Creating your first Google Earth content is harder than it looks.

The first time your create content in Google Earth it will be awful.

I mean dreadfully awful. Sorry to break it to you but just like learning calculus or Roman History, it takes a little bit of time immersed in a thing to ‘get it’. Just like we tell our students, this about learning the process, not about the end result. Now, take a deep breath and just delete that terrible file about where you went to summer camp in 7th grade. I’m going to list some basic steps to get your started building a file. You might want to review some information in my previous post about getting yourself ready to teacher with Google Earth. It will remind you the overall look and feel of the platform and where the Search, Places, and Layers panels are located and what they are used for. If you want a quick review on how to navigate/move around, I suggest you check out this post about navigation hacks.

You can create layers in Google Earth by combining the three forms of content creation. They are Placemarks, Paths, and Polygons. Here are the basic steps:

Step 1. Watch three short tutorials on placemarks, polygons, and paths. these are the three ways to create content in Google Earth. Placemarks can be customized to your personal needs. I used different colored cannons to represent field batteries for a file I created on the Battle of Gettysburg. Red for Confederate, Blue for Union.

  • Placemarks and Tours: To be honest, I would only pay attention to the part about creating placemarks. Creating tours (in my opinion) is a more advanced feature that I don’t ever use.
  • Paths, Polygons and measurements: You really only need to watch the first minute to get your head around how paths and polygons work. The second half of the video is great for learning about elevation profile. I use elevation profile when teaching cross curricular math concepts.

Step 2. Try to make something. Take about 15-30 minutes to play with each of the Paths, Polygons and Placemarks. Create a placemarks for your house, create a path for your commute to work by the super-secret-squirrel way. Create a polygon of the town you work in and a polygon for the town you live in. That should be MORE than enough stuff to practice. It’s gonna be hard and you will probably make a ton of mistake. Just keep at it. It gets easier.

When you start building a file you will first have to create a folder to put your paths, polygons and placemarks in. Look at the top menu bar on your computer and should should see an option of “ADD”. When you click it, a pull down menu will appear giving you the option to add a new Folder! Easy-Peasy.

I need to warn you about the mistake that everyone makes when they start. You MUST highlight the folder you want to put your placemark, path, or polygon in BEFORE you create it. If you don’t, it will automatically add the new content in the Temporary Places folder. You will then have to remember to manually move it to the folder you created (click and drag). It’s something I see students do all the time when they first get started with Google Earth.

Next post: Path/Polygon/Placemark hacks to get faster

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