Virtual Fieldwork & Learning – Comparing our Environments

We face unprecedented teaching challenges over the next few weeks, so here is a simple idea that I’d like to share. It should be do-able for everyone with just Google Maps and a simple template – but there’s fun extensions if you want!


Geographers – and estate agents, surveyors, people of all kinds – are always trying to find out how “nice” an area is. Better areas can get attractive offers and developments, and their houses are worth more. Worse areas can lead to problems and disadvantages.

To try and make a fair judgement, we have come up with a template that helps us ask useful questions about an Environment. We call it an Environmental Quality Survey. One is attached here, but you can make your own.

The aim is to use Google Earth’s Street View to compare areas – which do we think is better, or worse, and why?


Read through the Environmental Quality Survey together, and decide what the questions mean. You’ll want to be confident that you all know the same things and would score them in the same way. You might want to practice – with everyone using the same area as a ‘test’, so that you can try and calibrate your scores.

Then split up in to pairs or small groups. Open Google Earth, and try to find a place that you know. Look around it, using Street View (drop the little yellow man!).

What can you judge? What can you see?

Complete your Environmental Quality Survey, and discuss your results.

Repeat for as many locations as you want to do! Make careful notes about what you see, and what you conclude for each Environmental Quality Survey.

Questions for you to answer:

Which area scored best, and why? Does everyone agree?

Which area scored worst, and why? Does everyone agree?

How could you map or present this? Could you colour in areas to show their score? Put a pin with a colour on it?

Which things are most important in judging how good an area is?

Which things are least important?

Which things can we judge very easily using Google Earth?

Which things have we struggled with?


If your teacher can arrange it, why not try to exchange your ideas with another class who are working on this project? You might be able to learn lots about different parts of the country, and meet many other students just like you!

You can show them around your area, and they can show you around theirs – and then you can compare scores and discuss ideas.


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