Google Earth Engine Training 2022: Professor Iain Woodhouse’s guide to resources and courses

Added to
January 4, 2023
November 14, 2022

By Professor Iain H Woodhouse

So, you are interested in getting to grips with Google’s Earth Engine (EE) with some training. Fantastic. It is certainly a good time to do that, as Google has opened up EE to commercial companies as well as researchers and not-for-profits, so if you find your algorithm produces results that are so good someone would pay for them, then you can use EE to deliver your services, as well as originate them. In this post, we explore the various types of resources and training available for Earth Engine, along with the pros and cons of each.

And if you think that would be easier and faster to do without having to write and debug code, you should try Earth Blox. But more on that later.

Google Earth Engine’s own training and support

Your first port of call should always be the Earth Engine team. This includes their team of developers and their network of Earth Engine Experts. There is also a vast community of EE users who regularly engage on the user forum. Asking questions on the user forum is a great resource for help once you are a competent EE user. To get to that stage, there are two other key Google resources. 

The first is their online quick-start guide. The second, announced at the Geo for Good Summit last month, is the first guidebook to using Earth Engine. Although the Community Guides from the GEE Developers website is a great resource, “Cloud-Based Remote Sensing with Google Earth Engine” is by far the best single resource for Earth Engine users. It covers fundamentals in Part 1 and applications in Part 2, and there is not a more comprehensive text on using Earth Engine than this. 

GEE Developer Guides [Free]

Cloud- Based Remote Sensing with Google Earth Engine - a free training guide.

“Cloud-Based Remote Sensing with Google Earth Engine” online book [Free]
  • Pros: From established GEE expert users. 
  • Cons: Not sure there are any, other than it is very long (since it is comprehensive). 
  • Time: It has nine sections ranging from 60 to 120 pages, so it is a lot of reading.
  • Cost: Free.

External Earth Engine experts offering free ‘how to’ guides

There are many enthusiasts who offer free online tutorials or advice. The first on that list has to be Prof Qiusheng Wu. Anyone in the social media sphere will know of Qiusheng. He is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, USA, with research interests applying geospatial big data, machine learning, and cloud computing to study environmental change. As a well-known advocate of open science, he has developed and published various open-source packages for geospatial analysis. 

For Earth Engine, he has created over 100 video tutorials on YouTube. These vary from 6 or 7 mins to cover a small specific task, such as “How to add fading effects to satellite timelapse,” to 25 mins or more for more in-depth topics, like“How to use Earth Engine 3rd-party JavaScript libraries with Python”. You can find his research on his GitHub page and personal website.

Quisheng Wu's Earth Engine tutorials on YouTube.

Qiusheng Wu - YouTube tutorials [Free]
  • Pros: Short videos - solving specific problems
  • Cons: Coding included.
  • Cost: Free.
  • Time: Most videos average between 10 and 20 minutes, but there are over 100, so focus on what you specifically need.

If you prefer a more condensed way to get your tips, then consider following another Google Expert, Keiko Numura, on Twitter. She is now up to tip #51 (the last few being dual-tweets), but the best bit is that she has curated all her tweets in this handy Github summary. At the time of writing, she is still on Twitter, but if she’s not there, she will be on Mastodon.  

Keiko Numura - Tweet Tips [Free]
  • Pros: Very short, focused videos to perfect particular tasks.
  • Cons: Coding required. 
  • Cost: Free.
  • Time: most videos average between 1 and 5 minutes (but you might find you start engaging in the Twitter threads!) 

Formal Earth Engine training courses

Some of you may prefer a more tailored introduction to Earth Engine, with face-to-face content or dedicated online materials, and we list these below. Note we can’t endorse any of these as we haven’t crossed the paywalls to test them out, but we provide a summary here for completeness. 

Google Earth Engine training available online through Udemy.

EO Data Science: Google Earth Engine Apps [Price on asking]
  • Pros: Learn to make apps using EE.
  • Cons: Delivered only when there is sufficient demand. Earth Engine Fundamentals or equivalent skills are a prerequisite.
  • Cost: Price on request.
  • Time: The training is delivered in 1 day.
Geo University: Google Earth Engine Training For EO Applications [€45 / ~USD 46]
  • Instructor: ​​Minerva Singh (who also teaches on Udemy below).
  • Pros: You can get a certificate (but buyers beware – for any online resource offering a certificate, make sure that the person/organisation you want to impress recognises the certificate). There is no time limit on accessing the materials. 
  • Cons: There is no evidence of ratings from previous users, so there is no indication of value for money. 
  • Cost: €45 (we also got a quick response to a question about group discounts, which do apply).
  • Time: 3.5 hours.
Google Earth Engine Summer School – Second edition 2022 (GeoLab Forest) [Price on asking]

Four mornings of training with afternoons spent in group project work (which are presented on the Friday). Runs in May and/or September. 

  • Pros: 5 days of in-person training. And it is in Florence, one of the most beautiful European cities.  
  • Cons: It’s in Florence! So, you have to get there and support yourself while there.
  • Cost: Unknown, but remember your accommodation and travel costs. 
  • Time: 5 days, Monday to Friday. 

Best-selling online courses for Earth Engine on Udemy

These are the top-ranked ones, but we haven’t taken any of these courses, so buyer beware. Note that on Udemy, if you start a course, you have to pay for it all. We recommend you find someone who has done it before and get their opinion (Udemy do have reviews you can browse through). 

Complete Google Earth Engine for Remote Sensing & GIS [£59.99 / ~ USD 70] 
  • Instructor: Minerva Singh, who also delivers a course on GeoUniversity above.
  • Pros: You can get a certificate. The reviews are mostly positive, and you can see some preview lectures.
  • Cons: The reviews are mixed. It does seem like it hasn’t been updated for a while. 
  • Cost: £59.99 / ~ USD 70.
  • Time: 6 hours of video (42 lectures) content to get through, as well as other materials.
Advanced Google Earth Engine(GEE) For Spatial Data Analysis [£59.99 / ~ USD 70] 
  • Instructor: This is Minerva Singh’s advanced course. 
  • Pros: You can get a certificate. You can see some preview lectures.
  • Cons: The reviews are mixed. It does seem like it hasn’t been updated for a while. 
  • Cost: £59.99 / ~ USD 70.
  • Time: 5 hours of video, as well as other materials.
Google Earth Engine for Machine Learning & Change Detection [£59.99 / ~ USD 70] (Kate Alison and Georg Müller)
  • Pros: You can get a certificate. You can see some preview lectures.
  • Cons: Some of the reviewers point out that there is a lot of theory compared to the amount of coding described. That may be what some users expect.
  • Cost: £59.99 / ~ USD 70.
  • Time: 4 hours of video content.
Introduction to Google Earth Engine (GEE) [£59.99 / ~ USD 70] 
  • Instructors: AulaGEO Academy and Mirza Waleed.
  • Pros: You can get a certificate. You can see some preview lectures.
  • Cons: Not a lot of reviews to go on. This is more expensive for the course length than the others.
  • Cost: £59.99 / ~ USD 70.
  • Time: Only 1.5 hours of video content.

CONCLUSION: Go straight to the “Cloud-Based Remote Sensing with Google Earth Engine” online book. It is free, written by experts and backed by the Google team.  

Finally, once you have delved into the wonders of Earth Engine, then you will be ready to take a look at Earth Blox. Check out our Knowledge Hub to see how easy it is to get the benefit of Earth Engine without having to know how to code. A good place to start is our “Introduction to Earth Blox”.

You can also get an idea of how Earth Blox works by watching this introductory video by our CEO Genevieve Patenaude, at Google’s Geo for Good Summit in October 2022.

Professor Iain H Woodhouse

Iain H Woodhouse is Knowledge and Outreach Lead at Earth Blox and Professor of Applied Earth Observation at the University of Edinburgh. He specialises in active remote sensing, with over 27 years experience in academia and industry, and more than 100 publications. Iain has advised multiple UK government agencies on EO strategy and is currently Chair of the UK Space Agency’s EO Advisory Committee.

Want to get up and running with Earth Engine quickly, without having to code? Try Earth Blox.

Learn more here

Get started with Earth Blox today

Book an onboarding call