Griffin, Alexander (2014) Geocaching MOOC’s and the investigation of virtual places. In: MOOCs - Which way now?, 27 June 2014, University College London.

Whereigo is a form of Geocaching; a GPS based treasure hunt game that is played throughout the world. Participants find hidden containers, called geocaches, using GPS coordinates and then share their experiences online. The game started in May 2000, when the U.S. government turned off Selective Availability, a feature that limited the accuracy of GPS signals for civilians. Within 24 hours the first geocache had been placed and its coordinates were posted online. Today there are over 2,000,000 geocaches worldwide and 6,000,000 geocachers. A wide variety of geocache types allow the game to be played in different ways.
One of the latest types of geocaches is the ‘Wherigo’ cache. This type of cache allows participants to interact with physical and virtual elements, such as a city walking tour. Wherigo geocaching enables people to communicate and participate online as they navigate virtual and or physical environments. Though geocaching is rarely described as a MOOC, it is perhaps one of the largest and widely used online open access learning adventures that draws people from a multitude of ages, languages and demographics.

For the past two years at Huddersfield University, Year 1 architecture students have utilized traditional geocaching as a means to explore Butterly Reservoir (near Marsden in the Peak District) in preparation for a bothy design project. Next academic year it is intended to plant a Wherigo cache in Huddersfield as part of an urban analysis project.

This paper argues that Wherigo geocaching is a type of MOOC, and seeks to explore how the game can be used as an engaging online tool to help architecture students investigate both actual and virtual places as part of their design projects.

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