Google Earth is a cross-platform mapping tool that runs on Windows, Mac and the open source Linux operating systems. It also runs on mobile platforms such as iPads, phones and iPod touches, and various Android devices. On all of these platforms there is a native program or App available for download, via iTunes app store, Android market place, or for the computer, the Google website (Google, 2012a, 2012b).

Google Earth comes in a variety of versions (free, pro and enterprise) (Google, 2012a).

Google Earth Free:The application lets you virtually travel nearly anywhere in the world, to view satellite images, maps, terrain, 3D buildings, different galaxies in outer space, the sun, mars and depths of the ocean. You can also go from as far as out of space, and zoom into a street level view of the earth at nearly any point that has a road. Google Earth also allows you to explore different 3D buildings around the world and tree canopies. It is also possible to explore different historical imagery from around the world, from the comfort of your home and classroom. In addition to the above mentioned you can also visualise the GPS tracks you have used or will use and share with others, explore a range of geographical content and search for business locations (Google, 2012a).
The below link will inform you of the pro and enterprise features, which can enhance your Google Earth experience, if you are a pro user.
Pro and enterprise information:

Screenshot taken from the desktop application on a mac
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On the mobile version of Google Earth you are able to explore the same 3D imagery and terrain as the desktop counterpart. You can also move to your current location using the GPS information and triangulation of your device, pan, zoom, and tilt your view as you move around the Earth. Just like the desktop version you can explore and search for places, cities and businesses around the world, view different layers of the geographic information, search by voice command to find what you are looking for, and for Android tablets view cities in 3D (Google, 2012b).

Screenshot taken from the native iPhone Google Earth app.


Screenshot taken from the native iPad Google Earth App.
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Examples of current classroom application

Students can:
  • Explore the animal kingdom and endangered species with the National Geographic layer and other content.
  • Explore locations such as school, their suburb, city etc… Students are able to see what their chosen location looks like in the present and the past.
  • Study climate change and the effects of global warming.
  • Create tours of their school or community.
  • Track earthquakes in real-time
  • Explore the moon and Mars and find some information on them
  • Exploring space. For example students can look at the motion of the planets.
  • Explore some national landmarks in 3D. For example exploring the Colosseum in Rome
Teachers can:
  • Tell students to explore causes and effects of the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004
  • Explore location of meteors
  • Using Google Earth to teach geography, history, literacy, astronomy and many other lessons.
  • Using Google Earth as an engagement tool so that students can visualise certain history landmarks etc…
  • Exploring weather changes, earthquakes, animal migrations etc…


Screenshot of Rome in 3D
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Ideas about potential classroom applications or professional use of the application by school educators and administrators

Google Earth is an interactive program that allows for unlimited classroom opportunities. It is user friendly, making it appropriate for independent use in the classroom. However, it creates enormous opportunity for children and teachers to work together as a team.
Google Earth can be used in numerous units in schools, for example –
  • As an Inquiry Unit, Children could plan a trip around the world. Children can create a virtual plane trip and car rides using directions taken from Google Earth. Children could stop at different places and landmarks along the way.
  • Google Earth could be used to plan extra school activities such as a ‘Walking Bus’. Children can plan a route from their houses to school.
  • Google Earth can be used to show change over time. Children can look up particular places and see images of how they previously looked according to Google. For instance, if children are studying a unit on Global Warming, they could use Google Earth to show the Juneau Icefield Glaciers contrasting past from present as a means to illustrate glacier changes due to climate change.
  • In Mathematics, Google earth could be used to show scale and distance. Students can look up routes between different destinations which show the distance and time it would take to travel there by walking and car ride. Drop pins can be used to mark a destination, which also show longitude and latitude.
  • Students could use this program to look up places they know they will be visiting, such as excursions. They can see where it is situated. Students can also click on the small photos around the destination which show features, images and facts of that particular place.
  • Using a place or landmark of a child’s choice, in literacy, children could use it as a stimulus for writing. Using the panoramic view children could have a better idea of how a place looks, rather than an aerial view.
Extra information and support:
This webpage has a range to tutorials, for varying difficulties and skills. Examples include: street view, navigation and searching places.

This link provides a quick getting started tour on the basic features available to use.
This link provides tutorials and tips on the different features that could be useful in a classroom.
This link has resources and ideas for in classroom use, with examples of lesson plans used.

This is a link to the official YouTube Channel of GoogleEarth, that offers a range of video tutorials.

Drop Box Account
Username: davis.tom.r@me.comPassword: googleearth


Please complete the survey on this Professional development session:

Google Earth Profession Development Plan

This lesson is intended for the professional development of teachers in using Google Earth.
Learning Outcomes:
Pre-service Teachers will be able to;
  • Identify ways in which Google Earth can be used within the classroom
  • Become familiar with basic functions of Google Earth, such as using drop pins, searching different destinations, zooming in and out
  • Learn how to use the ‘Change Over Time’ function
  • Learn how to use the panoramic view feature
  • Learn different features in exploring the sky, moon and Mars
  • Identify the benefits of using Google Earth in a classroom setting
Lesson Outline
Introduction, 5 minutes
A description of Google Earth
Show the basic functions of Google Earth, such as how to search different places, using drop pins and zooming in and out
First Activity, 10 minutesAsk pre service teachers to search their old high school or primary schoolShow them how to use the change over time featurePSTs see how their school has changed since 2000 onwards.Once PSTs become familiar with using the ‘Change Over Time’ tool, ask them to search the Beijing National Stadium (Birds Nest), allow them to explore the change over time in the construction of the Stadium.
Second Activity, 10 minutes
Show PSTs how to use the moon view on Google EarthShow them how to see information on different parts of the moon
Show PSTs how to use the layering tool, allow them to explore the Apollo missions
Third Activity 10, minutes
Ask PSTs to search the Colosseum in RomeShow them how to find the panoramic view tool around the colosseumAllow PSTs to explore around the colosseum
After they have explored the Colosseum, allow PSTs to search their own landmark and use the panoramic view tool to explore the landmark. PSTs must use a drop pin on the landmark and take a screen shot of it. PSTs will save it in the group drop box.

Allow time for students to fill out survey, 5 minutes
Assessment Strategies
In the third activity, PSTs search their own landmark, they use the panoramic view tool to explore the landmark, use drop pins and zoom in and out. By doing this activity, it requires PSTs to utilise the skills they have just learnt throughout the lesson.
PSTs will fill out our survey on the wiki
The survey aims to identify what the PSTs gained from the lesson through a set of questions on our survey. From this feedback we will be able to reflect on our presentation and determine what was successful in our PD and what was not so successful.

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Reference:Google. (2012). Classroom Resources 30/3, 2012, from

Google. (2012a). Google Earth Desktop Retrieved 30/3, 2012, from

Google. (2012b). Google Earth Mobile Retrieved 30/3, 2012, from