I never cared about geography as a kid. I just couldn’t rationalize how this information would be useful as an adult (oh how silly I was). So I cheated my way through geography tests by hiding a little map inside of my jacket. I’d just open it up, take a peek, and write the correct country name on the paper.
Well, fast forward 13 years, I now live in San Francisco, one of the most culturally diverse cities in the US. I meet amazing people from all over the globe every day. When they tell me where they are from and I can’t even point it out on a map, I just feel like I’ve disrespected them.
I feel I owe it to these other cultures to, at the very least, know where their homeland is located. So I set out to learn the location of every country on Earth, all in a single weekend.
I thought long and hard about my own personal learning style and decided that my iPad could be the perfect tool. The touch interaction really fits my visual learning style. So I set out to find the perfect app for this task. Here were my requirements:
- I must to be able to record my progress so that I know the information has been retained.
- I must be able to focus on single continents at a time.
- For larger continents, they must be broken up into smaller sections (No way I was going to study every single country in Africa at the same time!)
- Canada provinces must be included.
Finding the right app
I spent a good deal of time simply searching for the right app that would satisfy my criteria and provide an interface where I could really feel like I was learning, retaining, and having fun too!
I played around with quite a few apps, but there was one that stood out above all the rest for me.
TapQuiz Maps - Free on the App Store
TapQuiz Maps provides a really simple “Question and Answer” mode which simply gives you a country name, and a few seconds to tap it’s correct location on the map.
What’s great about this game is it calculates your percentage of accuracy and gives you a speed rating. I found that if I was learning a new area, my percentage would look something like this:
- 1st try - 20% accuracy
- 2nd try - 35% accuracy
- 3rd try - 65% accuracy
- 4th try - 80% accuracy
- 5th try - 95-100% accuracy
This was a huge breakthrough for me. It meant that I could quantify how long it would actually take to learn all of the countries, since each section took anywhere between 5-7 tries for me to have complete mastery, quicker than I thought!
TapQuiz also breaks up continents like Europe and Africa up into smaller chunks, making learning the entire continent a breeze!
TapQuiz gave me everything I needed to learn the location of every country on Earth. But there were a few pain points:
- All countries on the map view are colored. This is really helpful during the learning process but makes it difficult to point out the actual country on a map where every country is the same color. I fixed this by pulling up a version of Google Maps with country labels turned off and testing my retention.
- It’s absolutely amazing that TapQuiz breaks up larger continents like Africa up into smaller regions. But once I had all of a continents countries memorized, I wanted to be tested on the continent as a whole. For this I used GeoExpert, another really solid iPad app. When used in conjunction with TapQuiz Maps, you have a really powerful learning tool.
Going even further
Since I learned the location of every country in the World I decided, why not learn a bit about them! So a couple times a week I’ve been thinking up a random country, pulling up it’s Wikipedia entry and learning all about it’s history and current events. It just seemed like a logical next step in my search to better understand our World’s geography.
My goal is to give everyone out there a sense of just how easy it can be to learn the location of every country in the World. It can be intimidating at first, but you must be persistent. I can’t explain how satisfying it is to be able to recall the location of any country out of thin air.
Give it a try, I think you’ll be shocked by how easy it actually is!
Photo Credit Ernesto Huang