Notes from our first Google Earth/Google Maps training

Posted on May 29th, 2010 in General,Workshops by Alta

You might get sick of us saying this, but we’ll probably say it quite a few times still: the story of conservation in Africa is not one that the MAPA Project can tell! We’re providing the pin- board, but the story of conservation in Africa should be told by conservationists themselves.

However, in the process of building the pin-board (with enormous assistance from Google Earth Outreach , we might add), we’ve been introduced to many great ways to tell stories on Google Earth, and we wanted to share these tools with other conservationists.   Not only for them to tell their stories on the MAPA layer, but also on their websites and blogs, in public talks, presentations and reports.

With this in mind, and armed with the Google Earth- and -Maps training we received in Kampala and Nairobi in October and November last year, we put together our first mini-training with a small group of local conservationists at the University of Cape Town.

On the 7th of May we introduced these eight conservationists (and a few other people listening in) to the basics of creating content in Google Earth and Google Maps. As far as possible we stuck to examples that the attendees were familiar with: their own work!

Workshop 009

Just add conservationists. The venue just before the start of training.

Erick showing us how to add GIS content into Google Earth.

Erick showing us how to add GIS content into Google Earth.

In the workshop we covered the basics of navigating in Google Earth, annotating Google Earth with points, lines and polygons and dressing these up with pictures and videos. We added image-, photo- and screen overlays, and learned how to create narrated tours in Google Earth (like the example below – one that we actually started creating in the workshop).

Later in the day we also spent some more hands-on time in Google Maps and Fusion tables, with two very basic exercises in using Google My Maps to create a custom map, and Fusion tables to merge two datasets and map primate field sites in Africa. We also spent some time learning how to embed content created in Google Earth, Google Maps and Fusion tables in websites and blogs.

If you want to see who attended the workshop, what we got up to, and what material we created in and after the workshop, you can visit our workshop site here. You’ll find links to all the tutorials we worked through in the workshop, as well as links to many more resources from Google Earth Outreach.

Are you interested in knowing how to use Google Earth to illustrate your conservation project or area? Contact us and let us know – we can’t promise to host a workshop in your neighborhood (we’ll try!), but at a minimum we will be more than happy to help you create your story, and point you in the direction of more help material.

If you already have material in. kml- or .kmz format, why not upload it as part of your project to the MAPA layer? When you add a project, we will give you the option to associate a “footprint”, which can be any content that tells a story in Google Earth…be it an image overlay, a tour, an animal track, a species range or even a mini layer!

A final note from our side:  Thank you to everybody who participated in the workshop, especially Andrea Plos who made sure that technical hiccups didn’t scupper the day. Also a big thank you to Julie Sohn from Google and the Google Outreach team for their incredible support in helping us to pull off the first of hopefully many interactive days with conservationists working across Africa.

Post a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.