- "Great educational content; slightly dry gameplay."
- "Find-the-country geography app with detailed statistics."
- "Stunning interactive geography and animal science game."
- "Great way to learn states and capitals by region."
- "Advanced quiz questions target true geography buffs."
The website gives each product a suggested age target (best for age 10, for example), a star rating (how good, aka fun/engaging is it) and an intriguing measure of "learning potential of a title in terms of whether it's BEST, GOOD, or FAIR for learning -- or not for learning." The criteria for that score:
Is it engaging, fun, absorbing?
Is the learning central and not secondary to the experience? Is it relevant and transferable to real life? Does it build concepts and deep understanding? Do kids get exposure to a diversity of people and situations?
Do kids get feedback about their performance? Does their experience (e.g., game play) adjust based on what and how they do?
Support and extensions
Are there opportunities and resources to support, strengthen, and extend learning? Is the title accessible to a variety of audiences?
- HowStuffWorks for iPad rates three books, but it's certainly not geography specific or even geography focused.
- National Geographic Challenge has the highest rating in potential for learning among the real geography offerings, but gets just two books, not three. The review may indicate why: "Game show/board game is a blast -- but questions are tough!" Digging deeper you find: "Learning social studies facts is wild fun with this competitive game show." Oh boy, another game to learn facts! Hooray!
This is just one website, one with a limited number of learning products, but I fear it reflects the state of geography apps in 2012. Most seem to attack the need to learn the facts about and locations of the countries and cities of the world. I continue to look forward to the next generation of geography games that teach the underlying principles and skills of geography. I point those interested in this opportunity the shiny new volume of national geography standards, the second edition of Geography for Life.