Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Google Earth and Vo-Tech 2.0
I have always been intrigued by Google Earth, but I really didn't understand its capabilities beyond zooming into a region and exploring the landscape. I spent some time on the Google for Educators site trying to understand how it could be useful in classes other than Geography. Frankly, I was amazed. Google Earth allows the user to create files that can be shared and edited on any topic imaginable. I found files from the world's top ski resorts to "lit trips" that track a novels geographic progression in. All of the information is contained in the placemarks that can be edited simply using text or more dynamically using HTML code.
That still brought me back to my usual starting point when using technology here: how could I integrate it into the classes we teach? So far, I have focused on Culinary Arts because they emphasize a global perspective on foods, food production, and food culture, which made Google Earth a perfect platform. We revamped a "Foods of the World" project that the chef has used in the past, which usually contained Internet research and a 1-2 page research paper. We decided to use a new tool from 4Teachers.org called NoteStar to help the student groups manage their research and correctly cite their sources. This was an excellent tool because the students were responsible for managing their progress, and the teacher and I could check the groups' progress easily. After they completed their research, the students used Google Earth to enter their research into placemarks. The placemarks corresponded with the country they were researching, and they learned how to imbed images into the placemarks using simple HTML code.
All in all, the project was a success! We hit the usual bumps in the road, but the instructor liked the project so much that we have another in progress with the seniors that involves nutrition and traditional foods of other countries.
Check out the wiki for student samples. These are a little rough, but they are still a work in progress.
In the future, I would like to utilize Google Earth's tour feature. Using a microphone, you can easily record a narrated tour, which would be a great way for the students to practice their speaking skills.