Sorry things have been so quiet here lately. The site has been shunted to a lower priority for a variety of reasons lately, not the least of which is all the other cool stuff that has been happening in Ed-Tech and Web 2.0 that has distracted me.
As you are probably aware, Google released the new Version 5 of Google Earth about a month ago. It garnered wide spread acclaim for some of its amazing new features:
- The ability to record tours that include models, sound and animation.
- Underwater terrain and a moving sea surface.
- Historical satellite imagery.
While each of these advances are amazing in their own right, taken together they increase the educational potential of the tool to new heights. Frank Taylor over at Google Earth Blog has been doing a fantastic job of keeping us up to date as some of these capabilities are explored. Meanwhile, Richard Treves, the renowned Geographer and highly innovative educator in the UK has been sharing what he has learned about the new tour function along with sound design principles on his Google Earth Design blog.
Yet even with all the buzz on the blog-o-sphere about the new Google Earth and its capabilities, some of the more subtle changes seem to have gone unnoticed. Below are a couple of the new tricks and changes that I have stumbled on (download the sloppy example placemark here):
- The almost full support of html in placemarks. While you could use html in the past, it was a bit sketchy on what would actually work. Now, that support is almost full on, with support for forms, frames and other nifty html functions. For instance, you can now include interactive forms, background textures and more.
- Support for the iFrame tag. What this means is that you can now easily embed webpages in your placemarks. Some caveats however. Java is not supported yet. I thought it would be cool to embed a Google Doc in a placemark so a student could enter data, but it doesn’t work. Also, you can’t navigate back, you can only click links to go forward in your research. In the example placemark above you can navigate Google Maps inside Google Earth.
- Animated Gifs can be viewed in placemarks. I know this is a little thing, but for kids it can mean a lot. Children are more engaged when there is motion and stuff zipping around. While you can do that by embedding Flash content, gif content is a more mature technology (one most students can create with simple paint programs) and does not require messing with complicated embed codes.
Over the coming weeks I am going to try to find time to develop some of this further and see what else I can discover and as I do will share the results here.
In the meantime, if you haven’t grabbed the latest version of Google Earth, do it now, you will not be disappointed!