Wednesday, April 27, 2011

mLearning and Foursquare-type academic Check-ins

I've been a bit silent on mobiMOOC these past few days, mostly sitting back, reading and taking time to think about things. One of the ideas that has come to mind is using services like GoWalla and Foursquare to check-into locations and using this as some sort of mLearning platform.

At UMass Boston the College of Management has a Management Achievement Program (MAP). In this program undergraduates, in addition to their coursework in management, need to attend a series of lectures in order to graduate.  Students can mix and match the lectures that they attend (based on interests and availability) and accumulate enough "miles" in order to graduate.
In the library we also have a self-guided tour of the library, and quite frequently I run into students who are doing scavenger hunts on campus as part of their  coursework.  It seems to me that these types of events could easily loan themselves to social-check ins.  For example If I am a management student and I elect to go to an eligible lecture by Management Guru X, the college of management could commission a custom badge for the event.

When the students check in, they are given a unique serial number [by organizers who also take their name down for some sort of paper backup] which needs to be added to their check-in to that venue so that they get a badge for that event (When you check in at  venue in foursquare you can microblog something. if you add keywords, like a serial number, the system can assign you a badge, as opposed to just indicating that you went to a specific venue).

Now, these individual events can also be part of a meta-category. If you attend 10 events for example in the Finance meta-category you might unlock another badge like Finance Maverick or Finance Guru, or if you tend to attend mostly IT related workshops and speaker events you might be given an MSIS Guru badge.  In addition to the badges students would be able to  gain access to resources (additional readings, discounts, one-on-one company tours, etc.) that could further their learning past that that workshop or speaker event!

This sort of mLearning tool can also be used for on campus engagement.  The campus hosts sporting events, student life events, dances, balls, galas and so on. The campus COULD commission custom badges for special events.  For example SEED (spring engagement and enrichment days) and Talented U. are coming up. Through the use of Foursquare (or some sort of equivalent) AND QR codes, people can check in and snap a photo of a QR code which foursquare then processes and not only checks them in to a particular building or department, but also gives them a badge for having participated in an event.

For academic events you'd need some sort of unique serialization, so that students check in individually, but the administrators also have some backup record to student attendance and participation for grading purposes; but for extended mLearning and student engagement, where you don't' necessarily need documentation, you can conceivably have some time-sensitive QR codes plastered up in certain venues and location which check you in to a specific venue with one snap of the camera and award you with a badge.

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