Google Earth is available as a free download for either Macs or Windows computers.
You need to log in to your Gmail account (either Hamilton or personal) in order to create, save and share Google Maps. This is not Google Map Maker! See below for detailed instructions.
See our page of sample student mapping projects; most of these use Google Maps or Google Earth.
Google Maps allows users to locate and place points onto a map and add photos, descriptions and links. Once can also upload an entire file of places and addresses (CSV, XLSX or KML) and select different base maps. It's also easy to export layers as KMZ files and open up in Google Earth to create a tour. All this and more is explained in their Help Guide (see also the complete list of online tutorials).
For projects requiring collaborative entry of data, you can use Spreadsheet Mapper to create layers for Google Maps or Earth. If you have a spreadsheet of locational data, you can also use Google Fusion Tables (not available with Google Apps accounts). Google Maps can be shared with other users (e.g., a class) just like any other document.
Some web services enable you to enter your data into a Google Map and display it on your website or create a link to it on the host's site (which may be necessary if you wish to share the map more broadly than the Hamilton community):
If you have a large number of addresses that need to be validated, you can use Batch Geocode, which can produce a file for either Google Maps or Google Earth. For just a few addresses, try this lat-long converter.
Google Earth has a fantastic User Guide which will show you not only how to use GE but also how to create your own layers of interesting places.
Google Maps Maps, directions, satellite imagery
Google Earth Explore, search and discover ... in 3D
If you are not familiar with Google Maps or what it can do, here is Getting Started with Google Maps. And here is the product tour for Google Earth.
There is actually more than one blog dedicated to Google Maps and Google Earth. Who knew?
Google Maps Mania
Google Earth Community (now at GE Community Forums)
Google Earth Blog
Ogle Earth Blog (Google Earth and other virtual globes)
Google Lat-Long Blog