Knowledge through experience in the right place at your time

Learning is the act of acquiring new, or modifying and reinforcing, existing knowledgebehaviorsskills,values, or preferences and may involve synthesizing different types of information. The ability to learn is possessed by humans, animals and some machines. Progress over time tends to follow learning curves. Learning is not compulsory; it is contextual. It does not happen all at once, but builds upon and is shaped by previous knowledge. To that end, learning may be viewed as a process, rather than a collection of factual and procedural knowledge. Learning produces changes in the organism and the changes produced are relatively permanent.
(Daniel L. Schacter, Daniel T. Gilbert, Daniel M. Wegner (2009, 2011).Psychology, 2nd edition)

Introduction to GeoLearning

Hikers want to know why are the ungulates placed in front of their rut? Students of history and theory of architecture ask if there is a relation between the purpose of the design and its spatial environment of historical monuments? Tourists want to know the domestic food at the right moment at right place to get delighted with the traditional kitchen?
What is the common denominator among this different type of people? Everybody is equipped with a mobile device with GPS capabilities and is able to experience and hunt for digital content mixed within the real geocontext.

Everybody is a Geolearner!

Geolearning  refers to the use of real-life location-based examples in teaching environments in order to learn through the actual, practical experience with a subject rather than just its mere theoretical part.


Geocaching, as one of the most famous GPS-based scavenger hunt games, is another example of a location-based mobile application. The Hide (geocaches) are published based on geographical coordinates on the internet and can then be found using a GPS receiver or directly via smartphone app. The game calls along with navigational skills using the GPS or maps app often no small amount of research into the topic. Both explicitly by the mystery and informally through research and the experience takes place before the participants so that a lot of knowledge and insights with.
The exchange of information is location aware all the examples mentioned and mobile. Geocaching is a fun component to the explicitly calls for learning and promotes.

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OMLETH - Platform for Geolearners at ETH Zurich

From research on location-based mobile learning it is well-known that teaching such content at the respective location with mobile technologies can improve the learning effect by complementing conventional didactical methods. However, due to a lack of platforms which enable an easy use of these location-based mobile learning concepts a broad adoption of location-based mobile learning in university teaching has not taken place.
As part of the project Innovedum "OMLETH: A platform for location-based mobile learning at ETH" will be built that allows instructors to create location-based mobile learning units that can be consumed by the students using mobile devices.

OMLETH is a hosted, location-based Learning Management System for Teaching at ETH Zurich. It’s an easy-to-use, flexible platform that can scale to academic departments, associations, businesses and eCommerce needs of any size, and gives administrators (teachers) a powerful set of tools to manage it all. Figure 1 shows system architecture of OMLETH which server-based core is an online mapping system and different associated learning management systems and one client for administrator (teachers) they are creating sessions and one client for users (students) they access their session to execute the learning course.

Figure 1: System architecture of OMLETH

Lectures interface

The client client for administrator (teachers) - lecturers interface - consists of two system components: the mapping tool (sketching of the local position of learning elements) and the content tool (creating info content or task).
The mapping tool runs within a web browser. Under the aspect that there are various flavors of web browsers, the tool is based on JavaScript/HTML5. JavaScript/HTML5 has become the technology of choice among our user community for web GIS solutions going forward.  The mapping components uses Esris ArcGIS API for JavaScript which uses the Dojo toolkit to simplify the development process and ensure that the created applications behave the same in different browsers. More about ArcGIS JS API and the Dojo toolkit ...
The learning tools are based on admistrators preferences a set of systems they are able to connect them by hyperlinks. Moodle and Google Docs provide their learning units trough hyperlinks which open the administrators a simple and quick development.

Students interface

The client for users (students) - students interface - is a mobile web site based on HTML5 which includes an interactive map as navigation base. The single learning units are represented as colorized areas within the map which access is operated when users stay inside these areas. The positioning of these mobile websites are operated by the Geolocation API which uses the geographical position of the device. The navigation user interface deals with Esris ArcGIS API for JavaScript based on the framework of jQuery Mobile. More about jQuery Mobile WebFramework ...
After the learning units are detected by the users spatial intersection, the app will conduct the users directly to the the informations and tasks of the Learning Managments system of Moodle, Google Docs et al.