A nice geography lesson is to have students plan a trip to some location (or locations). There are several web tools that make doing this pretty easy — it’s just a matter of identifying where you want to go, looking through the sites to see in those places, and then “dragging-and-dropping” them onto a list that you can subsequently post on a student or teacher website/blog. Most of these sites also allow you to write a description of your trip (and why you chose the places you did), but students can do the same on their own site, too.
Even better, most of these sites also let users comment on places they have visited, which make them an excellent place for students to write for an authentic audience about locations they have really visited (which can include local spots).
Here are the sites that I think are most accessible to English Language Learners and let them plan these kinds of virtual trips (not in order of preference):
Tripwolf just today announced a revamping of their site that makes it much more accessible.
Geolover is a new application that lets you very easily pick a destination in the world; then you’re shown key attractions at your choice; next, you pick the ones you’re most interested in seeing, and finally you’re given a unique url address showing your list. It would be nice for a geography class, and students can write why they chose the destinations and attractions they did.
Stay.com lets users easily “drag-and-drop” attractions they want to see in different cities in order to create their own unique downloadable PDF travel guide. You can also read the PDF without having to download it. Students can just post its url and still view it on the Web.
Tripline just opened for business, and it’s a great map-making application. You just list the various places you want to go in a journey, or a famous trip that has happened in history or literature, or a class field trip itinerary, and a embeddable map is created showing the trip where you can add written descriptions and photos. You can use your own photos or just search through Flickr. Plus, you can pick a soundtrack to go with it as it automatically plays through the travels.
It’s super-easy to use, and the only tricky part is that you can’t add photos until after you create your trip and save it. That’s not a big deal, unless you couldn’t figure it out like me and had to contact the site.
GeoTrio lets you create a virtual tour of just about anyplace on a map. You type in addresses or locations and easily create multiple “stops” that show the Google Street View snapshots of the area. You can also upload your own images. But that’s not all. What really makes GeoTrio stand out is the ability to easily make an audio recording for each stop on the map. In many ways its similar to Tripline. Tripline is “slicker” and lets you grab images off the Web. However, it does not have the ability to provide audio narration.
Tripomatic lets you create itineraries for your trips.
Peek is a travel planning site that has announced a feature call “Create Your Perfect Day.” After registering, which takes seconds, you pick a city or area you’d like to visit. Then, start picking places in that area you’d like to spending time in. Images of the places are automatically shown, you can pick one of them, and then write why you picked it. It’s a really neat site. The only potential problem, though, is that it didn’t work very smoothly in Firefox, but worked like a charm in Chrome. I don’t know if that was a problem with my computer, or if the site was just overloaded with traffic from the TechCrunch post about the new feature.
You might also be interested in The Best Resources For Finding And Creating Virtual Field Trips.
Feedback is always welcome.
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