Faculty brings mobile hunt to Cal State L.A.

Faculty brings mobile hunt to Cal State L.A.

Gaming technology allows students to discover campus
through text messages

A student and faculty stand below the Golden Eagle statue.

CSULA Librarian Michael Germano and student Gloria Farag participate in a mobile-based scavenger hunt around campus. The game leads players across Cal State L.A. by asking them to tackle challenges at different sites.

In an effort to better orient students around campus—and
the University Library, in particular—one faculty member is turning to a
platform where he is confident he can reach students: text messaging.

This fall, Business Librarian Michael Germano will be
introducing his students to a pilot technology program called
SCVNGR (pronounced
“scavenger”). The geo-gaming technology allows Germano, and others at the
University, to design interactive tours, games and “scavenger hunts” that are
played from any mobile phone, mobile web or application by text messaging.

The “games” are not just designed for fun and laughs,
though. They are built with the explicit purpose of educating players about
their location, the services offered and ways to get around. For instance, in
Germano’s tour of the University Library, students are asked to visit locations
like the reference desk, circulation and the library display case through clues,
word scrambles and other hints. Once they have correctly located each spot,
players must answer questions about the location, and they are awarded points
for correct answers, as well as for the amount of time it takes them.

Interested in giving the game a try? Take the
Cal State
campus tour (csulaTOUR) the next time you are at the University. Once on
campus, text csulatour to 728647 to start; then follow the questions
to discover locations and learn interesting facts about the 175 acre campus.

“What’s nice about SCVNGR is you have to get out there,”
Germano said. “You have to get out there as a group, or by yourself and problem
solve. This technology is a useful tool for presenting information to students
in a way that is comfortable and makes sense to them.”

The University gained free access to the SCVNGR technology
and its applications for one year through a grant awarded by Califa (the
nonprofit membership cooperative serving libraries and information organizations
in California) and SCVNGR. The full-year license, valued at up to $10,000, began
in May.

“It’s actually a really cool tool, and it can be used in
teaching, in any kind of orientation, and fundraising,” Germano said.

In Germano’s class this fall, he said he plans to use the
mobile gaming system to get his students moving around the library. He said it will serve as a useful tool for teaching students how to get the most
out of the library and its services.

Anyone interested in learning more about the applications
for SCVNGR around campus or for use in their courses may contact Germano at