GeoGuessr is an online game-based platform that uses maps and gamification to teach world geography to students.
Crucially, this is a game first and then a learning experience as a result of the content. Being built that way, it feels like something that is fun rather than an educational tool. However, it can work as exactly that for teachers, making for a useful way to get even less enthusiastic students to engage in learning geography.
Easy to access, with free content, and super simple to use, this setup is great for a wide range of ages, but since it focuses on geographical knowledge it will likely best suit students from around the age of four or five and upward. That said, it can be fun for adults to try too.
So can GeoGuessr help teach in your classroom?
What is GeoGuessr?
GeoGuessr is an online and app-based game that uses maps and a question-and-answer style scenario to challenge the geographical knowledge of students. While teaching them more at the same time.
The website itself is easy to access from nearly any device with a browser and an internet connection, although there are also app versions of this available for iOS and Android. The free initial access makes it a great option to try out without the need to commit.
The site uses a combination of Google Street View and Mapillary images to take students around the world while testing their knowledge. For example, a student may be placed near the Statue of Liberty and asked to place a pin on a map to show where they are in the world.
It's all very simple to do, making it easy to pick-up even for students that are less technologically able.
How does GeoGuessr work?
GeoGuessr starts you off on a map or Street View location. You are then encouraged to explore in order to determine where it is that you have virtually landed. This can mean looking around and taking in crucial details such as the local language, road signs, landmarks, topography, the environment, personal experiences, and more.
There is a small map in the bottom right corner in which you are encouraged to place a pin. This can be zoomed for even more accuracy when placing that pin. To use the Statue of Liberty example, you have a zoomed out map of New York but can zoom right in to Liberty Island to place your marker.
You are then shown the exact location of the spot you were in, next to the marker you placed. A measurement of how far out you were, in miles, is shown to denote how well you've done. This is also shown in points, which you accrue across the several missions you're given before being given a final score at the end.
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What are the best GeoGuessr features?
GeoGuessr is lots of fun right from the start. As you progress it becomes more challenging, which is often where the learning of new places starts to come in.
Having that points system is a great way to keep students engaged as well as a way to make things competitive, if that's something which works for your class. There are also incentives for earning more points, such as levelling up to get new player titles and visuals around your avatar.
Several modes of play are available, including Quick Play, Classic Maps, and Maprunner, to add different styles of gaming to keep things fresh. You can also continue games at the point you left off.
Upgrade to Pro and you get more features, including no ads, no waiting to play more, map creation, and more.
GeoGuessr is free to use a basic account, but there are limitations on the number of plays per day and there are ads on the website.
Go for the Pro tier, at $3.49 per month or $23.88 annually, and you get uninterrupted play as much as you like, no ads, play with friends mode, avatar items, map creation, and competition against others with leaderboard access.
GeoGuessr best tips and tricks
Start off on the big screen as a class to get the idea of how to play but also to engage the class in exploration.
Keep track of scores and reward those in the class that show good progress in the game -- not necessarily just those with the highest score.
Have students share a tough one where they did well, perhaps helping others in the class learn new locations at the same time.
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