Dec 222008

Until recently the simplest option for getting charts into Google Earth was Frank Macree’s Google Chart builder, but it no longer works (except in the Mac version of Google Earth) due to a Flash security update? The alternatives have been  GE Graph – which is a little too complicated for younger students, but produces superb prism type geo-located graphs, and online spreadsheets that can publish charts such as Google Spreadsheets, however these require an account, and therefore can be impractical in the classroom.

The solution would seem to be Rich Chart Live – as mentioned by Simon Renshaw at the SLN forum and Doug Belshaw at elearnr. This web – based app is free to use and doesn’t even require registration. Just choose a chart style, paste some data from an Excel sheet into a Flash form and tweak some settings. The output from  Rich Chart Live is embeddable – as seen in this rather silly example:

 The embed code works in Google Earth placemarks:
Rich Chart Live inside Google Earth

google link Download Google Earth file



I’ve updated two key articles that refer to charts in Google Earth to reflect the discovery of Rich Chart Live:

10 ways to Google-up your GCSE project

A Neo-Geography curriculum for KS3

Oct 042008

Not the most interesting geographical concept to teach at GCSE, so I made a nice little Google Earth file to demonstrate the idea to my students.

First I created a placemark for my house, then I added polygons to represent the area that I visit in order to use various services.


Polygons (click image for large version)

Then I used the KML circle generator to create circles based on the maximum distance I am prepared to travel to use a particular service. I centred the circle on the service, and used the Ruler tool to estimate the distance in meters to my house.
The circle colour and width was edited in the Properties dialogue to make them stand out better – the default is a thin red circle.



During the lesson I started with all the information turned off (apart from my house placemark). I turned on the polygons one by one and facilitated a discussion about convenience / comparison goods, range and threshold population. I then added the circles to demonstrate the concept of sphere of influence.

my life in spheres

my life in spheres

The lesson seemed to go very well. Here are the resources I used (neither of which would be relevant to any other school – but feel free to adapt etc)

The original sphere-of-influence Google Earth file

And here’s a worksheet I made for the lesson. (This is a Foundation sheet – more able students were given an edited version.)

Sep 302008

“Can we do neo-geography this lesson?” asked a student today. Well no because it was supposed to be History. Nevertheless I’ve decided that I’d like my Year 7 students to be able to create an original map by the end of the term using Google Earth/Maps. The kind of map I envisage could include for example:

Hazards on way to school
Land-use in a rural area
Micro-climate study
Affective mapping of local area
Geo-located poems photos or artwork
Geo-located story
Guide for local visitors
A parkour / BMX / skate map
A “know-where” hang out map
A best dog walking route

For example:

map link

Thinking about the skill progression required to elevate younger students into fully qualified neo-geographers would go something like this: (some of the steps require just a few minutes to consolidate, others would need a lesson or two) Google Earth / Maps required!

  1. Find a place / use postcode look-up / search box
  2. Create a placemark / select appropriate icon
  3. Measure distance using ruler – e.g from home to school
  4. Create a path e.g from home to school
  5. Collaborate with others e.g. save placemarks / paths to a shared folder / collaboration tool in My Maps
  6. Organise the Places folder
  7. Use layers to add information to the map e.g roads / Wikipedia / Panoramio / 3d buildings / real-time data e.g weather / earthquakes
  8. Be able to turn terrain on and off and adjust exaggeration
  9. Take a photo with a phone / digital camera and upload to Flickr (issues in some schools – need for parent’s permission?)
  10. Add photos to a place mark (from Flickr  etc) using img tag (from Flickr)  <img src=” replace this text with the link to the photo “>  and use You Tube embed code to add video
  11. Create multimedia tours / be able to adjust tour settings
  12. Add polygons to represent land use / data etc. Be able to adjust colour and opacity
  13. Be able to import data from GPS (optional)
  14. Create simple geo-located graphs using Google Spreadsheets or even easier, Rich Chart Live (see this post)
  15. Complete a decision-making exercise using multiple data sources e.g my San Francisco lesson
  16. Understand relative advantages / disadvantages of different mapping systems for example by using Where’s The Path?
  17. Create a Google account (with parent’s permission) and be familiar with My Maps
  18. Create an original map as a final assignment. More able students could create Sketch Up models / use GE Graph / create overlays to demonstrate advanced neo-geography skills.

The core geographical concepts are based on location, scale and place. Students should be able to collect field data and create a map for a real audience. The learning sequence offers the opportunity for some highly personalised, participatory geography. The best outcomes would see students sharing their work on a blog or some other public community. Any thoughts?