The big news in social networking is games-based, GPS tagging. Foursquare and Gowalla allow you to check-in, tag your location and record what you did/are doing at those locations, through badges, points, whatever. It’s like a spiced-up Twitter, with points for prizes.
It’s part of a wider ‘awards for behaviour‘ movement with smaller sites such as choreswar.com, where you get points for doing household chores. It makes it fun for the kids by adding competition and prizes. Another is plusoneme.com, a ‘gold stars for adults’ site, where you’re awarded points by others for good acts.
Foursquare & Gowalla
With Foursquare you download the app to your phone (most options covered; iphone, Android, Blackberry, Palm etc) then link to social networking, tell your mates where you are automatically on GPS position. If the place ain’t listed, add it. It’s all about recommendations. The game is to unlock badges and points. You can even become a Mayor for a location. Then there’s special offers for Foursquare users.
Gowalla’s much the same think; check-in, GPS, then tag and share places and events you visit,with stamps, items and trips.
Learning as a game
Life’s a game was an old Nintendo strapline and that’s what these apps really try to achieve. What makes them fly is the clever introduction of a ‘game’ ethos to social networking. It’s like Twitter with Nectar points, game on for GPS tagging, with the clever addition of points, badges and titles.
Now for a little though experiment. Suppose we see learning as a game? Rather than games in learning, see learning as a game, all of your learning as a game. Every time you do a course, acquire a skill, read a book, share some knowledge, attend a conference, discover something new; you report it by tagging the link and the more you do, the more rewards you get, say ‘Smart Points’.
At the next level down you could apply the idea to all of your learning within an organisation, tagging courses, reading, research, skills and projects where you picked up new knowledge and skills.
Even within a specific course, say induction, you could check-in, and collect badges for visiting specific areas in the organisation’s website, meeting the key people relevant to you and your job, doing the basic compliance stuff, learning how to use the IT, finding the toilets.
And how about schools? Teachers and students could award or collect badges for pieces of coursework, homework, class attendance, understanding a topic. It could provide some badly needed motivation in key subjects.
The trick is to have a piece of software that allows you to:
Know what badges apply to what tasks
Have a mobile capability to communicate and deliver
This last point is important. What makes this stuff work is it’s ease of use through mobiles.