Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Mobile Apps & Language Learning #1 Foursquare

Inspired by the recent short course at SEETA on Mobile Learning (m-learning) for language educators run by Nicky Hockly, I've decided to start posting about some of the apps that I've come across that I think can be used by language educators or learners.

The first of these is Foursquare, which is a mobile social networking tool that is also a game. Basically, it allows you to tell the people you are connected to where you are and what you think of the place you are at. So you 'check in' to a place (it works well with restaurants, cafes, etc.) and you can leave tips or your opinions for other people. This is helpful for other people who are in an area they do not know and are looking for a place to eat, have coffee, etc. As Foursquare gets more popular, some places have started recognising the marketing potential of this app. and offer discounts or freebies to customers who 'check in' to their establishment.

Apart from this, the gaming element works in this way:

  • You can unlock achievement badges - this appeals to gamers who like to collect awards, etc. 
  • You compete to be the Foursquare mayor of a place - this is the competitive gaming aspect to Foursquare.

How can this be used for language learning? Apart from the incidental language practice that you can get by using Foursquare, there are ways that teachers can exploit Foursqare by creating specific venues and leaving questions at these venues. I'll leave this for a separate blog post, because it deserves to be illustrated with an example, and I haven't done this yet.

The video below is my first attempt at trying to explain a little about Foursquare, more of a trial to see if filming my mobile in this way works. I actually say very little about how Foursquare can be used for language learning. Once I've set up an activity for some of my learners and tried it out, I'm sure I'll try doing this again soon. Watch this space.