Google Earth Tours: Testing spatial content


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Richard Treves' presentation in the 2nd Workdshop on usability of geographic information, 23rd March 2010 at UCL, London. See details at

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Google Earth Tours: Testing spatial content

  1. 1. Google Earth Tours User Testing Spatial Content Richard Treves, Tuesday, 23rd March 2010
  2. 2. Collaborators SPLINT Fellowship Paula Englebrecht (Ordnance Survey, UK)
  3. 3. Introduction My Interest: Public Understanding of Maps (Outreach/Education) Usability of Viz. not Data or App. Importance of Design Lawn Mower Rule and Animation Literature The Test, Results, Interpretation Thoughts on Testing Conclusion
  4. 4. Nokia‟s Mistake “This is boring." “I just slept through the last talk, I dreamt of Elvis" “I’m afraid Elvis has left the building"
  5. 5. Just Because We Can… …Does Not Mean We Should
  6. 6. A Tour Virtual Flight around Landscape Layers of Data on/off Not just Virtual Globes More Usable because: Layer reveal Location and Scale
  7. 7. Animation Literature “Tours” = Edu. Animation Empirically tested Usability Best Practices:1 1.Audio and Visual (not subtitles) 2.Closeness (time and space) 3.Friendly (use of „I‟) 4.No Chart Junk 1] Animation as an Aid to Multimedia Learning, Mayer and Moreno, Ed. Psych. Review 2002 Vol14, p87
  8. 8. “Sit on Lawnmowers are Lawn Mower Rule good for transport” – Good for mowing lawns – Not for getting here today “Map precision is always crucial” Not are tours good for Visualising data but when are they good at Visualising data. When should we apply tours?
  9. 9. Narrative Delivery Tours Applicable - Intro to DB? Data across multiple scales locations Virtual Flight Segments (VFSs) Animated Viewpoints in Spatial Software (family tree)
  10. 10. Glacial Landscape Teaching Tours Usability Test Paper vs GEarth. 5-10 minutes. Best practices except audio Qualitative and Quantitative Students tested afterwards Paper vs GEarth Differ by: • GEarth = Engaging • VFSs and Image Quality • Narrative vs Exploration?
  11. 11. Test Results I Quantitative: n=30, GEarth tour better Glacial Interpretation e.g. Identify features elsewhere: T test P=0.19 Spatial memory e.g. where was the study site?: T test P=0.46 More time spent on GEarth Is GEarth engaging? (8/10)
  12. 12. Test Results II Qualitative: • Generation YouTube: Play Button only • Robust • Image quality
  13. 13. Interpretation GEarth Tours vs paper equivalent: • Indicative Evidence that tours are better in multi-scale situ. – Plus Audio • Engaging (Question, Test Times and Scores) • But Why?
  14. 14. Thoughts on Testing • Above all else: Hallway testing • Lawn Mower Law • Observations for insight but truth is in empirical tests.
  15. 15. • Ran quantitative Conclusion usability tests on Tours (more!) • Found good tours application • More lit. search • Focus in on VFSs – Speed – Landmarks • 3D thematic maps
  16. 16. Google Earth Tours User Testing Spatial Content Richard Treves, Tuesday, 23rd March 2010