How much do you know about the Earth you live on? The countries and capitals, the great oceans and rivers, the mountains and the land—geography is essential to be a citizen of this world, and there are easy ways to learn about our planet.
There are free online academic courses to learn geography, but that’s not what we’re talking about here. You’ve probably learned the basics already and forgotten about it. It’s time to re-learn or test your knowledge.
Even Google jumped into the game with the Google Earth Natural Wonders Quiz last year. But that’s not enough. The world is a large place, so let’s get exploring.
1. Globehead (Web): Learn Countries and Capitals With Spaced Repetition
You have more than 200 friends. And you know enough things about them that you can recall easily. So why can’t you learn the names, locations, and capitals of the 195 countries in the world today?
Web app Globehead uses the system of spaced repetition to teach you the three basics of any nation in the world. Faced with a map of the world, you can click a country or have the app pick one for you. Through a series of questions, you’ll find out where it is and its capital.
These questions are repeated in different ways, so as to drill them into your memory. Every time you log on, Globehead will ask these questions again, fulfilling the principles of spaced repetition. It might be a good idea to make Globehead your homepage, so that you keep learning about a few new nations and improving your geographical knowledge.
2. GeographyNow (YouTube): Learn Geography With Cool Videos
GeographyNow isn’t just for kids. Paul Barbato, more commonly known as Barby, is an engaging and entertaining host for short videos to learn everything you need to know about every country in the world, as well as continents, regions, and other formations.
The videos are typically 10 to 20 minutes long and cover a wide gamut of interesting information about the country. It includes how the nation was formed, its current geopolitical issues, the salient geographic details about the land and its surroundings, and more. Barby narrates all of it through funny and cool videos, often play-acting with friends to deliver historical facts.
Along with all that, there is also a short flag-specific video, explaining the history of that flag. If you weren’t already interested in how nations build a flag and the meaning behind it, Barby’s videos will kindle a new thirst for knowledge.
3. Darron Gedge (YouTube): Educational Geography Channel
Darron Gedge’s Geography Channel is a fantastic resource for educational videos about geography. Gedge focuses on geography and not geopolitics, which means it is more about the natural formations of Earth.
That’s not to say he ignores man’s role in it. His latest video, for example, is about coastal erosion and the methods we can use to reduce it. The previous video talked about the causes of water pollution.
Through live demonstrations, infographics and illustrations, and simple language, Gedge is able to turn complex geographical information into easy-to-understand videos. It’s great for kids, but also for adults who don’t know where to ask their questions for fear of looking stupid.
4. Seterra (Web, Android, iOS): Best Geographical Map Quizzes
Nothing comes close to Seterra as a simple geographical game to find locations on a political map. It’s not restricted to the globe alone, as you can drill down to continents and countries, finding states and provinces, major cities, or other important points in them.
The USA is best covered in the app, with maps for states, capitals, original colonies, cities, rivers, geophysical regions, and even the civil war. Each continent has maps to test your knowledge of its major physical features, and some other countries have extra material too like the USA.
Additionally, Seterra provides printable PDFs of most of these maps so you can hand them out in a classroom, or simply test yourself against your friends as a party game.
Seterra has everything for free on the internet, but the mobile apps have a few restrictions in the free version. Try them out, and if you like it, the $1.99 price is worth unlocking all maps and quizzes.
5. NatGeo GeoBee Challenge (Android, iOS): Addictive Geography Quiz
Much like the Spelling Bee tests spelling, National Geographic hosts an annual competition for students to test geographical knowledge. Whether you’re a student or a full-grown adult, the GeoBee Challenge app is a nice way to test your own geography and learn some more too.
There are 15 rounds of quizzes, with five questions in each round. Each question has multiple-choice answers and a time limit. Once you pick your answer, the app takes you to the correct location on a map. It’s a cool interactive way to test your knowledge, and even apply some lateral thinking.
For example, one of the questions was, “Which city, known for its Cajun and French influences, was devastated by hurricanes?” In the choices, even if you knew New Orleans was hit by hurricanes, you’ll now also learn that it has heavy Cajun and French influences.
And Of Course, Google Maps…
Obviously, no article dealing with learning more about the world through technology can be complete without mentioning Google Maps. It is one of the best free resources on the internet, and Google actively encourages teachers to use it in classrooms.
If you don’t know where to look, start with these Google Maps and Google Earth gems. It has things you didn’t know you wanted, from seeing a timeline of how areas around the world have changed over the years, to playing a game of “where in the world is this” with Street View images.