Location games on campus

One of the (many) notes sitting on the wall in my building says:


Humans need to speak w(?) space -> UniTinder

(From my wonderful colleague Theresa).

We’ve had a few informal chats about what kinds of location-based tools might be developed for an on-campus experience, or to support off-campus learning. Obviously lots of work has gone into augmented reality services, and location aware apps (e.g. Wikipedia on mobile has/had an ‘articles nearby’ feature). And of course, we (at UTS) currently buy in to another tool that provides campus mapping (called campus map), and our google maps coverage is pretty good (e.g. you can search by building number/name) – this indicates desire for such services, and potential to build on (or develop from scratch) tools to connect the local environment with app users and other relevant content (whether Wikipedia articles, or UTS toilet locations!).

In terms of location-aware-learning through, there are interests beyond this. One is in how we can use location awareness to develop games that drive learning behaviours (e.g. including encouraging students to get to know where important services are on campus, engage in productive collaboration at a shared event, etc.), as, for example, discussed in this paper “Academic Check-ins: Mobile Gamification for increasing motivation and engagement around the campus”.

In other contexts, we might also be interested in how we engage students and the wider university community (including local residents) in a community of suggestions, using open tools to develop location aware community based suggestions, per the OpenPlans project. I love the potential of this kind of approach and would be fascinated in any case studies in university contexts (either that used such location-based community-sourced suggestions, or that could have done but were in fact conducted using different methods).

Across possible applications though, there are some social and ethical issues. Not least among these are issues around connectivity both from an institutional perspective (even the best university has dead-zones and might struggle to map their wifi signals), and from a personal perspective (not all students have, or want, mobile devices), which are of course also connected to privacy concerns (knowing where you are, when, and where you go is just creepy!).

Nonetheless, something for further exploration, and I’d love to hear about any current or developing applications!

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