Whenever I have mentioned using Google Tour Builder in the classroom, I almost always get one of three responses; I love that program, what is it, or (after I explain what it is) my kids wouldn’t be able to use it because I am not “tech savvy” enough to teach them. To those of you using and loving the program, I say congratulations! Teachers who have never heard of the program, this is the blog for you! For the naysayers, I say read to the end and click on the links to see what students can create when given the opportunity. I would like to also state for the record, I am by no means the Google Tour Builder Guru, but I do love to learn alongside my students and hope you will too after reading this.
So what is Tour Builder? Tour Builder uses Google Earth technology and allows you to add a sequence of locations on a map that users can click through like they’re going on a tour. You can upload up to 25 photos and YouTube videos to go along with each stop on the tour. You can also add a description and links to additional resources for each location that you add. When users view the Tour, they will click “next” on the tour to be taken to the next point on the map.
How can I use it in my classroom? I’m so glad you asked! Here are five examples of authentic student-created projects.
Students were told to research how to create a tour after a very short lesson from me on the basics. They were given a project description and rubric and went at it! Tour Builder would be great in social studies classes, ELA classes, science, math…the sky’s the limit! Don’t worry, the kids will help guide you through it!
There are many reasons why students should be allowed to use video in the classroom. In this blog, I will focus on five.
Independent, active learning
One of the greatest ways to gauge students’ understanding is to let them demonstrate a concept in their own words. When they create videos, students are able to work independently to clarify a topic in ways that can be appreciated and understood by their fellow classmates. To put it plainly: they learn by doing which increases their retention rate. If a student is able to explain math concepts with audio, visuals, and text in a video they created, they will most likely retain far more information than if they had simply written down the definition.
Video demonstrations allow students to work at a level they are comfortable with. Even students whose skills are still progressing can create a memorable video they can be proud of. More advanced students are able to focus on creating a video that is more complex linguistically and visually. Lessons that allow students to create videos also provide opportunities for ELL and RSP students, who may have difficulty when producing written assignments, express themselves visually and audibly in a video.
Real world application
When students see the purpose and reason for acquiring a new skill, they tend to work harder. A teacher may assign a lesson where the student is asked to illustrate a poem. Students will welcome the chance to apply their acquired video skills in other ways outside of school by gathering video and audio outside of the classroom. Knowing they are learning a skill that will allow them to create a video for YouTube that may develop into a much sought after job skill in their future after they graduate may motivate them to focus on classwork during the school day.
Student engagement will increase when students use real-world applications when creating their video projects. The benefits of this are that engaged students tend to disrupt class less frequently, as well as participate more in lessons. They also retain what they’ve learned far longer than students who do not see value or meaning in what they are learning.
Many video lessons are often created as group projects and offer students a chance to work with and help their fellow students complete the task. Learning to problem solve when working collaboratively is a skill that will be much needed in the future. Finally, technology assignments, like creating a WeVideo, will help support equity among all students, since students who understand and are proficient with technology can help students who do not have the same skill set.