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The Next Best Thing To Being There

We all know that taking students on excursions and field trips is a great way for them to experience the world first hand.

However, it's not always practical or possible to take them to the places we want them to know about. Maybe it's too far, too expensive, too dangerous or just too impractical. And with the paperwork required to run a field trip these days, sometimes it's just too complicated!

Thanks to a range of amazing, immersive online experiences from Google we can do the next best thing to being there. This session introduces you to a range of amazing virtual technologies that can let your students visit other places without actually going there. We'll look at what we can do with maps, Streetview and YouTube, then check out The Google Cultural Institute, a project comprised of several parts including the Google Art Project, Historic Moments, World Wonders, Cultural Figures, the Digital Dead Sea Scrolls, and more.

Google's Mission

"Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful."

A lot of the world's information is not text based. Places, people, events, things... these all contribute to "the world's information" too. In order to truly organise the world's information It becomes necessary to capture these things as well.

A lot of these services are based on Google's StreetView technology.

Visit places with Google Maps

    One obvious way to explore the world from the comfort of your classroom is with Google Maps (or Google Earth if you have it installed). Because Maps and Earth are fairly accurate models of our world, they are excellent resources to use for exploring the world. With Points of Interest, Flyover Tours, Information Overlays and many other ways to explore the planet, Google Maps and Google Earth should be a big part of ANY classroom.

    Google Maps runs in the browser and needs no additional software to be installed, but it has an "Earth mode" that gives a photorealistic view of different places in the world.  Check out somewhere like London, or Perth, or Tokyo, or Madrid, or San Francisco.  Amazing right?  Now drag with your mouse or trackpad. Now hold down the Shift key as you drag....  what?? Amazing! This doesn't work in every city in the world, but it's works in many. What are you waiting for? Go explore!

    How could you use this ability to explore a place using this technology in your classroom? 

    Explore the World with Streetview

    Visit the Streetview site at

    The streetview site contains 360 panoramas (photospheres) of thousand of locations around the world. You can explore almost anywhere on earth by finding it in Streetview. Some photospheres are made by the Google Maps team and some are contributed by people like you and me.

    Learn about how Streetview works, where the Streetview cars are driving right now,

    Want to contribute to the Streetview collection?  Get the Streetview App for Android or iOS.  You can not only explore the Streetview collections, but you can also make your own!

    Got access to a special part of the world that hasn't been "streetviewed" yet? Why not ask to borrow the Trekker?

    Are YOU using maps to explore the world regularly in your classroom? If not, why not?

    360 videos

    Go to, or use the YouTube App on your phone. Search for 360 video.  These videos have been shot with special 360 degree cameras and are fully interactive. Pan around in the video to see it from any point of view...  Here's an example...

    The Google Cultural Institute

    Google has partnered with hundreds of museums, cultural institutions, and archives to host the world’s cultural treasures online.  Here you can find artworks, landmarks and world heritage sites, as well as digital exhibitions that tell the stories behind the archives of cultural institutions across the globe. 

    The Google Art Project

    Museums large and small, classic and modern, world-renowned and community-based from over 40 countries have contributed more than 40,000 high-resolution images of works ranging from oil on canvas to sculpture and furniture. Some paintings are available in ‘gigapixel’ format, allowing you to zoom in at brushstroke level to examine incredible detail. 

    Use Google Street View to explore the interiors of landmarks such as the Palace of Versailles and The White House. Or, build and share your own virtual art gallery.

    Got students producing great artwork? School, own some great art pieces? What about making your very own art gallery project? Try the Google Open Gallery Project. Here's an example from PLC Sydney.

    The World Wonders Project

    World Wonders brings modern and ancient world heritage sites online using Street View, 3D modelling and other Google technologies. Explore historic sites including Stonehenge, the archaeological areas of Pompeii and the Great Barrier Reef as if you were there. 

    Learn about the history and background of each location with information provided through a partnership with UNESCO.

    Historic Moments

    Many cultural institutions have extensive archives of information, much of which cannot always be put on public display. Our partner museums and curators have created exhibitions to bring these archives to life and make them available online. 

    Explore Historic Moments, Cultural Figures, Science & Technology, and other categories to browse through photos, videos, manuscripts and documents on a wide range of topics – from Nelson Mandela’s handwritten prison letters, to the ‘La Dolce Vita’ era in Italy.

    The Digital Dead Sea Scrolls

    The Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Project allows users to examine and explore these most ancient manuscripts from Second Temple times at a level of detail never before possible. Developed in partnership with Google, the new website gives users access to searchable, fast-loading, high-resolution images of the scrolls, as well as short explanatory videos and background information on the texts and their history.


    Not tchnically part of the Cultural Institute, Google Ideas supported the Comparative Constitutions Project to build Constitute, a new site that digitizes and makes searchable the world’s constitutions. Constitute enables people to browse and search constitutions via curated and tagged topics, as well as by country and year. The Comparative Constitutions Project cataloged and tagged nearly 350 themes, so people can easily find and compare specific constitutional material. This ranges from the fairly general, such as “Citizenship” and “Foreign Policy,” to the very specific, such as “Suffrage and turnouts” and “Judicial Autonomy and Power.”

    Over to you...

    You can probably see that there is LOTS of cool stuff in here! The question is, How will you use it?  It's time to put your creative thinking cap on and come up with some teaching ideas for how you might use these amazing resources in your classroom.  What specific ideas, activities and projects will you create for your students with these resources?

    Your Activity

    1. Spend some time browsing around one or more of these great resources to find something that you think is interesting, fascinating, unusual or just plain cool.
    2. Think about how you migt design a lesson around it. Be creative. Be bold. Be adventurous.
    3. Take a screen shot of the resource.
      • Mac: Shift-Ctrl-Command-4 to select a portion of your screen and copy your screenshot to the clipboard, then Command-V to paste into your slide
      • Windows: PrintScreen key to copy your entire screenshot to the clipboard, then Ctrl-V to paste into your slide
      • Chromebook: Shift-Ctrl-SwitchWindow to select an area to copy, click the copy to Clipboard dialog, then Ctrl-V to paste into your slide
    4. Open the Slideshow below by clicking on this link -
    5. Pick a blank slide (if there are no more blank slides, feel free to add one)
    6. Insert your screenshot onto the slide, Use the Image crop feature if you need to clean the screenshot up.
    7. The important bit! Add a text box with some notes about why you thought this was interesting and how you might use it in your classroom

    Next Best Thing Activity ‎(DBB)‎