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Where in the world? GeoGuessr as a literacy tool
Released last May, the web-based geographic discovery game places players on five randomly-determine Google Street View locations, asking them to guess where they are.
Once a player is ready to guess the location, he or she may place a location marker on a zoom-able Google Map.
The true location is revealed and the player earns between 0 and 6500 points, depending on the distance between the guess and the actual location. Players may post their scores to social media sites and challenge others to play the same five locations.
So, what’s the point?
In my mind this is a fabulous opportunity to introduce visual literacy, critical thinking and search skills. How do you solve the where am I problem? How do you read geography? How do you search a tree?
Players are forced to read carefully and focus on visual details they might ordinarily overlook.
They might navigate the environment in search of signs, license plates, flora and fauna, landscape, landmarks, architectural styles, types of businesses, logos, dress, language, what side of the road folks drive on. I like the idea of brainstorming other clues to look for as a class.
And though I like the idea of individual players competing against each other, I also like the idea of using this as a warm-up group discussion–asking some students to be the group searchers, investigating evidence, arguing for their guesses. I even like the idea of not getting it and discovering that some places look a lot like others.
About Joyce Valenza
Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza
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