My, how you’ve grown

Doesn’t it seem like things have grown in your community over the years?

I know that, around here, there are subdivisions where there were once farmers’ fields or forests.

There’s another way to get a real sense of growth and what we’re doing to our communities and indeed, our planet.

It’s called Google Timelapse.  The landing page is the earth and it zeroes in to Miami, Florida.  Across the bottom, there are a number of interesting places to visit and see the growth over time.  In this case, the time goes from 1984 to 2016.

I wanted to test it with a place that I knew had grown so much and so headed to Toronto.  You can search for the location or move the map, just like you would with so many of Google’s mapping applications.


A little scrubber bar appears at the bottom and you can move the mapping display according to your wishes.  Or, you’ll notice a play button in the bottom left of the display.

Either way, you’ll be wowed with the visual display.

You know that you want to check out your own community.  If you’re like me, you may want to fixate on one subdivision at a time.  I could see the roads being build, expanded, and then houses appearing.

Applications in the classroom should be immediate.

This post originally appeared on:

If you read it somewhere else, it’s not original.


Who doesn’t enjoy fiddling about with Google Maps?  It’s just so much fun to explore.  Should you ever get bored with that, click on the Google Earth image in the bottom left corner of the screen.

We all know what happens – your flat maps turns into imagery of the earth and that opens up a new level of exploration.  Who hasn’t explored their favourite wish list destinations.  I enjoy taking a bird’s eye look at Formula 1 race tracks for example.  Or, perhaps even more recognizable, the Eiffel Tower.

I can spend hours playing around with this.  And, then of course, you can zoom in and zoom out just like you’re there.

But what happens when you zoom out?

Way out!

You’ll get imagery like you’ve never seen before.  When you go way, way out.

As I write this post, it’s 7:30ish in the evening in the Eastern Time Zone.  Look what I’m exploring.

How cool is that?

But now, let’s take the earth for a spin.  The astronomy is a blast.

Let’s head over to Europe.  Sufficiently zoomed out, here’s my view.

I love it when I can discover new uses for tools that I’ve used for a long time.  There is the thrill of new learning.

Of course, the classroom becomes much richer immediately.  How can you use this in your own class?

Happy Summer Everyone

OK, this message should have been posted yesterday when the first day of summer actually occurred.  However, I did have my “This Week in Ontario Edublogs” to get out the door.

There’s a special message for you.  Just click here.

Billed as “How Geeks Show They Care”, geoGreeting creates a custom message for you based upon what it finds looking down on the earth from space.

Its use is dead simple.  Type your message and geoGreeting creates the appropriate URL for you.  Just send the URL to your friends or connect it to a link in your blog like I did.

These spaces intentionally left blank so not to spoil the moment.



















If something like this had been available when I had studied History, I might have really got engaged and interested in it.

MyHistro is a wonderful mashup combining Google Map with an interactive timeline where you add the elements and tie them to a location plotted in Google Maps.

It’s a little difficult to put into words so I’ll direct you to a link that I enjoyed that put things into perspective for me.  I looked through the online library and found an interesting example.  It’s titled “Journey Through Canadian History by Picture Storybook”.  In this case, the authors have mashed maps, picture storybooks, and a historical timeline to make a really interesting story.


The combination of all of the story elements is very interesting.


I know that teachers are always struggling with coming up with innovative ideas for projects.  There is an iPad application that works with MyHistro.  Add your own text and imagery and others can comment on your work.   Once you’re done, there are a variety of ways to export your work or to embed it in your wiki or website.

Take a look at MyHistro and see if it doesn’t fit the bill for you.


Where are We?

Happy #FollowFriday, Ontario Educators.  Hope that it’s a good one for you.

Have you ever wondered how far and wide our participants are?  I have too.  One of the things that you can do when you register your Twitter account is give the name of a community.  If you’re openly transparent, you can give your complete address or Geo-Locate yourself with your Smart Phone.  Or, you could play it safe and just give a general location or none at all.

As you know, I’m big about visualization and am constantly looking at ways to create them.

I always wondered if I could plot our little group on a Google Map given the information that’s provided freely in Twitter profiles.  The current list totals 314 of us.  Even I wouldn’t go through the list one by one and plot on a map.  I’ve always wanted to find some way to automate the process and I managed to put the puzzle together this week.  Here we are in the province.


And, here’s how I did it.

I needed a way to get at the data and it turns out that a service that I subscribe to does a wonderful job of it.  The service is called  It’s designed to let you access accounts or lists to pull the information.  So, I gave it the address to the Ontario Educators list at and does its thing.  One of the export options is to export in CSV format and it’s now sitting on my hard drive.  Cool.  If you ever have to work with data, you know that there often is some cleaning up to do.  In this case, there was a bit but Libre Office did a wonderful job of it.

First of all, not everyone had provided an easily accessible location so I deleted them.  That left me with 155 valid entries.  If I was concerned, I’d have to dig deeper but I just wanted to make sure that I could make it work.

Then, I needed to clean up locations.  There were some “Toronto”s and some “Toronto, Ontario”s and some “Toronto, ON”s and some “Toronto, Ontario, Canada”s.  Hmmmm.  This appeared to be a problem until I clued in that everyone was from Ontario anyway.  So, I did a Find and Replace for “Ontario”, replacing it with nothing.  Ditto for “Canada” and “ON”.  That cleaned up the list very nicely…except for the “ON” part.  It kind of butchered the “Toronto” folks but that was easily fixed.  A quick scan up and down the list revealed some folks who had misspelled their town.  Fixed.  So, that gave me a column of Ontario towns and cities.  Next, I want to be able to plot them on an Ontario map so in the column next, I filled a bunch of “, Ontario”s.  And, next to that I filled a column with the community concatenated with the province.  =A1&B1 in C1 composed things nicely.

Time to save the file.

Now, the question becomes one of how to get these communities on a map?  There’s a terrific service called Click2Map.  It provides a simple map editor and features a wizard that pulls markers (in my case the communities) from an uploaded file.  You can watch the wizard plot the points and soon there’s a bundle of markers where Ontario resides on the map.  Now, it’s just a matter of zooming to isolate the province and I have the map as shown above.

You’ll notice that what folks from Northern Ontario say is true.  Those of us in Southern Ontario are dense.  Or at least densely populated.  Let’s zoom in and get a better picture.


Isn’t that interesting?

And, not to ignore our friends in the north, we can zoom to reveal…


You’ve got to love Highway 11.

Back to Southern Ontario, Click2Map does recognize that there will be times when the markers are close together and you can bundle them.  Southern Ontario bundled looks like this.


I did have a great deal of fun playing around with the / Libre Office / Click2Map combination.  Even though the entire database wasn’t useful, I suspect that the trends would be similar if everyone had their community located.

I can see all kinds of classroom applications flowing from this activity.

  • Go beyond the province and try to find other areas that are identifiable by location.
  • Talk about how much information that you provide online.  (Make sure to compare it with what’s already in a phone book for perspective)
  • Could telephone numbers or email addresses be harvested in a similar manner given the appropriate data?  What could you do with a file of email addresses?

In the meantime, scroll back to the top and see the distribution of Ontario Educators on Twitter.  I don’t imagine that the distribution comes as a surprise.  If you are an Ontario Educator and wish to be added to the list, please add yourself to the form at:  I’d really like to add your blog to the list of great content that we’re generating in the province.  You can access the blogs added at the link above or at