It’s the start of a new semester. College students in Australia are signing in, posting photos, taking fun quizzes, jockeying for position on the leaderboard, commenting, rating, and sharing. But they’re not doing these things on a social network as you might expect. It’s an engagement website for their school, and it turns “student involvement” into a playful, approachable experience. It’s also a brilliant example of a prestigious institution reaching out to connect with students at their level and in their “language” - using the interactive, social, place-based, interest-guided elements found in the most meaningful online experiences today.
The Learnery, just launched by The Australian National University (ANU), is an involvement website where students can help “cultivate the learning experience” by sharing photos and feedback about what makes an ideal learning environment. ANU is Australia’s largest university, but it wears its prestige lightly, maintaining an approachable online presence that encourages exploration and communication. The Learnery was launched as a photo contest and is already filling up with the images, comments, and thoughts of the student body that will be frequenting ANU’s campuses this year. The submissions will be used to help shape the school’s environment to best suit the needs of students.
The photo contest is powered by VividMaps, a tool that allows organizations to easily launch collaborative maps for promoting local places. Visitors to The Learnery can explore pinpoints on the zoomable map, click to find out more about a particular photo and read the comments, or filter by the daily themes. It’s mobile optimized too, so students can discover what special spots are nearby when they’re walking around campus - connecting online and offline experience. The photo map combines social, mobile, and gaming elements that together create an engaging start-of-semester activity.
Read all about the project right here at EngagingCities.