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T. Alvarez, I. Manchon, J. Pinacho, F. Tadeo

University of Valladolid (SPAIN)
This paper presents GEOEDUCA, a tool for learning geography and cultural and social facts from around the world. It is intended for use with children 3 years old and up.
Some years ago, one of the authors developed a tool that had similar objectives, but when tested with children, the results were not as good as expected. So, a new approach has been followed and much better results have been achieved.
It cannot be denied that there are commercial software that pursues similar objectives, but these applications have limitations: most of them do not allow data updates and/or do not consider colourful or unusual facts, that keep the small users interested. From our point of view is important that the information can be modified when the teachers requires it.

This necessity can be triggered by a political change (change of name of a country or change of president, important events, …) or by the students curiosity (some children can be more interested in learning languages issues, others can be interested in folklore, others may want to learn about history or architecture or weather). We can, but maybe, we shouldn’t show information in the same way to kids from different ages, and GEOEDUCA let to adapt what to show and how to show depending on the final user.
GEOEDUCA allows updating, modifying, correcting and improving the information to the student’s and teacher’s needs.

The application has two parts:
1. Manager or administrator tool.
2. Learning tool.

The administrator tool is aimed to the teacher. Here, the educator can add or remove data. The information can be a map; a file (detailing anything important about a continent, country, region, city, village, river, mountain, …); an image (folklore, physical elements, newspapers, animals, plants, …) or multimedia files. The information is stored in a database, so it can be accessed by the learning module.

The learning module will be used by the children. The subjects and contents are grouped in age ranges: 3 to 5, 6-7 and 8-9. It can be easily adapted to a broad audience.
If the kids are very young, the teacher can supervise their achievements. The information can be presented in different types of fonts and sizes. They can work in two different ways:

a) Watching information: images, videos or files about any country or region that is stored in the database. This information can be about a monument, a tradition, historical personages or whatever the docent had introduced in the database.
b) Games. There are two types of games:
1. Quiz questions grouped by users’ age. For instance: ‘the Houses of Parliament are in: a) London, b) paris, c) Prague’, or ‘the Tibet is in: a) Asia, b) Europe, c) America’. When the answer is right an encouraging sound is played.
2. Snakes and ladders: some squares of the grid have questions, others move forwards or backwards.

The application has being developed with Microsoft Visual Studio .NET and SQL Server 2008.
As we have used .NET, GEOEDUCA can ork in a network environment. For instance, the teacher’s module and the database can be installed in a computer and the students’tool can be work with in several computers.
keywords: geography, tool, education.