BY KEVIN HODGSON

I often wonder about the potential for learning via social media, apps, and mobile devices. Take foursquare, for instance — it is an app that uses geo-tags, place locations, and community connections. Foursquare contains some intriguing possibilities for classroom use, particularly in virtual high schools and colleges.

If you’re not familar with foursquare, users earn badges and prestige by visiting real-world places. The foursquare app then shares information about their location with others in their network. The concept of earning points may turn some educators off from foursquare, since there are going to be winners and losers. But foursquare has more nuanced approaches, too, that can engage a wide range of students.

A resource website put out by a blog that tracks online education (Accredited Online Colleges) is a great place to mull over the possibilities of foursquare in learning. Here, they point out more than 30 ways that foursquare could be used for learning, from field trips to organized meetings to site-based research.

A few examples that I found interesting:

  • Bring students from different classes together: Encourage students from different class periods to follow each other for more camaraderie, to enhance discussion, and create a bigger network.
  • Track field trips with Google Earth: Google Earth now integrates with foursquare, so you can help your students remember where they’ve been on field trips.
  • Create a place-based tour: Tag or check in to different venues you’ve mapped out ahead of time to take your students on a place-based tour. A University of Dallas professor and his students are working on an app to tie in audio, pictures, and video, too.
  • Teach the history of your school: A library program at North Carolina State University uses foursquare to show students archived shots of the first freshman class, old school buildings, and other historical images based on the smartphone user’s location.
  • Arrange spontaneous study groups: Check in at a location on campus and invite students to join you for a spontaneous review session or study group.

What is Foursquare?

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