Tag Archives: google earth

My Day at Google

Today, I got the opportunity to spend the day at Google Austin. My school was given the opportunity to learn more about Chromebooks and their potential in the classroom. Such an amazing opportunity. First and foremost, it was exciting to visit Google. We’ve all heard about it – it’s a magical place of rainbows and unicorns, dogs wander the halls, hipsters wander the halls, and the food is amazing. Finally getting into the halls of the famed charmed company some myths were dispelled – others reaffirmed. I didn’t see any rainbows or unicorns – perhaps they hide them from visitors in the ‘special room.’ No dogs either – a little disappointing as I was hoping to get my puppy fix. However, the food story is in fact true – we were fed in the Google dining room. Ohh… my… gosh… the food was organic, lean, fresh veggies and fruit abounded – and I got my caffeine fix. I was also given a bag of schwag – a chrome colored lanyard with my name on it proves that I did in fact attend. Ironically, I was also given a paper notebook and a ball point pen.

The purpose of our visit was to check out Chromebooks as well as to network with educators employing Google Apps (and Chromebooks) in their classroom. If you are unfamiliar with Chromebooks, they are a new hardware platform being marketed by Google. They are a hardware platform solely dedicated to accessing web apps – specifically, Google’s online suite of applications. They are very new, inexpensive, and promote the idea that applications are moving to entirely online.

There is no doubt that was Google is doing is impressive. I use a lot of Google Applications (and have written about their educational applications). There are definitely some plus and minuses about the Chromebook platform.


  • Very fast start up (8 seconds)
  • Same experience regardless of machine – student just needs to be able to access Chrome
  • Ready access to a suite of free and practice applications – word processing, presentation, video, graphing calculators, and more
  • Storage of all materials on the web – fewer excuses for ‘forgetting homework at home’)
  • Access to the internet via WiFi and 3G
  • No licensing fees
  • Readily applicable to schools with limited or no IT services – managed by Google
  • Phone support
  • Less initial investment
  • Management platform
  • Secure start-up


  • Overal financial investment comparable to a other hardware purchase
  • Limited off-line capabilities – a particular concern in Texas as we have a lot of 3G black-out areas
  • Limited ‘heavy duty’ computing – video or audio editing seems limited
  • Limited multi-tasking (same issue with iPads or other tablets)
  • Management platform and education pricing dependent on three year purchase agreement and does not permit individual ownership.
  • Apple-addicts like myself are left in the cold – no iTunes!!

My overall perception of Chromebooks is that they have a lot of potential and can work effectively in the right context.  It does seem to require a universal roll-out to be effective in an educational environment and I am not quite comfortable with the all-online platform. However, if your staff largely uses computer technology for traditional projects (Word Processing, Presentations, email, online research, etc) then it can be a cost-effective and flexible option. It is definitely worth a look. 


TVS Tech Kids – Final Day

Today was our last day of class. It was an intense experience, but very rewarding. Some of the tools went over better than others.

Today, we proceeded with the lesson plan for Google that I devised. The previous day, the students asked me if they could spend more time playing with the various Google Applications, and I gave them the last 30 minutes of class to do so. With Google Docs, I had them create and share a file with their classmates. One of them commented on how cool it was that they could see the name and time of the person who edited.

They played with a number of additional tools – Google Earth was the most popular and they really loved the Google Goggles feature of the mobile app search. Those who had capable phones started running around the classroom and taking photos (only a few searched successfully). As all of our other lesson plans, we had a Mind Meister map created

I also took about five minutes to introduce the students to DropBox. DropBox is one of my favorite free applications of all time. Heck, it will likely go into best software paid or free. If you’re unfamiliar with DropBox, they have a great video that introduces you to the tools:

If you decide to sign up, do it from one of my links above (you and I will both get a free additional 250mb of storage).

Here is another great instruction/how-to video on using DropBox

The last 30 minutes of class, I let them play around with any tools they liked – most of them played with Google Earth others with Evernote… the most popular were the applications that also felt like games with Google Flight Simulator being the most popular.

Afterwards, I asked the students if they honestly saw themselves using any of these tools in their school work. Some of them said no, but when I started to ask more directed questions like “What about using Google Docs to make a Presentation?” or “How about using Evernote to organize your research?” They started to make some more direct connections. One of them even asked me if I would be teaching another class on this material this summer.

It was a good summer – it was my first tech class. Most of the kids were eager and open to learning new material. They were all bright an innovative and I had a great time with them. There are definitely things I would do differently if I taught this class again.

If you want to see my lesson plans, you can see them here:

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3 (and this would be day four’s).

The software we specifically used was:

Mind Meister




Google Docs and various other Apps you can find at Google




Google Earth – Archaeological Heritage Map of Ireland

Google Earth has added a new ‘skin’ – an Archaeological Heritage Map of Ireland:

You can read more about the project and download the appropriate files at this AIA news release.