Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Google Earth

Glancing through the Google Earth website I was fascinated to discover that Google Earth is not alone. What Google refers to as a suite of products include Google Earth, Google Maps, Google Sky and Google SketchUp. On their Education home page Google claims they are able to support teachers to empower students and expand the frontiers of human knowledge (Google, 2009). These tools together certainly have the potential to empower students to discover the world’s geographic information.

Google Earth has a wide range of uses within education. It develops the opportunity for students to apply deductive logic to reach conclusions thereby promoting development of analytical skills. When developed further it can assist in developing literacy skills by having students write explanations or observations of what they are seeing (Patterson, 2006).

Google Maps can be used to explore a range of subjects and like Google Earth provides a tourist view with StreetView. Google Maps is an online application and therefore doesn’t require downloading, which makes it particularly suitable for use in the classroom as there are fewer technical obstacles if downloading is not required. With its ability to edit maps Google Maps allows students to create personalised maps, embed photos, videos and text. These maps can be published and shared to make projects more authentic.

What I love about Google Sky is its ability to provide insight into a previously unexplored realm. Students can learn about astronomy and view real imagery from the Hubble Space telescope. There are a huge range of resources available to immediately introduce complex abstract concepts to students with the advantage of visual imagery which brings the experience alive.

Google Sketchup is modelling software that allows students to construct 3D models of just about any object imaginable. It has valuable mathematical application as students are able to visualise geometry concepts, learn about measurement and have great fun in the process.

In a report titled Multimodal Learning through Media: What the Research Says, the authors suggests that by adding visuals to verbal instruction significant gains in basic or higher-order learning can be gained, if applied appropriately. They suggest when sensory input is combined with new information at the same time, it has a positive effect on memory retrieval by creating a linked memory that when triggered recalls the entire memory. (Stansbury, 2008)

Kearsley & Schneiderman (1999) suggest that the fundamental idea underlying engagement theory is that students must be meaningfully engaged in learning activities through interaction with others and worthwhile tasks. Walter, (2006) asserts that in order to achieve this level of engagement we as teachers need to ensure that students can interact directly with real world experiences, allow them to own their own learning and have tangible outcomes which result in an impact on society.

Google Website: Education Home: http://www.google.com/educators/index.html

Patterson, T. (2006). Using Google Earth as a Political Education Tool. [electronic resourece]. Retrieved August 18, 2009 from http://www.allacademic.com//meta/p_mla_apa_research_citation/1/5/1/0/0/pages151004/p151004-1.php

Stansbury, M. (2008). Analysis: How multimedia can improve learning. [electronic resource].Retrieved August 18, 2009 from http://www.eschoolnews.com/news/top-news/index.cfm?i=53243&page=2

Walter, J. (2006). Values Education for Australian Schooling: Increasing student engagement – the theory behind Learning Journeys. [electronic resource]. Retrieved August 15, 2009 from http://www.valueseducation.edu.au/values/default.asp?id=8759

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