Street View comes to Google Maps

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Street View – a series of street level images stitched together – is now available in Google Maps as well as Google Earth. Have a play around in New York using the example above.

As a couple of people have commented, Street View has been in Google Maps for some time. The only new thing is the interface. Oops! What it does highlight is that it’s easy to miss something like this if the interface isn’t obvious.

Thank you to those who have commented.

If you go to Google Maps, you can activate Street View by dragging the little orange man onto American cities where Street View images have been taken.

Using Google Earth – technical hitches and what to do

This is a follow-up post to the recent Google Earth courses in London, Belfast and Edinburgh.

During these courses a number of technical issues arose that can present a barrier to implementing Google Earth successfully in the classroom. Here’s a list of the issues and what to do…

Installing Google Earth
Google Earth is free to download from In Northern Ireland, the free version is available via C2K. In other areas, consult your school IT support. If your IT is managed by RM, there is a blueprint available from the RM website (this will make sense to your school IT support).

Using Internet Explorer to open images
I wrongly assumed that all Internet Explorer settings would be the same for opening images from the heard drive. If you cannot see the file path and name of the image you would like to insert into a placemark description when you use Internet Explorer, you will need to make the following changes:

  • in the top menu, select ‘View’ > ‘Toolbars’ > ‘Address Bar’
  • the ‘Address Bar’ may now appear in full or as a grey box in the top left hand corner
  • try to ‘drag’ the grey box down show it show in full
  • if this does not seem to work, right click the grey box and click on ‘Lock the Toolbars’ to remove the tick and try again

Google Earth slows up or the screen is grey
This is a network issue. If you have an important lesson with a class of pupils accessing Google Earth at the same time, you should warn your IT support in school in advance and they will help you manage the network to maximise your chances of a trouble-free lesson. If the screen does go grey, simply close Google Earth and restart the application (NB remember to save any work first).

Images show as grey boxes in placemark descriptions
This can be for a number of reasons. Check the manual and your notes to make sure that you have typed the correct code. It can also be because of ‘zip’ settings on your local network. KMZ files require Google Earth to ‘unpack’ the images associated with your KMZ files. There may be settings in place that will stop this from happening. These are in place as a number of computer viruses are sent as ‘zip’ files. Talk to your IT support if this seems to be a problem.

Complete meltdown, confusion or panic
Please do comment or contact Digital Explorer if you have any other problems.

Google Earth in the classroom

I have just got back from running a Google Earth course in Edinburgh and two last week in Belfast. The next two weeks have two courses in Birmingham, two in Newcastle and two in Southampton.

I thought I would make things easier for teachers who have been / are coming on courses, by adding links to some previous posts about using Google Earth in the classroom and specifically about the whole Google Earth Plus / Pro license situation for UK schools.

Click here for the post about obtaining a free Google Earth Pro license for your school

Click here to read more about purchasing Google Earth Plus licenses for your school

If you would like access to resources connected to Google Earth training see the training pages.

There is also information, resources and a video about using Google tools to do fieldwork in the school grounds.

Thank you to all the participants over the past two weeks. There have been a few technical issues with using Google Earth in an educational networked environment and I will blog about these separately.

Here’s what course participants have created…

Participant Google Earth files, Belfast Course 04/11/2008

Participant Google Earth files, Edinburgh Course 11/11/2008

Please do comment with any more thoughts on how to apply the course content in the classroom or on expedition. Also, please comment with any suggestions about fieldwork areas that do not have high resolution imagery and could be updated to enable Google Earth to be used effectively. No promises about any changes, but I’ll pass the information on!

Reaching a wider audience – the cost of quality

Innovation in technology and design means money and time. Nothing that Digital Explorer does is radically new nor are the methods we use different from what thousands of others are doing. So what’s the difference?


I have watched YouTube videos that pupils have made. It’s always quite exciting to see which teachers have been secretly filmed. If you’re a teacher and never searched YouTube for your school, it can be quite revealing. The quality of these videos is pretty poor, and not just the content. Sound quality, framing, narrative, soundtrack, etc. are all out of the window. However, for a small group of people they are interesting and amusing. Quality in web video production gives you access to a greater audience.

There are blogs that I read that are easy to navigate, well laid out and full of interesting content. On some blogs, the design really adds to the content, giving a sense of place, ideas and inspiration. Others are truly shocking, full of garish fonts and mis-sized photographs, with dull headlines and lack of decent opening paragraphs. Again, unless you have a very particular interest in the person/people writing the blog or the content, you will not browse, but move on.

When Digital Explorer started, the inspirations were the model of the broadcast news journalist reporting from across the world, and the rigour of the professional expedition. Digital Explorer remains adamant that no compromise should be made in terms of quality, but that costs money.

A curriculum for the digital global citizen would include…

  • the skills to shoot, edit and upload a quality digital video (nothing more complicated than an establishing shot, a few interviews with proper framing and decent sound quality, and maybe an appropriate cut-away or three)
  • the skills to create or identify an engaging, appropriate and accessible online platform (blog, ning, social networking group or page, etc.) and the ability to write engaging content with a mix of digital media to back it up (photos, video and maps)
  • an appreciation and knowledge of digital mapping technologies and how they can help to inform and contextualise issues online
  • the ability to apply these skills to learning in Citizenship, English, Geography and Science taught curricula, so that any digital content has proper rigour in terms of research methods and young people understand how to create change

This curricula involves money and time. Who will build this capacity outside of the current taught curriculum? Where will the money for additional hardware come from? Who will link these new skills to local, national and global issues?

In the future, Digital Explorer wants to grow its current programmes to become a techno-eco-scout movement for the 21st Century.

Give young people the skills they need to become leaders.

We are failing them if we don’t.

ICT in Geography

ICT in secondary schools: a short guide for teachers, edited by David Mitchell and produced by the GA with the support of the RGS-IBG and Becta, outlines some of the most important ICT available for teaching and learning geography, both in and outside the classroom. Drawing on the work of geography teachers and what they find really works, each short chapter takes a separate area of technology and explains, in simple terms, its meaning, why it is helpful for teaching and learning geography, and practical steps to get started.

Digital Explorer’s work is highlighted in the section on Virtual Fieldwork, written by Jamie Buchanan-Dunlop.

Environmental education – great use of Flash

The Forest Life site from European Forestry company, UPM, is a great example of using rich media to create an immersive educational environment. Full marks!

Expedition site wins award

The website for the Offscreen Student Expedition 2008 site won the Y Design Award for Best Community site. Congratulations to the team – Chris, Ciara, Colin and John – and it’s great to see their hard work pay off.

It also shows how important good design is in breaking down barriers between different cultures.

The Offscreen Student Expedition 2008 was a collaboration between Digital Explorer and the Offscreen Education Programme and was supported by HSBC, the British Council, the Said Foundation and Gulf Air.

New School Environment Project video

It was very exciting to run a pilot School Grounds Project at Eastbury Comprehensive School. We used many of the same techniques that we have employed on overseas expeditions – digital media, blogging, geo-tools (Google Earth and Google Maps) – to investigate the School Grounds and then take action to make a difference to the school environment.

This pilot wouldn’t have been possible without the support of Google UK and especially Kate Hammond and Liz Ericson. Also many thanks go to the pupils and staff at Eastbury Comprehensive School, who were amazing, enthusiastic and talented. Special thanks to Tracy Knight and Ruth Owen for their help and support.

This amazing film was made by the wonderful Jonny Madderson of Just So Films. Thank you for all your hard work.

Continuing thanks to Mark Thackara at Olympus for the great pupil-proof TOUGH digital cameras, that we used for photography and video during the pilot.

As always thank you to Marjan who makes sure that everything just happens, somehow, though still not quite sure how.

[de]‘s Google Earth training video on YouTube

The video of Digital Explorer’s ‘Virtual Fieldwork Using Google Earth’ course is now on YouTube. Thank you to everyone who made the recent teacher training UK Roadshow possible: Kate Hammond and Ed Parsons at Google, Shane Winser and Lucy Bruzzone at the Royal Geographical Society, Will Evans at Just So Films and Marjan Shirzad here at Digital Explorer.

Google Earth Outreach

A great day with Google at the launch of the Google Earth Outreach programme for NGOs and charities.

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