitude gridlinesLeft hand side toolbar → Map Style → Turn on Gridlines.
Move around / Zoom in and outTry using both a mouse/trackpad/touchscreen and the keyboard shortcuts (cursor keys / Page Up and Page Down / Fn + cursor keys).
Change view from 2D (from above) to 3DUsing either the button in the bottom right hand corner of the screen or the keyboard shortcut.

Year 7 to 9 [all student by the end of Year 9]

Show (and use) keyboard shortcutsShift + ?
Explore using Voyager and LayersAccessed from the left hand toolbar.
Measure distances and areaUse the tool from the left hand toolbar.
Share a location with someone (using the URL)Copy the URL from the Chrome omnibox and then share via email or similar.
Use keyboard shortcut to: Rotate the 3D scene + Rotate the cameraEasiest way to remember is to check the keyboard shortcut aide memoire with Shift + ?
Use keyboard shortcut to: return to north-facing view and top down viewEasiest way to remember is to check the keyboard shortcut aide memoire with Shift + ?
Turn on and off 3D imageryThis can useful to speed up a slow connection and see more recent imagery.
Explore locations using Google Street View with Google EarthDrag Pegman from the tools in the bottom left hand corner of the screen onto the map - where the map turns blue.
Use Google Earth on a tablet or mobile deviceThe experience on tablet/mobile should be very similar to use on a laptop/desktop. Projects can not be created/edited on tablets/mobile.
Create a new Google Earth Project (with an appropriate name)Start at the Projects button in the left hand toolbar.
Add a placemark (location) to a Project - from a searchSearch for a location and then click on 'Add to Project' from the knowledge card.
Add a placemark (location) to a Project - using the 'Add placemark' buttonBottom left hand corner of the screen.
Share a Project with a viewerLeft hand side toolbar → Projects → New Project
Open and explore a Project produced by someone elseShared via Google Drive or a link in an email / on a website.
Rearrange the order of features within a ProjectOpen the Project → Edit Project (Pen icon) → hover over a placemark and then click on and drag the two horizontal lines.
Change the name of a placemarkOpen the Project → Edit Project (Pen icon) → hover over a placemark → Edit feature (Pen icon).
Add images and video clips to a placemark in a ProjectThe top box when editing a placemark.
Add and format a small or large info box to a placemarkPossible when editing a placemark.
Change/format a placemark iconPossible when editing a placemark.
'Capture this view' to be displayed when a placemark is visitedWhen editing a placemark - set the scene you want associated - then click 'Capture this view'.
Add Google Street View / Photospheres to a ProjectWhen editing a placemark - set the scene you want associated - then click 'Capture this view'.

Mastery [most students by the end of Year 11]

Change units of measurement / Latitude & Longitude formattingLeft hand side toolbar → Settings.
Interpret the altitude and coordinates of the current viewLook at the bottom right hand corner of the screen.
Draw a line or shape (to be added to a Project)Useful for highlighting an area or showing a path/flow.
Add a 'Fullscreen slide' to add structure to a ProjectUseful for adding structure to a project. Edit a placemark → New Feature.
Collaborate with others to produce a ProjectClick on a Project and then look for the 'Sharing' icon at the top of the pane.
Present (to an audience) using a Google Earth ProjectClick on a Project → Present.
Duplicate a ProjectClick on a Project → click on the three dots → Copy Project.

Gridlines in Google Earth - lesson updated

With the announcement that gridlines are available in Google Earth for Chrome it would seem time to update a rather old lesson to make use of this new feature.

"You can turn gridlines on and off in the Map Style panel, and they’ll appear in either decimal degrees or degrees, minutes and seconds, depending on the format you’ve chosen in Settings. Gridlines are available on Google Earth for Chrome, iOS and Android." Source

As Google Earth for Chrome evolves I will be adding new/redeveloped resources to

What is the latitude and longitude of these placemarks?
Location A - from an imported kml file

What is the latitude and longitude of these placemarks? is a straightforward resource that has students change some of the settings of Google Earth for Chrome, import a kml file of locations and then work out their latitude and longitude. The latitude and longitude of the placemarks can be entered into a Google Forms quiz for feedback.

If there are any other resources that use Google Earth that you would like to see evolved to use Google Earth for Chrome - please let me know.

A line around the world

A line around the world

This piece of digital technology goodness starts with a bit of a story. Recently, while busy ‘networking’ at the Practical Pedagogies Conference in Cologne, I discussed a set of lessons with Matt Podbury, of fame, that he was developing.

The set of lessons were based upon the journey you would take if you left your classroom and travelled north until you reached the North Pole. Then travelled south until you reached the South Pole along the line of longitude that is ‘opposite’ to the one you started on. Then north from the South Pole back to your starting location. Matt’s ‘Over the Horizon’ lesson resources can be found here.

Matt was looking for a tool that would draw the necessary journey line upon Google Earth and was struggling to find something suitable. I explained that during the summer I had the good fortune of being invited to attend the biennial ‘Google Earth Education Experts’ meetup in Mountain View, San Francisco where I had met somebody that I knew would be able to help.

Cycling round Mountain View

Enjoying myself at the Google Offices in Mountain View

Drawing the line

Josh Williams teaches Geography in Austin, Texas and is responsible for the website Josh is a ‘Google Earth Education Expert’ and legend in the use of kml (Keyhole Markup Language) and that is why I reached out to him via Twitter to see if he had a solution.

Josh came back (really quickly) with a solution:

When my limited understanding failed me, Josh was kind enough to produce a screencast that explains how to edit the original file and make it work for any location you want.

Matt now has a solution for this set of lessons and I have an even greater respect for Josh’s skills. The screencast should allow  teachers to be able to create the line if they wished to do the same lesson with their students. I also feel that there are opportunities for students to produce the lines themselves - maybe working with the maths or computer science departments to understand the process, the structure of the code in the kml file and the maths of lines of longitude.

Practical Pedagogies 2018 - Engaging older students with Google Geo Tools

I had the pleasure to attend the biennial Practical Pedagogies conference hosted by St. George's International School Cologne, Germany.

The focus of Practical Pedagogies is ‘REAL training for REAL classroom teachers’. I hope the session I presented upon ‘Engaging older students with Google Geo Tools’ was useful for the 20 or so ‘real’ teachers who attended.

The slidedeck can be found below:


If you have any question about any of the content - please get in contact.

Creating VR in the geography classroom

The following slides were used to illustrate the discussions at the 'Using/Creating VR in the geography classroom' workshop held at the 2017 Geographical Association Conference held at the University of Surrey.

Useful links

My Opinion: Google Cardboard = Educational Cocaine, really?

The Daily Mail has found some ‘experts’ who have equivocated Google’s efforts to demo Google Cardboard and Google Expeditions in classrooms to them pushing ‘educational cocaine’. This is a bit much - not on the whole Daily Mail scale of a bit much - but daft nevertheless.

Google's virtual school invasion

I admit that Google is trying hard to get into as many schools as possible but in my opinion student use of ‘classroom VR’ is an excellent educational opportunity. Classroom VR can engage, motivate, help a teacher facilitate deeper understanding and may even help students enjoy and remember a lesson even more - heaven forbid.

So Google will come to your school with a class set of smartphones and Google Cardboard headsets along with  all the necessary gadgetry to make it all work. It’s free, it’s pretty cool and why wouldn’t you say yes? I doubt that many schools have run out and purchased a class set of phones, headsets, tablets and gadgetry - though you can if you want. Google has even partnered with the Open University to research the impact on student questions.

“educational experts fear the devices take pupils further away from traditional classroom teaching and distract from the ‘hard graft’ of actual learning”

— Jonathan Petre for the Main on Sunday


At the International School of Geneva - Campus des Nations we have recently purchased a class set of Mattel View-Master Google Cardboard headsets. Students use their own smartphones if they have one (on average about half of a class - the percentage increasing with age). I have witnessed the headsets being used to teach the structure of the heart to Year 10 and Year 13, the process of fertilization with in cell visualization that helped the teacher focus upon the genetic material being ‘mixed’ with Year 10, Year 11 students seeing the destruction of Hiroshima after the Allies dropped the atomic bomb and Year 8 students describing the challenges of life in a desert while looking at photospheres taken on a recent field trip.

Last week I team-taught a Year 11 Individual and Societies lesson with a colleague. As he worked with the class to  explore development indicators I worked with small groups (working on a rotation) who used our Google Cardboard headsets to see life in the Hadzabe Tribe of Lake Eyasi and then standing beneath and on the 43rd floor of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. After the initial wows and the students nearly falling from their seats as they craned their necks to see the top of the Burj Khalifa the questioning and discussion got insightful about the deeper elements of what development actually is.

“Critics warned last night that such ‘gimmicks’ were dangerous and children would later pester their parents to buy the more expensive leisure version”

— Jonathan Petre for the Main on Sunday

The ‘gimmick’ label has been thrown at Google Cardboard for a while now. If after such an experience a child pesters a parent to buy some Google Cardboard (available for just a couple of EUR/GBP/CHF) and they talk about and show that parent what they have seen and experienced - excellent - that is a win! Some of our Year 7 students have done this and it makes me happy. If after a visit from the Google ‘dealers’ a parent feels the need to run out and get a HTC Vive or Oculus Rift - then the issues run a little deeper.

“‘This is educational cocaine. These things are gimmicks and more about entertainment than education.’”

— Jonathan Petre for the Main on Sunday

Why can’t education be entertaining? It doesn't always need to be - but for all involved some fun is a good thing. The first time a class uses Google Cardboard it is best to get the major wows out the way quickly - swimming with turtles, climbing El Capitan and visiting the Taj Mahal. In the same way, during the first lesson with Google Earth, you need to allow students to find their house, and their friend’s house and their grandparents’ house and so on.

After that initial peak of excitement the really valuable educational opportunities can occur. Although Google curates all the content on Google Expeditions there are opportunities to visit student and teacher created photospheres. For such an educational expedition you need to venture away from Google Expeditions to alternative services that work with Google Cardboard like the excellent

Google Cardboard is not ‘educational cocaine’. It’s engaging, there is potential but there will be no major ‘high’ without a skilled teacher integrating its use into a purposeful and focused lesson.