Category Archives: Google Earth

Online Google Earth Tours

It seems like the widget that allowed you to embed Google Earth tours (with audio and motion) online isn’t working. We had at least one person in the county who wanted to be able to do this because they’d seen this Jimmy Buffet tour. Compared to teacher assessment and other bottomless problems this seemed pretty attractive, especially using the Buffet page as an example. I hacked off most of the extraneous parts and this seems to serve the purpose although there are a few more pits that ought to be carved off.

You should be able to download the source HTML at this page. Once you do that it’s just changing two URL strings from what they are now ( to the URL for wherever your KMZ source file lives. The example is below in an iFrame and it will likely play automatically. My apologies for that.

Screen Shot 2012-11-12 at 9.49.28 PM

Bending Google Earth To My Will

This post is going to be a somewhat functional (how to get this to work) but will also attempt to sketch out some of the ways I problem solve as roadblocks occur. I don’t know that sketching out problem solving in this way will help anyone but I hope that it might.

It’s been a while since I’ve done any serious work in Google Earth. I’m reorienting myself and learning a few things in the process. My initial goal was to get some easy content from Google Earth Layers (and now the integrated “Earth Gallery”) into folders and associated with some of our history standards- essentially easy interactive content for teachers who don’t want to search for it. Google Earth has never caught on like I believed it would/should and I’d like to jumpstart use of the program and provide more digital content for social studies in general.


I found the addition of the “Earth Gallery” to be a mixed blessing, with the mix leaning heavily towards unfortunate. There is lots of good content there but it seems to be meant to stay there. I can’t find any way to copy that content to “My Places”- dragging it didn’t work, nor did control-clicking (right click equivalent) give me any options that would help at the folder or individual item level. That’s a problem.

I don’t want to be stuck giving people search strings to use to get this content and then have to have them duplicate those searches with their students en masse. Once “Earth Gallery” item is added it does remain at the bottom of your “Layers” list until you delete it but I couldn’t figure out a way to add folders or organize information in that section. Nor could I distribute this information to teachers or students in any way that made sense to me.

So, on to attempt 2. I recalled how in iTunes you can at least generate a web accessible link from inside iTunes and I thought this might be the case with the “Earth Gallery.” No dice. You can right click on the preview image generated in “Earth Gallery” and get a URL but it doesn’t work in your browser.1 Another dead end.

Attempt 3 involved looking online for an online version of the “Earth Gallery.” It exists. I can get to a Lewis and Clark map just like the one I access in Google Earth. But I’m just as stuck. I can’t download this file in order to put it in context. I’m also prevented from altering the information provided. Both of these are things I want to do.

Attempt 4 ended up being successful. It started with a fairly simple Google search filtype:kmz "Lewis and Clark"which restricts our search to actual KMZ files (Google Earth files) and gives these results.2 About 6 links down is what I was searching for. It’s a link to Rumsey Historical Maps and you can view it in Google Maps.3 Now we are in business. All of these files can be downloaded as individual KMZ files and then added to “My Places” in Google Earth where you can organize and alter them (at least portions).

Next up will be what I wanted to change and why I felt it was worth all that hassle.

1 404 result unfortunately

2 While Google Advanced Search is harder to find, it remains key to how I search for things. If you do it enough you don’t need the WYSIWG portion and can just type in what you need.

3 It is worth keeping in mind the Google Earth can publish to Google Maps and vice versa.

Pretty Formatting in Google Maps w/o ANY HTML Knowledge

I don’t like what plain Google Map or Google Earth windows look like when you enter text. They always end up too wide for me and I just want a little bit more style and formatting. It just looks better and that is part of why we use computers- to produce a professional looking product.

So the question is how do you get students/profs/teachers creating better looking information w/o having a bunch of time sucked away by teaching them HTML? (Yes, I realize Google does a form of this here but it’s not set up for Google Maps and involves more hassle for many by introducing the idea of networked kmz links etc.)

My solution is Excel. Excel can do all sorts of neat tricks with text. So I just built what is essentially a form with a few inputs (the ones selected for this project) and then used a bunch of formulas to wrap the HTML around the information that’s entered. This is a fairly simple example but it’s smart enough to cite the picture source and know if certain information has been entered so it doesn’t botch the html if the field is left blank. You can see what it does if you unhide the columns and view the formulas then tweak it to your heart’s content.

Before – ugly

Gmaps Before

After – much prettier

Gmaps After


Gmaps Excel

The user enters their info on the left and cuts and pastes the cell outlined in green into the HTML view on Google Maps and presto instant html.

I realize I’m enabling students/professors/teachers by helping them avoid having to learn html.

It’s not an issue with me. I can’t write php (which I’m proving over and over again lately) but I can and do use WordPress. I see this as an extension of that concept. Get to the point (in this case learning geography and adding content) forget the technology you don’t need.

Good technology is invisible anyway. Right?

Get the Excel File

Google Earth – The Next Level


I found this KMZ file the other night. It’s really the greatest Google Earth file I’ve ever seen.

It’s tracking bird flu but it’s doing it through, time, space and evolution. It creates a three dimensional representation of the changing aspects of the virus as it moves from carrier to carrier and place to place.

There’s a video showing what it can do and explaining things here.

The source file is over here.

Why am I so impressed? Mainly because it’s a perfect representation of data visualization. It shows a completely different way to use Google Earth. Who would have thought to use a geography program to track the evolution of a virus?

This kind of convergence is amazing and examples like this can lead to some amazing connections. It can also lead the way for other creators to start using this application in different ways.

ITRT Summer Camp – VSTE

Hey there VSTE ITRTs!

Here are links to the resources used in today’s Google Earth/Maps, GPS session. I tried to cull things down a little bit to keep it from being overwhelming. If you want to check out all the links for Google Earth feel free to browse my account. There’s lot more stuff there.

Google Earth

First, you can get Google Earth for free here so go get it if you haven’t yet.

Basic Google Earth Tutorials

KML Files

Lesson Plans/Example Files (stuff I showed you)

The Next Level

Google Maps

A lot of features similar to Google Earth. It will allow you to embed video in the information bubbles which is nice and I like the ability to put the maps in different web pages (like Quia).