App Review
Google Earth

Cool geographical exploration tool has endless classroom applications

  • Quizzes on health-related topics exist under the Fun Stuff category.

  • View of Antarctica with data sources at bottom.

  • View of the Island of Maui with quick access photos and layers icons for Wikipedia and Places activated.

  • The Washington Monument with device-based app menu.

  • Earth Gallery with special maps in seven categories still a bit buggy.

Quick Take
Pros: You get amazing detail and eight layers, and you can upload photos and take screenshots.
Cons: Limited technical functionality and a small search database may disappoint.
Bottom Line: Google Earth offers less functionality than the PC version but still thrills.
Learning Scores
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Visuals are stunning, and the easy access to raw data is unprecedented.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 3

Google Earth doesn't provide teaching tools, only raw data and some interpretation through the Wikipedia layer. The Earth Gallery feature is still buggy for Android. Despite this, it has very good learning potential.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 3

Help and the tutorial only cover controls. Navigation can be tricky with lots of layers. Only one default database comes with the Android app, and the Earth Gallery feature is still buggy. The Google Earth Community is not linked.

Our Review
What's It Like?

Although it doesn't offer the same level of functionality or search power as the PC version, the Google Earth app is a must-see for any citizen of the modern age. Students can enter locations and quickly maneuver across the globe, zooming in to show detail to the level of parked cars. The Lookaround option anchors you, limiting your view to tilting up, down, and 360 degrees. When Lookaround is off, the Pan mode (ironically named) allows users to explore freely across terrain by swiping. Zoom in by placing two fingers on the screen and moving them apart or by double-tapping with a single finger. Zoom out by placing two fingers on the screen and moving them together, or by double-tapping the screen with two fingers.

Is It Good For Learning?

Students can examine the continental shelf or research landmarks via a quick-access menu with nearby iconic images. Searches fly them across the globe using time-delayed satellite images of Earth and overlaid icons that provide facts and services. Students also can take screenshots of Google Earth views that show data sources at the bottom. So, it's cool. But help and a tutorial, although they provide relatively clear explanations of the controls, don't cover much else. Regular users of the Google Earth PC version might be disappointed, as the app version has none of the same tools, views, or special databases, and only eight layers. Its default search database doesn't sport nearly the same depth. A new Earth Gallery feature, with special maps in seven categories, is buggy and doesn't display well on Android devices. Also, controls are not entirely intuitive and screen navigation can lead to selecting informational icons by accident. Load time can be slow depending on virtual altitude and connection speed, and image quality is occasionally poor. Icons can litter the display when all layers are selected.

How Can Teachers Use It?

Teachers can use Google Earth as a supplement to all kinds of lessons, bringing the geography and topography of different locations to life. Students can perform searches, zoom around the Earth, select layers, and submit eye-level photos served up courtesy of Panoramio. It's a highly engaging and interactive way to juice up lessons (when it works), and the Google Earth Community online has a plethora of user groups, teaching ideas, and classroom learning resources.

This review of Google Earth was written by

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