This is the third post about teachers using Google Earth to enhance student engagement with learning. Students are put in charge of creating content to help build context and perspective about any topic they want to study. Before you as the teacher can start a project or lesson, it is important to learn some basic foundation skills so you don’t look like a complete idiot in front of twenty-five 8th graders… The last post was focused on learning the sidebar in Google Earth. If you want to review that stuff, feel free to check it out. 🙂 I’ll wait for you. Promise.
Navigation and moving around.
Google Earth is different from using Google Maps or other mapping software because it has the unique ability to allow the user to shift their camera angle and look around as if you were tilting your head. It takes some getting used to and there are a few keyboard hacks that you will want to be aware of before you take GE into the classroom.
First you should get started and watch the Google Earth tutorial video on Navigation. It’s only 2:28 long which is great to assign as a flipped assignment for students. It’s important to know how the software works even if you might not use the technology exactly how Google instructs you to.
The Navigation Bar in Google Earth is located on the right hand side of the display. You can use but I rarely do. I find that the Navigation Bar is a little clunky and hard to use. It’s not terrible and it is great to have kids learn how to use it and what it means but once you (and your students get your heads around the basic operation of navigating) I would switch to using a mouse or a trackpad combined with some keyboard shortcuts. I prefer using a trackpad with the keyboard because I’ve been a Mac user for years and it feels natural for me. The point is that there are options available to you and it’s best to try them out and find the navigation technique that works best for you.
Keyboard shortcuts are AWESOME
I can’t stress how important they have become to my daily use of Google Earth. I’m not talking about the easy ones that are standard across most software (⌘+S=Save, ⌘+O=Open, etc…), I’m talking about using the arrow keys in conjunction with either Shift or ⌘, or both with the arrow keys. Check out what I’m talking about in the video below. If you practice these keyboard shortcut hacks, you will become sooooo much faster navigating within Google Earth!
When you become proficient at using these shortcuts it cuts down on time during direct instruction for your students. You want to be able to maximize the amount of time that students get to actually use Google Earth. By getting yourself efficient at navigation, you are also modeling best practices for your students so they can master the skill as well. Take the time to play with these short cuts. They are the ones I rely on most.