Explore the Oceans with Sylvia Earle

Have fun exploring the oceans in 3D with Google Earth, narrated by the ever amazing Sylvia Earle.

New ocean floor data in Google Oceans

From the Google Lat Long blog – exciting developments…

Only a tiny fraction of our oceans have ever been explored. As a matter of fact, we know more about the surfaces of Mars and the Moon than we do about our own ocean floor. So in honor of World Oceans Day, we collaborated with Columbia University to add more ocean seafloor terrain to Google Earth than has ever been available before. With the addition of Columbia’s Global Multi-Resolution Topography (GMRT) synthesis data, you can explore half the ocean area that has ever been mapped, an area larger than North America.

A day in Edinburgh for Google Earth

Great to be up with the Scottish Council of Independent Schools this month in Edinburgh and have the chance to work with a great group of geography (and science!) teachers.

A few pointers for the attendees and anyone else interested in using Google Earth and GPS in the classroom:

Do be in touch if you need any other advice

Expedition Websites (Content pt 1)

Content is king. Without good content, all the other effort you put into your website will be a waste of time and you will lose visitors. There are two types of content: static and dynamic. Static content describes the content that you usually type once and doesn’t change, such as information about your project and team. Dynamic content describes the updates that you send during the expedition, often in the form of a blog. A common technical distinction is that static content is contained within pages and dynamic content is contained within (blog posts). (more…)

Expedition Websites (Basics)

There is an unspoken rule that every expedition must have a website, in some ways akin to the current phenomenon that nothing actually happens unless it is posted on Facebook. However, underlying this accepted norm is something that reaches into what 21st Century exploration is all about.

If exploration is the process of discovering new knowledge about our planet and its people, should we not be in the process of training local researchers to do the job for us, gradually relegating these overseas to nostalgia. What gives the current model legitimacy?

I would argue that it is the transformative power of the journey that results in so many of those involved in exploration and expeditions becoming passionate advocates and activists for environments and issues the world over, that is crucial. Expeditions return to the UK wild-eyed and passionate, capable of exciting, inspiring and sharing their experiences and discoveries. (more…)

Google Earth climate change map unveiled

The Google Earth layer prepared for the FCO and Met Office is featured on Channel 4 News. It is the most complex Google Earth layer that Digital Explorer has created to date and we are very proud that it has got such exposure.

We look forward to the layer being used in classrooms across the world to inspire young people to make a difference and seize the opportunity to develop green enterprise and technologies.

The layer can be downloaded from the FCO website.

Using ICT effectively in Geography


Google Earth web gadget

Social networking – contacts or content?

The rise and rise of Twitter (a micro-blogging tool) has brought into sharp focus a division or shift in the social networking or web 2.0 landscape.

If web 2.0 can be categorised as online conversation, whether that be through the written word, images, video or a mix of the three, do we join these conversations based on who they’re with or what they’re about?

Contacts or content?

The difference is most notable when comparing a service such as Facebook and something like Twitter. Facebook replicates real world friendship and contact groups, whether professional or personal. Although some people gather ‘friends’ as those they’re life depended on it, the convention seems to be that I need to know you before I allow you to be my ‘friend’.

Conversely with Twitter, the friendship aspect is taken away. I can become a ‘follower’ of someone’s Twitter feed (the list of short comments or ‘tweets’ that are made and posted online). Becoming a follower of their feed does not make me their friend. It means that what they are saying is interesting and I would like to know what they have to say. It may be that I know this person in the real world and know that they are interesting, but there is much more opportunity to take the ‘contact’ aspect out of Twitter and keep your relations based on your interest in the conversation.

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.

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