Virtual Field Trips: Using Google Maps to Support Online Learning and Teaching of the History of Astronomy
I report on a pilot study on the use of Google Maps to provide virtual field trips as a component of a wholly online graduate course on the history of astronomy. The Astronomical Tourist Web site ( (uri: http:∕∕astronomy.swin.edu.au∕sao∕tourist)), themed around the role that specific locations on Earth have contributed to the development of astronomical knowledge, was created using the Google Maps application programming interface. Students used this Web site as a component of their assessment and to help motivate and support online discussions. The site also aims to help build a stronger online community among geographically distributed students as they share in the creation of an Internet resource that will be used and enhanced by others over time. I describe the structure of the Web site and how it was integrated into student essays, and I provide a summary of student responses to this new learning and teaching approach. This project is an example of how Web 2.0 applications can be used to build new learning environments.
Fluke, C. J. 2008, Astronomy Education Review, 7(2), p.74–96