GeoGuessr lets your students explore the world in a fun way, it’s just like taking your class on a virtual field trip. It is a nice tool for group activities with your class and it’ll definitely make geography fun and engaging. The concept is simple, yet pretty addictive and the name, GeoGuessr, tells you exactly what the site is all about.
How GeoGuessr works
The site uses Google Maps and Street View technologies and it is free to use. Once you enter the site you’ll find the detail of a scene from somewhere in the world. You can zoom in and out, move around just like you would normally do in order to get a better idea what you’re looking at. You can also walk left, right or turn around to fully explore the surrounding you are in.
The objective is to find clues that will help you determine the continent and country, and when you’re really lucky, the region you have been placed in. Good indicators might be shops, street signs, landmarks but also the landscape, the trees or the coastline etc., you find yourself in.
Example: In the picture above, the landscape, street and cars led me to the conclusion that I am in the USA, probably Florida.
After exploring your surroundings for a bit you’re invited to make a guess of where you think the picture comes from. You simply place the cursor on the continent and the country you think the detail originates from. Using the + and – keys you have the possibility to go very granular to make a guess as exact as can possibly be.
Example: I zoomed in on the map of Florida, looking for a bridge with a city on the left hand side. Key Largo seemed like a good fit.
Once you have decided on a country and city, a red line will indicate how far you were off of the actual location. You also get the distance indicated in kilometers which results in a final score. Another picture of the actual place is also given to you.
Example: My hunch based on the indicators I mentioned above was correct, I missed the place by just 155 km.
How to use GeoGuessr for a Virtual Field Trip
First scenario: It’s a fun tool to integrate in group activities
Let your students form small groups and once they have been placed somewhere, let them make a list of all the different points of evidence they can find. This will help them make a guess as a group and come to consensus on the exact location.
As described above, when they make their final guess on the map on the right side, they will see their result and their score. The score can be a nice incentive to try hard and also to foster some friendly competitiveness. One game consists of five rounds which is nice if you want to spend a lesson on GeoGuessr. The team with the highest total score will be the winner of the class.
Second scenario: Teaching the entire class
If your students are still relatively young you can also make it an open discussion with the entire class. Here, you as the teacher can be the guide for your students and help them see which are the helpful clues in each picture. You could let your students do some additional research on the Internet or of course using their atlases in order to get a better picture of the country and the region they just visited.
Some of the details will be easier to evaluate than others as they will be closer to the region your class is from, and your students will thus be more familiar with some surroundings and landscapes whereas others will appear as more exotic.
From a pedagogical standpoint, it will help help your students to sharpen their eyes and become more aware of everything that is around them. It will help them to find indicators of where they are and discuss their ideas with their peers, arguing based on evidence etc. They can also learn about geography, how places look different in terms of plants or architecture in different places of the world without leaving the classroom. It’s a virtual field trip.
All in all a very simple tool with lots of potential for fun and virtual field trips. Did I miss anything? Leave your ideas of how to use GeoGuessr in the comments below!