Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Google Maps and Google Earth

Google Maps and Google Earth are amazing resources and tools used by many people for a variety of reasons including everything from finding directions, to locating cheaper gas, or looking up their home address for the fun of it. Transforming users of new tools such as Google Maps and Google Earth into producers of their own content is key to harnessing these tools for truly enriching educational purposes. I am always looking for ways to introduce technology into the classroom as a way to reinforce classroom lessons through the use of what will hopefully be exciting and engaging new tools for displaying student learning. This semester I had a chance to collaborate with history and Spanish teachers as we introduced Google Maps and Google Earth to students as a platform for class projects.

Students in two history classes were assigned to groups with specific questions concerning geographic terms. Both online and print atlases were used by students to locate specific geographic areas that matched the questions. Each group then used Google Maps to illustrate the geography terms and locations through the use of text, pictures and external links. Students then presented their finished Google Map in Google Earth. The research guide and student work are available online.

In the Spanish classes we decided to do something along the lines of Google Lit Trips, a repository for Google Earth "tours" based on locations, characters and themes in varying literary works. Students were divided into groups of two with specific terms to illustrate from Ladrón de la mente, a novel they read in class. Each group used pictures, text, and embedded links to illustrate their assigned terms. Additionally, each student created a VoiceThread using images and their own audio spoken in Spanish for embedding in one of their Google Map posts. The research guide, student examples and VoiceThread directions are available online.

The learning curve with Google Maps and Google Earth is fairly small given the number of resources available to assist with both creating and finding inspiration for your own projects. I find Google Maps to be the easiest resource for creating personalized maps due to the very user friendly interface, however, some people prefer to create maps in Google Earth. Google Maps are viewable in Google Earth. Below I have listed websites containing everything a new user would need to create their own Google Map or Google Earth project.

Google intros Maps mashups for dummies
This site has a very concise and highly informative video explaining how to create a map in Google Maps using the "My Maps" feature.

Google Maps User Guide
Very easy to follow directions and a good place to start.

Google Earth User Guide
Again, easy to follow directions with lots of images for clarification.

Educational Uses
A wonderful repository of class projects and ideas spanning the curriculum.

Google Earth Education Community
Educational ideas divided by discipline.

Ireland in 1898
A fascinating historical project using photography from the turn of the century to recount Irish history.

Google Maps and the exploration of Canada
An ongoing project to map the settlement and exploration of Canada.

- Christopher Bishop

1 comment:

Jerome Burg said...

This is Jerome Burg from GoogleLitTrips. I saw your blog post today and am quite intrigued by your project about Ladrón de la mente. I would be quite interested in seeing this project if you'd like to share it with me.
Jerome Burg