Google Tour Builder is a web-based storytelling tool. It allows users to easily create and explore stories and places from around the world. Users pick the locations right on the map, add in photos, text, and video, and then share their tours with others. Each tour will fly viewers from one place to the next based on the story and content used.
Type of Material:
The possibilities for using Google Earth Tour Builder are numerous. Students could use Tour Builder individually or in groups to do any of the following: tour landmarks, tour a country or city that is being studied, create a virtual field trip, create personal narratives, showcase summer vacation, track migration paths of various animals, map the "footsteps" and locations of famous explorers, historical narratives, map and track current events like hurricanes, show locations from a historical novel, construct an interactive biography of a relative, and interview a veteran for his or his story serving overseas.
Google Chrome is now required to run the new Google Earth which is part of Google Tour Builder. Users also need a Google account to create, but not to view shared tours.
Identify Major Learning Goals:
Tour Builder was originally created to give veterans a way to record all the places that military service has taken them, and preserve their stories and memories as a legacy for their families. Then Google decided could be a useful tool for anyone with a story to tell so it is available to everyone for free.
Target Student Population:
Elementary through adults
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Ability to "snag" pictures and video from the Internet and paste them into the tour. There are many tutorials available.
Google Tour Builder provides a systematic way for users to create a virtual tour with a story on a map. Users include locations, descriptions, images, videos, hyperlinks, and more. By design, Tour Builder offers a model for storytelling that uses mixed media and supports creativity. Tour Builder is accessible from the user's web browser, which makes it easy to add photos and videos to a sequence of locations on Earth, and then share links to these tours with your friends. It is easy to go back and edit tours, and edit or delete pins.
Learning to use Tour Builder is not difficult. Reviewing how to get started, the tutorial, and looking at some provided examples on the Google Tour Builder home page will help users be successful right from the start.
This is a good resource for teachers. They can assign students the task of creating tours of places significant to what is being learned. For example, studying Julius Caesar, students could create a tour of Rome, using readily available videos and pictures of Rome as it looks today.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
Google Tour Builder allows the users and viewers to be immersed in a guided tour that has visuals, maps, notes, videos, hyperlinks, and more. Students should be able to investigate settings, gain an understanding of the locations, and develop a greater perspective of our world. The development of geography and map skills are clearly addressed. Tour Builder can be readily integrated into the curriculum either by the instructor by providing an overview, an introduction to a unit, or content teaser or by students who investigate, research, and align subject matter content to locations, information, images, video clips and more. These created tours can be shared or kept private.
Users can enhance their Tours in Google Tour Builder by using Google Street View which is found with Tour Builder. Although you can view the final product right inside of Tour Builder, it can be more immersive and engaging to run the tour in Google Earth, where you can easily zoom in and out and fly around the 3D-rendered world. And, you can do that easily by selecting Earth from the menu in the upper right in Tour Builder.
The Tour Builder can easily be integrated into many disciplines. Using tour builder would reinforce classroom learning and extend it.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
Google has made it easy for users to immediately engage with Tour Builder. Right on the home page are three short video clips with examples of how others are using Tour Builder. Also, right there are two buttons--View a Tour and Create a Tour. In the upper left corner, clearly labeled are My Tours, Shared Tours, Gallery and About. Clicking on Create a Tour, users will find the layout for building tours. At the top, is a link that says, "Need help? Check out our tutorial." Very clear. Slides are created along the left side of the page. Photos can quickly be inserted and captions, if desired, can be added.
Not every experience can be told the same way so there are three different types of storylines available. The drop-down default is Story 2D, which will draw lines between each placemark in your story creating a linear storyline. Story #D is also available. The next option is Hub 3D, which can be used to create a central placemark with lines spiraling out and to surrounding placemarks. Hub 2D is also available. The last option is "Disabled", which removes the lines between placemarks entirely for stories that are not tied to a particular timeline. Besides type of story, other options include Path Color for the lines on maps from point to point and map style (under advanced options. Users can also add a KML/KMZ file by URL.
Beyond what Google has provided, there are numerous Tour examples, YouTube clips, and tutorials available online from educators at all levels.
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