Location Based Gaming in Higher Ed: Harvard and Foursquare

As we recently covered, the location-based gaming for Higher Ed battle is just beginning. Gowalla has started “featured trips” at a few universities, including University of Texas at Austin. But after announcing a partnership with Intel for the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and winning the annual crunchies award for best Mobile Application, Foursquare has been on fire, most recently announcing a partnership with Harvard to build a mobile game and discovery app.

Harvard is the first university to work with foursquare to do this, and may be starting a nation-wide trend to get colleges onto the location-based gaming application. The value it brings to student engagement is immense, ranging from helping new students get acquainted with the campus community by listing up-to-date ratings of Harvard Square’s hot spots, to creating incentive for students to explore the campus community further. The more places a student checks in to, the more points they receive. The more points they receive, the more recognition they get amongst peers.

Harvard students also have the opportuntity to “unlock” a foursquare badge that is unique to their campus. As displayed through the rapid adoption of the app outside of college campuses, badges are some of the most coveted virtual goods on the internet today. A badge is not unlike a boy scout badge of honor. But within foursquare, they serve as rewards to various encouraged behaviors within the app. For instance, I unlocked my “Overshare” badge from checking in at 10 or more places in 12 hours, a behavioral pattern that is encouraged by Foursquare.

Location Based Gaming in Higher Education: Tony Zanders' Badges

Another feature that has huge implications for higher ed are Tips and To-Dos. Imagine a new way to communicate to transfer students and incoming freshman what they should be doing around campus upon arrival. This allows current students to lead the peer-to-peer marketing campaign for your institution, decreasing the workload of the admissions, student services, and marketing departments.

Screen shot 2010-01-12 at 1.50.43 PMSo if you’re in the Cambridge area, and you have an iPhone, Blackberry, Android or Palm device, download the app and start checking in today!