I am currently working with a 7th grade Geography class as they develop a Google Earth (GE) Tour for their unit on Central America. The rationale was that GE would give them a chance to look closely at a country, both at the major cultural sites and in the neighborhoods and towns and would provide a richer experience than a textbook based lesson. the teacher provided the students with a handout beforehand and had to locate information on a variety of topics within the country. This provided the framework around whiat their tour would be based. We are almost finished, but in a nutshell, here's how it worked.

Our goal is for the studenbts to have a completed GE tour with voice and video.

How it has gone so far:

  • Students were put together in groups of 2 or 3. One student was responsible for adding the placemarks and photos to GE (the "pilot," for lack of a better term) while the other(s) typed up desriptions for the placemarks, located pictures, and collaborated with the GE pilot.
  • prior to showing it to the students, I tested out GE 6.1 on my computer and for some reason, I could not record audio. I tried on a couple different computers; unfortunately, they were the same model so the problem still existed. Installing 6.0 worked. I could record narration along with the tour. We installed GE 6.0 on the student computers.
  • I provided some training for the students, covering the basics of adding a placemark, adding a picture, creating a folder and saving the tour, and then showing them a short tour I created. We spent 15 minutes tops training them, then we turned them loose. I created a brief wikispaces GE Tour space with some tips and videos, along with a rough LiveBinder with various GE tutorials (http://www.livebinders.com/play/present?id=294621). Additionally, I set up a shared TitanPad document that they could use to share links and descriptions. In retrospect, I am not sure if there would have been a better way; some students were distracted by the chat feature.
  • Students were to have a minimum of 8 stops on their tour; we have not begun to record the tours yet.
  • This is a basic project. My idea is to start it out si mple, let the kids learn it and show me some new things, and we can add what works to the next time.

Challenges:

  • A big issue has been setting up the folder in GE under Places to save the pictures and placemarks. They either did not pay attention or just didn't understand the concept. Students have their own mapped folders, so we spent some time backtracking, logging into previously used computers and re-gathering all the data, then re-saving it. I found it best to work with each group at least once to make sure they are doing it correctly.
  • Sometimes the "Add -->Photo" doesn't add the photo. You have to go back and add it again. I have found that putting the link to the photo first, then puttng in the name works better. You can see the photo 'snap' in if it is successful. Sometimes it isn't.
  • Some students miss class, and it falls on the other group member(s) to pick up the slack, but that is usually the case with group assignments.
  • There is a bit of trial and error as GE can be buggy at times.

...More later as it continues to evolve.

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