Thursday, August 20, 2009

Google Earth

Google Earth, what can I say? I was amazed by what this technology can do. I had heard of Google Earth but had never had the urge to try it. I had so much fun looking at my house and other friend’s houses (seemed a little creepy, at stages). I also couldn’t believe what other types of things you could look at. At the time I was looking at Google Earth it was raining so I looked at the weather aspect of the technology. I really had no idea what I was looking at but I noticed the clouding over parts of Queensland. I tried a number of different aspects and found them all to be interesting and I learnt a lot. I also found my house (picture above) which was really exciting to me.

What is Google Earth?

Google Earth provides a 3 – Dimensional look at planet Earth that flies users to any location in the world to zoom in on details such as cities, streets, schools, railways, parks and hotels (Behen, 2006). It also consists of items called layers which are forms of information that are added to the basic view of Google Earth e.g. National boundaries, crime statistics, hospitals, airports and golf courses (Crowder, 2007). Crowder (2007) states that layers are pieces of information above and beyond just the satellite image itself.

Google Earth also has place marks which are when you find something interesting when travelling the virtual planet and you want to get back to that place easily. All you have to do is put down a place mark there and it remembers the place for you. Crowder (2007) states that place marks are to Google Earth what book marks are to a Web browser. These place marks can be customized to suit the person using Google Earth.

Using Google Earth in the Classroom

Following on from YouTube and Podcasting I will be concentrating on my lessons on Natural Disasters. Students can use the ‘Geographical/ Geological Layer’ to look at sites where volcanoes and earthquakes are. Students could also look at how the terrain has been affected by these sorts of disasters. They can also look back at past disasters and see the damage that they caused to communities etc.

Another aspect I would show students is the Hurricane/Cyclone tracking which would allow students to see satellite photos, radar animations, hurricane tracking, live web cams on the ground, sea surface temperature analysis, etc (Taylor, 2009). In the limited time I have had with this technology I have already found that there are many things in Google Earth which could be utilised within the classroom. I will need to do some more exploring of the technology to fully understand its capabilities.

I have also subscribed to a new blog called “Google Earth Blog”. It provides teachers with lessons or new information about Google Earth.


Google Earth can be used in a number of different ways and it can also provide students with different learning experiences. Depending on how the teacher uses the technology in the classroom will determine how effective it really is and how it will engage the learners. One way to use it could be in collaboration with other students in different research projects. This lies within the Learning Engagement theory (1999) which states that it is based on creating successful collaborative teams that work on ambitious projects that are meaningful to someone outside the classroom (Kearsley & Schneiderman, 1999). Creating this experience in the classroom allows students to become involved in many different learning experiences (as mentioned above). Kearsley and Schneiderman (1999) state that collaborative learning forces students to clarify and verbalize their problems thereby facilitating solutions. It can also motivate students to learn as they feel a part of the experience and they also have the opportunity to learn about their peer’s perspectives.


Behen, L (2006) Using Pop Culture to Teach Information Literacy: Libraries Unlimited; United States of America.

Crowder, D (2007) Google Earth for Dummies: Wiley Publishing; Indianapolis

Kearsley, G & Schneiderman, B (1999) Engagement Theory - A framework for technology-based teaching and learning: Accessed August 4th 2009

Taylor, F (2009) Google Earth Blog: Accessed on the 13th August 2009;

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