Whether you use it to navigate the streets or to transform into a digital tourist, Google Maps has become one of the most essential tools on the web. Starting as a downloadable C++ program designed by two Danish brothers Lars and Jens Rasmussen, the tool has continued to add feature after feature, making it one of the most adaptable and practical tools for students to master.
Compatibility: Browser / iOS / Android
Access: No signup required
A Quick Look
1. Applying to classroom activities
Maps in both printed and digital forms borrow concepts from many different disciplines, including Math, Art, Language and of course Geography. Harness this and try using Google Maps as part of your regular lesson. Measuring distances and calculating routes. Explore historical sites using Street View for history. Perhaps even take a trip into outer space.
2. Google Sightseeing
Help your students explore some of the most breathtaking places on Google Maps using Google Sightseeing. Google Sightseeing is a blog dedicated to finding the most spectacular places on earth and bringing them to your screen using the magic of Google Maps. From artistic street sculptures to jaw-dropping natural wonders, there are a lifetime of amazing discoveries on Google Maps.
3. Earth Picker
This is a dangerously fun game for students to play as both a general knowledge and geographical challenge. Earth Picker uses Google Maps to place you in random locations around the globe. Based on the Street View imagery you have to try and guess your location on the map. Using well known landmarks, language on signs, architecture and any other clues, students will need to use all their knowledge and research skills in this very addictive game.
4. Smarty Pins
Smarty Pins is a web-based game created by Google to layer engaging quiz questions on top of Google Maps. Students can choose to answer questions on Art & Culture, Science & Geography, Sports & Games, Entertainment and History & Current Events. Similar to Earth Picker, students are scored by how far their answer is from the physical location on the map. A very fun way to put a spin on classroom trivia.
5. Maps Engine
Google Maps Engine is an incredibly powerful feature of Google Maps where students can create their own maps using Google’s interface. This can include routes, markers, icons, directions and areas, as well as being able to edit the base map to give a whole new look, feel and purpose to the map. It really can be applied to all sorts of projects and classroom applications, and the final product can be shared and embedded for all sorts of multimedia use.
Links and Next Steps
- Google Maps Educator resources -- Official resources from Google
- Google Maps training for educators – Online Maps course from Google
- Google Maps in the classroom – PDF created by CUE and WestEd
- How to use Google Maps in maths teaching – Idea from the Guardian
- 40+ ideas on using google earth and maps in the classroom
- 5 Google Maps Engine Classroom Projects – Video (13 min)
- Google Maps on Twitter – Great source for new ideas and information
- Google Maps blog – More ideas from the Google Maps team
- Google Earth – Explore maps in 3D on desktop or mobile
- How to Teach With Google Earth
- Google Maps Gallery – Explore all sorts of real map applications
Feature image adapted from image courtesy of Flickr, MoneyBlogNewz.