Making a Google Earth Case Study

You’re due to start teaching a case study. What will be your hook for learning? Have you tried Projects in Google Earth yet?

Develop a sense of place with your students by launching them out of the classroom and into the location of their case study.

First, Some Freebies:

Have a look at (and feel free to take!) these example case studies:

To save your own editable version:

  • Make sure you are logged into your personal/school Google account.
  • Click on the three dots next to the dustbin icon.
  • Click Copy Project.
  • This will save a version to your own Google Drive for editing.

New to Google Earth? Check out this recent blog and see how you can have a bit of a play with it in your classroom.

How do I Make My Own?

This step-by-step guide will show you how to build a simple case study of the River Nile:

Let’s do this!

Step 1: Start a New Project

  • Open Google Earth and click, ‘Launch’
  • If you have a personal/school Google account now is the best time to login as it will give you more features. (Clicking on the three lines icon at the top of the left panel will take you to the menu and allow you to log in.)

  • Click the Projects button and click, ‘Create Project in Google Drive‘ or ‘Create KML file‘ (KML file will save to your computer and the Drive option will save the file automatically in your Google Drive)
  • Click on Untitled Project and change the name to The River Nile.
  • Use the description box to write a summary of the project (e.g. GCSE Geography case study for the River Nile and its management).

Step 2: Find your Location

  • Click New FeatureSearch to Add Place
  • Search for the Nile river and click the search result. Google Earth should take you there.
  • On the right side of your screen you will see a summary of the river from Wikipedia. Click Add to Project.
  • In Place Title type, ‘Introduction to the Nile’ and press Save.
  • Your completed section should appear as a bookmark in your project.

Step 3: Build your Case Study

A) Adding Sections

  • Search for Lake Tana in Ethiopia (source of the Blue Nile)

  • Click on the location pin (icon above) and click on the centre of the lake.
  • In Place Title type, ‘Lake Tana, source of the Blue Nile’ and press Save.
  • Your new section should now be stored in the list.
  • Re-order your Sections: Moving your mouse over a section will show two horizontal lines next to the title. Click and hold to re-arrange the order of your sections.

B) Change the View & Adding Media

  • Clicking the pencil icon will allow you to edit the item it is next to. Clicking the pencil that is next to a section title will bring you to that section for editing.

Clicking on Watch Tutorial at the bottom of the left panel will bring you to a 3 min summary of how to edit a location:

  • Adding Media – Clicking the camera icon will allow you to embed various media into the section (photos, maps, clips, weblinks)
    • Upload: Click Select a file from your device and you can upload photos from your computer.
    • Google Image Search: Search for images online and add without having to save to your device.
    • YouTube: Add a link to a video/clip about your location.
    • URL: Insert a link to website about your location.
  • Changing the View – Using the Controls in the bottom right of your screen will help you to change the view.

  1. Zoom In/Out
  2. Clicking this will take you to your current location.
  3. Click and hold on the compass or dots to rotate your view
  4. Toggle between 2D/3D view
  5. Street View – Jump into the location (more later!)

Clicking Capture this View will save the changes to the view in your section.

Have a go at adding a picture and YouTube clip of Lake Tana, and then change the view to show the source of the Blue Nile in 3D:

C) Include a Measurement Activity

  • Search for and add a section for the Aswan High Dam.

  • The measurement tool will allow you to measure the length/distance/area of something on your view.
  • Click on the start point and keep clicking to add points on your measurement line. Double clicking will complete the measurement.

  • The drop down menu (arrow next to measurement) allows you to change the units of measurement.
  • In the description box you could add instructions for students to try and measure the width of the dam.

Clicking & holding on one of the dots along the line will allow you to adjust the measurement line:

How large is Lake Nasser behind the dam? No problem.

  • Start drawing a measurement line.
  • When you double click to make a polygon the measurements will automatically change to area.

Or what about adding a section that asks users to measure the area of the Nile delta…

D) Drawing Lines and/or Shapes

  • Search for Alexandria on the Nile delta.
  • Try to show an ideal satellite image that shows a suitable urban-rural transect.

  • Click on the Draw Line or Shape icon.
  • Select a starting point for your transect and draw a line out of the city into the fields.
  • Once you are happy with your line press ‘enter’ on your keyboard to save the line. This will automatically add a section to your project and ask you to write a title.

E) Using Street View to Compare Locations

  • Click & hold on the Google man.
  • You will be able to drop him into any location that is highlighted in blue.

  • Clicking on the pin button (icon above) will ask you to add a title and save this street view as a section.
  • Users will be able to navigate around the street view by clicking & holding on the mouse.
Two very different views of the Nile delta region!

F) Completing your Project with Title Slides

  • In the left panel click New FeatureFullscreen Slide
  • Here you can add a Title and some subtext, followed by an item of media (image, link or clip).
  • Once finished move your mouse over the slide in the list, then click & hold the two horizontal lines to adjust the position of the title slide.

Step 4: Share your Case Studies!

Your project will automatically save (phew!) every time you make a change.

There are two ways in which you can share your project…

1) Using a Shared Link

  • Click on the Share Project icon.
  • Confirm that it is your Google account you are sharing from and click Continue.
  • In the Share with People and Groups box you can type in specific email addresses of those specific people you would like to share with. Only these email address will have access.
  • In the Get Link box click Copy Link to get a direct link to your project. Anyone with the link with be able to view your project, just paste into any document or email.
  • Warning: Be sure to check that ‘Anyone with this link can view‘ is visible. This means that anyone you share the project with can view and make a copy of their own to editable version. Changing from ‘Viewer‘ to ‘Editor‘ will mean than other people can change your master copy.
2) Exporting as a KML File

  • Click on the three dots.
  • Click Export as a KML file.
  • Name & save the file to a location on your device or online drive.
  • Anyone who receives the file will be able to open it and have their own editable version of the project you made.

Good luck making your case studies with Google Earth. I hope it brings a sense of awe to your students as it has with mine!

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