The ultimate guide to Google Earth for Teachers and Students

When Google Earth launched in 2004 it was one of the web’s original ‘Wow!’ tools that people really stood up and took notice of.  Today it is in an industry standard in local government for zoning, transport and a multitude of other uses and industries.  As Google’s new high definition satellite gradually covers more of the planet we will also see it in greater detail which will again open up new opportunities for the creative and entrepreneurial minded individual. 

Street View, Space, Measuring Tools, Ocean Floors, 3D scapes, Photos and even historical overlays are just some of the additions to Google Earth that continue to grow this great classroom  resource.  Today I have compiled my top Google Earth Resources and Sites for Teachers for you get the most out of it for you and your students.  I hope you enjoy it.

Stop by at Google First:

If you are an absolute beginner with G.E in the classroom then this is your first stop.  You will find a great getting started section with video tutorials, lesson ideas and give you 10 simple tasks to do with your students that will get the ball rolling.  Click here to access the Google Earth for Educators home page.

Google Earth Pro for Free.

Did you know Google Earth Pro is Free for Educators?  Google Earth Pro allows you to access higher resolution images, it is ad free, allows you add overlays for others, create movies as well as much more.  I would start here if you really want to become serious about using Google Earth as it does allow for far greater opportunities.  Click here to find out how to access it for free.  It will only last for a year at this stage but will save you $400 straight up. 

Google Earth 101

This is an excellent Wiki that will require registration but once you are in it offers in depth tutorials on areas such as:  Shortcuts, How to examine environments, creating screen casts and understanding layers, curriculum ideas and further G.E Links  Nearly all of these are video tutorials which means both you and your students can learn together.  Click here to access Google Earth 101 a great Resource by Quentin Desouza.

Google Earth Lessons

Much like its name suggests Google Earth Lessons is a hub of “How To’s” Student controlled Lessons, Teacher controlled and mini lessons on a range of searchable curriculum areas such as maths, literacy, science and so on.  A great site by a dedicated teacher that you must visit.  Check it out here.

Google Earth Resources and Tools for Educators

Here you will find multitudes of applications to use alongside G.E, dedicated, G.E Blogs, Lesson Ideas and basically all things Google Earth and education.  A must see for those looking further.  Click here to access it.

Google Earth for Geography Teachers

Last but not least G.E is probably the greatest geography tool since the atlas was created hundreds of years ago.  So if you are a geography teacher who really wants to dig their teeth into physical and political boundaries of the world then this is the site for you.

The Ultimate Guide to YouTube for Educators

Welcome to the ultimate guide to YouTube.  Unless you’ve been living under rock throughout the ‘Noughties’ YouTube is quite simply the world’s largest collection of video content and as an educator it is an amazing resource that you SHOULD NOT be without.  I say should because I appreciate that not all teachers can access YouTube at your school for either political or technical reasons.  If this is you then please do not give up on this post as much of the information included will apply to using any similar video service such as the now terrible and ridiculously over advertised teachertube.  

Rally your techies, school board or whoever to get connected to YouTube.  Here is some evidence to support its case as an educational essential.  And if you can’t convince them otherwise you might like to try and avoid your schools internet security through sites like snailplane that are designed to get around firewalls and routers.  Not that I told you this...

If you simply cannot join the YouTube party here is a great list of over 30 alternatives to YouTube for education. 

Why would I use YouTube with my students? YouTube has had a pretty massive overhaul in the last 18 months and now offers HD quality (up to 1080p as of last week.)  and removed the 10 minute time limit for valid content and power users.  Which has essentially turned it from a collection of pixelated blooper and highlight reels into a 24 / 7 video archive full of worthwhile educational content.

Yes, the talking cat and teenage pranks are still there but you will now find full length documentaries, Broadcast Television networks with their own YouTube channels offering news stories and content full of thousands of hours of famous footage that changed the world.  The real beauty of YouTube is that much of its content has been filmed and edited by people who have never picked up a camera before in their life which offers us a whole new perspective on video depending on how we look at it and what we do with it.

Whenever I want to start a new renovation project at home or cook something.  I don’t go to a blog or book anymore.  I hit YouTube because I am a visual learner and I can learn at my own pace in small chunks. Replay and reassess and there is never a shortage of content. (In 2009 YouTube uploaded its 100 Millionth Video)

If I want to teach my students how to use Scratch or Google Sketch up and really don’t know what I am talking about I find an expert on YouTube.  Watch. Do. Discuss & share what you have learnt.  Watch again if necessary.

Below are some YouTube tricks and tools that I think every teacher should know. Teachers in online colleges and universities will be able to assign videos with ease because all classes are done virtually.  Hope you enjoy.

What are YouTube Channels?

When you become a YouTube member, YouTube assigns you a personal channel. The channel has divisions designed to display a short personal description, thumbnails of videos you've uploaded, members to whom you've subscribed, videos from other members you've picked as favorites, lists of members who are your friends and subscribers and a section where other people can comment on your channel.

As a teacher you can create your own YouTube channel to suit your needs.  Create a documentary channel if you are a history teacher.  Create a collection of famous speeches if you teach drama or literacy.  The options are yours to explore.

YouTube EDU: YouTube EDU is a collection of lectures and visual learning resources from over 100 universities globally including Oxford, Yale and M.I.T.  YouTube constructed this mid 2009 after their site became flooded with lectures and tutorials from around the world.  YouTube EDU is not going to do a great deal for the average K – 12 teacher and / or student.  However, if you are studying at university or want to become an expert on a specific topic from some of the planets greatest minds then YouTube EDU has much to offer.

YouTube XL:  IF you have a Media Centre or you access YouTube via your interactive whiteboard then you really should be using YouTube XL.  It removes all of the advertising and has a larger and simplified interface that will allow you to access all content in a far more visually appealing manner on a large screen.

TEFL Clips:  You might want to take a look at TEFL Clips this has over 50 Lesson plans linked to selected Youtube  clips.  Great Stuff and always evolving. Really love to see more of this kind of stuff.

Capturing and Recording YouTube:

There are a few ways to do this and the simplest method would have to be the online options that simply convert your YouTube video URL into a Flash Video File directly from your browser.  The two biggest players in this field are which offers to convert the file into a few different video formats or maybe you just want the audio track ripped as an mp3.  Keepvid is another web based downloader that is very reliable but does not offer as many options as capture YouTube. 

However if you really wish to have a brilliant YouTube or any ‘Tube Style’ importer running all of the time that will capture full HD video and convert to a multitude of formats then realplayer basic is what I can strongly recommend.  It is very fast, unobtrusive, allows for multiple downloads at once and has numerous output options.  Remember no matter what you see on the Real site you only need the basic (free) version to access this feature.

Embedding and Incorporating YouTube into your web spaces and digital content.

If you or your students run either a class or personal blog the easiest way to get a YouTube video into the blog is to embed it.  This can be done a number of ways depending upon the blogging platform you are using but essentially you need to copy the embed html code into your blog.  This lengthy process is explained in this video below around a minute. 

Below is a video explaining how to insert YouTube in your next PowerPoint presentation.

If you are not using a program that allows you to embed a clip then you can simply copy the URL which is always located above the embed code on your selected YouTube video page.


Editing YouTube Videos

TubeChop allows you to extract your favorite part from a YouTube video and share it with others. Just search for the video, specify the start and the end time and get the URL of the chopped clip.

Dirpy converts YouTube videos to high quality audio files and then downloads it to your computer. You can specify the start and the end point of the conversion. It also provides a bookmarklet for the purpose.

 Plistube maybe not so educational but it is an awesome web app for the music lover in us all. It lets you create video playlists comprising of YouTube videos of your favourite artists or bands. Hence you don’t need to individually search for them anymore.  Great for a party.



Well that wraps up another Ultimate Guide for Educators.  IF you missed my guides on Google Earth, Garageband, Digital Scrapbooking or Wordle Check them out and be sure to add any YouTube tips and tricks I have missed.


The Ultimate Guide to Digital Scrapbooking for Educators

What is a digital Scrapbook?  A digital scrapbook allows you to create a digital book or poster that can contain annotations, video, audio and photographs.  They are primarily a visual tool that can be a great alternative to the boring old PowerPoint Presentation and can still contain a wealth of embedded information for the audience to explore at their own leisure or through a guided presentation on an Interactive Whiteboard.

Below is an example of Digital Scrapbooking.

How can I use a Digital Scrapbook in my Classroom?  Digital Scrapbooks do not have be a linear presentation and are great for representing information collected from projects, timelines, recounts of a narrative and a range of visual literacy tasks.  I have personally found them to be most effective when students are using their own photos within the presentation as they really know what they are talking about when annotating certain parts of it.  This would also be a similar outcome for a well researched project of course.

You might like to consider doing your Digital Portfolios in a Scrapbook Format.

Here is an example of a Digital Scrapbook

 What Resources do I need to make a Digital Scrapbook?

A digital Scrapbook can be put together in a variety of ways depending on what you intend to do with the finished product. 

I have listed some paid options below that are effective but I will go into detail about a couple free Digital Scrapbooking options you can begin with right away. Including Lesson plans and guides.  The only reason Ihave listed these paid options is because of the added suecurity and simplicty they can offer.

Commercial Products

Adobe Photoshop Elements:  This is aimed more so at the traditional scrap booker who wants to digitally publish their work.  Can be professionally printed online.  Great Product; cheap price.  And you get all the other features of Adobe Photoshop Elements thrown in.  Brilliant package.

Microsoft PowerPoint:  It is possible to create a beautiful Digital Scrapbook on PowerPoint with annotations audio commentaries and video.  Possibly it is the best of all options depending on how advanced you are with PowerPoint; not for the first timer.  There is a great guide here to get you started.

Snapfish:  Much like Photoshop Elements but all design elements can be done online.  If you want to make a beautiful class photo book and get it printed cheaply for your kids then this is a great option.  Does not allow for media other than photos and text.  Not a true Web 2.0 Digital Scrapbook as such.

Free Web Based Digital Scrapbooking Resources you can begin using today

Some of these will require setting up an account before they get started.  You may choose to simply set up one account from which everyone can work from for simplicity.

Glogster: What is a Glog?  A Glog is like a poster, only better. Glogs allow you to create an online poster using photographs, images, graphics, video files and sound files. Glogs allow you to add hyperlinks to other websites. When you use a Glog, you are referred to as a “glogger.”

Glogster is another presentation option for you and your students to utilise in the classroom and is something I know your students will find particularly 'Cool' as they integrate video and music into poster format.

Glogster has a special education zone with hints and ideas for teachers and students.  Click here to have a look at Glogster and below is a glog and below that is a slideshow for teachers on how to use it in the classroom.

Tracy Blazosky has put together a great how to guide on Glogster here. Showing you all the basics. And here is a lesson handout explaining Glogster a little further.

Below is an example of a Student Glog on Jane Goodall.  Looks great.

Nota: Nota is a unique, cutting-edge collaborative web platform that allows users to create, share and collaborate on presentations and virtually any other form of online material. Using Nota’s proprietary toolset, users can instantly integrate text, video, maps, clip art, photos from web album or on the local computer, or license-free images from Flickr, and material from an ever-expanding array of sources. Users can then instantly embed their work in Facebook or blogs, and can share and collaborate with friends.

Click here to see Nota in an Educational context and click here to see how to get started with Nota.


Below is an instructional video on Notaland.


I hope this helps get you started on Digital Scrapbooking and would love to hear of any success you have had with it.




The Ultimate Guide to Garageband for Educators

Garageband has been a huge success in revitalising Apple’s fortunes over the last few years for a number of reasons.  It is dead simple for complete beginners to utilise as a live music recorder, track looper or podcast creation tool.  It looks great and has enough depth and resources to keep enthusiasts and even the odd professional satisfied as in all in one audio studio.

As a dual platform user this is the one program windows users must concede defeat on as it just offers so much for so little.  Although I encourage everyone to take a look at Myna from Aviary. A real Garage Band contender that actually runs in a web browser. Pretty Amazing.

As a teacher Garageband offers students loads of options to be creative and enthusiastic towards learning as a literacy and mathematics tool and much more than simply creating some cool loops.  After trawling the net for my own Garageband resources of late I have compiled the ultimate guide to Garageband for Educators to help others get started with this great tool.  Hope you enjoy it and would love to hear your feedback.

PS:  If you missed the Ultimate Guide to Google Earth for Educators take a look at it here.

Starting From Scratch:

A word from the Fruit Company First:  It is only fair that your first stop with Garage band if you are a complete novice is Apple.  Apple have a mixed bag of resources that will familiarise you with the interface, features and resources contained within Garage band and get all of that confusion out of the way first.  They have video tutorials. Printable Guides and a massive amount of other support materials here.  This would also be a great start for a music teacher who wanted to introduce Garage band to their students with minimal fuss.

Another Great Starting Point:Mac App Storm  Have an excellent getting started tutorial For Garage band that is a lot simpler and less in depth than Apple’s but many may actually find it more useful.  Check it out here.

I just want to make a Podcast in my classroom today:

Many teachers may not really be interested in Garageband as an Aspiring Reginald Dwight or Gordon Sumner but want to use it as a podcasting tool.  It does this so well and you will need to know how to record and edit a talk show add some stingers and music any other bells and whistles you see fit package up a podcast that will engage the audience.   

I have located a brilliant eBook you can download as a PDF for free here called Podcasting with Garageband.  What it doesn’t have about podcasting isn’t worth knowing and at 20 pages is just the right amount for someone like me who can’t read those boring biblical manuals. Just the facts and full of Pic’s, Hints and Diagrams.

If you are the Visual Learner I have included this simple video below that shows podcasting in 2 minutes.  Definitely share this with your students.

For the more experienced user here is a brilliant ten part series from on Podcasting. Video Tutorials that goes into great detail but you may have to hunt around a bit to find all 10 tutorials due to the fact they are not linked on the site. Definitely worth the effort.

For the Music Teacher

There is loads of great stuff here but I would recommend Susan Ferdon’s 7 Part tutorial on Garageband for Music Techies.  She has a great mix of video and text broken into lessons that musically minded people will appreciate.

Brad Johnston has some great resources here for Music teachers which goes well beyond just Garageband.

Integrating Garageband into all Curriculum Areas – Lesson Plans and Ideas.

Improving Reading Fluency with iPods and Garageband.  The goal of this lesson is to develop stronger reading fluency and comprehension, and increase language acquisition skills:

Lesson Planet has 28 dedicated Lesson Plans for integrating Garageband into your classroom either as a musical, literacy or maths tool.  It is a paid site, which we don’t generally promote but it does have a free 10 day trial to see if it is a good fit for you.  Here are there Garageband Lessons

Finally you have the Apple Learning interchange – Which has some lesson plans and ideas for Integrating both iPods and Garageband into your class activity.

If you have any further Garageband resources let me know and I’ll add them.