Product Review of Countries of the World
Countries of the World is a study and reference app that explores trivia about nations around the world. From the main menu screen, users can choose to “Study” and explore flashcards from a particular continent or see countries’ flashcards at random via the “Surprise Me!” option. Each country’s flashcard includes a simple graphic of the country’s shape and its location on the globe, an image of its flag, an option to hear the country’s name spoken aloud, and a link to videos and more info on the developer’s website. Brief info includes “fast facts” (including the nation’s capital, land area, languages spoken, population, and currency), plus info on the country’s people, government, economy, and geography. Users can use a list of countries in the left navigation to jump to other countries’ pages.
Users can also explore countries using the main menu’s “Lookup” feature, where they can select countries by tapping a map, browsing an alphabetical list, or searching for a country by name. The “Quiz” feature lets users customize their quiz (by choosing a continent and a “practice field” to target) and then take a 10-question quiz based on the type of info they selected, like capital, currency, or GDP. At the end of each quiz, users can see their time elapsed and percent of questions correct, and then they can tap the “Review” button to revisit the flashcards of countries they misidentified during the quiz.
Have learners explore countries continent by continent and quiz themselves on different facts, like capitals, currency, and languages spoken. Get learners to find other ways to present this information, perhaps giving a presentation about the similarities and differences between different countries in a single region. Have kids race to get the fastest time and the highest percent correct on quizzes like national capitals. Have kids explore these countries more deeply: Why are certain languages spoken in certain places? Why do certain classes have particular levels of literacy and suffrage? Use Countries of the World as a reference and study tool and as a springboard for further research and exploration.
There’s a ton of information here, and its consistent organization makes for easy at-a-glance reading. Some functions can be a little buggy; tapping on the world map isn’t as responsive as you might expect, and it can take a few taps to activate the audio and links out to video. Those videos are a great value-add: Though the quality may vary, most videos contain additional information that deepens and extends the simple info available on each flashcard.
Some features aren’t especially useful for learning. In the “Quiz” section, you can select any subject heading on the flashcards as a “practice field,” but it seems pretty unwieldy to be quizzed on different countries’ total area or GDP rather than something more practical like their capitals. Some of these fields capture data but miss nuance: All countries that use a dollar or peso are listed with those terms but not with the important detail that, for example, Chile and Mexico each use their own pesos, not the same currency. In general, these quizzes and flashcards would be more useful if there were better options for customization — for example, if users could share their quiz high scores, bookmark info they found useful, and save their high scores. As it is, this is a simple tool for study and review, especially for the passionate geography student.
Overall User Consensus About the App
Loads of details and lots of ways to explore will engross geography buffs, but other kids may feel overwhelmed.
Curriculum and Instruction
Info here is encyclopedic: There’s lots of it, but there’s not a lot of depth. Kids will enjoy exploring, but the flashcards and quizzes don’t effectively build understanding.
Navigation is fairly clear, but the interface isn’t always as responsive as users might expect.