Geography Education
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Geography Education
Supporting geography educators everywhere with current digital resources.
Curated by Seth Dixon
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All Maps Are Biased. Google Maps’ New Redesign Doesn’t Hide It.

All Maps Are Biased. Google Maps’ New Redesign Doesn’t Hide It. | Geography Education |

"Google rolled out its new Maps design...from a navigational tool to a commercial interface and offers the clearest proof yet that the geographic web—despite its aspirations to universality—is a deeply subjective entity."

Seth Dixon's insight:

Google Maps was updated over the summer, and the updates don't make them more impartial, but that isn't a bad thing.  Google Maps now highlight 'Areas of interest,' which are created with algorithms designed to reveal the “highest concentration of restaurants, bars, and shops.” The algorithms aren't 'objective,' but are fine-tuned by human engineers to reflect what they consider 'Areas of Interests' should look like.  Maps are never as objective as they appear to be, and that can often be a great thing. 


Tags: google, mapping, geospatial, cartography, visualization.

LEONARDO WILD's curator insight, September 6, 9:30 AM
All maps are biased because they are not the territory, but represent our subjective view of the territory; what we include and what we leave out depends on what we deem important, or not. Europe is still oversized in most current maps in relation to the "Third World." What is the new politically correct fad?
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Explore Petra on Google Maps

"Join Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan and wander through the lost city of Petra in Street View "

Seth Dixon's insight:

I was first introduced to Petra as by the movie  Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where it was 'cast' as the Canyon of the Cresent Moon.  Unfortunately the tourist economy of this site is hampered by regional conflicts in Syria and Iraq, warding away many would-be tourists in recent years.  If a digital exploration is all that is your pocketbook can handle, take this virtual tour of one of the wonders of the world. 


Tags: Jordan, googlemapping, virtual tours, geospatial, edtech.

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Are solar panels right for you? Google's new mapping tool can help you decide.

Are solar panels right for you? Google's new mapping tool can help you decide. | Geography Education |

"So it's welcome news that Google wants to make this all much, much simpler with its brand new Project Sunroof tool. Plug in your address, and Google uses its aerial imagery capabilities to help you figure out whether solar power might be a worthwhile idea. (The project is still in its early stages; here's Google's announcement from Monday.)

For now, data is only available for selected parts of the country. But let's look at a sample address given in Redwood City, California. The tool first calculates both how big the roof is and how much sun it gets per year."

Tags mapping, google.

PSC AS Geography's curator insight, August 25, 2015 10:11 AM

A great idea to help people decide on whether to invest in solar panels - could it work in the UK too?

Gregory Stewart's curator insight, August 29, 2015 10:09 AM

Amazing mapping technologies that can help a society!

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Looking For Real-World Math Problems? Try Google Earth!

Looking For Real-World Math Problems? Try Google Earth! | Geography Education |
Aiming to get kids to understand and solve real-world math problems, one teacher developed a tool that uses Google Earth.

Tags: math, google.

Anna Sasaki's curator insight, March 22, 2015 2:42 PM

There is a new programme which helps students truly understand the usage of math skills being taught in school. It is a game that students may play, which actually put the math skills learned in school into play. This solves the time old question of "when will I ever use this?" It is very fun and uses Google maps to manifest questions for each sections from grades 5-10. It is putting more use of the Google maps and helps others learn about geography as it is using the maps.

This shows another way to use Google maps, which uses a GIS system to track locations. The online maps presents many different opportunities of teaching others, through various methods, and geography can be present in any topic shown. Geography can help others learn through spatial recognition in the case of math, and many other ideas.

Woodstock School's curator insight, March 23, 2015 1:39 AM

“Pray tell us, what's your favorite number?"...
"Shiva jumped up to the board, uninvited, and wrote 10,213,223"...
"And pray, why would this number interest us?"
"It is the only number that describes itself when you read it, 'One zero, two ones, three twos, two threes'.”
― Abraham Varghese, Cutting for Stone  

Matthew Connealy's curator insight, March 23, 2015 10:26 PM

The use of Google Earth is becoming beneficial to Thomas Petra, a middle school teacher that is trying to make learning more interesting. By using Google Earth, he is able to teach lessons in a more interactive and applicable way. An example of this would be when his students learned about distance through the Alaskan dog sledders and their travels. The students are able to learn much more than the conventional way of learning and are able to gain a better sense of the phenomena around them.


Although this was used in a mathematical setting, Google Earth is only just beginning. Geography students would greatly benefit from this usage of the app, and more teachers should learn to harness this style of teaching. Students will be able to gain a better sense of what is going on around them, and know more about the world they live in.

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Google Earth Pro is now free

Google Earth Pro is now free | Geography Education |

"Over the last 10 years, businesses, scientists and hobbyists from all over the world have been using Google Earth Pro for everything from planning hikes to placing solar panels on rooftops. Google Earth Pro has all the easy-to-use features and detailed imagery of Google Earth, along with advanced tools that help you measure 3D buildings, print high-resolution images for presentations or reports, and record HD movies of your virtual flights around the world.

Starting today, even more people will be able to access Google Earth Pro: we're making it available for free. To see what Earth Pro can do for you—or to just have fun flying around the world—grab a free key and download Earth Pro today."

Flora Moon's curator insight, February 4, 2015 8:50 AM


Jennifer Ryan's curator insight, February 6, 2015 6:48 AM

Before you #holidayin1770agneswater check this out!

Rich Schultz's curator insight, February 11, 2015 11:21 AM

Spread the word and get your Google Earth Pro FREE today!!!

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Using Google Earth to Track Down Criminals

Authorities use Google Earth to crack down on illegal activities.
Seth Dixon's insight:

This is an old clip, but a useful platform to discuss the ethics involved in using geospatial technologies, the expectations of privacy and issues of governance.  This could also be used to discuss urban political geography and principles of planning.  What are the limits to the legal and ethical uses of technologies?

Tags: google, mapping, geospatial.

Giselle Figueroa's curator insight, September 28, 2014 8:19 PM

I think this is a good tool to the authorities to keep a eye on criminal people. Some people may feel that some one is always watching you because of these, but lets see the good side, this could help the police to find criminals or illegals activities. In my opinion these is a good idea.

Jacob Crowell's curator insight, October 27, 2014 11:51 AM

Using geographic technology to catch criminals seems like a great use of technology in the digital age. But this is a massive breach of privacy on a global scale. Now with satellite imagery, there is fewer and fewer geographic factors that allow for privacy. No longer can someone move into the woods for solitude, in the past geography could be used as a way to isolate oneself from others, now with technology like "google earth", the globe has become easier to monitor all landscapes and areas. People will have to ask themselves how much they are willing to sacrifice in terms of security. If being monitored everywhere you go means less dangerous activities taking place it may be worth the risk, but we are putting a lot of faith in the fact that those in charge of these technologies will use them responsibly. 

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How Google represents disputed borders between countries

How Google represents disputed borders between countries | Geography Education |
INTERNATIONAL borders are often tricky to chart on maps. Tangible topographic features can be pinned down by satellite imagery but the boundaries between many states...
Seth Dixon's insight:

I've shared some links in the past that some mapping dilemmas with current events in Ukraine.  Google Maps shows international borders differently and National Geographic maps show Crimea as a part of Russia.  In this podcast we learn that this isn't the only international border dispute that is displayed differently in Google Maps.  Google uses over 30 distinct versions of international borders because there is an underlying geopolitical dimension to cartographyHowever, this article from the Economist is more explicitly geographic in its analysis of the situation and how the discipline(s) of geography/cartography shape the political situation; maps are NOT just a reflection of reality on the ground.  To paraphrase the cartographer Andy Shears, there is a lot of teaching applications and discussion material in these articles. 

Questions to Ponder: Why have different cartography for different audiences?  Why does this small cartographic decision matter? How can maps be used to lie/stretch the truth?  How to governments derive political legitimacy from maps?   Why is Google the cartographic gatekeeper?

Tags: google, Ukraine, mapping, borders, political.

Lindley Amarantos's curator insight, September 5, 2014 9:10 AM

How does politics affect map-making? 

Courtney Barrowman's curator insight, September 8, 2014 12:36 PM

unit 4

Edelin Espino's curator insight, December 13, 2014 3:17 PM

Google is always a step ahead of any other online page so it is not surprising that Google have some countries in dispute because they can see people can see the political status of a country in Google map but that might change the way we see and think about Google and countries with dispute. Google or the Internet will always be a good help for people to be able see what is happening between country's borders.

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Google Maps Displays Crimean Border Differently In Russia, U.S.

Google Maps Displays Crimean Border Differently In Russia, U.S. | Geography Education |

"America and its allies have refused to accept the region's separatist move to join Russia.  A look at the maps available on two Google Maps Web addresses — one ending in .com and another in .ru — shows the disparity. In Russia, Web visitors see a solid line dividing Crimea from neighboring Ukraine. In the U.S., a dotted line separates the two, implying a disputed status within the country."

Seth Dixon's insight:

In this podcast we learn that this isn't the only international border dispute that is displayed differently in Google Maps.  Google uses over 30 distinct versions of international borders because there is an underlying geopolitical dimension to cartography.  This brings up more questions than it answers--How is the Kashmir displayed in India?  Pakistan?  The West Bank in Israel or Egypt?  If you haven't explored Google Maps in other languages, consider this your invitation to read maps as you would a text and to think about the political implications of making a map.   

Tags: google, mapping, borders, political.

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50 Amazing Finds on Google Earth

50 Amazing Finds on Google Earth | Geography Education |

"You’ve no doubt already come across some interesting finds on Google Earth. The post below attempts to compile the most fascinating sites other have stumbled upon browsing Google Earth. From natural formations to human structures, the world is a different place when viewed from above.  If you’re interested in seeing any of the places yourself, I’ve included the coordinates for every image shown below. Just copy and paste into Google Earth/Maps and explore for yourself!"

Seth Dixon's insight:

My grandparents bought me my first globe and subscription to National Geographic when they sensed an insatiable desire in me to explore strange places.  They subsequently took me to Yellowstone (Grand Prismatic Spring pictured above) and many other landmarks of in the West.  These sights still fills me with wonder; this fantastic list gives you the ability to digitally explore strange and exotic places.  There are some real teaching gems in the the list for both physical and human geography.  One correction though: the flag displayed in #17 is the Flag for the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (It is internationally recognized by only 1 country--take a guess) which controls the northern portion of the island of Cyprus.    

Ann Marie Pelosky Poncet's curator insight, February 14, 2014 8:07 AM

IF you don't have time or money to travel, you can do so by following this link.

Ruth Reynolds's curator insight, February 14, 2014 10:26 PM

yes amazing geographic tool. I love zeroing in on Africa- so much more than sand and empty spaces.


Jessica Rieman's curator insight, February 18, 2014 2:09 PM

When first reading this and viewing the images that go along with it; it became clear that someone somewhere in te world was either looking for these or they stumbled across these specfic faces and shapes in the earth that we dont neccesarily get to see everyday. 28. Monkey Face 65.476721, -173.511416 Russia. This Russian Monkey face was very interesting to see and I would have never thought that their would be these types of images captured.  

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137 World Landmarks and Other Crazy Google Maps Art

137 World Landmarks and Other Crazy Google Maps Art | Geography Education |
The Bay Area's Jenny Odell creates maddeningly complex sets of similar structures, like stadiums, nuclear plants and cargo ships.
Seth Dixon's insight:

I love geographically inspired art.  How many of the 137 icon features (as portrayed in Google Maps but removed from their context) can you identify?  For a higher-resolution, image and more of her art, click here

Tags: mapping, art, google, trivia.

Sean de Basti's curator insight, August 27, 2013 10:31 AM

do you know where everything is located?

Suggested by Mike Busarello's Digital Storybooks!

Finding the Hidden Faces in Google Maps

Finding the Hidden Faces in Google Maps | Geography Education |

"And they've found many more faces, too – because they've actually built a computer program that sifts through Google Maps with facial-recognition technology to find..."

Seth Dixon's insight:

Tags: google, mapping, geospatial.

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Geography Bee Video

What is a border? What is a peninsula? A look into why geography is important to understand as students around the country prepare for the 2013 National Geog...
Seth Dixon's insight:

I loved participating at the Rhode Island Geography Bee this weekend.  This video was shared with all the parents, teachers and students to help them understand that while the Bee may focus on specific bits of knowledge/trivia, it is the beginning and a foundation for spatial thinking to understand patterns and processes. 

Tags: geo-inspiration, geography education.

Sally Egan's curator insight, April 8, 2013 6:58 PM

This is a short video about why Geography is an important subject inhelping to understand the world in which we live.

Samuel Yeats's curator insight, May 8, 2013 12:37 AM

Q1) Based on the information in this video, would you consider Geography as a broad subject and why?

Q2) Why do you believe that Geography is important? (Using examples from the video and your own opinion)

Scooped by Seth Dixon! | Geography Education |
Free site dedicated to help teachers educate and engage students using Google Earth
Seth Dixon's insight:

GE Teach is a phenomenal site, designed by an AP teacher to bring geospatial technologies into the classroom in a way that is incredibly user-friendly. This site allows you to use Google Earth with clickable layers. With multiple data layers of physical and human geography variables, this interactive globe puts spatial information in powerful, yet fun, student-inspired platform.  Click here for a video tutorial.

Tags:  google, virtual tours, geospatial, edtech.

Kristen McDaniel's curator insight, March 29, 2013 9:54 AM

Use Google Earth in the classroom with clickable layering of maps.  Great for bringing Geography into your classroom!

Geography Teachers' Association of Victoria Inc. (GTAV)'s curator insight, April 8, 2015 5:18 AM

GTAV Technology and cartography in Geography

GE Teach is a phenomenal site, designed to bring geospatial technologies into the classroom in a way that is incredibly user-friendly. This site allows you to use Google Earth with clickable layers. With multiple data layers of physical and human geography variables, this interactive globe puts spatial information in powerful, yet fun, student-inspired platform.

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Petra, Jordan: Huge monument found 'hiding in plain sight'

Petra, Jordan: Huge monument found 'hiding in plain sight' | Geography Education |

"Two archaeologists, who recently published their findings in the American Schools of Oriental Research, used Google Earth satellite images and drone photography to identify the outline of an enormous monument buried beneath sand and time at the UNESCO World Heritage site in Jordan."  --Motherboard

Seth Dixon's insight:

When in the Mexican state of Veracruz as a grad student, I saw a startling mountain covered by the dense tropical rain forest; this mountain had a consistent slope with hard angles.  I was awestruck to realize that it was an uncovered (but not undiscovered) pyramid and I wondered just how many archeological sites are waiting to be unearthed. 


Why is a geographer an important member of an interdisciplinary team? This discovery shows that spatial thinking, geographic tools, and a keen eye for usually patterns in unexpected places are critical for many disciplines and fields of research.


Tags: spatial, remote sensing, geospatial, MiddleEast, Jordan, googleunit 1 GeoPrinciples.  

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The Fastest Growing Economies

The Fastest Growing Economies | Geography Education |
See how the world's largest and fastest growing economies change over time.
Seth Dixon's insight:

This interactive is simple but conveys some very powerful data.  Above is a still shot of 2014's fastest growing economies (you can also view the largest overall economies).  Another telling statistical ranking is the UN's Human Development Index; explore more global data on Google's Public Data

Tags: economic, visualizationstatisticsdevelopment, google.

Luis Cesar Nunes's curator insight, November 4, 2015 6:01 AM


Martin Kemp's curator insight, December 17, 2015 3:49 PM

the most surprising thing about this is how india has one of the worlds largest economies but is far behind both the united states and china as well as many european countries in economic growth. also how china can have the worlds number one economy but the united states is so far ahead in economic growth numbers, i suppose that china will not be on top for very long.

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Google Maps as a game of Pac-Man

Google Maps as a game of Pac-Man | Geography Education |
Your neighborhood just got a lot more interesting. Google has released a new feature for Maps that lets you turn any location into a game of Pac-Man — all you have to do is click the new Pac-Man button that resides in the lower left corner of the screen. When you do, whatever section of the world you're looking at will transform into the pixelated arcade classic, complete with four colorful ghosts and the iconic music.

Tagsgoogle, fun, mapping.

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Mapping the World's Problems

Mapping the World's Problems | Geography Education |
Google Earth Engine works with scientists by using satellite imagery to provide data visualizations for environmental and health issues.
Seth Dixon's insight:

Geography isn't just a body of knowledge that someone understands; it's about decision-making to evaluate the impacts and taking actions to make the world a better place.  This NY Times article is a great example of how geospatial tools can monitor human/environmental issues to be able to effectuate change.  

Tags: google, mapping, geospatial.

Todd Hallsten's comment, February 13, 2015 10:36 PM
I think they should reduce suspension time, because keeping students away from school if anything is a reward at the secondary school level. Suspension isn't serving as a form of punishment but rather a couple days off. The parents might interpret it at as other, but my experience has led me to take joy in the time away from high school.
Todd Hallsten's comment, February 13, 2015 10:39 PM
I like the idea of this map because it allows for the comparison of logged forest to preserved forest. Allowing for facts not rumored amount of trees producing air, i would really like to see a map of alaska..
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NatGeo Maps on Google

NatGeo Maps on Google | Geography Education |

The National Geographic Society has been inspiring people to care about the planet since 1888. National Geographic Maps publishes more than 100 new print maps annually and is a leading developer of digital map content found in websites and award-winning mobile apps. All proceeds from the sale and licensing of National Geographic maps go to support the Society's vital exploration, conservation, research and education programs.

Seth Dixon's insight:

Have you ever wanted an archive of all the fabulous maps produced by National Geographic?  And what if you could preview a digital version of all of these NatGeo maps seamlessly on Google Maps?  That is exactly what this gallery delivers.   

Gilbert C FAURE's comment, December 25, 2014 7:03 AM
happy holidays
Ruth Reynolds's curator insight, January 1, 2015 9:57 PM

Very US focused but a good source of many maps

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GE Teach

"Overview video for GE Teach"

Seth Dixon's insight:

GE Teach is a powerful mapping platform that harnesses the power of Google Earth into a user-friendly format.  I've you've ever wanted multiple maps on the screen to compare and contrast, this is great tool.  Designed by an APHG teacher, this is a great way to bring geospatial technologies into the classroom.  With multiple data layers of physical and human geography variables, this becomes an interactive globe.  Click here for the video tutorial.  

Tags: googlemapping, virtual tours, geospatialAPHG, edtech.

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Google Maps Smarty Pins

Google Maps Smarty Pins | Geography Education |
Smarty Pins is a Google Maps based geography and trivia game.
Seth Dixon's insight:

As stated in a review of Smarty Pins on Mashable, "Google unveiled a fun new game this week that tests players' geography and trivia skills.  Called 'Smarty Pins' the game starts players off with 1,000 miles (or 1,609 kilometers if they're not based in the United States), and asks them to drop a pin on the city that corresponds with the correct answer to a given question." 

This game is wonderfully addictive...I haven't enjoyed a mapping trivia platform this much since I discovered GeoGuessr.  I answered 38 questions before I ran out of far did you get?  

Tagsgoogle, fun, mapping, place, trivia.

flea palmer's curator insight, July 7, 2014 10:33 AM

This is really good fun - I got gold (14/15) not sure how many miles though!

Tom Franta's curator insight, July 10, 2014 9:54 AM

An interesting way to get anyone interacting with Google Maps...

MsPerry's curator insight, August 12, 2014 7:42 PM


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The Science behind Google Earth

The Science behind Google Earth | Geography Education |

"Google is using a new technology to automatically generate  3D buildings from 45-degree angle aerial photography made by overlapping passes of aircraft.  The aerial photos are combined to create 3D models."

Seth Dixon's insight:

Some of the nuts and bolts behind Google Earth might be difficult to replicate in the computer lab, but it is critical to conceptually understand how geospatial data is used today.  This series of images shows how important remote sensing is for our modern digital mapping platforms.  

Tags: cartography, visualization, mappingremote sensing, google.

Annenkov's curator insight, April 16, 2014 12:46 AM

This technology of visualization I would name "3D landscape"

Mirta Liliana Filgueira's curator insight, April 16, 2014 8:40 PM

Tecnología para generar imágenes en 3D con Google Earth

Sid McIntyre-DeLaMelena's curator insight, May 29, 2014 2:06 PM

Google Earth has made the Earth easier to decipher and examine in a geographical sense of location and place by being able to see multiple layers. This article goes into the 3D designs and usage of aerial photography to create 3D images.

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When Google Earth Goes Awry

When Google Earth Goes Awry | Geography Education |

"These jarring moments expose how Google Earth works, focusing our attention on the software. They reveal a new model of representation: not through indexical photographs but through automated data collection from a myriad of different sources constantly updated and endlessly combined to create a seamless illusion; Google Earth is a database disguised as a photographic representation. These uncanny images focus our attention on that process itself, and the network of algorithms, computers, storage systems, automated cameras, maps, pilots, engineers, photographers, surveyors and map-makers that generate them.”

Seth Dixon's insight:

The quote above from Clement Valla shows some of the problems with trusting too completely in a form of technology if you are not sure how it works or what its limitations are.  What does he mean when he says "Google Earth is a database disguised as a photographic representation?"  What does this have to do with the term metadata?   

Tags: cartography, visualization, mapping, art, google.

Mary Rack's curator insight, August 26, 2013 10:10 AM

This post represents a "sub-issue" which underlies many of today's  decisions: How much "information" is really a composite of items that may or may not be related? And how many of our decisions are based on those constructs? As a result, are we liviing in a "house of cards", a fantasy world that is sure to collapse around us one day? It's a scary thought. 

Gregory S Sankey Jr.'s curator insight, September 12, 2013 9:55 AM

I understand that this article mostly depicts the inherent limitations with our current technology within GIS systems but I mostly just found these images to be eerily and awkwardly beautiful. Art made accidentely. Thank-you flawed technology.

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Placing Literature maps book scenes in the real world

Placing Literature maps book scenes in the real world | Geography Education |

"Placing Literature maps book scenes in the real world."

Seth Dixon's insight:

This article reviews a great new site, Placing Literature.  Much like Google Lit Trips, this site's goal is to make geography come alive in literature.  Given that this site is still in its infancy, there are few novels and places in the system, but I don't see that as a drawback.  I see this as a fantastic platform for a student project where they could make a significant online contribution.

Yael BOUBLIL's curator insight, June 29, 2013 5:18 AM

Une piste intéressante...

MelissaRossman's curator insight, August 30, 2013 10:48 AM



MelissaRossman's comment, August 30, 2013 10:48 AM
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Google Maps Engine

Google Maps Engine | Geography Education |

"Google Maps Engine makes it easy for you to create beautiful maps, share them with others, and reach your audience no matter where they are. It's built on the same platform that provides Google services to millions of people worldwide, so your users have a consistent and familiar experience wherever they are."

Seth Dixon's insight:

Google has become more and more involved with geospatial technologies and platforms.  This new Maps Engine (still in beta testing) appears to be Google entry into the world of GIS.  Maps Engine is not nearly as robust as ArcGIS Online or even Google Earth and it has many limitations (can't upload a CSV file with more than 100 data points, can't use KML or shapefiles, no archive of ready-made layers, etc). 

It's redeeming value lies in the simplicity of the platform; if all you want to do is draw your own points, lines and polygons on top of a map and be able to get started within 30 seconds, then this is worth exploring.  Those features are incredibly intuitive and user-friendly and I foresee various educational possibilities using this in the classroom, but am still 'test-driving' the platform.      

Tags googleGIS, geospatial, edtech, K12.

Johani Karonen's curator insight, May 8, 2013 4:08 AM

I love maps! Let's se what this little darling can do.

JoseMªRiveros's comment, May 8, 2013 10:06 AM
Francisco Javier 's curator insight, May 12, 2013 8:51 PM

Google Maps Engine | @scoopit via @APHumanGeog

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Google Says "Ungoogleable" Can't Be A Swedish Word

Google Says "Ungoogleable" Can't Be A Swedish Word | Geography Education |

"Ogooglebar. That's Swedish, and means "something you can't find with the use of a search engine." At least, that's what the Language Council of Sweden wanted Ogooglebar to mean--until Google stepped in, fearing that the word had negative connotations for the firm."

Seth Dixon's insight:

I am used to the French trying to slow the flow of English words into French, but shocked that Google would join in the fray to slow linguistic change.  Words evolve based on cultural shifts and technological changes and the computer industry has especially created new words to describe emerging, new social interactions.  I'm certain that the company Google is thrilled that "to google" is the verb of choice to describe the action of searching for online for content.  I would have guessed that Google was savvy enough to understand that this "ungoogleable" term is not an indictment on the company, but a new way to define that elusive, mysterious, indefinable quality for a generation that sometimes acts as if everything can be found of Google. 

Tags: language, culture, technology, google, diffusion.

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