Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Google Earth and World Cultures

I am so excited about the Google Earth project we are finishing at the HS. This is a collaboration between the World Cultures teacher and myself. She came to me with an idea of an alternative to classroom reports using Google Earth.

We brainstormed what the project might look like and who was responsible for which parts. I used onenote to keep track of that.

The classroom teacher led them through the research process and the requirements for the content of the Google Trip.

I worked out the technical parts of Google Earth and created a handout with the details. I taught the how-to in the lab and then was a resource as students had questions or problems.

The final step of this project will happen in a week...we will email the trip to the teacher's email account. Because this is Google Earth - gmail is the email of choice. Students do not yet have email accounts - so the teacher and I will log in and carry out this step. Then the teacher will have the trip to view on her own computer.

What we Learned
Through this process we discovered some glitches with Google Earth and limitations to our own knowledge.

For example, we wanted the pictures to be larger or smaller than the ones they were importing. One of the students knew a little about code and helped us add a bit more code to the image properties and the pictures were sized accordingly. We also discovered again and again how very touchy code is...one extra space or period in the wrong place and pictures don't appear.

Another major discovery wasn't as easily remedied. There are two World Cultures classes - two different blocks. Google Earth saw these different log ins as the same person. So the pins and information for both students was intermingled in the Google Earth Application. It was easily organized via folders, but that was tricky for some students. Especially the one pair...how in the world did we happen to have two people, both studying Germany on the very same computer??

There were also the common issues of Google Earth or computers freezing, problems with content and appropriate pictures. But, these were minor. We did discover that as long as your pins are in correct folder - they are automatically saved. If they are not in a "Places" folder - there is no retrieving them after the program is shut down.

Did it work?
It certainly worked from my perspective. This was a great way to bridge the technology/content gap. Each teacher was responsible for a part of the final project, each was involved in the planning stage and the tech work went so much better with two adults in the lab. This even worked with my scheduling issues - the teacher 'taught' the final step to one section because I was not able to be in the lab that day.

Will we do it again? I hope. Although this classroom teacher could easily do this on her own, I hope she will invite me to participate again next year... and we will work to improve the parts that were a little clunky.

This is why I wanted to be a secondary librarian!!! Yippee!!

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