University orientation week sets the tone for the whole year for students. And for new students experiencing campus life for the first time – why not make it as easy as possible for them to do so? As we all try to find a “new normal,” colleges and universities need to find creative ways to build the campus life experience. The simple answer? Gamification. Colleges and universities need to gamify student orientation week to build a great first impression, show how technologically advanced the campus is, orient students to the campus in a memorable way, create a sense of community, help students learn about the history and culture of the school, and create COVID-safe activities for the next generation of students to just… have fun!
Gamification was a trending buzzword a few years ago… now it’s normal. So why haven’t universities caught up?
What Is “Gamification” Anyways?
Gamification is adding game-like elements to regular tasks and events to enhance the experience. Sometimes, gamification involves a points tracking or rewards system. You might even use public leaderboards so there is a further sense of “winning.”
You could gamify tasks without technology, but let’s face it… Technology makes everything more fun! The addition of a virtual filter to everyday tasks adds excitement and means there are very few limitations to what you can do with gamification. And if you incorporate a shift in perspective through storytelling, a student doesn’t just have to be a student. They can become the hero of the story. What if you could be a famous former student experiencing campus life? Or survive a zombie apocalypse on campus through a series of small group challenges?
Why Should It Matter For Universities?
Student orientation week is a time for students to explore and get to know the campus, connect with other students, increase student engagement, and highlight specific things about the campus that students should know about like the historical significance of certain locations, cultures, and traditions. Using technology and gamification in the right way can ensure that universities do this and much more. Students will feel more empowered to engage the faculty, find potential mentors, and build community-specific experiences.
Queensland University of Technology Landscape Architecture (QUT) successfully created a gamified experience through the Story City platform so they could engage students and the public for the university’s 50th anniversary and use storytelling to explain the considerations that go into landscape architecture design and its social impact on the community. Using six different locations, we created an interactive and engaging linear mystery. A mysterious guide, learning the secrets of mastering time, and finally unlocking the secret of how to bottle time, the experience was a mix of location, video, and storytelling to create a highly memorable experience. Each location was unlocked in succession through the platform so we could build the story as users experienced it.
6 Ideas To Gamify Your Upcoming Student Orientation Week
Have we convinced you to gamify your student orientation week? Here are six ideas to consider.
- Good eats – Best food around campus: This location-based gamification can help students explore campus while learning where to grab meals, coffee, and even late-night snacks. Think about famous facts, historical details, and interesting things to learn along the way to the next location. You could even incorporate challenges to do while waiting for an order. And what if you were deciding what food you would want to have with you on a deserted island?
- History walk – Campus life then and now: If your campus is rich with history, this location-based experience will not only have students explore the campus, but they can do so through the lens of time. What if they were travelling through time learning about the changing architecture, historical events on campus – while having to complete challenges along the way to get them back into their time machine?
- Almost famous – A day in the life of [insert celebrity/well-known figure]: There are just some former students that inspire others to walk in their shoes. This location-based tour of the campus could focus on places and points in time that were instrumental in a well-known past student’s career success.
- The most Instagram-worthy spots on campus: Most students won’t go anywhere without their smart phones. Showcase the beauty of the campus and historical locations and tie in social media exposure for your university with this location-based experience.
- Scavenger hunt – Most unique places and objects on campus: Another experience that ties in social media while encouraging campus exploration, scavenger hunts also encourage student connection and drive pedestrian traffic. Have students perform a series of challenges and puzzles at various locations on and around campus. It would be a great opportunity to connect with surrounding businesses in the community as well.
- Campus escape: Why not turn the campus into a huge, virtual escape room?? Using a series of locations, student groups would have to perform challenges and solve riddles before moving on to the next location. The sky is the limit when you think of themes! And you could even engage different faculties with secret code phrases to unlock each challenge, helping students get to know the different on-campus programs.
How Can Story City Help?
Using smartphones and the Story City platform and GPS technology, we can help universities and colleges turn assets and the surrounding community into an adventure wonderland where each location is unlocked once triggered in the platform. Story City works with students, staff, and faculty to ensure that student orientation week interactive programming is a huge success. Some examples of the value Story City could provide are:
- Orient students around campus in a memorable and digestible way
- Convey the history of the land, locations, and people who have graced the campus
- Create fun, engaging programming for students in their first week
- Create a sense of community and connection
- Inspire the student’s own growth journey by following the growth/story of a famous attendee of the university
- Provide an engaging way to train student leaders, or allow leaders of communities (eg. International students, LGBTQ+, advocacy groups etc) to create interactive activities of their own that promote togetherness, community and diversity and
- Connect students to facilities in residence – allowing them to get to know mentors/resources available to them.
Using Story City, an interactive storytelling platform that only opens content when you are standing in the right location, and gamifies outdoor spaces, would provide a tool for the Orientation Week team to deliver interactive programming to their students via digital experiences over the real world, such as:
- An orientation & history walking tour around campus (could include mini quizzes/puzzles if your team is creative)
- A scavenger hunt that allows for either a) bonding, b) getting to know city landmarks or c) getting to know campus
- Educational/advocacy type stories (similar to the Mustard Seed social issues walks) around social policies, issues, leadership and growth
- A tour of key campus points instrumental to a well-known past student’s career/growth.
The best part? Even if you build these experiences to gamify student orientation week, they will also double as great campus tours/activities for visitors and locals at other times of the year. To find out more about Story City or to work with us to gamify your university student orientation week, contact us today.