Using Surveys with Google Earth

Tom Taylor


Using a form created in Google Docs, it is possible to embed surveys into Google Earth placemarks.  These will allow students to questions about geographic locations.


Google Docs forms can be created and shared online.  When visitors complete the questions on the form, the data is submitted to a Google Docs spreadsheet.  Forms can be made available to the general public, or to a limited population.

First, open Google Docs and select “Create New”, then “Form”

Once the form opens, you will see a place to enter a title and description.  Two sample questions have already been added, and can be edited or deleted.

To add more questions, just click on the Add Item button.  Question types include text, paragraph, check boxes, drop-down boxes, or radio buttons.

Once you have complete your form you will need to share it in order for it to work in Google Earth.  In the image above, “Require District Five Schools of Spartanburg sign-in to view this form” has been checked.  That should be unchecked so that it’s viewable by the general public.

Here I have created a sample three-question survey for Charleston, South Carolina.  To embed this on a Google Earth placemark for Charleston, first .lick on “More Actions” and select “Embed from the list of options.

A dialog box will appear with an iframe embed code that will need to be copied.

Press CTRL and C to copy the code.

Next, open up Google Earth, if it’s not already open.  Create a new placemark on the location where to want to have the survey/form.  In this case I have selected Charleston.

Give the placemark a title, then click in the Description box.  Press CTRL and V to paste the embed code into the description box.  Click OK to complete the placemark.

Now, when you click on the placemark either on the map or in the Places box, a fully functional survey should appear in Google Earth.

When users click on the Submit button, the results are recorded in a Google Spreadsheet.  This spreadsheet is private unless you change the privacy settings, but can be view in your Google Docs folder.

You will need to create a different form for each location marked with a placemark.  Make sure that you name your files appropriately so that you can keep track of them.


In the sample survey that I created I asked three questions:

  1. Have you ever visited this location?
  2. What did you like most about your visit?
  3. Would you want to visit again?

You could ask simple open-ended questions or opinion questions, or you could ask more directed questions based on classroom instruction.  For example, a placemark on Fort Sumter in Charleston could contain quiz-like questions about the location’s significance in the Civil War.  If you are planning to use the surveys as a quiz, you may want to include a field so that the student also submits their name with each survey.

You can include as many questions as you would like on each placemark.  However, I recommend limiting this to a few simple questions that can be answered fairly quickly.  If the student clicks outside of the placemark before clicking “Submit”, it will lose their responses and they will have to re-type them.