Full Length Research Paper
Google Earth, which is one of the newest tools of geographic information available on the Worldwide Web, has a strikingly great potential in providing students the opportunity to explore countries around the world. This article is about a class assignment designed to allow students to explore a European country with the help of the Google Earth Program. The assignment is based on asking university students taking a class in European geography to create a travel journal, following the instructions devised for this purpose by the researcher. The assignment entails instructing students to use Google Earth to do research along a particular itinerary in a European country, then turning this into a travel story. Eighty-four students at Balikesir University, Necatibey Faculty of Education, Department of Social Sciences Teaching participated in the project. The researcher developed a travel journal assessment scale to be used in interpreting the travel stories created by the students. The scale indicated that the characteristics of human geography along the routes were better described (70.6% students described these on an adequate level) than physical geographic characteristics (26.2% described them on an adequate level). In addition, a focus group discussion was held with the students in order to establish how Google Earth facilitated or hindered their efforts in creating a travel journal. The discussions showed that Google Earth provided a significant resource in the creation of a travel story but that some problems were experienced either due to the content of the program itself or because of student deficiencies in geographic knowledge, skills and perspective.
Key words: Geography education, Google earth, European geography, travel journal.
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