Welcome back from winter break! Hopefully not much Chinese was lost over the long vacation. While you’re getting back into the swing of things, try looking around with Google Earth. It’s a great tool to play around with, especially for those of you planning to go to China soon. A lot of pictures are available for Beijing, so you can get a taste of what the city is like beforehand. (more after the leap)
Google Earth has a multitude of uses, from finding directions, to seeing if the local resolution will allow you to pick out your old Datsun in the driveway of your parents house back home…however Google Earth (and Google Maps) can also be of great use in terms of learning about culture, travel and language.
According to NITLE, a non-profit initiative for advancing learning through the use of digital technologies ,Web-based mapping tools like Google Earth are changing the way we understand our world by promoting spatial thinking and visual literacy.Google Earth allows language learners to develop their skills in geography while exploring important cultural and natural locations.
You must download Google Earth, however Google Maps is available online, and if you have both, you may switch between the two with a click of a button.
The overall resolution in this program is pretty astounding, but if you desire a closer look, you also have the ability to view photos that random people have taken and posted at the site of interest. To do this in Google Earth, select the box called Geographic Web, and check out the photo links that appear. In Google Maps, go to the My Maps tab and select the box to show Photos from Panoramio or Photos from Picasa. And of course there are other buttons for quick access to more points in interest that you can explore.
Here’s for example, a map of the Forbidden City.