week East Lothian hosted one of the Free
Google Earth Courses for Educators that were being sponsored by the Royal
Geographical Society and Google. The course was run by Jamie
Buchanan-Dunlop from Digital Explorer and has received excellent
Tonight it was my job to run a one hour workshop on Google Earth and Google Maps for East Lothian Teacher – this is part of our open ICT drop-in initiative. The course was well attended and I had an opportunity to share a few ideas on using Google Earth and Google Maps. Many of the ideas I have already shared at Teachmeet07.
Idea 1 - Use the Google Maps mash-up Smoke Signal Generator (https://www.mapmsg.com/send/smokesignal) as a different way to set learning objectives, homework tasks or to re-cap a lesson.
You can use the mash-up in exactly the same way as you normally use Google Maps to find places by typing in the location. You can zoom in and zoom out in exactly the same way and switch between map, hybrid and satellite view. The mash-up however allows you to generate smoke signals from any location within Google Maps. The screencast below shows the demo that I used at tonight.
Idea 2 - Turn on the Grid Lines and spin the globe
This is a very simple, yet powerful and magical idea. I believe that children find maps, globes and places fascinating. A great lesson starter is just to have Google Earth Spinning as your class comes into the room (they will instantly start to comment and try to work out where places are). You can also very easily turn on the Grid Latitude and Longitude lines to allow you to quickly add an extra dimension to this starter activity. Here’s the screencast showing you how to do this:
Idea 3 - Teaching about place and location
Students pick a city name from ‘the hat’ and type the location into Google Earth – class watch as they fly from their school to the city location. Once in the city Student gets one or two minutes to explore in front of the rest of the class. As long as you have websites like Panoramio enabled within Google Earth there will be no shortage of things to look at and you will quickly get a real feel for what an area is like. I think it is very important to always flay to your location from your school, this adds to the experience of distance, place and space. Here’s a quick screencast showing what I mean:
Idea 4 – Teaching Distance
Google Earth Ruler is really simple to use and allows you to quickly change
between units (cm, m. km, ft. yards etc…) There is a lot of scope here about to talk about
measurement and also ratios if you start to swap the units around. You can also
use the ruler to perform interesting tasks. For example you can calculate how
far the ingredient of a pizza have travelled before it gets to the UK. Here is the
screencast showing you how the ruler works:
Idea 5 – Sea Level Rise Mash Up
https://flood.firetree.net/ is a favourite Google Maps Mashup of mine. It allows you to change the sea level height to see areas of land that would be flooded due to sea level change. Its simple but really effective, interestingly it wouldn’t take much for the Glasgow Science Centre to be underwater.
Idea 6 – Look at what other people have already created
At https://www.gearthhacks.com you can download klm files (Google Earth Files) about Current Events, Previous Events, Sightseeing, Sports, Historical Places, Transport, Natural Formations and a whole heap of other stuff. The Current event files are excellent. The screencast below shows how quickly it is to download a Google Earth file on recent Greece Fires.
Idea 7 – Flickr and Twitter Vision
vision is a another great lesson starter activity or way to promote class
discussion. The site basically shows the geographical location of real time photos
being up-loaded to Flickr. It gives a real feel for what’s going on in the
world and sense of place. It can also be used to promote interesting
discussions. For example, you have to
wait a long to see a photograph being up-loaded from Africa, Antarctica or South America? You can see an example below:
You can even use Flickr Vision in 3D:
Twitter vision gives another interesting perspective. It basically shows text messages of people thoughts from around the world.
Idea 8 – Turn Layers On and Off
things get really crowded and sometimes you want more detail. You can turn
layers on and off using the layers tabs. Fly to New York to see the 3D Buildings in action. If
you are struggling with Bandwidth Issues at school you can save on bandwidth by
turning the layers off.
Idea 9 – Make your own Maps with Google Maps
Google Maps has a great way to make your own Maps. Here’s an example from a recent canoe trip.
We are going to cover how to do this in more depth at a further East Lothian Training session in the Summer Term.
Idea 10 – Try and keep up-to-date and try out new ideas as they become available
Try and follow these websites for some up-to-date Google Earth information and ideas on how it can be used in Teaching and Learning.