Smart Boarding Google Earth in Berlin

I’m at the Online Educa Berlin conference for one of my day jobs. Some of the exhibitors are showing off their latest smart boards, and one in particular stood out for its looks — Smart Technologies‘ brand new Smart Board 600i.

I was allowed to play with it. It is very intuitive: Just touch to click, touch and move to click and drag, etc. There are also different colored pens and other software drivers that help teachers be more effective in a classroom — draw on the board and you’re also recording everything on the computer; it does handwriting recognition, there is a popup keyboard, and you can draw on top of anything the screen shows.

What I really wanted to do, however, is make my own poor man’s future user interface for Google Earth, so I convinced them to install the application. (This is how I discovered that the download process for Google Earth has been completely revamped — it now comes with an automatic updater attached). The results are below:

It’s a lot of fun to use, and it certainly made people stop and look. I found myself using the on-screen controls, which I otherwise never do, as in this kind of user interface, you don’t really control- or shift-click all that naturally. You really just want to drag the Earth around.

But at one point I also wanted to use two hands (or fingers) to rotate and zoom in on the Earth. That, alas is not possible yet with this machine. Still, if you have one of these in the classroom (and many Swedish classrooms have one) you should really consider using it for a lesson in immersive geography.

(Oh, in my enthusiasm I forgot to ask how much one of these would set me back. Their website isn’t saying.)

7 thoughts on “Smart Boarding Google Earth in Berlin”

  1. have you seen this geo web site

    it allows users to share experiences in the virtual world using mobile devices and the web. It combines social networking, search & location based suite of integrated mobile and web applications – for users to share, view & upload pictures, video, text and POI (points of interest) with a Geo-location – place and track each other in their select communities.

    GyPSii, has announced their official accreditation by Nokia for its N95 and 6110 Navigator smartphones.

  2. I am a Social Studies teacher in the Gervais, Oregon school district with a smart board. I’ve used GE a couple of times and have loved it! I am a GE fanatic so I am glad you are seeing this innovative use as well!

  3. That’s an awesome idea. I wonder if it’ll work with the older Smartboards we have at the university. BTW, I’m a recent fan of Ogle Earth! ;)

  4. I must agree, Stefan — this would be a perfect application in the classroom environment. That was really neat to see in action — thanks for the video!

  5. Wonder what the next step is in the evolution of GE(or other packages) interface control? Strap a device to your arm or head which allows “thought control” of the interface.

    The basic research is already there in other disciplines.


  6. I’ve had a SmartBoard in my classroom for almost two years. Last year I had a 1:1 laptop environment so my students used Google Earth a lot. I changed schools this year and I was surprised by the “wow” factor with my new students using GE for the first time.

    I probably use it in my classroom 3 – 4 times a week and I don’t teach Social Studies. There is just so much that you can use it for (measuring distances, seeing a setting of a book/newspaper or magazine article/local event, comparing sizes of countries/states/counties…)

    I do wish that the SmartBoard was multi-touch too. I don’t think that technology is that far off (check out Microsoft’s Surface, or an iPhone – iPod touch).

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