News clipping - Mail & Guardian Online - 3 February 2011

Take a virtual field trip via Google.

South African schoolteachers and their learners can now take virtual field trips to areas of historical and geographical importance, following the launch of the local Google Street View Teachers' Guide.

All that is needed is an internet connection. This concept entails using the Google Map's Street View technology to visually explore and navigate a neighbourhood or city through panoramic street-level photographs. Examples of sites to visit include the Hector Pietersen Memorial in Soweto and Table Mountain in Cape Town.

To use it, go to:
       Type the location you want to see in the search bar. Once the location has been identified, you will be presented with a screen that has an orange "Pegman" icon on the left hand side of the map and a balloon pinpointing the location.
       Drag the Pegman towards the location. If the street has been photographed by the Street View Cars, the mapped streets will be highlighted in blue.
       You will then be able to do a 360-degree navigation around the location.

According to Julie Taylor, communications manager of Google South Africa, the technology can also be used to "put together stimulating lesson plans, based on South Africa's national education curriculum and outlined learning outcomes".

She explains that the curriculum objectives emphasise the importance of fieldwork and encourage learners to see things with "their own eyes."

The guide has already been launched in the United Kingdom. Locally, it has been formulated for grades 4 to 7 and focuses on learning outcomes in the Social Sciences and Life Orientation. The focus is on the history of people, places, resources, buildings, school and museums.

Street Views cars have special cameras that take photographs as they drive down public roads. Once the photographs have been taken, they go through computer processing to make them ready for use on Google Maps.

By: Primarashni Gower