UPDATE: print instructions for this process are available as a PDF document.


I’m preparing to teach six sections of Biology 2 (junior-senior alternative to AP Biology, and a course I helped to develop when I was a classroom teacher) next Tuesday on creating a product in Google Earth that demonstrate the students’ understanding of the effects of extreme environments on human physiology.

Basically, the students will conduct their research on the effects of extreme environments (altitude, deserts, ocean, etc.) on the physiology of human beings. They’ll put together a tour of these environments using Google Earth, while using placemark windows as containers for different types of media that support their analysis and explanations.

So here is a part of the presentation of adding content to placemark windows in Google Earth.

Several things first. To add content to a placemark other than text, you have to know some HTML. I’ll address that in a moment. Second, I’m operating on the most current version of Google Earth (v4.2) on a PC platform.

So let’s get started. If you want to see a larger version of this post, with larger graphics, click on the diamond in the upper right portion of this post. That will expand the post to full-screen.

To address the HTML requirement, I’m using a very simple and nice online HTML editor (Mac users can access this editor if they use Firefox) from the Brookhaven National Laboratory. It looks like this:


So, I’ll begin entering content including some text, an image and a hyperlink. To add the text, simply type. To add an image, locate an image (mine came from the attribution pool of the Creative Commons portion of Flickr), get the address of the image (I accessed that through the image properties), click the image tool, and paste the address in. To add a hyperlink, type the text you want to become the link, hilite it, and use the link tool in the tools menu, and then paste or type the link (URL) in. It looks like this:basic2.jpg

By clicking on the HTML Toggle Source button in the online editor, I can see the code:


UPDATE: Evidently, embedding YouTube content in Google Earth does not work on the Mac. See this post for details. Thanks to Dean Shareski for the link.

I’m doing this at this point because I want to add a YouTube video on high altitude to my code that will eventually be placed into Google Earth, and I need to add the embed code. This can be found on any YouTube video page. After I copy and paste that code into editor window, it looks like this:


I’ll now copy this code to my clipboard.

Clicking on the HTML Toggle Source button returns me to the WYSIWYG editor. Here is the editor, with my YouTube video now in place.


Now it’s time to jump over to Google Earth. I’ll open up Earth, type in Nepal in the search (I’m not interested in the exact location for the purposes of this post), and go to the upper menu bar, and create a new placemark.

In the placemark window, I’ll paste the code from my HTML editor. It now looks like this:


Click OK, and then click on the placemark itself in Google Earth and this is what you see:


The Google Earth placemark now has text, a hyperlink, an image and an embedded YouTube video.

Once a placemark has been completed (or is still being constructed), the student(s) can save the placemark locally to a USB drive or network space by going over to the Places menu (left margin of GE), right-clicking on the placemark and selecting Save As. Be sure to save it as a kml file (although kmz would work).

To add more content to the placemark once it has been saved (for instance, the class period ended, and students are back working the next day), simply go to the File menu, select Open, and select the kml file for the placemark. The kml file will launch in Google Earth, and then the placemark can be edited to add more content. On aPC, you would right-click on the placemark icon and select properties.

To put all the placemarks together in a tour, create a folder in the My Places area of Google Earth, and open each kml file. The kml file will appear in the Places menu. Drag those to the folder you created, or copy each placemark if moving them in the places menu is awkward, and paste them into the folder (once each has been opened in GE).

Save the folder as a kmz (z = zipped) and in this way, all placemarks can be packaged together, and distributed as a single file. These kmz (or even kml) files can be shared in a variety of ways, but I like posting them to a wiki. Clicking on either type of file launches Google Earth and the users can see the placemarks.

If you are interested in seeing the end result live, save this file to your machine and click on it to launch Google Earth.


image of Everest from mckaysavage

13 Responses to “Mixed Media-Extreme Environments”
  1. John Maklary says:

    Hi David and Happy New Year!

    Loved the post, especially about the online HTML editor. The editor has been the missing link for a much more straightforward way to insert HTML. Before, the kids would have to type in img tags and some basic HTML. Now, they can just WYSIWYG it with the online editor and then just copy/paste the code. Thanks for the tip!

    John Maklary

  2. Alec Couros says:

    Very nicely done, David. I will certainly be sending this information to my preservice teachers this semester. Really neat approach, and well detailed that they *should* be able to pick it up.

    Thanks for posting.

  3. DSJ says:

    John: yes, I agree. The editor was indeed the missing link, this is a much easier way to do it. Thanks for being the first to comment on my new blog!

    Alec: thanks for the kind comments, let me know if you ever want me to demonstrate it for them.


  4. Jeff Utecht says:

    It’s about time you get your own domain. I can finally view your blog and leave comments…..look out now!

  5. DSJ says:

    Now I’m in trouble…

  6. [...] The Strength of Weak Ties » Mixed Media-Extreme Environments [...]

  7. Dave Waltman says:

    David…I had kids do a similar task on Google Maps but they didn’t need to use the online html editor. I used Google Collaborative Maps feature online and when editing placemark windows they just clicked on “rich text” when in edit mode. They can add text, pics, links, and other the other usual formatting.

  8. Hi David,
    Love the new website. What a fabulous graphic header!
    This post is one I am going to share with teachers. I didn’t know about this free online html editor. Thanks for sharing and also for laying out easy to understand directions on how to generate and paste the code in Google Earth. The project you are doing with students sounds exciting.

  9. John Maklary says:

    I guess I’ll subscribe to you comments feed so I can keep up with the conversations. Where’s the checkbox to notify me when another comment is made? :-)

  10. DSJ says:

    Dave: yes, Google Maps is very cool and so is the new collaboration feature. Am I correct in my thinking-that you need to have a Google account to be able to add content to a G Map that has been designated as an open collaboration map? With our students, I’m also interested in having a little more flexibility with what I media I can use. Google Maps documentation says that it will accept a YouTube video, but no one can seem to get it to work. Also, I’m interested in posting other kinds of resources, such as embeddable code from Evoca.com and from Slideshare, and unfortunately, that’s not supported in Maps. You are right, the rich text editor is very nice, I’m not really sure why they haven’t put something like that into Earth. Thanks for your comment and link.

  11. DSJ says:

    @john. Working on it.

    @Janice. Thanks!

  12. Mark says:


    Seems to me that using any kind of editor is a waste of time, as both school tube and teacher tube make the embed source code available on the same page as the video being shown. Just copy from the tube site and paste into the description of the placemark. Make the technology as easy as possible for widest adoption.


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