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Celebrating the First Set of Google Geo Education Awardees and Announcing Round Two
Monday, March 31, 2014
Posted by Dave Thau, Senior Developer Advocate
Google's GeoEDU Outreach program is excited to announce the opening of the second round of our Geo Education Awards, aimed at supporting qualifying educational institutions who are creating content and curricula for their mapping, remote sensing, or GIS initiatives.
If you are an educator in these areas, we encourage you to
apply for an award
. To celebrate the first round of awardees, and give a sense of the kind of work we have supported in the past, here are brief descriptions of some of our previous awards.
Nicholas Clinton, Tsinghua University
Development of online
remote sensing course
content using Google Earth Engine
Nick is building 10 labs for an introductory remote sensing class. Topics include studying electromagnetic radiation, image processing, time series analysis, and change detection. The labs are being taught currently, and materials will be made available when the course has been completed. From Lab 6:
Let's look at some imagery in Earth Engine. Search for the place 'Mountain View, CA, USA.' What the heck is all that stuff!? We are looking at this scene because of the diverse mix of things on the Earth surface.
Add the Landsat 8 32-day EVI composite. What do you observe? Recall that the more vegetative cover the higher the index. It looks like the "greenest" targets in this scene are golf courses.
Let's say we don't really care about vegetation (not true, of course!), but we do care about water. Let's see if the water indices can help us decipher our Mountain View mystery scene.
Dana Tomlin, University of Pennsylvania
Geospatial Programming: Child's Play
Dana is creating documentation, lesson plans, sample scripts, and homework assignments for each week in a 13-week, university-level course on geospatial programming. The course uses the Python computer programming language to utilize, customize, and extend the capabilities of three geographic information systems: Google’s Earth Engine, ESRI’s ArcGIS, and the open-source QGIS.
Declan G. De Paor, Old Dominion University
A Modular Approach to Introducing Google Mapping Technologies into Geoscience Curricula Worldwide
Declan's award supports senior student Chloe Constants who is helping design Google Maps Engine and Google Earth Engine modules for existing geoscience coursework, primarily focused on volcanic and tectonic hazards, and digital mapping. Declan and Chloe will present the modules at faculty development workshops in person and online. They see GME/GEE as a terrific way to offer authentic undergraduate research experiences to non-traditional geoscience students.
Mary Elizabeth Killilea, New York University
Google Geospatial Tools in a Global Classroom: “Where the City Meets the Sea: Studies in Coastal Urban Environments"
Mary and the Global Technology Services team at NYU are developing a land cover change lab using Google Earth Engine. NYU has campuses around the world, so their labs are written to be used globally. In fact, students in four campuses around the globe are currently collecting and sharing data for the lab. Students at their sites analyze their local cities, but do so in a global context.
One group of students used Android mobile devices to collect land use data in New York's Battery Park.
While others in the same course collected these points in Abu Dhabi. Upon collection, the observations were automatically uploaded, mapped, and shared.
Scott Nowicki and Chris Edwards, University of Nevada at Las Vegas
Advanced Manipulation and Visualization of Remote Sensing Datasets with Google Earth Engine
Scott and Chris are taking biology, geoscience, and social science students on a field trip to collect geological data, and are generating screencast tutorials to show how these data can be queried, downloaded, calibrated, manipulated and interpreted using free tools including Google Earth Engine. These tutorials may be freely incorporated into any geospatial course, and all the field site data and analyses will be publicly released and published, giving a full description of what features are available to investigate, and how best to interpret both the remote sensing datasets and ground truth activities.
Steven Whitmeyer and Shelley Whitmeyer, James Madison University
Using Google Earth to Model Geologic Change Through Time
Steven and Shelley are building exercises for introductory geoscience courses focusing on coastal change, and glacial landform change. These exercises incorporate targets and goals of the Next Generation Science Standards. They are also developing tools to create new tectonic reconstructions of how continents and tectonic plates have moved since Pangaea breakup. Some of the current animations are available
We hope this overview of previous award recipients gives you a sense for the range of educational activities our GeoEDU awards are supporting. If you are working on innovative geospatial education projects, we invite you to
apply for a GeoEDU award
Making Sense of MOOC Data
Thursday, March 27, 2014
Posted by Julia Wilkowski, Staff Instructional Designer
In order to further evolve the open education system and online platforms, Google’s course design and development teams continually experiment with massive, open online courses. Recently, at the Association for Computing Machinery’s recent
in Atlanta, GA, several members of our team presented findings about our online courses. Our research focuses on
learners’ goals and activities
as well as
self-evaluation as an assessment tool
. In this post, I will present highlights from our research as well as how we’ve applied this research to our current course,
Making Sense of Data
Google’s five online courses over the past two years have provided an opportunity for us to identify learning trends and refine instructional design. As we
, learners register for online courses for a variety of reasons. During registration, we ask learners to identify their primary goal for taking the class. We found that just over half (52.5%) of 41,000 registrants intended to complete the
Mapping with Google course
; the other half aimed to learn portions of the curriculum without earning a certificate. Next we measured how well participants achieved those goals by observing various interaction behaviors in the course, such as watching videos, viewing text lessons, and activity completion. We found that 42.4% of 21,000 active learners (who did something in the course other than register) achieved the goals they selected during registration. Similarly, for our
Introduction to Web Accessibility course
, we found that 56.1% of 4,993 registrants intended to complete the course. Based on their interactions with course materials, we measured that 49.5% of 1,037 active learners achieved their goals.
Although imperfect, these numbers are more accurate measures of course success than completion rates. Because students come to the course for many different reasons, course designers should make it easier for learners to meet a variety of objectives. Since many participants in online courses may just want to learn a few new things, we can help them by releasing all course content at the outset of the course and enabling them to search for specific topics of interest. We are exploring other ways of personalizing courses to help learners achieve individual goals.
Our research also indicates that learners who complete activities are more likely to complete the course than peers who completed no activities. Activities include auto-graded multiple-choice or short-answer questions that encourage learners to practice skills from the course and receive instant feedback. In the Mapping with Google course, learners who completed at least sixty percent of course activities were much more likely to submit final projects than peers who finished fewer activities. This leads us to believe that as course designers, we should be paying more attention to creating effective, relevant activities than focusing so heavily on course content. We hypothesize that learners also use activities’ instant feedback to help them determine whether they should spend time reviewing the associated content. In this scenario, we believe that learners could benefit from experiencing activities before course content.
As technological solutions for assessing qualitative work are still evolving, an active area of our research involves self-evaluation. We are also intrigued by
showing the links between
. In several courses, we have asked learners to submit projects aligned with course objectives, calibrate themselves by evaluating sample work, then apply a rubric to assess their own work. Course staff graded a random sample of project submissions then compared the learners’ scores with course staff’s scores. In general, we found a moderate agreement on Advanced Power Searching (APS) case studies (55.1% within 1 point of each other on a 16-point scale), with an increased agreement on the Mapping projects (71.6% within 2 points of each other on a 27-point scale). We also observed that students submitted high quality projects overall, with course staff scoring 73% of APS assignments a B (80%) or above; similarly, course staff evaluated 94% of Mapping projects as a B or above.
What changed between the two courses that allowed for a higher agreement with the mapping course? The most important change seems to be more objective criteria for the mapping project rubric. We also believe that we haven’t given enough weight to teaching learners how to evaluate their own work. We plan to keep experimenting with self-evaluation in future courses.
Since we are dedicated to experimenting with courses, we have not only applied these findings to the
Making Sense of Data
course, but we have also chosen to experiment with new open-source software and tools. We’re exploring the following aspects of online education in this class:
Placing activities before content
Reduced use of videos
Final project that includes self-reflection without scores
New open-source technologies, including authoring the course using edX studio and importing it into
(running on Google’s AppEngine platform) as well as
We hope that our research and the open-source technologies we’re using will inspire educators and researchers to continue to evolve the next generation of online learning platforms.
Berkeley Earth Maps Powered by Google Maps Engine now available in the Google Maps Gallery
Thursday, March 20, 2014
Posted by Dr. Robert Rohde, Berkeley Earth
Google Maps is a familiar and versatile tool for exploring the world, but adding new data on top of Google Maps has traditionally required expending effort for both data management and website scripting. Google recently expanded
Google Maps Engine
and debuted an updated
Google Maps Gallery
. These tools aim to make it easier for users and organizations to integrate their geographic data with Google Maps and share it with the world. At
we had an early opportunity to work with these new tools.
The use of Google Maps Engine eliminates the need for users to run their own map-serving Web servers. Maps Engine also handles mundane mapping tasks, such as automatically converting georeferenced image files into beautiful map layers that can be viewed in Google Maps, no programming required.
Annual average land-surface temperature during the period 1951-1980 as estimated by
Similarly, one can take tables of location data and map them onto a Google Map using geographic markers and popup message boxes that make it easy to explore georeferenced information.
Map of the more than 40,000 temperature stations used by the Berkeley Earth analysis.
On the left is part of the original table of data. On the right is its representation in Google Maps Engine.
When mapping locations, the new Maps Engine tools allows users to upload their own geographic markers or chose from Google’s many selections; the geographic marker icons used in the temperature station map above were uploaded by us. Alternatively, we could have used one of the stock icons provided by Maps Engine. In addition, users can customize the content and appearance of the popup message boxes by using HTML. If the georeferenced data can be linked the web addresses of already existing online content, one can also incorporate images or outgoing links within the message boxes, helping the user find more information about the content presented in the map.
The ease of putting image layers into the new Maps Engine has allowed Berkeley Earth to create and share many
scalable maps of climate and weather information
that are fun to explore. Incorporating these maps in our website and posting them on the Google Maps Gallery provides the public with a new tool to help locate local weather stations, learn about local climate, and download various kinds of weather and climate data.
Now, anyone can easily learn about both the weather in their city and the climate of the entire globe from a single, simple interface. Google Maps Engine and the new Maps Gallery has allowed us to bring the story of climate to a broad audience in a way that can be easily understood.
Computer Science Education Recharged!
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Posted by Maggie Johnson, Director of Education and University Relations
A few days ago, I attended the annual
(Special Interest Group, Computer Science Education) conference in Atlanta, GA. Google has been a platinum sponsor of SIGCSE for many years now, and the conference provides an opportunity for thousands of CS educators to come together, share ideas and engage in the resurgence of activity and interest in CS education.
Seven years ago, the number of CS majors at the undergraduate level hit an all time low; the number of students taking the Advanced Placement CS exam fell 15% between 2001 and 2007, and the number of college freshmen intending to major in CS plummeted more than 70% during the same period. This was a concern for CS educators, as advancing U.S. students' understanding of the principles and practices of computing is critical to developing a globally competitive workforce for the 21st century.
Since 2007, though, many significant things have happened. First, a commission of ten secondary and higher education faculty came together to design a new Advanced Placement CS course called
. This reinvention of AP CS not only introduces students to programming, but also gives them an understanding of the fundamental concepts of computing, its breadth of application and its potential for transforming the world. Additionally, since 2007 the Computer Science Teachers Association (
), a community that plays a key role in professional development, CS standards definition (another critical stake in the ground), and scaling of the new AP CS, has grown to 16,000+ members.
Finally, late last year,
Hour of Code
with over 29 million students participating, which is an unprecedented scale in CS education. This event raised awareness and provided enormous opportunity for follow-on with teachers and students who realized that coding is not only accessible, but fun. Their next step is to scale
Exploring Computer Science
this fall to 30 school districts (and counting) including some of the biggest districts in the country, in addition to developing K-5 and middle school curriculum.
Last week at SIGCSE, Google had an opportunity to present two new programs and a transition of an existing program:
is a pilot program in South Carolina introducing students to CS in a social, collaborative after-school environment. The focus is on raising awareness and helping students understand their potential in the field.
Engage CS Edu will provide curriculum resources for introductory CS1/CS2 courses that are engaging to both women and men.
continues to experiment this year with online professional development opportunities for teachers. We still support face-to-face CS4HS workshops, but given the success of our MOOC experiments last year, we’d like to continue to see how we might scale to more and more teachers.
The growth in awareness and activity in CS education over the past two years has been amazing and it continues to grow rapidly, thanks to the hard work of many. Google is proud to work with the many organizations in CS education to support and scale their work, through programs and funding. We strive to develop new programs where there are gaps, utilizing our technical infrastructure, our experience with scale, and a deep understanding of the potential of CS to transform the world in positive ways. This has been core to Google’s philosophy since we started 16 years ago.
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