What on Earth can you do with Google Earth?

Google Earth has always been an astonishing way to explore our planet, and the new version of Earth now brings the wonder of our planet directly into your browser. This workshop will provide you with a solid understanding of what you can do with the new Google Earth, and provide a number of ideas for using it in your classroom. We will look at how you can explore using Streetview, how to collect Points of Interest, importing and exporting KML and KMZ files, as well as checking out the new I'm Feeling Lucky and Voyager features. If time allows, we can also look at creating your own Google Earth Voyages using Tour Builder (not for iPads)

This workshop is suitable for Chromebooks, computers, phones and tablets.

3D Imagery Explained

How is the detailed 3D world inside Google Earth created?

Photogrammetry, that's how!

This video from Nat and Friends does a great job of explaining the new Google Earth. In particular check out the excellent explanation of how Photogrammetry works

Very clever!

Navigation Tools

Although you can generally tap, click and drag your way around the Earth, take a moment to see what these buttons do. They can be quite useful!

  • Clicking the Compass icon always returns North to the proper direction.
  • Clicking the Location icon will zoom to your current location (assuming you have enabled Location Services on your device)
  • Clicking the Streetview icon will let you drop Pegman on the map to see it in glorious 360 Photosphere mode

Choose your Map Style

Make it your own

Take a few moments to learn your way around and to make Google Earth work and look just the way you want it to.

Go to the Settings and see what you can change!


Settings Options

  • Zoom mode
  • Zoom speed
  • Region
  • Units of Measurement
  • Show Zoom buttons
  • Set memory cache
  • Enable KML import (yes!)

Activity 1 - Explore Earth

  • Zoom to a city you'd like to explore.
  • Try the I'm Feeling Lucky tool. Where did it take you?
  • Try typing a specific city or location in the search bar
  • Check out the info cards! Try clicking them.
  • Click Pegman to explore Streetview

Find a few locations in the world you'd like to explore and go explore them!

Discuss with a partner

How could you use this in your classroom?

Pro Tip!

Drag to pan around the world view. Hold the Shift Button as you drag to tilt and rotate the world view

Activity 2 - Explore Voyages

Voyages are a curated collection of guided tours for exploring the world. They use photos, text, and Streetview images to create an immersive learning experience.

To get started, check out some of these...

  • This is Home. This incredible collection lets you explore how different people live around the world. Zoom in to see their house, then zoom in again to enter their home.
  • Finding Home - The true story of Saroo Brierley, lost in India at age 5 and adopted to a family in Tasmania (You may have seen the film Lion based on this story)
  • Land Art from Above - See giant large scale artworks from a perspective otherwise hard to get.

Where could you take your students?

  • Check out at least 3 different Voyages and then share them with your seat buddy
  • Discuss how you might be able to use Voyages in your classroom

How to read a Google Earth URL

One huge advantage of the new Google Earth is that everywhere on the planet (and your selected view of that place) can be represented with a URL. This is a big deal. It means that anywhere on Earth can be shared with a simple link.

While the URLs look like a long string of random characters, they mean something and are actually pretty easy to understand.

Take this URL for example: https://earth.google.com/web/@41.94869556,-87.65573553,182.14212421a,366.18808407d,35y,-157.20802713h,56.57024294t,0r

Look carefully and you'll see that long string is broken up by commas. Each section means something...

The last section starting with /data= can include a long string of characters relating to any open information windows.

Activity 3 - Collect a set of locations and save it

  • Use the tag feature to bookmark a location.
  • Build up a small collection of places of interest
  • To save them as a set, duplicate the Bookmarks, then rename the collection.
  • Then delete the original Bookmark folder and start again with a new set.

What if you want to bookmark a really specific location?

  1. Manually find the location
  2. Copy the Latitude and Longitude from the URL (the first two numbers after the @ symbol)
  3. Paste the LatLong into the search bar and search for it (you should end up exactly where you are)
  4. Bookmark that location, then rename it.

Activity 4 - Design a classroom activity for your students

  • Hopefully you can see that whatever subject you teach, whatever age level you teach, you can probably use Earth to help your students learn about it.
  • Come up with a lesson outline for using Google Earth in your Classroom.

Sharing a location

Because everywhere in Earth can be represented with a URL, sharing a location is as simple as sharing the URL.

But there are also a few built-in options for sharing to Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and even Classroom!

Clicking the Classroom link will allow you to select a Class, and decide whether you want it to be sent out as an Announcement, Assignment or Question. So easy.

The Get Link option will provide a shortened version of the URL.

Measuring Distance

Use the measure tool to mark out a path on the map to measure distances between points. This works at any scale, whether you want to measure the distance around your local neighbourhood park, or across the Pacific Ocean.

Double click to end the path.

Closing the path will also give you the area of the enclosed shape.