Guest Blog Post by Dr. Matt Dunleavy, Co-founder, Mogo Mobile, Inc.
With the explosion of Pokémon Go, educators across the world are exploring how location-based games and stories can be used for mobile learning. As someone who has spent the last 10 years working in the area of augmented reality, or more accurately, location-based learning, I am excited that Pokémon Go has educated the masses on the potential of location-based learning and triggered excitement about the educational potential of this medium.
The history of location-based learning is relatively short and is still very much emerging, but a strong foundation of theoretical and empirical work is in place. Researchers such as Eric Klopfer, David Gagnon, Kurt Squire, Chris Dede, myself and others have led teams throughout the last decade that have been exploring how we might leverage the ubiquity of location-aware, networked mobile phones.
Initially termed augmented reality, I believe this work is best described as location-based learning (LBL), which in essence embeds the physical environment with media that the user then triggers by virtue of their location. The basic technologies used are the GPS and the compass in the mobile device. In 2014, Chris Dede and I reviewed much of the literature (see Dunleavy & Dede, 2014), and we see patterns of use and design principles emerging that should be instructive in the years ahead as the field matures. The most concise explanation I have found for the potential power of LBL as a pedagogical tool is found in Klopfer and Sheldon’s 2010 article where they describe its ability “to enable students to see the world around them in new ways and engage with realistic issues in a context with which the students are already connected” (p. 86).
The various research teams have also developed location-based development tools, so that educators can create and implement their own learning modules with their students. Some of the best known tools include ARIS, TaleBlazer and FreshAiR™. My team developed FreshAiR out of my lab at Radford University, and we have had a fantastic time spinning out a commercial venture and working with talented people across the globe including the Association of Independent Schools of Western Australia, the EcoMOBLE team at Harvard, and the Jamestown Yorktown Foundation in Virginia. That last partnership has resulted in an interactive location-based learning game called Search to Survive, where visitors to the Jamestown Settlement in Jamestown, Virginia, can test their knowledge of this time period to see if they can complete a secret mission and survive in colonial Jamestown! If you are a teacher in Virginia, be sure to take your students to this fantastic site and check out all the great learning opportunities there including Search to Survive!
If you are interested in building your own location-based learning lessons, games and stories, you can start today by visiting the FreshAiR website and registering for a free account. If you are going to the VSTE conference in December, I will be presenting and providing a workshops where you can get some hands-on training. Who knows? You might be the creator of the next big thing!