Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Google Earth

Google Earth is an online, virtual globe. Features of the latest version include the ability to access historical images of places around the world, view the ocean floor and other data provided by marine exerts and tours of the globe audio and voice recordings (Google, 2009).

I was a bit dubious about the program and its accuracy but was soon shocked when I typed in my workplace and it located it. Although the photo was taken three years ago significant detail was given in the picture. I then searched the surrounding areas and again the attention to detail was quite surprising. I looked up a friend's address in America and it was interesting to look at her University Campus as the size and set up is completely different to what we see in Australia. Finally I had a look at Tokyo in Japan. Zooming in on the inner city I added weather and traffic layers and made the buildings 3D. I also added the interesting places layer and photos. The program was really simple to use and provided the address is typed in correctly it will easily find different locations. One concern I did have was the ability for others to see where you live and as such it was a wake-up call about being careful of what information others can find out about you on the Internet, particularly from social networking sites such as Facebook and My Space. Internet safety, identity fraud and ensuring personal security would have to be discussed in the classroom so that students are aware of the possible dangers lurking on the Internet.

In the classroom Google Earth would be a great learning resource to assist students with their learning tasks. As a visual aid it would be great to use when looking at different cultures from around the world as students would be able to see how cities/towns are planned, what resources are available near by and get a feel for how big or small an area these places cover. Tokyo for example has a population of 12 million people however it wasn't until I zoomed out over the Tokyo Metropolis that I could even begin to comprehend what a 12 million people city would look like. In this way Google Earth provides a support for visual learners. The program could also be used to help understand co-ordinates for geography however as this is determined by where the mouse is on the page I'm not sure that I would use it to answer test questions (e.g: give the co-ordinates of Melbourne City, Australia). It would be great however if places could be sought by co-ordinates. On the other hand students could still answer questions and provide short responses about different places by searching for city names.

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