Today we’re speed review two Geography learning apps while trying to fit within my world limit. So we’ll skip the history and the small talk.
This is the first app on the Google App store when you search “Learn Geography”, and it brings up one of my pet peeves about “education” apps: Multiple Choice Quiz games masquerading as “educators”. Yes, you can learn with multiple choice quizzes, but there’s a reason educators use them to judge progress, not to teach with. Multiple choice quizzes remove one of the key factors towards long term learning: context. Your answer, the way you learn it in multiple choice, lacks any understanding beyond the memory of the question asked. And this factor is why I chose to review two apps for this topic.
To learn the location, flag, population, religion, emblem, language, currency, size, etc of every country on the planet.
You know the first day you get adobe photoshop and you find out all of the symbol editors and filters you can add to a layer? Imagine if that component vomited all over the planet earth. Everywhere in this app there are too many glare and shadow effects, as well as an aesthetic style that can’t seem to pick a theme. It’s also way too busy. There are a lot of buttons, few tutorials, and random symbols on every page. It doesn’t take long to find your way around, but I was still finding new features after casually playing for a week.
It looks like a mess, and it mostly is: C
Having to level up for new content is aggravating, especially because the reason this wall exists isn’t to provide a scaffolding for your skills, but to allow for an arbitrary paywall. That’s right, you can just buy content.
The achievements are boringly designed, and don’t really entice you to do things you wouldn’t try otherwise.
And as you level up the biggest way the game changes is by adding more questions. And, you remember your favorite thing about multiple choice quizzes in highschool, right? Yup, the longer ones were definitely more fun.
Just like all my quizzes in school: C
Map location, capital city, flag, population, border outline, religion, emblem, language, currency, sheeesshhh this game tries to “teach” you a lot. But it’s not “teaching” you. You guess, you get it wrong, and then it’s up to you to remember that. The game doesn’t address why you might have gotten it wrong in the first place, and thus you’ll probably keep making the same mistake until you hammer it out yourself. Plus, even the game can’t seem to decide what it wants to teach you.
You’ll learn something: D
Ugly, boring, unclear, and pointless. This is an app better used to prove your knowledge, not to teach it. Final score? C-
World Map Puzzle by Digital Gene
After the disappointment of the earlier app, I felt the need to dig through the app store to find a Geography Learning App I would recommend. This one was the best of the top 10 on the store, but it is older than the others. I did tweet the developers, and they have said there is no plan on updating the app. So what you see is what you’ll always get.
To learn the location of every country on the planet.
Bicolored, basic shapes, and simple to use, this app isn’t “beautiful” but it is utilitarian. The game itself is amazingly easy to play, which means the only things you need to learn are where the countries go, not how to use the app.
Easy to look at, easy to use, not much to say: A-
The fun of this game is short lived, but it is satisfying. Each version of the game has 3 achievements with a time limit to beat. These achievements are in a gallery that makes it extremely clear if you’ve missed one. Beating these limits is satisfying, and caused me to go back and play the maps multiple times. Additionally, the different map types provide a little break of the monotony of an entire world map, or provide you with something to do in 5 minutes instead of 10+. It’s just a shame there isn’t more to do.
Completing the map is satisfying, but only the first couple of times: B
Unlike the other app, this app knows exactly what it wants you to learn: Location. Furthermore, it teaches you something by providing plenty of context. You can’t just guess and hope it’s the right answer, you can’t win this game without proving you know exactly where the country fits on the globe, and you learn this by looking at the globe and the puzzle created by all the countries. It doesn’t just teach you how to point at a country on a map, but what countries surround it. It’s a little outdated, being from 2012, which means the special maps are a little old, but it’s still a good lesson.
I used what I learned on this app to get answers right on the other app: A
It’s a short game you won’t spend more than a month on, but it’s free and is enjoyable until you know it all. A-
I mentioned this in the Duolingo review, but I want to place it in clearer writing. “Fun” doesn’t necessarily mean “Fun”, it means that the App makes the task easier, better, or more enjoyable than if you were attempting the task without it. For the sake of these reviews it means “gamification”. How does the app make the task a game. In order to learn something you must approach new things, review old things, and challenge yourself. A good “game” pushes you forward, entices you to review, and rewards you for challenges. The first app rewarded you for skipping these steps by giving them money, the second app rewarded you for doing your best. One of those makes it fun, the other doesn’t