Google Earth Lessons Blog

An Educational Resource for Teachers

Convergent Technologies…

Filed under: General — GELessons Blog Admin at 1:31 am on Tuesday, September 11, 2007

In the last post I shared about the amazing new ability of GoogleEarth on Windows to display or play embedded multimedia. One aspect of which is the ability to play MP3 Audio files from within GoogleEarth itself and I coined the term ‘GeoCast’ to refer to a Podcast with an embedded geospatial reference.

Since then I decided that maybe a better term would be ‘Glog’ :-)

To be honest I don’t quite know where to go with this, or where it will ultimately lead us. By combining emerging technologies it is possible to do some previously unbelievable things. For instance, the path I took on the internet tonight has me excited about the fusion of literacy, Web 2.0 technology and the new GoogleEarth capabilities. Let me explain…

I found a new eBooks site, ManyBooks.net where you can download over 17,000 titles, from Mark Twain to The Bobbsey Twins. Then I found Talkr.com which allows you to subscribe to a blog, but with the bonus feature of converting the text of the blog to speech with a pretty good computer generated voice (it sounded like NeoSpeech’s Kate) thereby turning the blog into a podcast which you can take with you on your mp3 player. And it is all free.

In thinking about it further, it was a simple matter of combining the text from ManyBooks.net through Talkr.com to create an mp3 that was then embedded into a GoogleEarth placemark. I am not certain about the legality of the entire process because of licensing and copyrights, so will not post the result here, but it highlights how alone each of the technologies is impressive, but together it has the ability to change entire educational delivery systems.

For instance, you can download the audio placemark for the previous post here to see what it sounds like. I hope it works. You are supposed to register at talkr.com, but I think that might be so that you can customize your blog list.

The potential to convert text to speech and then embed that speech into a georeferenced object via a GoogleEarth placemark provides for new ways to attach meaning to texts.

From Huck Finn floating down the Mississippi River to going Around the World in 80 Days to other literature where the place is a critical part of the story, attaching the audio to the place can bring a unique focus to the text. Listeners of National Public Radio might be familiar with the StoryCorps project. The mp3 files, telling stories of place and time are readily available and free to the public. Placemarks of the stories, along with photos and textual background information could instantly immerse students in a different place and time.

It is not just literature, of course, but current events, history and science that can be tacked onto a world place. To me it is a bit mind boggling, but I am certain that others will see just a bit of what can be done by merging convergent technologies.

I can’t help but wonder where it will all take us…

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