Two great days’ training

Thank you to all the participants at the past two days’ training at the Royal Geographical Society. It’s been great getting the courses underway for the 2008/9 academic year.

I promised participants that I would post their work on the blog, but unfortunately some of the advanced work was lost with Google Earth being closed down before I could get to it.

Participant Google Earth files, RGS-IBG Course 21/10/2008

Participant Google Earth files, RGS-IBG Advanced Course 22/10/08

Please do comment with any more thoughts on how to apply the course content in the classroom or on expedition.

URGENT Help! Searching for the right video editing software

I have been searching for a couple of years now for the best video editing software to use on expeditions, both youth and school expeditions, as well as professional expeditions and field research.

The video editing software is the last piece in the puzzle.

So far, I have identified the following as the best in class for value and effectiveness for multimedia web communications from most places on the planet.

Now, I would love to use Adobe Photoshop Elements and Adobe Premiere Elements as the media editing software, because…

Photoshop Elements allows for processing multiple files at the same time. This means that an expedition team could automatically resize and auto-adjust contrast, colour, etc. for all the images in one online gallery. All this can be done at the touch of a button.

Premiere Elements allows for multiple audio and video tracks, separation of audio from video, export to a number of file formats, but most importantly flv and gives a good range of flv export options as well as custom options for bitrate, frames per second and frame width / height and codec.

The problem with both these packages is the amount of memory they need, not only for the files, but also to operate. According to the system requirements, they also need 2GHz processor, 1GB RAM and a combined 6GB of hard drive space.

These are the kind of specs that are not likely to be found on solid state memory mini laptops such as the ASUS or indeed on rugged laptops such as the Panasonic Toughbook.

I’m stuck! Please help if you can.

PS over the weekend I have tested the following software to see if it delivers: Microsoft Windows Movie Maker, Cyberlink PowerDirector, Corel VideoStudio, Sony Vegas Movie Studio 9 and Muvee Reveal and none quite hit the mark.

PPS I have just spoken to ASUS who have a more suitable laptop with the following specs:

Intel® Core™ Duo Processor U7500 : 1.06 GHz FSB: 533MHz, 2MB L2 Cache;

Mobile Intel® GM965 Express Chipset + ICH8M

DDR2 667 MHz SDRAM, 2 x SODIMM socket for expansion up to 4GB SDRAM
*Due to the 32-bit operation system’s limitation, only 3GB will show up with a 4GB memory. The 64-bit operating system will not have this issue.

Free Google Earth Pro Licence for schools

Google have extended their US programme for free Google Earth Pro licences to UK schools.

Before you think about applying, please consider whether you really need the Pro version.

Visit the Google Earth product comparison chart to see which product is best for you.

The next step is to email Anna who works on Geo-Education for Google in California – Anna will then send you some information about the programme and a questionnaire to fill in. At this point, you will also be prompted to download the 7-day free trial version of Google Earth Pro. Once Anna has received all the information, she will then be able to convert the trial into a year’s licence.

If you are looking for a entry-level GIS tool and are considering something like Google Earth, but would like to be able to integrate it with spreadsheets and GPS as well, then Google Earth Plus is probably best. It currently costs $20 per licence (good for two log-ins for a year). For more information about Google Earth Plus licenses see my previous post on the subject.

I am currently pushing for a site license for Google Earth Plus, which I hope will be pitched fairly reasonably.

Google Earth competition for students and researchers

Google launched their KML in Research Competition today with a host of prizes, fame and fortune at stake. KML is the programming language used in Google Earth, and the judges are seeking examples of research where KML is used.

Entries will be judged on their usability, educational value, visual appeal and efficiency.

For more details and information on how to enter visit the Google For Educators pages.

Google Earth browser plug-in

It’s now possible to have all the functionality of Google Earth but within your internet browser (e.g. Firefox and Internet Explorer), using a new plugin. It works in a similar way to downloading Flash to watch video online. Most of us do this without really realising it.

This opens up the possibilities for creating educational web-based games using Google Earth as the 3D world to explore.

Have a go at playing the Monster Milktruck game (this is me above enjoying the view from Westminster Bridge). Google has also listed other examples online.

Using Google Sky to teach astronomy

Google have released really useful tools for bringing the sky, moon and mars to the classroom.

You can also view the sky layer in Google Earth

The Google Educators site has some ideas about using Google Sky in the classroom.

Google Geo-Education Summit

A very inspiring day on Friday at the Google offices in London talking about the future of Google’s geo-applications to education (Google Earth, Google Maps and Google Sky).

It was a very informative and thought-provoking day with a reallly good group. Noel Jenkins, of Juicy Geography fame, spoke about his fantastic work on using Google Earth as a basis for developing in-depth enquiries (diamond trade, siting wind-farms, scenario-planning for San Francisco, etc.). Richard Treves from Southampton University, spoke amongst other things about the need for good design in Google Earth (more at his Google Earth Design blog). Also there were Ollie Bray, a great proponent of web 2.0 in Scotland, Martin Law from Teaching and Learning Scotland, Steve Bruce, Head of Education and Outdoor Learning at the Royal Geographical Society, Ed Parsons, Geo-spatial Technologist for Google and Tina Ornduff, from the Google Geo-Education team in California (a big thank you to her for organising the day).

Both Noel and Ollie have already blogged about the day, but both the day and their blogs have reminded me of several developments in new Google tools for education that I will mention in separate posts.

Panasonic’s rugged camcorder

nullPanasonic have released a waterproof, drop-proof and all round pretty rugged camcorder. The Panasonic SDR-SW20 benefits from using SD storage (SD cards are now made with up to 32GB storage) which is less susceptible to damage from drops and knocks. Think the memory card in your digital camera versus an external hard-drive and you get the idea about the relative robustness of the two digital storage systems. In return for being able to take your camera underwater, into the desert, up a mountain (hard-drive storage is usually dodgy above 3000m altitude) you compromise on image and audio quality (there’s no external mic socket and a single 0.8 megapixel CCD). But as the Panasonic website says:

…with its dustproof and waterproof performance, [the Panasonic SDR-SW20 is] the ideal camera for anytime use outdoors, in active situations, and for casual everyday video shooting.

Definitely one to consider for expedition use, and probably best suited to youth expedition teams creating web video and not suitable for those looking for video output for other purposes.

Sign up for Google Earth updates

Things are changing so fast with Google Earth, it is often hard to keep up with new features, content, layers and imagery. Google Earth publish a monthly newsletter, The Sightseer – sign up here.

Antarctica no longer white blob on Google Earth

Great for all those heading south. Your progress can now be followed on Google Earth with newly updated satellite imagery. The imagery stops at about 82.5 degrees South as there is no satellite imagery available this close to the pole.

Find out more about the update at the Google LatLong blog.

There is a call for as much user generated content (images, video, etc.) as possible to be added to this newly enhanced area. So, get going and if you need any help then let us know.

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