Introduction to Google Earth

Mark Bowen
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Author Profile

This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Teaching Collection

Resources in this top level collection a) must have scored Exemplary or Very Good in all five review categories, and must also rate as “Exemplary” in at least three of the five categories. The five categories included in the peer review process are

  • Scientific Accuracy
  • Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
  • Pedagogic Effectiveness
  • Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
  • Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page

For more information about the peer review process itself, please see

This page first made public: Nov 24, 2014


Students utilize a variety of tools in Google Earth to answer questions

Used this activity? Share your experiences and modifications



The activity is used in an online undergraduate introductory physical geography course. The focus of the course is landforms and soils. The course is predominantly composed of non-majors.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered


How the activity is situated in the course

This is a stand-alone exercise that introduces students to tools and functions in Google Earth that will be utilized in subsequent exercises.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

  • Become familiar with Google Earth to explore and analyze the physical geography of a location
  • Navigate to a location using a variety of techniques
  • Analyze geographic and geomorphic properties of a location
  • Incorporate external data into Google Earth

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Other skills goals for this activity

Description of the activity/assignment

This is a basic introductory online exercises that introduces students to tools and functions within Google Earth that will be utilized in subsequent exercises throughout the semester. Students use Google Earth to navigate to a location and between locations, incorporate data layers, create topographic profiles, and measure slope and distance.

Determining whether students have met the goals

Students complete the exercise during the week it is assigned. Upon completion of the laboratory exercise, students must complete an online quiz that consists of a selection of the same questions in the exercise. The online quiz is within the Desire 2 Learn (D2L) online learning platform, so answers are automatically graded and imported into the student's grade book.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

Download teaching materials and tips

Other Materials