Edtech Solutions
Network Summit

Making Virtual Tours With Google Earth and Thinglink

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Explore and create : Creation lab

Eric Curts  
See how you can bring learning to life for your students by creating virtual tours with Google Earth and Thinglink. Google Earth isn't just for viewing our wonderful world, but can also be used by you and your students to create educational tours. With the project tool in Google Earth you can plot points on the globe to make a 3D geographic tour of a story, historical event, interesting locations or any concept you are exploring in class. With Thinglink (free for educators) you can create 360-degree virtual tours. Then go deeper with annotations, images, videos, links, voice narration, ambient audio and other embedded content.

Audience: Coaches, Curriculum/district specialists, Teachers
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices required
Attendee device specification: Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Participant accounts, software and other materials: Attendees will need to have a Google account (personal or G Suite for Education) and a Windows laptop, Mac laptop, or Chromebook to fully participate in the session. Optionally attendees may benefit from an Android or iOS phone.
Topic: Augmented, mixed & virtual reality
Grade level: PK-12
ISTE Standards: For Students:
Creative Communicator
  • Students create original works or responsibly repurpose or remix digital resources into new creations.
  • Students communicate complex ideas clearly and effectively by creating or using a variety of digital objects such as visualizations, models or simulations.
  • Students publish or present content that customizes the message and medium for their intended audiences.

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

The purpose of this session is to explore Google's Tour Creator tool to show how students can use 360 degree photos, Street View maps, images, text, links, and more to tell dynamic multimedia stories to express their learning in any subject area.

Participants will explore a premade Virtual Tour, and will then create their own as we work through each step in the process. Finally attendees will share their creations with the rest of the group to learn from each other.

Attendees will learn:
Learn how virtual reality, 360 degree photos, and mapping tools can be used to tell stories and explain concepts.
Learn how to use all of the features of Google's Tour Creator to create a dynamic multimedia Tour.
Learn how to share their creation with others and how to play the Tour online or with a VR viewer for a full 3D experience.


The session will cover the following information.

Explore (10 minutes)
Attendees will access and explore a pre-made Tour to see what can be created with this tool.

Create (60 minutes)
Attendees will choose a topic they would like to build a Tour for and will be guided step-by-step in the creation of the Tour. They will include 360 degree photos from Google Street View, and optionally photos of their own taken with the Cardboard Camera app or a 360 degree camera. They will also learn how to add voice narration, overlay images, points of interest, and more.

View (10 minutes)
Attendees will learn how to play their Tour online or with a VR viewer for a full 3D experience.

Share (10 minutes)
Attendees will share links to their Tours with the group so participants to learn from each other.

Supporting research

Google Tour Creator provides students with an engaging, creative alternative to expressing themselves. The benefits of using technology for multimedia, digital storytelling are well documented by research. Many of these benefits are documented in the article “Research Supporting Digital Storytelling” at

Several key benefits include:
Multiliteracy skills
Collaboration with other students
Exploring the influence of media
Development of pre-writing and storyboarding skills
Developing interdisciplinary connections
Recognition of skills in art, media production, storytelling, and project development
Engaging reluctant readers
Improving reading comprehension
Improving motivation

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Eric Curts, Stark Portage Area Computer Consortium

Eric Curts is a veteran educator who started his career as a math teacher in Ohio. After teaching middle school math for seven years, Curts became a technology integration specialist in North Canton Schools where he supported teachers in integrating technology into teaching and learning, and oversaw the district’s technology initiatives. He’s currently the technology integration specialist for the Stark Portage Area Computer Consortium (SPARCC) and the Stark County Educational Service Center where he supports teachers and all schools in the consortium through tech implementation guidance and training, and assistance with G Suite for Education tools, as well as online learning programs and other technology initiatives. He also oversees and manages the annual SPARCC Educational Technology Conference that draws educators from throughout the state. Curts is a G Suite Certified Trainer and Innovator, and co-leader for GEG-Ohio, the Google Educator Group of Ohio. He shares tech resources, including training videos, help guides and podcasts, on “Control Alt Achieve,” his award-winning blog. For over two decades, he’s traveled the U.S. to provide training, keynotes and consulting.

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