Creating Effective Google Earth Tours

Manhattan GE 3D

The folks over at the Google Earth Design blog have been running a series on creating Google Earth tours.  They have had some excellent suggestions for creating effective tours. (Part 1, Part 2).  It was enough to get me to try creating a tour or two.

For some reason I haven’t done much with GE Tours.  To me they seem passive in a constructivist classroom.  If I’m doing a presentation, I prefer to use a series of placemarks that I access as needed, rather than a fixed tour.  In fact, the GE Design Blog states the following:

If changes of scale and location are not important your narrative it is quicker and just as effective to use presentation software such as PowerPoint.

However, their blog posts inspired me to at least give it a shot.  I won’t repeat all of their suggestions, but here are a few things I learned…

Continue reading “Creating Effective Google Earth Tours”

Does Anyone Really Know What Time It Is?

Here’s an interesting activity you can do with students using Google Earth. It helps if you use the actual program (or the satellite view in Google Maps) instead of a static image so that students can zoom in and out…

View Larger Map

The above Google Earth image is of the Cherrydale Shopping Center in Greenville. Using only clues from the image, can you tell me the following:

  1. About what time of day was the image captured?
  2. What month was the image captured?

Good luck! Continue reading “Does Anyone Really Know What Time It Is?”

Adding Google Earth to PowerPoint – Another Method

Google Earth

I recently received a request for help from one of my readers regarding Google Earth and PowerPoint.  The reader wanted to know how to put a Google Earth tour into PowerPoint.  This website gets lots of hits from folks wanting to learn how to embed Google Earth into their presentations, but Google hasn’t made it easy.  Therefore, I’ve put together a tutorial for one method, but first it might be helpful to clear up a few things.

  1. Google Earth Tours – Yes, you can create and save tours.  However, the files that are created are KMZ files that can only be opened in Google Earth.  These are NOT video files, and they cannot be easily imported into another program.
  2. Embedding Google Earth – Right now there is no good way to get Google Earth to play in a PowerPoint slide.  You could create a link on your slide that opens a KMZ file outside of PowerPoint in Google Earth itself.  You could also embed a web page that has the Google Earth plug-in for web enabled, but that get’s to be more complicated than it’s worth.

I’ve already demonstrated how it’s possible to add PowerPoint slides to Google Earth.  However, I still get inquiries for the other way around – adding Google Earth to PowerPoint, even though the two points above make it difficult, if not impossible.   Well, there are a couple of ways, but they’re not perfect.  The first involves just exporting static images from Google Earth and putting those images into your slides.  The other involves video screen capture.  Here’s how it’s done… Continue reading “Adding Google Earth to PowerPoint – Another Method”

Three Collaborative Google Earth Projects

Google Earth

I had wanted to entitle this post “Cool Google Earth Lesson Plans That Don’t Really Use Google Earth”, but I figure that would be a bit wordy. The idea was taken from my “Creating Media Rich Lessons with Google Earth” presentations that I’ve been doing lately. One of the strategies in that presentation is to embed content from other sources into Google Earth. As I was giving some examples to the workshop participants, it occurred to me that you could do a collaborative project in Google Earth where kids do most of their work in some other application, bringing these together at the last minute in Google Earth. Here are a few of those ideas, and the applications needed. Continue reading “Three Collaborative Google Earth Projects”

SCETV Workshops Spring 2010

The time-lapse video above gives some indication of the frenetic pace I’ve been hitting this week. Several months ago I agree to once again do my Google Earth workshops for the SCETV Technology Conference. Had I known how hectic these past two weeks were going to be even without the conference, I might have reconsidered. However, despite PASS testing, 135th day counts, and other pressing needs in Spartanburg Five, I headed on down for the Wednesday – Friday sessions.

As I had done last year, I’m presenting two different sessions. The first is a basic introduction to Google Earth. The teachers get some time just to become familiar with the program’s controls and navigation, and I give them some suggestions for using it in their classrooms. The second session is more in-depth. I cover ways that Google Earth can be used to create highly interactive lessons buy using embedded media. I tend to get lots of oohs and ahs with that session because there is some really cool stuff you can do.

Wednesday we had a luncheon and were joined by several representatives from Discovery Education. Phillipe Cousteau, grandson of Jaques Cousteau, was our keynote speaker. In the evening the Discovery Educators Network (DEN) STAR members had a dinner at the SCETV studios, and we were again joined by Phillipe Cousteau. He spoke about some of his current environmental education endeavors.

DEN Star Educators DinnerPhillipe Cousteau addresses the DEN groupDEN Star Educators at SCETV Continue reading “SCETV Workshops Spring 2010”

Paddling South Carolina’s Rivers

South Carolina Rivers

File – Paddling South Carolina Rivers (KMZ, 1.5 MB)

Google Earth has been one of the best resources for planning river kayaking trips, especially on new routes with which I’m not familiar. I’ll scan the route, locate put-in and take-out points, and put placemarks for certain landmarks such as rapids, powerlines, bridges, tributaries, or other interesting locations along the way. I would then use GPS Babel to convert my Google Earth files to GPX files then upload the data to my GPS so I would have it with me on the paddling trip.

Pretty soon I had a nice little collection of river trips in Google Earth. I began to wonder if anyone else was doing this. It seemed like it would be an excellent resource. There are some excellent books out there, such as Able and Horman’s Paddling South Carolina, and while the maps in these resources are fine for giving driving directions, there is no GPS information. has started putting Lat/Long coordinates for some of their paddling trails, but not for all of them. So, I decided to make my own collection. Continue reading “Paddling South Carolina’s Rivers”

Easy(-ish) Video Embedding

Part 2 of 2

In Part 1 I covered the easy stuff. Working with audio is trivial compared with working with video. Not only do you have many more file types and codecs, but now you’ve got to worry about aspect ratio for HD and compression quality. Given two video files with the exact same file extension, one might work in one situation, but the other may not. It can be maddening.

The easiest thing to do is to upload your files to a video sharing site such as YouTube or Vimeo. However, sites like that are usually blocked by school districts. There is SchoolTube and TeacherTube, but sometimes those can be problematic, too.

Less likely to be blocked are sites built on the platform. A Ning site is free, and will support up to 30 videos as long as each is no larger than 100 MB. That’s fairly generous, and will support most classroom needs. Videos that are uploaded to the site are provided embed codes for blogs and social networking sites. Here’s a sample video I recorded in Space Mountain on a trip to Disney World… Continue reading “Easy(-ish) Video Embedding”