Classic treasure or scavenger hunts are a familiar sight from our youth; running around an area collecting objects or clues, often in a race against others to return with all of the goodies. The addition of technologies such as smartphones with GPS, cameras, QR-codes, and live-chat moderation, result in a “digital treasure hunt.” The benefits of the digital treasure hunt extend beyond collecting pictures. From self-discovering a space to relating concepts to physical objects, Digital Treasure Hunts can also be a powerful pedagogical tool.

Motivation

For some students, the content they are exposed to in their learning can appear too abstract, too quickly paced, or simply too tedious for them to engage with. Digital treasure hunts can make content more engaging. They’re ideal when students need to familiarise themselves with a physical space – such as learning where the safety equipment is in a lab, or finding points of historical significance on campus. Digital treasure hunts also get students out of the classroom, engaging with other people, completing “missions” related to class content, and doing so either self-guided, or in a real-time race against others. In general, if you need to students to “discover” something, consider creating a digital treasure hunt.

Implementation

Digital treasure hunts range from:

  • Simple collection of photos that others can collaborate with (Siftr.org from Field Day lab)
  • Real-time GPS coordinated race with scripted points of interest run through a smartphone app (Web-based Scavr.com)
  • QR codes posted around a physical space to direct students to web-based content with (such as this one at ClassTools.com)
  • Full location-based alternate-reality experiences (Aris app also from Field Day lab)

Where to next?

You can add augmented-reality tools to the digital treasure hunt for a more immersive experience, or create a fictional storyline to go along with your hunt. Free apps like Huntzz add a medieval-quest tone to your hunt and rewards participants with “gold” and “wisdom” which they can use to level-up.

Tools and Tips

Digital treasure hunts have most of the work created up-front. This can take time, so mapping out the tasks and how they connect on paper is a good first step. Make sure all of the participants will have access to the technology needed to play (themselves or on teams). Run through the hunt yourself to make sure everything functions correctly.

Online courses like this one from Siftr.org teaches you both the what and how of using their free tool.

Resources

Quick QR code generator http://goqr.me/

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