Archives For google earth

New iMac

We got our first family computer on Tuesday, and my boys are pretty excited. I’ve got a couple laptops, but they’re for work and I don’t let the kids use them. Now, though, we’re ready to roll. I’ve downloaded Scratch, Google Earth, and Sketchup, and I’m looking forward to working on them with my oldest who’s eight.

We’ll be using Safari for the boys with its parental controls that allow us to restrict their web surfing to certain pre-approved sites. What I don’t have is a good list of kid-friendly sites. I plan to check out Club Penguin, but I’d love to get some other suggestions.

I don’t exactly know how I got on the mailing list, but I’ve been receiving the Google Earth Sightseer in my email inbox. Make sure you subscribe if you’re using Google Earth in your classroom or would like some great ideas about how to get started. The February 2007 issue alone has articles about new Google Earth search capabilities, studying human rights issues with maps, and satellite photography. Most of the articles include links to KML files that will launch in Google Earth to display the relative points of interest. The new Google Earth search is particularly interesting. From the newsletter:

Search is at the heart of everything we do here at Google. That’s why we’re excited to announce a new search innovation that’s available today in Google Earth. Now you can now search through all of the world’s Keyhole Markup Language (KML) files, making the millions of Google Earth KML files on the Web instantly accessible for geobrowsing and exploration.

So if your students are creating KML files, you can post them on your district Web site and they will become searchable for all the world to see. It’s another great way to share and collaborate.

Mary Klauck, Amy Kretsch, Darrell Olson
Osseo Area Schools

Osseo has started an innovative program called the TICT Initiative (Technology Integration Collaborative Teachers). The presenters are using some really cool technology in their presentation. They’re using a Smartboard and Google Earth to take us on an aerial view of their district. They’re drawing on top of the Google Earth map with the Smartboard.

The TICT mission: Empowering a cadre of teachers who seamlessly integrate technology with District 270 curriculum to create a more interactive, student-centered, and visually engaging classroom to ensure learner success. The TICT initiative includes coaching and collaboration between the TICT teachers and the teachers who comprise the cadre, professional development, and technology hardware including an LCD projector, cart, and wireless keyboard/mouse. Math teachers also get a document camera.

The program is designed with a one-computer classroom model. The teacher’s computer becomes an instructional tool instead of merely and data entry terminal. The wireless keyboard and mouse can be passed around the room to promote interactivity. The presenters say that this approach promotes cooperative learning, focuses on existing curriculum, and engages multiple intelligences. I’m not familiar with the “one-computer classroom model.” I’ll have to see what that’s about. Doesn’t it seem like that’s a step back from 1-to-1? It’s about 30× cheaper of course.

About 180 teachers have participated in TICT cadres so far. Ninety more teachers will be added next year in Cadre III. Each cadre member has to fulfill certain requirements. There is a ton more information at the TICT webpage.

Some of the software tools the TICT program provides are Inspiration, InspireData, Atomic Learning, and United Streaming.

What’s the key technology at work here? It’s the LCD projectors. Almost none of what the Osseo team is doing would be possible without the projector that each TICT cadre member has available. This is consistent with what I’ve heard from other teachers in other districts. Having a projector available all day, every day enables all kinds of innovative instruction. I need to figure out how to make that happen in my district.

Good news for OS X users. Google just released an updated version of Google Earth and Mac-compatible update of SketchUp. Lots of good stuff in both programs. They have tremendous potential as learning tools. If anyone has some good examples of using either one with students, please post in the comments.

google earth, sketchup

Here’s yet another cool product from Google. It seems that they recently purchased SketchUp, an easy-to-use 3D modeling tool that I played with a bit a few months ago. The new product, Google SketchUp, is now free for personal use and integrated with Google Earth. Unfortunately for me, like Google Earth, Google SketchUp is only available for Windows right now. A Mac version is “coming soon” according to the site. Check out the examples that demonstrate SketchUp objects georeferenced onto Google Earth maps.

The learning implications are huge. At a minimum, students could collaborate to build a model of their school and expand to other buildings in the neighborhood. And SketchUp isn’t just for buildings. You can model any object in 3D. Maybe you’re working a project where students are designing a future settlement on Mars. Now they can create those structures in 3D instead. How about creating 3D representations of historical artifacts? Wouldn’t it be cool to involve students in designing the school or city of the future?

Another new product related to Google SketchUp is 3D Warehouse, a collection of user-contributed 3D objects to facilitate model building. Need a “Greek Pillar Without a Base”? Here you go. Once students start modeling objects, they can be contributed to the 3D Warehouse for other people to use. Sounds like a fun weekend project.

I have always appreciated design and the intense intellectual effort it requires. Design is one of those skills we really need to ramp up in our students in this “flat world.”

google, sketchup, design, 3d

Attention Mac users… Run, do not walk to download the Google Earth beta that’s now available for OS X.

Google Earth screenshot showing Hopkins Schools district office

That’s a shot of my office. I think I can almost make out my car. This isn’t just for the U.S. folks, you can see the world with this tool. (You should probably listen to John Hanke’s talk at O’Reilly’s Where 2.0 Conference for some background about Google Earth.) Maybe you’re talking with your students about the importance of Mount Fuji in Japanese culture. Why not take a tour of the mountain and surrounding area? This screenshot shows how you can change your point of view.

Google Earth screenshot showing Mount Fuji

I need to play with this some more, but suffice it to say that Google Earth will be going on every student iBook in our 1-to-1 program as soon as possible.

Update: I missed it in my initial scan of the Google Earth page, but make sure you check out the Google Earth Community to see some examples of what others are doing with the Google Earth technology.

Google purchased a company called Keyhole a while ago and everyone has been wondering how they would incorporate the technology. Now we know. They’ve just launched a new version of the Keyhole software called Google Earth which is available for free. This will make a great addition to any geography teacher’s toolkit. Unfortunately, for now, it only runs on Windows. There are also “Plus” and “Pro” versions available that add other features like GPS support.

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