Product Review of Learn Around the World
Learn Around the World is a nonprofit organization that offers live virtual field trips and video meetings through its website. Each of its three programs has a different approach. shows are large, interactive virtual field trips guided by a live host targeted at second to fifth-grade classrooms. Educators simply need to sign up, register for a GEOshow on the calendar, and join the conference when it starts. A few limited classrooms can participate in the videoconference on-screen, whereas others can watch and send in questions by text. GEOtours are small, personalized field trips with accompanying lesson plans. Available topics are broad and varied, such as the Brooklyn Bridge, natural wonders of southern Mexico, and Angkor Wat. And GEOtalk is a live videoconference series in which learners can hear about life in countries worldwide.
After the speaker talks a bit about where they live, learners have the opportunity to ask questions. Some content and live experiences are open to all users, and some require a membership to the GEOclub for $20/per year. The private GEOtours also require payment, ranging from $140 to $200. Recordings of many of these live presentations are available later, for free, on the Learn Around the World YouTube channel.
Use Learn Around the World to take learners on a field trip without leaving the classroom. Most topics fit easily in a social studies curriculum. Visits to sites from the United States and other countries focus primarily on history and/or cross-cultural awareness. Some animal-based programs, such as elephants or Komodo dragons, could also fit in a science unit. Browse the calendar to learn about upcoming live programs. Once educators sign up, they’ll want to help prepare their learners for the experience. Learn a bit about the topic and help them develop questions to ask. Afterward, follow up with discussion, individual reports, or group projects to synthesize what the learners learned. The live interactive programs can last up to an hour or more, and they work best with ample preparation and debriefing. Educators should budget for sufficient time in their day to dedicate to this project. Live participation also requires a good setup with reliable internet and the proper equipment, including a screen large enough for the whole class to see and possibly a web camera with microphone capabilities.
Educators can also use the recordings of past programs. Although the live, interactive piece will be missing, learners can still learn from the videos. Educators may want to prepare lots of scaffolding to introduce the video, debrief afterward, and build their own related interactive activities.
Learn Around the World takes learners on exciting journeys and introduces them to different cultures. The live aspect feels like having a guest speaker come to your class to share videos and firsthand information. Much of the presentation involves learners watching and listening. But because learners can ask questions, comment, and participate through quizzes and surveys with Kahoot (in the live, synchronous experiences), there’s also an important interactive piece. Learners may enjoy talking with people who live in or have visited different countries and ask them questions about what it’s like there.
Watching the recordings of past programs on the Learn Around the World YouTube channel can also be interesting, though the learning will be completely passive. Educators could easily use clips of those videos to highlight particular information. Overall, Learn Around the World could have more teaching supports such as supplemental resources on the featured countries or ideas on how to scaffold the lessons. And though some of the programs highlight less well-represented areas of the world, the coverage is actually quite limited (currently focused mainly on Southeast Asia, Latin America, and a few U.S. locations).
Overall User Consensus About the App
High-interest topics and locations both near and far should pique learners‘ curiosity and capture their attention.
Curriculum and Instruction
Learners learn through live video sessions with friendly guides and virtual tours. Past recordings offer the same kind of on-site footage but without live interaction. There are some lesson plans to help round out learning.
Navigation and usability are easy. Past videos are available for viewing, but there’s no built-in method for tracking what you’ve done. There’s also little support for making content universally accessible.