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 bar codes, 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 bar codes into links to Web sites, e-mail addresses, videos or wherever the bar code directs the viewer.
The 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 for a number of years to advance the use of technology in education, approached the university to see if there would be interested in investigating the potential of this new 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 cameras and 2D code software 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. Case student and orientation student executive board member Andrew Boron, a senior from Buffalo, took on the task of creating the bar codes and links. He added videos and music, such as Pink Floyd's Moneyfor 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 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."
See how the technology was used on the Treasure Hunt TV show. (YouTube Video - French)
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