Tuesday, August 18, 2009

"Today class, we will be travelling to....."

I downloaded the software for Google Earth about a year ago and forgot about it, didn't have time, ect, ect, ect. I dug it out from the 'unused desktop items' folder and upgraded to the latest version. Wow! I was amazed at how fast it worked, and how easy it was to use. I am sure there are more buttons to click and press, but for now, I am happy to type in a destination and sit back and enjoy the ride.
One of the first icons that caught my eye on the homepage was 'real time earthquakes'.
The possibilities began running through my head of what I could have used this tool for a few weeks ago, then, when I selected 'Ocean terrain layer', you could see the faults under the ocean! My students would have loved this technology - if our school had faster broadband and they had easier access to the computers, and if they had more time on the computers - which would lead to a better understanding of them. Get what I'm saying? Unfortunately, unless I was showing Google Earth to the class using a projector and had a few hours spare, this would be a good tool. Only 'good' because it would be considered 'great' if they could have the access to it that they deserve.
The possibilities with Google Earth are endless. Imagine starting every day with "Today we are going to travel to......." Each time students have to present an information report, oral or similar presentation, the class could actually see where they were talking about. In 1998, then Vice President of the United States, Al Gore, made a speech about a technology that he called 'Digital Earth', a program that allows users to go to anywhere on earth, at any time of day or night (Gore, 1998, as cited in Grossner, 2006). This was his vision for the future; here is a small part of his speech:

“Imagine, for example, a young child going to a Digital Earth exhibit at a
local museum. After donning a head-mounted display, she sees Earth as it
appears from space. Using a data glove, she zooms in, using higher and higher
levels of resolution, to see continents, then regions, countries, cities, and finally
individual houses, trees, and other natural and man-made objects. Having found
an area of the planet she is interested in exploring, she takes the equivalent of a
"magic carpet ride" through a 3-D visualization of the terrain."
(Gore, 1998, as cited in Grossner, 2006, p. 1)

Google Earth has cetainly come to par with this. Sure, the data glove and head-mounted display are not included in the standard Google Earth experience - but they may be in the future. What an amazing way to open up our students' imagination and experiences.
I read somewhere once that the internet brings the world inside the classroom. Google Earth does this - literally.

Grossner, K.E. (2006). Is Google Earth - 'Digital Earth'? Defining a Vision. Retrieved August 18, 2009, from


Melody Madin said...

Hi Chenoa,
Google earth is definitely mind blowing. You could interact with it all day long and still only see half of it. Did you get the chance to check out Mars or the planets? What a fantastic learning tool we could all use for a unit on space.
Good luck
Melody x

chenoa said...

Hey Melody!
I didn't get that far out in space - but I definitely will be playing with this when I have the time! What a great way to hook your students into a unit on outer space!