A line around the world

This piece of digital technology goodness starts with a bit of a story. Recently, while busy ‘networking’ at the Practical Pedagogies Conference in Cologne, I discussed a set of lessons with Matt Podbury, of geographypods.com fame, that he was developing.

The set of lessons were based upon the journey you would take if you left your classroom and travelled north until you reached the North Pole. Then travelled south until you reached the South Pole along the line of longitude that is ‘opposite’ to the one you started on. Then north from the South Pole back to your starting location. Matt’s ‘Over the Horizon’ lesson resources can be found here.

Matt was looking for a tool that would draw the necessary journey line upon Google Earth and was struggling to find something suitable. I explained that during the summer I had the good fortune of being invited to attend the biennial ‘Google Earth Education Experts’ meetup in Mountain View, San Francisco where I had met somebody that I knew would be able to help.

Cycling round Mountain View

Enjoying myself at the Google Offices in Mountain View

Drawing the line

Josh Williams teaches Geography in Austin, Texas and is responsible for the website getech.com. Josh is a ‘Google Earth Education Expert’ and legend in the use of kml (Keyhole Markup Language) and that is why I reached out to him via Twitter to see if he had a solution.

Josh came back (really quickly) with a solution:

When my limited understanding failed me, Josh was kind enough to produce a screencast that explains how to edit the original file and make it work for any location you want.

Matt now has a solution for this set of lessons and I have an even greater respect for Josh’s skills. The screencast should allow  teachers to be able to create the line if they wished to do the same lesson with their students. I also feel that there are opportunities for students to produce the lines themselves - maybe working with the maths or computer science departments to understand the process, the structure of the code in the kml file and the maths of lines of longitude.