Ed Tech Tips with E. Mosier

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Go Beyond the Classroom with Google Earth


Since the school year is rapidly coming to a close and students (and teachers) are dreaming of summer vacations. However, Google Earth easily makes the wait a little easier without leaving the four walls of the classroom or waiting for the final bell to ring. Recently, Google Earth has undergone a massive update that is highly beneficial for educators anywhere. Most notably, it is no longer a downloaded program, it will run from any computer with a Chrome browser, which means Chromebooks now have an easier Google Earth capability!

Searching and Knowledge Cards

Google has also advanced the search feature in Earth. You can now simply ask for a destination and it will take you there, as opposed to scrolling to the exact location on the globe. For example, searching "the capital of Iowa" drops you right into Des Moines. In addition to an updated search, you will now notice Knowledge Cards that appear on the screen. When you're dropped into a location, you can scroll through these cards to learn more about local landmarks and other places of interest in a given area.

Earth in a Different Perspective

Another awesome update is the ability to view Earth from a different perspective, other than the bird's eye. By simply holding down the Shift key and moving the mouse up and down, left or right, you can now view the Earth as if you're flying in an airplane or from other viewpoints. Such a simple addition that adds a lot more meaning to viewing maps from all over the world.

The Grandest Update of Them All

As cool as the previous updates were, the one that sticks out to me as being the most beneficial and awe-inspiring is what is known as the Voyager. This is a "showcase of interactive tours" that includes several locations around the globe. For example, if you've ever wanted to visit Mexico City, select that "Voyage" and you'll be escorted around the city, complete with Knowledge Cards about all of the different sites you may see. If you'd like a less big city feel, select The Backpacker's Paradise Voyage to view some breathtaking views of hiking areas. These pre-loaded Voyages are a must if you're wanting to incorporate this into the classroom.

Using Google Earth in the Classroom

Even though these updates are cool, and they're a nice way to put off the mountain of work that keeps growing, Google Earth has several classroom uses as well:

Art - Take a trip around the world to view the different art museums and the architecture surrounding each building. Or, simply visit monuments that are worth observing.

Language Arts - Explore the settings of some of the works being read in class. Or, visit the birthplace of a famous author.

Social Studies/World Geography - Take students on virtual field trips, or use the Knowledge Cards to expand the information being presented in class.

Foreign Language - Search for famous landmarks of a city, or visit an area to read the signs and buildings written in the language being studied.

Math - Find an area and measure it to determine its area on the screen, or locate a parking lot to determine number of spaces filled versus empty spots to study fractions.

Science - Visit national parks, or take students to an oil rig in the ocean, or even to see some of the smokestacks from a factory to discuss pollution and air quality.

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