As with the digital story, this project is about exploring a new tool and ways in which can be used to teach or, more specifically, enhance the learning process. As we have been discussing, much of teaching and learning has traditionally revolved around regurgitation. As we learned with Bloom’s and newer approaches to 21st century teaching, education needs to shift the focus to creation and, in particular, creation combined with critical thinking and inquiry.
In this project you will be using Google Earth as another type of storytelling (sort of). In this case, the story will be focused on places and/or travel between places (an obvious limitation of Google Earth). One project I have done in the past with students is to take the rather traditional European explorers unit, which often resulted in regurgitative powerpoint projects, brochures, or other reports, and turn them into journeys. While explorers and journeys go well together, there are a lot of other ways in which this process can be used. For example, when learning about any country or region, learners can conduct research about the various historically significant places and/or events and then discuss and make decisions about the “top 5” that everyone should see or know about. From there, they create a travelogue of sorts where they not only take us to these places but explain why these belong among the top 5. What makes them more important than others? Obviously, this is subjective but that is the point – to have learners use information to make decisions.
While Google Earth seems most appropriate to social studies and geography type content, It can be used for a wide variety of subjects. An art class might create a tour of museums, biographies of artists of a particular style, or even the travels and influences on a particular artist. Google Earth offers a different approach to interacting with and creating content with products that can be shared and extended beyond the classroom. In a science class students might map the progression of a disease or infestation (bark beetle) or track the spread of invasive species. GPS data can be integrated into Google Earth. Advanced GIS (http://www.esri.com/what-is-gis) tools exist, but Google Earth can be used in a similar, though more basic, way (schools can get the pro version for free and there is a free trial you might want to try (http://www.google.com/earth/outreach/tutorials/importgis.html). In a mathematics class, students might integrate demographic data to answer statistical questions. While Google Earth is obviously limited, it is not so limited as to be useless in a variety of content areas. How and when you might use it in any content area is really only limited by your imagination. Even if the tool itself is minimally useful in a particular content, the process and skills around designing learning environments that integrate technology which you are developing are transferable.
STEPS IN THE PROJECT
For this project, start by exploring the standards for a grade/content you are interested in and select one that you feel might lend itself to this project. With some content areas you may need to be a little creative and imaginative. However, be selective and really consider how the selected topic fits into Google Earth.
Next, conduct enough research and/or collect needed data and using Google Earth, create a tour in a manner similar to how your students might approach your objective/project (i.e. similar to how you created your digital story). Be sure to consider what types of information are useful or necessary to meet your objective and include it in your tour where appropriate. Include a picture, chart, graph or other visual information as well. See http://www.google.com/earth/outreach/tutorials/kmltours.html for some information on how to create a tour. There are many other resources on the web so feel free to explore.
RUBRIC, SCORING, SHARING
The project is worth 100 points. We will turn in and share the projects via a comment attached here. If working on school computers keep in mind that information may or may not survive over time so keep a backup of your work (for example, save the .kml file and other data to a flash drive). I do not know if all campus computers have version 5 of Google Earth installed. Obviously, if you are using your own computer you will need to install the latest version. If you have an older version you should update it.
The rubric for this project is fairly basic. Include all the parts and get full credit.
- A standard and objective (included in your comment) – 10 points each
- A tour created in Google Earth incorporating at least 5 locations or data points – 20 points
- Appropriate information (text, visuals, narration) to accompany each of your locations or data points – 40 points
- An image or graphic (for each location/data point) with proper citation (a link is sufficient for now) – 10 points
- A bibliography of the sources used for your research – 10 points
As you may have ascertained, I am a fan of collaborative learning. As such, you may elect to work with a partner (groups of two only) on this project provided your project seeks to go beyond the above criteria. How you extend it is up to you. Be creative. I do not just want you to each do half the work. Instead, discuss and explore ideas to go beyond a simple tour. You might, for example, decide to use the Pro version and integrate GIS data, create a sequence of tours that build upon each other, develop differentiated versions for a more diverse audience, or integrate a tour into a larger video project. Again, be creative.