Website review by Jenny Bristol, Common Sense Education | Updated October 2019

Geoguessr

"Just one more turn" gameplay jazzes up geography

Learning rating
Editorial review by Common Sense Education
Community rating
Based on 8 reviews
Privacy rating
40%| Warning Expert evaluation by Common Sense
Grades
4–12
Subjects & Skills
Social Studies, Critical Thinking

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Pros: Colorful, well-organized interface, easy controls, and addictive gameplay make geography appealing.

Cons: Favors players with some travel experience or background knowledge in geography; must subscribe to Pro version for many of the features.

Bottom Line: It's not a typical educational game, but Geoguessr inspires students to explore the world and encourages them to think critically about what defines a place, including culture and geography.

Teachers can use Geoguessr as an extension activity in geography or world cultures classrooms or as a media literacy and critical thinking exercise in any content area. It can serve as a prompt for teaching and learning both online and print-based research skills and techniques, or as inspiration for student-designed games using free online resources like photo collections. With dedicated play and more in-depth small-group or whole-class discussion, teachers can use Geoguessr to build students' background knowledge about geography and places that are new to the students (or even to the teacher). Teachers can also connect with classrooms in their schools or from around the world to share challenges and build relationships among students.

If your school has the Pro account, encourage students to make their own map challenges once they're familiar with how Geoguessr works. Have them create maps that have personal meaning or are based around a theme that you're studying in class. Groups or individuals solving the same map can compete against each other. If there's no room in the budget for a subscription, your classroom can still play a different map daily, along with the Daily Challenge, and do the free world one whenever they like.

For struggling students, give them tips such as: Pay attention to the side of the road cars are driving on, the color of the road stripes, the maker of the map (Google Maps versus Mapillary), the tree species, the sky and surrounding landforms, the people and clothing, and, of course, any signs or symbols they see.

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Geoguessr is an addictive puzzler (with a version on the web as well as Android and iOS apps) that tasks students with guessing the location of Google Street View and Mapillary images from around the world. By investigating the image area, scouring it for clues, and thinking critically about what they see, students work to narrow down where in the world it might be. When they're ready to guess, they drop a pin on the map next to the picture. They can zoom into the map to place it more precisely, if necessary. See a road sign? What language is it? Don't know? Google it. Can you describe the environment? Is it tropical? Snowy? Very, very flat? Search online or in an atlas for a matching region. Been there before? Drop a pin on it. At the end of each of five rounds, the game shows players how close their guesses are to the actual location and awards points based on proximity. After the five rounds, a summary is shown, adding up points. Players can share particularly fun games with their friends, challenging them to match their high scores.

The site includes maps created by the Geoguessr folks as well as maps submitted by players, and a Daily Challenge. Students with free accounts can do the Daily Challenge and one map per day, along with the original free world map as often as they'd like. Students with Pro accounts can also make and save their own maps, play as many maps as they like, compete with friends, create leagues, and have no ads waiting between rounds. For all accounts, player profiles keep track of stats like best round, average score, number of games played, and recent activity. Students also earn badges for achieving various milestones.

Geoguessr is less straight instruction and more a platform for cultivating 21st-century skills. It can be a great -- addictive, even -- motivator for thinking about geography and culture, and for building reasoning and critical thinking skills in self-directed, small-group, or whole-class settings. When solving a puzzle or trying to beat a friend's high score, students have an opportunity to learn a lot about the world, its regional differences, its ecosystems, and its inhabitants, in both urban and rural settings. They'll need to look closely at signs, landmarks, architecture, trees and other plants, clothing, the date the image was taken (pointing to the season and perhaps the hemisphere), and more. Some images allow students to explore extensively, while others allow them to see only what's in the immediate area.

While they'll certainly develop some strategies of their own, students will benefit from some guidance and help to encourage thoughtful play. In this way, Geoguessr can go well with units on visual analysis, finding and using evidence, geographical and cultural differences, and research skills. Then, by creating their own maps, students can bring their geographic study down to the local level, anywhere in the world.

Overall Rating

Engagement

Intuitive, addicting, and with a stylish interface and cool concept, Geoguessr will compel kids to explore the world. Students will want to keep testing their knowledge and investigative skills.

Pedagogy

By putting students in the position of explorer and investigator, it encourages them to observe and draw conclusions from geographical differences, think critically, take risks, research, self-assess, and try again.

Support

Simple instructions and familiar online map street view controls make this easy to jump into. Feedback after every turn and at the end of the game makes it easy to self-monitor and set goals for improvement.


Common Sense reviewer

Community Rating

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Featured review by
Kary A. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Freeman Elementary-Adams
Adams, United States
Exploring the World through Google Maps! Guess where you are by studying your surroundings!
I think this is a great website that allows students to explore locations on a map. Instead of just seeing the location on a map, it allows them to view the landscape, people and environment. Some of them found the arrows and scrolling a little difficult to maneuver, but overall they caught on quite easily. Since it is a website, there was no sign-up or account required, which is really nice. I also appreciate that they can play or practice this skill anywhere. Many of my students have accessed it ...
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