Gowalla & the virtual geography of learning 2

Gowalla is a augmented reality (AR) social exploration app that lets you pick up, drop, and trade virtual items as you check-in or become the founder of various locations. I used it at #ncte10 last week so my wife and kids could make sure I was in sessions and not at Disney World, where I in no way picked up any Disney exclusive virtual items.

When you check-in, you can leave a comment and/or post a photo with a comment. You get a stamp on your virtual passport for checking in, and you get pins for various accomplishment like taking a certain number of pictures or checking in for the first time in a new state. At some locations you can get items left there by other users or by Gowalla or its partners.

You can drop your collected items for others to find at the same spot. You can vault your collected items into your permanent collection and then carry around extras to trade or drop when you create locations.

Gowalla also lets you create trips of up to 20 locations for others to follow. Gowalla’s partners have also made trips and left items redeemable for real world rewards.

The app lets you friend your friends and it sends out push notifications to them whenever you check in at a new location.

It’s a fun app. I also think it’s a great tool for education.

Imagine a school full of friended users checking-in at the end of each class with an observation or question about the lesson. Imagine if they took snap-shots of themselves smiling, stone-faced, or frowning to give their teachers visual feedback about their understanding of the day’s learning objective, or if they took a picture of their work for parents following the class.

Imagine delivering – or co-developing with students – schedules via Gowalla. Imagining analyzing student check-ins to find emergent schedules.

Imagine an inquiry-based school with decentralized apprenticeships. Imagine community partners setting up trips for apprentices to follow in completing their hours. Imagine those partners leaving pins and items for students finishing their apprenticeships in good standing. Imagine those partners giving students items for redeemable for real world services that students could share with folks in need through service organizations. Imagine students creating their own trips recording their inquiry learning and leaving those trips on the Gowalla servers for like-minded students to follow in later years. Imagine items redeemable for gifted texts and projects that help learning along the way. Imagine a cohort of mentors and friends watching one another learn and sharing the locations of powerful learning opportunities outside the classroom before, during, and after school. Imagine Gowalla as a mobile, social, student-sourced course content container, albeit one that needs some voice and sketching functionality.

Gowalla is about community and place and how a networked community overlays and interacts within a virtual geography vaster than any territory that “belongs” to an individual member. This is a powerful model for teaching and learning – for sharing ourselves over time and space with people we can help, as well as for leaving a record of how we learned. These curricula of place can serve as gifts to others and as a testament to how hard we tried to move learning out of the factories.

Friend me at chadsansing. Let’s start cacheing our learning outside the classroom.

2 thoughts on “Gowalla & the virtual geography of learning

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