Last week I talked about a few tips to get you started using the new online version of Google Earth. If you’d like to review those talking points you can check the post out here. Today I’d like to focus on a few more aspects of the new Google Earth that will improve your experience and also get you in the mood to explore this amazing new product. Let’s get started….
When you click on the “menu’ icon located on the top left corner of your screen you will notice a few options to check out. The first one I’d like to illustrate is called “map style”
When you click Map Style you will notice four options to choose from. I suggest that you either choose “Exploration” or “Custom” and avoid the “Everything” option like the plague. Think about it. How many students do you know that are capable of staying on task with “everything” visible and clickable.
The “Exploration” option illustrates a few borders, roads, and other geographic features (mountains, rivers, et al) but keeping things like gas stations, libraries, strip malls hidden. Students love to get distracted when exploring so less is always more. If you choose to go with the “Custom” option you will have to click through each menu layer and turn each layer either on or off that you want displayed. Personally I use custom because I prefer to have precise control over when I’m looking at when using Google Earth. When you click the custom option you will see a myriad of ways to dial down your personal look and feel to Google Earth.
You can find myPlaces towards the bottom of the menu bar on the left side of Google Earth. When you click it, you will be asked to choose a KMZ file to upload. This is one of the most interesting aspects to the new Google Earth, the ability to import a KMZ file from your desktop or Google Drive. Since this feature is still ‘experimental’, it doesn’t work with large files that have lots of folders and/or polygons in them (sad panda here…). It is a little frustrating personally since I’ve spent several years building up a catalogue of clickable maps for my students that I share via Google Docs. I’m sure at some point Google will expand this feature and allow for larger files. That being said, if you have students who build content in Google MyMaps then you are in luck! I tried importing some maps that I’ve made in MyMaps and they opened perfectly.
What I like about this feature is that students will be able to directly import they work into Google Earth for a better experience when viewing it. The ability to click and tilt perspective is what sets Google Earth apart from other mapping platforms. While I’m still getting used to the process of clicking each eyeball icon to turn on/off each place-mark or polygon that I created, it’s starting to get easier with a little practice.
The final feature I’d like to talk about is the street view feature. Since its roll out a few years ago, Google has been doggedly adding more and more imagery to its database and now boasts to have covered almost the entire United States below the 48th parallel. There’s a little person icon in the bottom right corner of Google Earth that you can click and drag anywhere on the map and plop him/her down. Just make sure that when you do the ground has been illuminated in a light blue hue. This indicates that Street View imagery is available on that particular road.
Exploring in Street View is almost exactly the same as exploring in the street view found on Google Maps online. Click and drag to look around and use either the arrows to move forwards or backwards.
What’s been your experience with the new online version of Google Earth. Let us know what you’d like us to write about next time in the comments!