Using Google to Teach About the World

On Tuesday, March 11, 2014, teachers from across Southwestern Pennsylvania gathered at the Pittsburgh-based Google offices to learn more about new educational tools offered by Google. Given the popularity of the program and platforms discussed, we’ve provided information on each tool below with some of the in-the-classroom uses discussed during the workshop.

Google is a name heard and understood throughout the world. The well-known internet provider, created in 1998, has grown into a multibillion dollar empire with 70 offices in more than 40 countries around the world.

Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. They provide this information through a variety of products and services traditionally free of charge. In addition to the well-known search engine, email service, and web browser intended for the everyday user, Google also maintains a variety of platforms designed and updated with educators in mind.

Google Earth/Maps
Google Earth allows users to explore the world around them from the comforts of home. Starting from as far away as outer space, users can zoom in close enough to view international cities, notable mountain ranges, and even underwater ocean views. Google Maps provides a street view option to allow users the opportunity to walk the streets of Rome or Rio just as they would if they were really there.

Google Earth has put together collages of popular points on the map and photos of related artifacts and wonders to allow for more detailed learning on a particular region of the world. These can be found in the Google Earth Gallery, here. Users can also create their own journeys by pinning their favorite spots on the map.

In the classroom: Teachers can use this tool to teach their students about the world. Google earth is a great way to visualize the topography of a region, or put the distance and location of a place into perspective for the students. Additionally, the street view takes the students on a virtual tour of famous landmarks and day-to-day streets.

Picture3Exploring the Great Wall of China on Google Earth

The Constitute platform is home to digitized versions of many of the World’s constitutions to allow for easy reference and comparison. Users can search by country or key word. For example, by searching “gender”, Constitute will filter every constitution that addresses the issue of gender. The relevant excerpts will be listed to allow for easy reference when searching through the different documents. In addition to the online viewing option, PDF versions are also available to download and print.

In the classroom: Teachers can use this resource to send students on a “scavenger hunt” by having them search the constitutions for specific topics and/or issues. Additionally, teachers can “pin” favorite excerpts (selecting the icon that looks like a pin) for easy access to compare and contrast.

Picture2Searching for the legal meaning of “Gender Equality” around the world

Cultural Institute
Cultural Institute is a multi-service platform that allows users to explore notable works of art, historical events, and modern day wonders of the world, as well as expand their knowledge and understanding through the added content provided.

Art Project is home to online images of thousands of works of art housed in museums and archives from around the world. Users can search by collection, artist, and/or a specific type of art. There are more than 40,000 high resolution images that allow users to zoom in close enough to view the actual bush stroke. Users can explore the collections of photos previously compiled by Google, or create your own personal collection by pinning and saving your favorite works of art.

Historical Moments is an online exhibition detailing the stories behind significant moments in human history, using documents, photos, videos and in some cases personal accounts of events. Earthquake: The Chinatown Story and the Struggle for Freedom in Mozambique are just two of the many examples available.

World Wonders brings to life the wonders of the modern and ancient world. Google’s Street View technology allows users to view geographical and architectural wonders from the comforts of their computer screens. Users are exposed to a series of images and historical context for a particular location or landmark. Take a tour through the Versaille Palace in France to see how it works.

In the classroom: Within Art Project, teachers can take their students on a virtual tour of a particular museum just as though you were there in person. Additionally, teachers and students using Art Project, Historical Moments, and/or World Wonders can bookmark and share favorites with friends, colleagues, classmates. There is also the ability to compare works of images side by side.

Picture1An example of a search query for Leonardo da Vinci in Art Project

Connected Classrooms
Created by the Google+ team, Connected Classrooms uses Google+ hangouts to take students on a virtual field trip and connect them with their peers around the world. Teachers can register by signing up online, and will receive email notifications of upcoming events. Past hangouts included a tour of the White House, conversation with a NASA Astronaut in space, and a reciting of the Gettysburg Address with documentarian Ken Burns. Up to ten schools can participate on a virtual hangout at one time. All hangouts are archived and available on the Connected Classrooms site as well as on YouTube.

To register, teachers must have a Google+ profile.

In the classroom: Teachers can incorporate the hangouts into their teachings based on the content being covered. Hangouts allow students to hear a different perspective on an issue from their peers, to allow for a deeper and more meaningful discussion.

YouTube for Education
YouTube for Education is a subset of the traditional YouTube video sharing website. YouTube’s education platform is home to over 100 channels and 150,000 unique videos from which teachers can choose. All videos are safe for educational use, and security features allow teachers to have direct control over the videos available.

In the classroom: Teachers can incorporate videos into their teachings, assign them for student view as part of a flipped classroom, or create a video with their class to be uploaded to the site.