Today’s Topic: Google Earth’s “Global Awareness” Tab + Splashtop App = Oriented + Engaged Learners

Too often we make the assumption when we transition from talking – for example – about the Sierra Nevada in Spain to talking about the Sierra Nevada in Colombia, that our students can make that spatial transition and travel mentally over the Atlantic Ocean from Spain to the equatorial region of South America. Of course, there are old school maps for that – flat, one-dimensional representations of a world that exists in multiple dimensions.


Spain, from space with Google Earth’s “Global Awareness” option selected

Far more engaging to today’s digital natives and far more effective in helping them visualize that journey – to orient themselves in time and space – is a cyber, three-dimensional journey on Google Earth from point to point. Here are a few tips on that journey.


Hyperlinked image of the Guggenheim’s spider sculpture

First, if you’re equipped with a tablet, purchase the Splashtop app, which will allow you to control your desktop or laptop computer while you roam around the classroom and invite students to click on various points of interest on Google Earth’s “Global Awareness” tab. Looking at Spain, for example, with this tab selected yields a wealth of information, including where the endangered Iberian Lynx makes its home, and how you can help protect it from extinction. You will also found by mousing over these “Global Awareness” icons that the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, lies not far from an unfinished nuclear power plant. Where that observation might organically lead your students/your class is always fascinating to see. And then there are the little visual gold nuggets that pop up, such as the amazing spider sculpture found just outside of the Guggenheim.


The Guggenheim’s spider sculpture, as seen on Google Earth

Second, one word of caution: if you discover Google Earth’s Flight Simulator app and subsequently find yourself spending inordinate amounts of time zipping in F16 through Yosemite Valley, don’t say I didn’t tell you so!

Enjoy, and please feel free to contact me for elaboration on this overview. This is a approach that has yielded high degrees of student engagement and improved learning outcomes in my instructional practice. Combining the teacher mobility and engagement factor of the Splashtop app with the proven “Wow!” factor of Google Earth can truly transform your teaching and learning environment from the stale and static to the stimulating, student-driven, and dynamic.



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About Me

By Peyton Jobe
Assoc. Director of Communications and Information Technology
Spanish Dept. Chair and Teacher
Sugar Bowl Academy
Norden, CA

I believe in change in education – not for the sake of change, but because change is imperative. Too many studies paint the same bleak picture of an education system that remains mired in past approaches and is failing to prepare our students for the world of today and tomorrow.

The good news is that change is happening, thanks to so many educators out there who are embracing the “plasticity” celebrated by John Dewey as “the finest product of schooling.”

I am committed to being an agent of change, and I believe that change can and must by shaped by those of us who have spent considerable time both as teachers, academics, and school leaders. We know where the potholes lie and which are the deepest and most ruinous. Working together and engaging in dialogue with one another, we can patch those potholes and pave a whole new road toward more dynamic and meaningful teaching and learning environments.

New teaching and learning technologies allow us to efficiently target and address learning deficiencies and to engage in synchronous and asynchronous dialogue both within and between classrooms, here in the United States and across the globe. New technologies offer teachers more opportunities than ever to scaffold, differentiate, deepen, expand, and amplify student learning, and to meet daily and long-term course objectives. Students and teachers need the tools necessary, and, beyond tools, they need support and vision in the effective integration of these new tools; therein lies my particular passion.

I believe that dialogue between people of common passions and interests leads to the best possible decisions and outcomes within particular fields, and in that spirit I hope that the ideas presented on my site  will, at the very least, spark some internal discussion at your school.

Thank you for visiting, and for embracing change that makes sense.

(You can learn more about my background at