Monday, September 24, 2012

The Power of Street View in Teaching

Streetview is one of the Jewels in the Crown of Google Geo and its a fantastic resource for teaching.  I've just delivered a 'Google Earth as GIS in teaching' session to PGCE students at Southampton University and took the opportunity to polish up my teaching materials, including having another look at what Streetview can do.  I thought I'd share some thoughts on it with you.

Views Beyond the Street: Firstly, it used to just be roads, now they've gone off piste with the streetview trike

and backpack

producing a range of resources including panoramas from the South pole, inside museums and on footpaths.  See the full Gallery.

HowTo:  But before I get carried away with the fun stuff, here's some basic instructions on how to use it in Google Earth looking at a classic Physical Geography field site:  Lulworth Cove.

1] Using the search panel, find Lulworth Cove, UK.

2] Zoom out so you can see the town immediately to the West and the cove in the same view. 

Rollover the controls in the top right of the screen > Click and drag the orange man > Drop him close to the cliff on the blue path between town and cove.   You will be transported into ‘streetview mode’.

3] Look all the way around you and vertically down at the ground by click and dragging the screen

Now ‘walk’ along the road/path by rolling the mouse wheel up and down.  Note that your view stays in one direction

4]  Select a good view, Create a placemark and call it ‘Street View’, click OK.

5]  Now exit streetview by clicking ‘exit streetview’ button, top right.

6]  Double click your new streetview placemark in the places column to fly back into streetview.  

This is handy as you don't have to do all the dragging and dropping of the orange man. 

Teaching Tips - the Cove:  If you're due to go to Lulworth cove, using streetview has obvious uses - you can introduce the site to students and explain where they'll go on the day.  After the trip you can use it to revise what they did and saw, helping them to link the parts of the day to the geography of the site.

The 'constant view' direction that you get with rolling the mouse wheel is particularly useful as you can show them what they will see on the walk out to the edge of the cove.  The direction should be set towards the cove - they shouldn't really be looking elsewhere!

Other Teaching Tips:  I think streetview is very useful not only for physical geography but also for human geography.  I've used it for schools outreach when looking at different neighborhoods, judging income levels depending on how smart the cars and the front doors look.  

You can use it in Google Maps without bothering to use it in Google Earth but I think the advantage of being able to 'tag' locations in streetview with a placemark and return to them at the double click of a mouse is highly useful.

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