By Bradley Ezratty
Google Earth offers a myriad of educational applications. History is one field that can utilize the program to help educate students. Teachers can incorporate Google Earth’s visualizations and interactive features into lessons and outside assignments. Educators can also add data to the program and generate innovative applications suited to their own course.
Uses in Lectures
The images in the program have created a tool for teachers in lectures because the program allows teachers to display data visually alongside lecture notes. Layers provided in the program and outside layers or KMLs (Keyhole Markup Language) can be integrated into lectures to raise student interest and engagement.
- Ancient Rome in 3D (Layer): Located under the Gallery layer. The layer allows teachers to display images of the various edifices of Ancient Rome. The viewer can click on the structures and read a short bio listing the uses and historical significances of the buildings. The layer provides links for further information and downloads to further enhance the layer. Great for World History classes.
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/MqMXIRwQniA" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
- The Campaigns of Alexander the Great (KML): Provides images of the routes, battles, and places of historical significance related to Alexander the Great. Teachers can use this KML to teach students about the expansion of Alexander the Great’s empire. Great resource when learning about Ancient History.
- Rumsey Historical Maps (Layer): Located under the Gallery layer. The layer presents maps of ancient cities that can be placed on top of current images. The layer provides over 120 maps, which can be used in conjunction with class lectures to help illustrate the layout of different ancient cities.
Figure 1: Layot of the Battle of Granicus River obtained from the The Campaigns of Alexander the Great KML. (Click to view image in new window)
Uses in Assignments
Google Earth can also be used as a tool for teachers to give stimulating assignments. The program is extremely effective in outside assignments because students enjoy using the program. The interactive nature of the program allows students to get the most out of the learning experience.
- Human Settlements (KML-Download): Contains an audio track and guiding questions that help the user think about why certain cities were attractive places for settlements. The layer identifies several different cities that the user should explore. This is a great pre-lecture assignment to get students thinking about why certain locations are attractive to human settlements, especially when learning about river valley civilizations.
- Causes of World War 2 (KML): Tour that details the major events leading up to World War 2. The events in the layer are ordered chronologically, and the locations of the events are marked off. The layer also contains a worksheet that is used to help students reflect on the tour and how the events led to the outbreak of the war. The interactive nature of the program allows students to get a solid understanding of the causes of the war. The layer also provides links to lesson plans and more simulations.(Worksheet provided)
- Following in Jesus’ Footsteps (KML): Documents the places that Jesus visited. The layer also contains maps of Palestine and Jerusalem. This could be used as a pre-lecture activity. Students would visit the different places where Jesus visited, and learn about the geography of Palestine. This would be especially helpful for a religion class.
Figure 2: Image of Ancient Palestine with markings of places Jesus visited. Image obtained from the Following in Jesus’ Footsteps KML. (Click to view image in new window)
- 11 Castles and Fortresses in Greece (KML)
- Birthplaces of all French Presidents (KML)
- 35 Medieval Castles in Sicilia (KML)
- 10 Famous Duels (KML)
- 62 Roman Amphitheaters (KML)
- Ancient Athens (KML)
- Berlin 1910 (KML)
- Borders and Labels Layer
- Wikipedia Layer
- U.S. Government Layer
Google Earth permits its users to create their own tours, layers, placemarks, and data overlays. Teachers can use the program to design creative ways to present information. Data overlays allow users to add information to pre-existing images in Google Earth. This allows teachers to integrate Google Earth into lectures to present specific material in an engaging manner. Virtual tours and layers would have similar functions for in class purposes, but all three could be used for out of class assignments. Teachers could also import GPS tracks to add time-related data to the program. To learn more about how to create tours, placemarks, or time sequences visit the user guide.
Google Earth is an intriguing educational tool. Technology has played an important role in advancing education, and now it is time for Google Earth to help out. Take advantage of the program and help students!
Good Luck Google Earth Users!!