Sunday, April 29, 2007

Question About the Availability of Google Earth Workshops

I gave a talk at the American Association of Geographers meeting last week on the use of Google Earth in higher education, and following the talk there was no time for questions. I did get one question emailed to me, and because I think it's a good one, I'd like to answer it here. I'm posting the question(s) and my response in case someone reads this and wants to add to the discussion. I won't include the professor's name and school.

April 21, 2007

Hi Meg,

I greatly enjoyed your presentation yesterday at AAG in SF. In terms of my current interests, it was the best presentation of the day. Thank you. (I wanted to talk to you afterwards but unfortunately had to dash to meet up with one of my students before the Lopez/Solnit session).

I am writing because I have a full sabbatical in the Fall to work on developing improved graphic teaching tools for my geography courses. Part of the sabbatical project involves learning to use the more advanced features of Google Earth. I would greatly appreciate it if you could suggest the best way to quickly get up to speed on making my own KML/KMZ files, uploading images, and creating movies/fly-throughs. Are there any workshops on these topics that you're aware of? Any especially good books or online tutorials? Any advice or help you may be able to offer will be greatly appreciated!

Warm regards,
Professor of Geography

My response:

Dear Professor of Geography,

Thank you for your kind words on the Google Earth presentation and your interest in some Google Earth sabbatical ideas.

First off, I don't know of any workshops or training sessions available for Google Earth. I'm self-taught. But as I said in the talk, it's pretty easy software to work with and you can't break anything when you're trying to figure things out. I think that Google Earth is new enough that there aren't any how-to books out there (that I know of) and that use is growing organically. Likewise, there are no resources available that talk about standards for use in a classroom setting.

Secondly, always get the most up-to-date version of Google Earth. I think I said that in my talk, but it should be restated. I find that I can do most everything I need to do with the free version of Google Earth. You mentioned making a movie; that would need to be done with the pay-for version (Google Earth Pro at $400/seat). There is a movie-making tutorial that you can follow.

When I give demos to faculty members on campus, I usually try to give them a copy of a Google Earth Users Guide is pretty useful, though I think it is very wordy. But all of the things that you mentioned that you'd like to learn are listed there.

Frank Taylor's Google Earth Blog has a nice short list of some things you can do with Google Earth, like describing the overview map and playing a tour, but also clarifying any confusion between a KML or a KMZ? I get that sometimes. And then the Google Earth Blog also points to tutorials.

And these seem to be video and audio podcasts Google Earth tutorials (I must admit I haven't tried these but they look useful).

Finally, there was a terrific KML that I stumbled upon and now cannot seem to dredge up. It was a great step-by-step on how to make a placemark with different types of text, with an embedded URL, and with an image that pops up in the placemark bubble. Where is that!? If I find that one, I'll send it along to you. Just keep in mind that the placemark "description" can be written in HTML. My guess is that I found that helpful KML back before I started the gisatvassar blog. Now when I find something useful, I stick it right on the links side (or post a note about it). So what I'll do with your email and my answer (leaving out your name, of course) is post it to the blog.

When you get into your 'free' time of your sabbatical, please get in touch with me if you have Google Earth questions.

Best regards,

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