Thank you for attending my session and for visiting the site. On this page you’ll find all of the information and references I presented, plus more for you to play with on your own.
In the interest of full disclosure, you’ll find more than the “19” bits of material noted in the title, so please don’t hold me to that. :-)
This page assumes you have some working knowledge of Google Earth, which has an ever expanding list of features with each new update. If you need some help getting started with the program, there are a few resources linked at the bottom of the page.
With the introductions taken care of, let’s get started with the list.
1. Use a mouse – You can navigate around the Earth using the track pad in your laptop but a scroll-wheel mouse makes it so much easier. Move in and out quickly with the scroll wheel. Hold the right button and use the mouse to move in and out even faster, plus reorient to a top view. Hold down the scroll wheel button (did you know that was a button?) and the mouse becomes a joystick to manipulate the map view in multiple ways, including tilting.
2. Turn on the 3D layer – The arial photography in Earth can be impressive but many people have actually build three dimensional models of structures famous and not so famous which Google has added to program. Check out the more than 100 tours of 3D structures in the Google Earth Gallery.
3. Use Earth as a research tool – Look in the More folder, turn on the Wikipedia layer, and now when you visit a location you’ll see icons that will open a summary of the Wikipedia article related to that area. The Images layer at the top level of the Primary Database turns on links to thousands of photographs of the area from Google’s Panoramio travel photo sharing site. Both are excellent tools for basic student research.
4. Get the big picture – The Layers section of Earth include several collections of larger, more immersive images. Turn on the 360Cities layer and click on one of the red icons to enter a high resolution picture in which you can look around the area. The Gigapan and Gigapxl layers offer pictures taken using a special format camera to create images of US and Canadian cities, parks, and monuments of incredible resolution. In all these layers, open the marker and click on the link to enter the image. Click the Exit Photo button in the upper right corner to return to Earth.
5. Don’t get lost – It’s easy to lose your way when traveling the globe but Earth also makes it easy to find your way home. To get back to the standard view in Earth, double-click on the Primary Database in the layers section. (anyone know why Earth uses this view? that’s 0E 0N).
But you can also set your own starting location. First, set the view you want when the program opens and then selecting Make this my start location under the View menu. This will place a marker called Starting Location under My Places that you can double-click to get back to that home view anytime. Uncheck the box to make the marker invisible.
6. Heads up. If all you need is to orient the map so that North is at the top of the screen, just click once on the N in the navigation controls. Pressing n on your keyboard will do the same thing.
7. Go deep into the Layers – The Gallery and Global Awareness folders have a huge amount of material on all kinds of topics. For science, the Ocean folder (featured at the top level for now) has text, image, audio, and video content from NOAA, National Geographic, and more. For history, add the Rumsey’s Historic Maps layer (in Gallery) to see how certain areas were laid out many years ago. The Global Awareness section is great for current events with material from many non-profit advocacy organizations.
8. But don’t layer on too much at one time – If you turn on too many layers, especially those using real time information like Weather and Traffic, you may find Earth slowing down. The easiest way to fix the problem is to click the box next to Primary Database and then turn back on just the layers you need.
9. Go get some new layers – While the material that Google includes is great, many other people are create layers with great information as well. You’ll see them called KML or KMZ files since those are the file extensions indicating a document should be opened in Google Earth. Look for them at the National Geographic, NASA, and other sites that link geography and other subjects.
10. Literature + maps = LitTrips – One of the best examples of instructional layers for Earth is Google LitTrips, created by an English teacher for his students. The site now includes trips for books all levels, combining literature with geography, history, government, culture, and more.
11. Visit the Gallery – The Google Earth Gallery offers hundreds of tours on just about any topic you can think of. These can be downloaded and used for your classes. Google is also building a section of their site just for K12 education which will include a section where teachers can exchange lessons and ideas for using Earth and Maps in the classroom.
12. Use Google Maps instead of Earth – While Earth is a great piece of software, there are some good reasons to use Google Maps instead. For one thing, Maps will work on older and less capable computers. It’s also simpler to use and it has it’s own set of “layers” with some instructional material. In addition, many creative people have come up with some excellent mashups combining geography with other data.
13. Look for mashups – Google makes it relatively easy for people to combine their mapping technology with other information and the result is called a mashup. There are hundreds of them all over the web including Conflict History, a timeline of wars throughout history linked to the locations where they took place, and geo.worldbank which presents economic and social data from the WorldBank on a map.
13. Leave the Earth – Instead of looking down, you can switch to Sky (click the button that looks like Saturn) and observe celestial objects that also include images and video from NASA. You can also visit Mars and the Moon and take some historic tours about the Apollo program. Makes for a great overlap between social studies and science.
15. Be smart about the board – If you have an interactive whiteboard (like those from Smart or Promethean), use the highest level of orientation when using Google Earth or Maps. This will give you a great deal of extra accuracy when manipulating objects on the maps. You may also want to get rid of the left sidebar to fill the board with just the picture. To do that, click the Hide/Show Sidebar button, the first one in the button bar at the top of the window.
16. Print (if you must) – Both Earth and Maps are great for printing exactly the map view you need or for capturing just the map you need for another document. First adjust the display to show exactly the view you want (remember in Earth you can also tilt the view). In Earth, first go under the View menu, pull down to View Size, then to Print Output, and select the size you need. After the screen resizes, make your final adjustments and use Print from the File menu.
In Maps, using the Print link on the upper left side of the map or choosing Print from the File menu will often not give very good results. The best way to get exactly the view you want, use a screen capture tool such as the one built-in to the Mac OS or a product like SnagIT in Windows.
17. Things change – You can see how an area has changed over time using the Historical Imagery button (the clock) in the tool bar. This gives you a slider that allows you to go back in time, depending on how well photographed the area is. How much change you see depends on how much arial photography has been done for that particular area. Good examples of this feature are the Las Vegas strip which starts around 1950 and New Orleans before and after Hurricane Katrina which hit the city on August 29, 2005.
18. Google Earth isn’t done – The databases are updated regularly and, even if the software hasn’t been updated, there could be something new in the layers. Make sure your version of Earth is up to date. Google adds new features and interface changes with even “minor” updates so you may be missing out on some cool new tools if your software is old.
19. Continue exploring the world of Earth – As I said, Earth, and all of Google’s mapping technologies, are constantly changing. You can keep up with it by subscribing to the Lat-Long Blog, the official blog of Google’s Earth and Maps team and to the Google Earth Blog and Google Maps Mania, two independent blogs about these tools. Also visit Google’s online resources such as Google Earth for Educators and the Google Earth Community Forums where thousands of people are discussing the thousands of ways they use Maps and Earth.