Monday, June 15, 2015

Google Earth and Virtual Field Trips

I have always been fascinated with geography.  Seeing different places and features of the earth is exciting and naturally evokes my curiosity.  Most elementary students share the same excitement and curiosity when it comes to seeing new places and learning about things near and far.  Google Earth and organizational websites utilizing interactive geographic software open up a huge resource for investigating places all over the world.  Teachers can use these resources to provide students with unique learning experiences in a wide variety of academic areas.  Google Earth is a free interactive geographic browser that interfaces with the internet.  Teachers can use it to take students on virtual field trips to places around the world; cities, oceans, mountains, volcanos, museums, even outer space!

At a recent educational technology conference, a presenter demonstrated how he used Google earth with his students to explore the White House in Washington D.C. .  His demonstration was fascinating and it demonstrated how easy it was to use Google Earth to explore the many rooms within the White House. As a introduction, he used Google Earth to show the exact path taken by the man that jumped the fence and trespassed into the White House.  Very cool!

Besides following sensational events, why use Google Earth in the classroom.  Here a graphic from SERC (Science Education Resource Center) at Carleton College that highlights the values of using Google Earth in the classroom:

Getting started with Google Earth takes some exploration on your own.  First, you want to get the application.  Then, it's important to learn about the features in this app and how to use them before using it with students.  Google has put together a collection of tutorials on the tools available in the Google Earth app.  One very useful tool is called Tour Guide.  Here is a tutorial on Tour Guide:

I'm excited about using Google Earth in my classroom.  It's a powerful application that can be used in a variety of ways to engage students in their learning.  From visiting the setting in a story that students are reading, to seeing what a volcano looks like when it erupts, or visiting the White House, Google earth is an amazing tool to have in the classroom. 

The following resources are helpful to learn more about Google Earth and virtual field trips:

Visit historical/culturally significant places and artifacts through the Google Cultural Institute

The White House through Google Cultural Institute

The resources above were also used in part for creating this blog post.

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