Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Teaching Games - Challenge Your Students with GeoGuessr

Have you been thinking about incorporating games into your learning activities?  The world of online educational games is immense, and goes beyond simple multiple choice "quiz show" type interactions.  GeoGuessr is a tool that I use in my online sections of BIOL 120, an Environmental Science class that fulfills CORE and MTA for non-science majors.

GeoGuessr was created in 2013 by programmer Anton Wallen.  It challenges the user to guess the location based only on a random Google Street View.  It may sound easy, but remember that there are many mapped roads that have only trees and topography as clues.  Google also blurs out license plates and phone numbers, so no help there. Take a look at the picture below...where do you think you are?  This is a screenshot from the North American version of the game, so that should narrow it down a bit.

I scored high by picking the middle of Kansas for this picture, which was only 222 miles from the actual location in Nebraska.  

I present a link to this game to my online students and they report their scores (a total of five rounds) to a discussion board.  It's easy to see the relevance in a unit on Ecology or Agriculture, but there are other ways to use it in non-science classes.  There's a Famous Places version that could be used in Art or History, and even a version that's entirely within Paris!  The game could be followed up with questions such as:

  • How did you make your guess?  What clues did you use?
  • Were you misled by any of the things that you saw?
  • Are there any assumptions you made that skewed your answers?
  • (For a math class) Can you figure out the model the programmers used to calculate your score?
For more challenging play, try the World Version.  Can you guess the correct location of the view below?

(It's southern Argentina)

If you want to explore ways to add games into your curriculum, visit us in the CTE or email Meg Elias at clarkm1@star.lcc.edu.