Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Sprint Powers Campus Scavenger Hunt With qode

Case Western Reserve University students are among the first in the country to use 2D barcode cell phone technology to explore their school's campus during this year's orientation scavenger hunt.

The traditional scavenger hunt during Case Western Reserve University's new student orientation has taken a high-tech turn. Using cell phones equipped to scan special barcodes, students can gather clues and information about campus facilities and landmarks.

Case Western Reserve students are among the first in the country to experiment with these cell phones that can convert barcodes into links to mobile websites, e-mail addresses, videos, or wherever the barcode directs the viewer.

2D barcodes are more commonly used in Asian countries, especially Japan, where cell phone use has outpaced computer use, according to Robert Sopko, the university's information technology services manager of strategic technology partnerships. In Asia, 2D codes appear in television ads, on billboards, or signs and in magazines.

Sprint, a partner of Case
Western Reserve University for a number of years to advance the use of technology in education, approached the university to see if there would be interest in investigating the potential of this new mobile technology. Sopko saw the opportunity to test the equipment during student orientation. "We are all about discovery here," said Sopko, "and we enjoy introducing students to new technology."

The cell phone provider lent the school 48 cell phones equipped with NeoMedia Technologies' optically initiated mobile code reading technology, and allowed the students and orientation staff to make calls and play with the phone's features. In turn, students and staff are providing Sprint with feedback and ideas about how this type of technology might be incorporated in the classroom.

Kate Police, assistant director of new student and parent programs, oversees orientation on campus. She jumped at the opportunity to bring some new life to the traditional "paper clue" scavenger hunt designed to acquaint new students with some 21 campus facilities and landmarks that students will use or visit.
University student and orientation executive board member Andrew Boron, a senior from Buffalo, took on the task of creating the barcodes and links. He added videos and music, such as Pink Floyd's Money for the financial aid office, to bring a touch of humor to the game. Boron said he enjoyed playing with the new technology.

"I'd love to have something like this," he said.

While the Case
Western Reserve University scavenger hunt awards prizes to the orientation group traveling to the most sites within 30 minutes, the new phones allow the staff to track where groups are and what they are doing.

Since the phones have arrived on campus, some faculty already see possibilities for the classroom and have begun investigating them, Sopko said. "This has been a good exercise of discovery and how we can be leaders in using this technology."

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