Darfur, Google Earth, Brilliant!

Posted on April 12, 2007 in Cool Tools, Google Earth, History | 4 comments

My experience with Googe Earth is somewhat limited. I’ve looked at my house, school, and various other cool places. All with the direction and attention span of my four year old.  I’d seen Google Earth Lit Trips and thought it was a pretty cool idea – for someone else to do.  I’ve shown the Great Wall and Forbidden City to my classes.  But, never did I really think about seriously applying it to my own classes.

Until now.  Seeing the new partnership between Google and the USHMM to illustrate the ongoing genocide in Darfur, has officially thrown the switch in my head.  I spent the last couple of days before spring break talking about Darfur to wrap up my Holocaust/Genocide unit.  I primarily used the information, images, and videos segments from the USHMM web site.  In the end, I had hoped for a greater response from the students.  When I said there were 200,000 dead, two million internal refugees, and hundreds of villages destroyed, I couldn’t quite illustrate it in a way that made an impact.  I spent about an hour yesterday moving throughout Darfur in Google Earth.  Reading first-hand testimonies, examining pictures of destroyed villages, and actually seeing the number of refugee camps in Sudan and neighboring Chad.  I’m pretty well read on the subject, but this truly opened my eyes to the conflict.  No doubt when I share this with my students on Monday, it will clarify their understanding as well.

 Darfur

Adding visuals like this will certainly enhance their understanding. (Image from Ogle Earth).

Now I can’t stop thinking about ways I could incorporate Google Earth into my classroom.  I envision students creating projects that trace the Mongol’s race across Asia, Alexander the Great’s army trek to India, the travels of Marco Polo and Ibn Battuta, and Mao’s Long March.  Don’t know if I can fit it in this school year, but definitely in the fall.

This is why I never sleep.

4 Comments

  1. Until now. Seeing the new partnership between Google and the USHMM to illustrate the ongoing genocide in Darfur, has officially thrown the switch in my head. I spent the last couple of days before spring break talking about Darfur to wrap up my Holocaust/Genocide unit. I primarily used the information, images, and videos segments from the USHMM web site. In the end, I had hoped for a greater response from the students. When I said there were 200,000 dead, two million internal refugees, and hundreds of villages destroyed, I couldn’t quite illustrate it in a way that made an impact. I spent about an hour yesterday moving throughout Darfur in Google Earth. Reading first-hand testimonies, examining pictures of destroyed villages, and actually seeing the number of refugee camps in Sudan and neighboring Chad. I’m pretty well read on the subject, but this truly opened my eyes to the confl

  2. Wow. I had never really considered this kind of application in terms of current events. Oh, I had messed around with Google Earth in the past, heard about how the Israeli government was anxious about the resolution of their nuclear plants, and things such as that… But I hadn’t really explored the overlays like this.

    It’s hard, even with bar graphs, to fully paint the picture in human lives displaced and disrupted. It’s harder still to convey this to students who know hardships of a completely different type. This is, without a doubt, the best use I have ever seen of Google Earth — and I hope more comes about in this vein.

    It would be interesting to see how your students reacted, if you have shown this to them. Also, I was wondering if you were simply using the free version of Google Earth, or had upgraded to the paid versions at any level. At one job, I had been asked to create a video using Google Earth, illustrating some point — and when I explained the $400 minimum cost to get a recording license, my employers were understandably hesitant. But hey, when large news corporations will pay that much to broadcast their work, the teacher isn’t first on their concerns, eh?

  3. I was just at the NECC conference in Atlanta and during a GoogleEarth workshop, a switch got thrown in MY head about using GE to teach some history lessons, showing how geography shapes events. I’m trying to work up a one-class activity looking at Charleston, SC to explain what Ft. Sumter was, why it was located where it was and why it was so important to both sides at the very beginning of the Civil War.

    I agree – fun AND exciting.

  4. Its so cool to see how current technology can be used to help teach the past, and all the contradiction in that. I am in school right now learning how to be a history teacher, and reading blogs like this makes me excited to see what new technology will be out when I am in the classroom. I hope to be able to utilize it like you are doing, to help students better visualize history. :)

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  1. Fun & Exciting Stuff » Google Earth and Darfur - [...] This looks very cool. I have to spend some time checking this sort of thing out. [...]

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