Google · Lesson Ideas · Web 2.0

Google Tour Builder – A Digital Storytelling Tool

tour builderGoogle recently released a beta version of a web application called Tour Builder. It allows users to create tours using Google Earth online, and it’s quite simple yet super powerful. Simply login with your Google account, choose the locations for your interactive tour, and then add pictures, video and text to tell your digital story. Here’s a few examples:

After reading the description, watching some examples, and trying out a tour of my own, my EdTech spidey senses were tingling. At its core Tour Builder is another digital storytelling tool, but what immediately stands out to me is its ease of use, cross-platform compatibility (although it doesn’t yet function on iPads or Chromebooks), authentic writing capabilities, precise mapping options and the ability to pull in a range of multimedia (including recording videos directly into the tour from your webcam).

How can you use this with your students? Off the top of my head, I suggest using Tour Builder for:

  • Documenting and writing personal narratives
  • Constructing an interactive biography of a relative
  • Interviewing a war veteran and telling his/her story (bonus points for pulling in actual pictures of the person – imagine how amazing it would be to show a virtual tour of a war veteran’s time overseas to that person)
  • Creating a character study from a fiction/non-fiction book (these can be written in first-person with the student pretending to be the character)
  • Historical narratives
  • Creating a tour of a foreign country (with the ability to record videos directly into Tour Builder, the students can document the journey while practicing speaking the language)
  • Delivering traditional notes and lectures more dynamically

I can’t stress enough the importance of the writing piece within Tour Builder – with the ability to add dozens of locations to a tour and text blurbs (yes, you can write paragraphs!), this can take a normal 3-page essay assignment and turn it into an authentic-writing experience with a real-world audience.

There’s truly a lot of possibilities – feel free to leave a comment if you have any ideas, or find me on Twitter – @edtechavenger. I’d love to hear more ideas that I can share with faculty – thanks!

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