Thursday, January 24, 2013

Google Earth in Award Winning Course

Screen shot of the Frozen Planet interactive map (Google Earth) showing permafrost layer
On Tuesday I went to a talk by Mark Brandon of the Open University (OU) about how they produced courses linked to the BBC ‘Frozen Planet’ TV series which was a joint OU/BBC production.  He had some great stories about what it was like to be involved with fiiming with the BBC at the poles with David Attenborough.

He described two courses:

  • A free online course (think MOOC if you don’t recognise the acronym, don’t worry) on the OpenLearn site (link from here but broken at present)
  • A short course

These are courses the OU produced, both of which he was involved in.  They were very sucessful in terms of student numbers breaking OU records and Mark explained how students completed tasks in Google Earth (API) as part of their assessments and also how it was used as a content platform. I was pleased to hear that for his work on the courses he won the ‘innovative teacher of the year’ award from the Times Higher.

Talking to him afterwards we agreed that the only real barrier to use by more university teachers was that they didn’t know about its capabilities, rather than it being too complex to use.  

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