Saturday, 24 November 2012

#edcmooc #edmooc @rozoua makes it 100 pale blue dots. Where are you....?

Today,  from Alexandroupolis in Northern Greece became the 100th person to join our map - καλωσόρισμα Rosalia! If you have not see then map, you can take a look here. If you haven't added yourself, you can do this now. There are some instructions here.

It has been a great way to visualise the diverse locations of people on the course. From Laura all the way in Nanaimo, Canada on the very west coast of North America, "yet feeling so connected to the rest of the world", to Cathy in Christchurch, New Zealand, "not beautiful on the surface - you need to dig deep and see the people, the spirit and the future." Well, a Google map can do both; you can feel connected by seeing the bigger picture, but you can also zoom in, dig deep, and see the details. Have a look around the map if you have time. And let's not forget our brave "pioneers". Isabel in Caracas, Venezuela, and Elena in Western Siberia - standing out like lone islands, but only a click away.

Did you also know that you can visualise the map in Google Earth? There is a little button on the left of the map you need to look for. Click on this, and you can open Google Earth. If you haven't got Google Earth installed on your computer, you can download it for free here.

You can fly around from location to location and get a 3D effect of the spherical Earth floating in space. It's fascinating.

When you are in Google Earth, look out for a couple of things. Firstly, you should be able to see the "eLearning & Digital Cultures" map in "My Places" on the left hand side. Click on it, or expand the selection, to view all 100 pins. Click on any of the pins to "fly" to the destination. Tip: if you press the "night and day" button on the top row you can play around with how the pins appear. If you also turn off all the other "Layers" (bottom left corner) you will see just a map of the people on the course. On night setting, they appear just like small pale blue dots floating in space. Remember that we also had a poster image from the film "2001: A Space Odyssey" on the course sign up page, and here we are looking at ourselves from space.

The good thing with Google Earth is that you can spin the globe around. Have a play and explore. It can be surprising, as you can see things from a different perspective to a flat map. Try North America "upside down" and see how large Canada appears. Look "up" towards South America from Antarctica. Or pop yourself in the middle of the Atlantic or Indian Oceans and see Europe & America, and South Asia & Australasia spread out as you might not have thought about them before.  Apart from pretty pictures though, what else can we do with a Google map? Please add your suggestions in the comments below. 

Finally, to think back to our latest pinner from Alexandroupolis in Greece, did anyyone else think of Alexander the Great? Well imagine if he had had access to Google Maps? Or imagine Columbus or Napoleon's reaction if they could see Google Earth? Or what if Phileas Fogg and Passepartout could have mapped their 80 days around the world onto it? There have been thousands of stories told across the globe over the centuries - but what can our digital narratives tell us? How can they help us view our lives, and shape and change the world we live in?

Here's a photo gallery of some more screenshots from Google Earth. 
Link to Flickr