When I was a young boy the astronauts were traveling in space and eventually to the moon, and one of the images that helped me understand what the earth meant to me was the shot from Apollo 8. Trying to shift my
perspecitve on what it means to only have the earth as our living and finite resource is not something that I could easily internalize. Certainly the scratched and defaced globe that I had access to in the classroom did not achieve this. Later my parents bought a book, I guess because I grew up in the Bay Area, called the Whole Earth Catalog. It sat in a pile of magazines along with the National Geographics and Popular Science. I would just thumb through it and marvel at all the things I had no idea what many of them were for other than that they were for the entire planet. All these media helped prepare me for the perhaps now common perception that social political activities must be considered from a global perspective. Now the students we teach must not only internalize a global perspective on the needs of the world, but they will also compete on the global stage. They can begin accessing infomation from a global source, and they can also begin manipulating models of the earth and move from a macro view of places and things to a micro view in a matter of seconds.
How does the earth feel to you as you spin and zoom and change your viewpoint? Whose view point is it? Will our children become more attached to the planet or will the interface for globes such as can be seen through Google Earth, Earthbrowser, 3d Globe, or ESRI GIS become just another tool losing the metaphysical perspective. One critical element that I’m fascinated with is the real time updating of information compared to the quickly outdated and frozen globes we grew up with. I have a feeling that Google Earth will eventually be more popular with teachers if it hasn’t already with the amount of lesson ideas people are sharing online and allowing teachers to download.
Two sessions at the NECC related directly to Google Earth. One session with Hall Davidson had to be changed because of licensing issues that are soon to be resolved with teachers using the program on more than one computer in the classroom. Here is the link to download the session guide when it is available. I also went to a BOF (birds of a feather) session with Scot McAdoo and other teachers from Oklahoma City. They have a web site called destinationgooglearth.com which will have lesson plans, links, and ideas on implementing the software into the classroom. It is not up yet, but it looks like it should be a great resource. They also gave a handout with other resources which I went ahead and tagged. There are so many possible uses of the program that I wonder what my perspective will be by the end of the next school year.