Location-based Learning: The City As Your Playground


Waag Society (www.waag.org) – a medialab based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands – researches how creative technologies can lead to social innovation in education, culture, healthcare and the public domain. Important expertise include Creative Learning and Locative Media, which in the last few years have resulted in projects posing questions like:

  • How can location-based gaming be used to create authentic learning experiences?
  • How can urban reality function as a social/economic/geographic/cultural-learning environment?
  • How do mobile media, narratives and (collaborative) game-play influence motivation and knowledge transfer in mixed-reality situations?
  • How can location-based experiences help to make children into active and aware producers and which tools do they need to express themselves?

The development of location-aware and mobile technology and the treasures of information that the urban environment conceals give many exciting opportunities to create new ways of learning.


Frequency 1550 (www.waag.org/frequency)

In 2005 mediaeval Amsterdam was brought back to life as part of a history curriculum for 12-14 year old children. Captured by the strong underlying historic narrative the children headed out onto the streets in teams where they had to conquer city zones by performing location-based assignments with their gps-enabled phones. Answering involved sending in self-made photos and videos on location and strategic use of e.g. virtual bombs & confrontations and invisibility cloaks added strategic skills to the experience. In 2007 the game was revisited 10 times and research by the University of Amsterdam and Utrecht concluded the motivational and learning effects of this type of education to be considerably stronger in comparison with traditional education.

Mobile Learning Game Kit (www.waag.org/mlgk)

Together with MediaLab Amsterdam and the University of Amsterdam a Mobile Learning Game Kit was developed for higher education, with which students could not only play location-based games but create games themselves. Researching how educational formats apply to gameplay and location interaction produced two succesful pilots on Media Archeology and Oral History.


Games Atelier (www.waag.org/gamesatelier)

A two-year program dedicated to developing a new learning method based on the educational value of designing, playing and reflecting on location-based games. Children will go through all stages creating a large pilot on citizenship based on city themes like cultural diversity, urban creativity and language evolution.


7Scenes (www.waag.org/sevenscenes)

Games Atelier is supported by a mobile and web-based toolset and technology platform tailored to location-based projects: 7Scenes 7Scenes focusses on creative tools that enable people to create and experience (educational) location-based scenarios that can also be broadcast live and played back later. 7Scenes builds on Geotracing (www.geotracing.com).

Photo of Ronald Lenz

Ronald Lenz

Waag Society

Ronald Lenz heads the Locative Media research program at Waag Society , a medialab in Amsterdam, The Netherlands and is also creative director at 7Scenes, a company that develops location-aware software for the cultural, educational and events sector.

  • Autodesk
  • Google
  • ESRI
  • Nokia
  • DigitalGlobe
  • Earthscape
  • EveryScape.com
  • LightPole
  • MapJack
  • MapQuest
  • MetaCarta
  • Microsoft
  • Poly9
  • Skyhook Wireless
  • TeleAtlas
  • Yahoo! Inc.
  • Zvents
  • BNet

Press and Media

For media-related inquiries, contact Maureen Jennings at maureen@oreilly.com.

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