The Durham University Blackboard Users Conference on January 8/9, 2013 is all about ‘Make do or Spend?‘ next year (spelt ‘sp£nd’ – see what they did there?) with the focus clearly on the VLE (or other technologies) and how well we use it in the face of stiff competition for student numbers in the current economic climate.
Today I attended the JISC RSC (Regional Support Centre) North West and eAssessment Association event ‘Exploring eAssessment‘ in the lovely setting of Lancaster House Hotel.
With the event was billed as:
“With the pressure to show impact of e-Assessment in our institutions, it’s important to know that the technology is being applied in the most effective way. We have brought together speakers from near and far to share their experiences of how you can make a difference with e-Assessment within your own organisations.”
the schedule covered aspect of assessment such as ‘developing flexible e-Assessment spaces’, ‘quick wins for learner assessment’, ‘importance of learner tracking as a motivational tool’, as well as how to use QR Codes to “deliver assessment tasks in authentic spaces, allowing learners to interact with physical spaces while recording their actions”. Continue reading →
A recent study by the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth found that almost every Higher Education Institution in the US is on Facebook and 84% of them are also on Twitter, and are using them to connect with the students to tell them “about events and meetings and resource centers with Facebook or Twitter. With Foursquare, they can actually get students to go to them.”
I signed up to Foursquare just under a year ago and am enjoying it (even if I don’t get out much!). But what I have seen is that friends, colleagues, peers, etc are interested in locations and (when linked in with other geo-location based services like the photo manipulation and sharing app Instagr.am Foursquare can come alive very very quickly.
One of the things I have been trying to work out is how we can utilise the current fashion for this type of geo-caching activity and badge/mayor-hunting passion for the students, to get them outside and engaged in something – like Induction week?
“Foursquare uses the geo-locator technology built into smartphones to turn exploring physical places — like, say, a college campus and the surrounding town — into a virtual game by encouraging users to ‘check in’ virtually at places they visit in real life. They can leave virtual notes, or ‘tips’, about a place for future visitors.”
By checking in to venues you score points, and if you check in more often than others over a time period (2 months I think?) you could become the ‘Mayor’ and ‘own’ the place (until someone checks in more times than you). Some places (mostly restaurants) offer special deals to the current Mayor, which gives an incentive to return and check in again to see if you can steal the mayorship. Foursquare confirms someone’s presence through the phone’s geo-locator – if you are not deemed to be close enough then the check-in doesn’t count.
So what does this report (link above) suggest as ways to encourage students to use Foursquare?
Texas Agricultural and Mechanical College held a Foursquare scavenger hunt, giving students a sequence of clues for places on campus to check in. The reward? A 30-percent discount at the campus bookstore.
At Waukesha they have entertained the idea of using Foursquare to encourage student involvement in extracurricular activities, while at the same time strengthening ties with local businesses. “Maybe if a student checks in at the association for student activities office, then they could be eligible for a discount or coupon for a local store/restaurant]. Studies have shown the positive effects of engagement with campus life on student retention and success, she says. “At its core Foursquare allows you to tap in to student engagement.”
The report also highlights the downside of this kind of activity – the time taken to set it up and to monitor it:
“A staff member usually spends three to four hours a week monitoring and updating Foursquare. Other events such as the scavenger hunt, required several full days of effort from the social media team, the business development team, and students.”
The report also send s a cautious note to anyone thinking of utilising Foursquare: “If students are not already active on Foursquare, it will be challenging for student affairs staff to generate buy-in for a new social media tool.”
However, Foursquare is aiming itself at the student market with the availability of four specific badges only open to ‘branded pages‘ created by education establishments (US only at this stage I think). “Several campus officials talked about the possibility of allowing students to redeem badges for campus bucks — just like a café might offer free coffee to its virtual mayor.” This sounds good, but in order to make it work there has to be the incentive, whether it is financial or other. I have heard of someone using Foursquare as a virtual register for their classes (you can create your own unique check-in point if it doesn’t already exist like a specific room), but this is heavily dependent on each and every students having a mobile device capable of using the system.
Are you using Foursquare for anything other than the morning coffee fix? Do you think you have a good idea for how we can use Foursquare in and out of the classroom? Please leave your thoughts and ideas below.
I signed up to Foursquare a while ago, and then did nothing with it. I couldn’t see the point, and am still struggling to see it even now. I like it, I sign-in to various places as I go about my travels, I’m even the Mayor of a couple too. But why?
Firstly, let’s look at Foursquare and what it is. According to Business Insider Foursquare is ;
“… primarily for letting your friends know where you are and figuring out where they are. Secondarily, it’s for collecting points, prize ‘badges’, and eventually, coupons, for going about your everyday business.”
This is really designed for people who are mobile and have, or have access to, a smart phone that enables them to install the Foursquare application on. But hang on, is that it … just let your friends now where you are and find out where they are? Do we really need this level of intimacy? The Public Relations Blogger writes;
“Unlike other social media tools like Facebook and Twitter, Foursquare is focused primarily on sharing places we’ve been and that we would maybe recommend to others.”
And there is the crux of the system … “sharing places” and “recommend to others”. This is where a business is going to use it; get your visitors to sign-in when they come, leave a tip about services, product, etc and share with their friends and anyone else who is in range. Businesses can now invite visitors by putting a ‘special’ offer on their place for visitors or the ‘Mayor’ of the place, thus enticing people back and back to get that elusive badge.
The above link to the Public Relations Blogger has details on the different aspects of Foursquare; these are;
Another great way to explain the system is in video form … so here’s a great one from the folks at HowCast.com:
So, that’s covered the “what is …”, now what about the “why” question? There are obvious benefits for using it for field trips as it can integrate with Google Earth, so students can remember where they’ve been, take notes of the different elements of the field trip you set them, etc. You could create a location-based tour where you and the students check in to different venues you’ve mapped out, ahead of time, with a view to increase their awareness of where the library is, where the student services or counsellors can be found, etc.
I have yet to see a real purpose to using Foursquare in the classroom, as that is too limiting geographically, but for a wider application the Institution could use it to xxx - Harvard University have special badges you can acquire by checking into so many locations around campus and they ”announced in January that it would become the first university to use Foursquare to help students explore its campus” (source Chronicle.com).
Further examples of Foursquare and how it could be used in the classroom and education can be found on this link: 30+ Ways to Use Foursquare In Education. While it’s great to read other people’s blog posts on what they’re doing, or intend to do with the service, let’s not forget the owners of the system; here’s what they Foursquare saying on thir blog;
“Foursquare is making a concerted effort to lure more college students to the service this fall. At least 10 schools have launched branded pages in the past few weeks and foursquare has begun a search for campus representatives to help evangelize the service. Now they’ve launched a series of five college-themed badges that can be unlocked at select schools across the country.” Foursquare: Celebrate Back to School season with five new foursquare badges
It seems Foursquare is going to be better for marketers and students to ‘play’ with than for teachers and educators to use effectively, although there are some good uses starting to come out of the woodwork. How the system develops will determine how well it ‘fits’ with the needs of geo-locating places and people, but I think it is something to watch for the future, after all one million users can’t all be wrong?
Are you using Foursquare, have you found a way to utilise it in your teaching, or are you (like me) tagging the world around you to see how many badges you can uncover? Please share your Foursquare experience by leaving a comment.