Ricoh Theta S + Google Street View

As part of a new online course at the ACCESS Centre here in Timmins, Ontario, I was asked to give two half-day workshops at the end of the month. The students will learn how to use the Ricoh Theta S camera along with the Google Street View app in order to take 360′ images at Gillies Lake. They will then upload these images into D2L’s ePortfolio app as part of their learning journey. Walk With Us Project will be lending eight 360′ cameras to support this unit. My presenter Slides are below:

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Embedding your SV images from Google Maps into WordPress

I thought I’d create a brief, no-talky screencast about how to embed your own Google Street View images into a WordPress site. You can embed these interactive images into any site that supports iframe; I just demonstrated using WP as I personally use this platform. If you have ever taken 360 photos with your phone or a 360 camera and uploaded to Google Maps, you’ll have a tracking list of these photos in the G Maps menu under “Your Contributions”.

If you haven’t taken these types of photos, you can also find existing ones by searching a location in G Maps and choosing a 360 photo within the knowledge card (indicated by a circular arrow – if it’s a still image, the icon would be a camera). Then you would click on the 3 dots beside the photographer’s information to open a menu, and choose “Share or embed image”. Then, Ctrl-C to copy the code and Ctrl-V to paste into a site of your choosing. To illustrate, I searched for Science Timmins in Google Maps:

Search for a location in Google Maps
Choose a 360 photo, click on the 3-dot menu and select “Share or embed image”
Ctrl-C to copy the embed code, and Ctrl-V to paste into desired site

 

Here is the result using a pano I had taken of the Timmins Wake Park in June 2017:

 

And here’s the silent screencast so you can try it yourself!

Engage. Connect. Innovate. Empower. #ISBLbD #walkwithusproject

Back in December 2016, my proposal to facilitate a 90-minute workshop at the International School of Brussels’ Learning by Design conference was accepted. And so began the presenter’s slideshow frenzy…

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Waiting for my flight to Brussels at Pearson with my lunch companion, Google Slides

In preparation, I was asked to plan my workshop with the 4 conference themes in mind:

Engage. Connect. Innovate. Empower. 

To me, these are not only themes – they are calls to action; particularly in my current role as an Educational Technology teacher, and certainly in any role in education.

ISB staff and students were heavily involved throughout the conference, and the LbD planning committee, staff and students must be commended on their delivery of a thoughtful, innovative and engaging conference for all attendees. Here is an article about the conference written by LbD student journalists, highlighting a few of the student projects presented on the last day of the conference.

The support I received as a presenter before, during and even after the conference was nothing short of impressive (special shout-out to the IT department for setting me up with Apple TV!). Each of the workshops, panel discussions and break-out groups were thought-provoking, and, more importantly, I had the opportunity to meet some really great people who I hope to keep in touch with for a long time.

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ISB educators using 360′ cameras and the Google Street View app

Here are my workshop slides. Educators, you can read about some preliminary research about the mapping/storytelling platform, and try it out in your classroom. If you do, please connect with me!

Walk With Us visits Moosonee in May (Athikipisim, or Frog Moon), for the arrival of warm weather and open water

Walk With Us traveled to Moosonee, a community in northern Ontario located on the Moose River, from May 10-11, 2017. Our goals were to map as much of the town as possible with our 360′ cameras, talk to community members to learn more about Moosonee and the people who live there, and finally, to spend some time at Bishop Belleau Catholic School, where we had a surprise planned for a group of five Grade 3 students!

This was our travel itinerary:

WEDNESDAY, MAY 10, 2017

Leave Timmins 6:25 am (ONTC Station: 54 Spruce Street South: 1-705-264-1377)

Arrive Cochrane 7:45 am (ONTC Station: 200 Railway Street: 1-705-272-4228)

Leave Cochrane 9:00 am

Arrive Moosonee 2:00 pm (ONTC Station: 1-705-336-2210)

THURSDAY, MAY 11, 2017

Leave Moosonee 5:00 pm

Arrive Cochrane 9:45 pm

Leave Cochrane 10:45 pm

Arrive Timmins 12:00 am

After traveling for 6 hours, 20 minutes (not counting layover time in Cochrane), Walk With Us arrived in Moosonee, where we were met by Mrs. Wanda Zelau, principal of Bishop Belleau. She graciously offered her vehicle to transport our bags to Christ the King Cathedral, where we would stay the night.

After we were settled, the cameras were out and it was time to capture some photos before dinner at the Sky Ranch Restaurant (where we would also have breakfast and lunch the next day – we love Sky Ranch)!

We captured a fair bit of the community in 1.5 hours, and two of our students even took it a step further and captured an entire street with proper spacing between panos – 3 metres – so that they would be able to connect the panospheres together using the Street View app. This will allow a viewer to actually be able to “walk” down the street using the advancement arrows. More great learning!

The next day, we had scheduled an interview with Madelaine Blundon, an elder in Moosonee. We were greeted at the door of the Seniors Complex and shown to the common area, where the students sat at a large table in the middle of the room and opened their Walk With Us folders, ready to record their interviews. These folders also contain a consent form, and students ensure that anyone they interview and/or take photographs of must be asked for their permission before any material can be used in the virtual tours they will be creating.

A big takeaway for me from the conversation was when Madelaine very simply and thoughtfully stated that we need to listen to our young people, as they have something to say.  I remember thinking to myself that the Walk With Us project was built on this exact notion.

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Aboard the train on the way to Moosonee, we had met Reverend Norm Wesley from Moose Factory. After hearing about the Walk With Us project, he agreed to speak to our students on the same day as our interview with Madelaine. We had lunch together at the Sky Ranch, where he informed us that he had prepared a presentation for the students. Reverend Wesley spoke about the significance of the six seasons as known by the Cree people: Winter (Pipon), Spring (Sikwan), Break-Up (Mithoskamin), Summer (Nipin), Fall (Takwakin), and Freeze-Up (Mikiskaw). He had the students each choose a puzzle piece and allowed them some time to read what was on their card. Then, he started a timer with 6 minutes on the clock to solve the puzzle in a way that made sense to the students. Let the problem solving begin!

Prior to Reverend Wesley’s beautiful presentation, our students had the opportunity to teach five Grade 3 students about the SAM Labs Curious Cars kit, where the kids would have the chance to build and program cars using the Curious Cars iOS app which connects wirelessly to various rechargeable modules, or SAM blocks.

Back in March, I presented a workshop at the International School of Brussels (ISB)’ “Learning by Design” conference, and the workshop was all about the Walk With Us Project. The founder of SAM Labs is a graduate of the ISB, and the company had set up a kiosk at the conference. Upon hearing about Walk With Us, Ivelin, an employee of SAM Labs, generously donated the Curious Cars kit to the club so that we could learn it and gift the kit to students of Bishop Belleau. And that’s exactly what we did!

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Finally, it was time to head back to Timmins after a whirlwind of a trip. Walk With Us would like to thank the community of Moosonee for all of the kindness and hospitality shown to us, and rest assured we will be back! Hopefully next time we will be able to cross the river and visit Moose Factory. Until then!

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Walk With Us Project receives new funding from Ministry of Education!

The Walk With Us (WWU) Project has received new funding from the Safe Schools and Student Well-Being Branch of the Ministry of Education. This grant has been established in order to help school boards build capacity in supporting safe and accepting school climates for all students.

The WWU club (based at O’Gorman High School in Timmins, Ontario) offers a safe space for Indigenous students to share with each other and, in turn, educate others to help them better understand where they come from when they attend secondary school in Timmins. Our students are from various James Bay communities, including Peawanuck, Fort Albany, Kashechewan, Attawapiskat, Constance Lake, Moosonee, Moose Factory, and Mattagami First Nation.

These funds will cover the costs of teacher release, travel, digital photography and filmmaking kits and photo editing software. Here is a breakdown of how we will be using the funding:

Travel

Bus rental from Timmins to Constance Lake First Nation and Matachewan First Nation for 360’ image captures

Technology

Digital Photography and  Filmmaker Kits (Ricoh Theta S 360’ camera, Grifiti Nootle iPad mini Tripod Mount and Stand, Ricoh TH-1 Water resistance hard case) x3ricoh_910720_theta_s_spherical_digital_1183083

iPad Air 2, Otterbox Defender Case, Rode VideoMic Me Directional Microphone x 5

 

 

 

Photo Editing Software

photoshop-lightroom-cc-deal

 

Adobe Lightroom and Creative Cloud Photography Plan Subscription (3 years)

 

The Walk With Us team would like to extend a big thank you to the Ministry of Education for helping us achieve our vision! 

Walk With Us End of 2016 Updates!

As holidays approach and 2016 comes to an end, I thought I’d put together a few updates about Walk With Us and thank all WWU supporters for all of the encouragement, expertise, time, energy, and all around #edulove given to us this year.

While there was a focus on learning the different types of technology this year (360′ cameras, working with Google Maps and publishing panospheres to Street View, WalkInto tour building software, Twitter for our social media campaign and Google Classroom’s mobile app for communication purposes), 2017 will bring our Storytelling Series, where we will invite artists, writers, reporters, and other local and not so local storytellers to help inform our digital storytelling.

Happy Holidays from Walk With Us!

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Walk With Us: First trip to Mattagami First Nation

The Walk With Us club traveled to Mattagami First Nation yesterday to take our first panospheres for Google Street View. We were welcomed warmly by Mattagami’s Chief Walter Naveau, his wife Cathy Naveau, who is the Education Director, and Jennifer Constant, a Councillor on the reserve. To open the day, we sat in a circle in their community centre on the floor of the gymnasium. We are more grounded that way, Chief Naveau relayed to us. They spoke about how encouraging it was to see these students come together in this way, and how important it is for young people’s voices to be heard; how technology is a good thing, as it connects us all, and helps to create public awareness of issues our Indigenous communities are facing: one being the CN Rail oil spill last March. 18 months later, after much persistence, the community has secured a proper clean-up, although they don’t yet know when this will be happening. Chief Naveau has met and spoken with Dr. David Suzuki, and Dr. Suzuki is scheduled to visit Mattagami FN on Friday, Nov. 18th. They also spoke about the fact that many people still believe that people on reserves live in teepees, and other common misconceptions, that we would be helping to dispel through our virtual tours. Chief Naveau stressed the impact of affirming the voices of the youth, and to allow them to tell the stories through their own eyes, ears and perceptions.

We’ve been invited back when the community’s big teepee is set up at their powwow grounds by the end of this month. As well, the community will be holding a “viewing” of the students’ 360′ images when they are live on Google Street View! As soon as the students export their images to me, I will be uploading them into a shared Google Drive folder where one of our amazing partners, Neil Cariani of Creative Xistence 360, will be editing the photos to ensure they adhere to Google Street View’s quality and privacy standards.

The skills our students are learning are valuable, relevant and current; and this project has brought us together for a common purpose. The amount of organic problem-solving that occurs when students are placed in the driver’s seat was very thought-provoking for me as a teacher – students were demonstrating understanding, patience and resilience when issues arose with the cameras/technology, and together we attempted possible solutions, with the kids taking the lead in many instances. The pride they continue to demonstrate is incredible, and students were taking it upon themselves to interview community members to help with their storytelling projects down the road, when we create virtual tours of their home communities, with the backgrounds being the images they took after submitting to Google Street View. Each student received a folder containing items they would need for the day, including an agenda, pen and paper, step-by-step instructions on how to export 360′ images taken via the Street View app (we do not want them to publish right away to Street View prior to our editing process) and Photo / Interview Release forms for when they engage in interviews with community members.

One of my highlights (and there were so many) was having the chance to interact with the students, and just learning and laughing with them. There was one instance where we wanted to take a picture overlooking the Mattagami River. We set up our tripod in front of a log, and we wanted to see if we could “hide” from the 360′ capture by laying down behind the log. Nope! You could clearly see five of us laying down (it also didn’t help that I was wearing a bright green jacket at the time, the kids pointed out), and we had a bit of a giggle fest afterwards since that definitely wasn’t a natural pose to capture for Street View. 🙂 We decided to casually walk down the street so that the student whose smartphone was connected to the camera could press the image capture button to take the picture. Much better, and definitely more natural.

Here are some pictures from our day together. It was cloudy unfortunately, but hopefully when we visit again the sun will be out. We made two cameras work between 16 students yesterday, but 1:1 cameras will really open up opportunities – Google’s Camera Loan program has just confirmed that we will be receiving 20 cameras to help our cause – a mix between Ricoh Theta S (the ones we use now) and the Samsung 360’s! We are also planning local half-day trips to take updated images of Timmins (since the latest Street View images taken here were largely in 2009 – there have been some changes to the city since then).

Watch out for us!

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