Best practices on how to design Google Earth tours for education
Best practices on how to design Google Earth tours for education (in Google Earth and virtual visualizations in geoscience education and research, Steven J. Whitmeyer (editor), John E. Bailey (editor), Declan G. De Paor (editor) and Tina Ornduff (editor))
Special Paper - Geological Society of America (October 2012) 492: 383-394
Google Earth tours (GETs) are recorded flights around Google Earth. They are highly engaging to watch and have great potential for communicating spatially in a teaching environment. They also benefit from being easy for an educator to produce but they can be ineffective if they are designed poorly. With this in mind, in this paper we cover three main topics: (1) we consider how best to produce GETs, (2) we deconstruct them as a communication media and finally (3), we consider the larger educational context in which they are used. By reviewing literature relevant to these areas we produce 19 best practices for using GETs in education. The amount of evidence we can show in support of our best practices varies. Those that were generated by comparing GETs to the well-researched area of educational animations are highly reliable because they are based on empirical evidence. Those associated with the virtual flights between locations within a GET are more open to interpretation as they have been less well studied. We conclude that further work should be focused on investigating virtual flight within a GET.