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Blogging on Geocaching in Business and Education


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Originally a series of three blogs. They have been placed into writrten print format for those who don't read blogs.

Communication, Learning and Coaching to Drive Behavioral and Organizational Change

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Blogging on Geocaching in Business and Education

  1. 1. Blogging on Geocaching in Business and EducationThese entries originally appeared in Skip Ward’s Blog “Communication, Learning and Coaching to Drive Behavioral and Organizational Change”
  2. 2. 1 A Word from the AuthorGeocaching is a game or sport that has existed for a decade. However, only recentlyhas geocaching entered mainstream marketing in business and higher education.The same is true for secondary school education.As you will learn from these blogs, it has exciting application to our marketing,communication and educational professions. My career spans all three areas and Iwas delighted to discover this game or sport as part of a course I am taking onmlearning (mobile learning) in a year plus certification program in EmergingTechnologies from the University of Manitoba.I trust that this will provide an opportunity to achieve a knowledge level ofcompetency in information about geocaching and will inspire other to get out anduse their smart phone.An awareness level is defined as “you know it’s out there” and a knowledge level isthat you have enough information to ask solid questions to a subject matter expert.I believe these three blogs and the materials replicated here will provide enoughinput, and interest in hitting enough hyperlinks, to move one and all to theknowledge level.Why place it in written paper form? Many folks don’t read blogs! As acommunications and marketing guy I learned awhile ago to recycle materials indifferent medias to reach a maximum audience.For questions or comments, please feel free to contact me atskipward65@gfmail.comAn Innovative, Emerging Participant-Centered Activity Pages 2-3Marketing and Communication: A 10 Step Plan Pages 4-5Geocaching in Secondary School and Higher Education Pages 7-8
  3. 3. 2 An Innovative, Emerging Participant-Centered ActivityI am always on the hunt for new and attractive ways to use mobiles for learning,communication and marketing and the article quoted below opened a few new doors. Theauthor reminded me again of one of my favorite Lessons Learned, “You don’t know whatyou don’t know.”This is the first of a series of three blog entries. This entry serves as an introduction towhat I think is an exciting marketing, communication and educational tool. Part 2 will beon use of geocaching in marketing, communications and team development. Part 3 willexplore the use of geocaching as a teaching tool. All three entries will be supported byslides, print materials and a video on my Slideshare site. Stay tuned! And don’t forget tovisit my geocaching photo stream on flickr.What is geocaching?“Participants (a.k.a., “geocachers”) use GPS systems to hide and find “geocaches” almostanywhere in the world. (They can even be found in Antarctica.) A simple geocache (orsimply “cache”) is a small water-resistant container with a logbook and pen in it. You canbuy specially designed caches, but a regular Tupperware container will do. Unlike piratetreasure, caches aren’t buried. If you can find your way to the GPS coordinates, youshould be able to find the cache. Note that the caches listed on maycome with clues to help you find them. (“Look for the missing brick in the ivy-coveredwall.”)
 Dain Schroeder, “Treasure Hunting with Your iPhone?How long has it been around?A full decade. However, it has only recently entered the fields of marketing andeducation. In fact, start ups have recently emerged to professionally develop geocachingcampaigns for businesses.What iPhone app did I download?I downloaded the free Geocaching Intro app and found three caches near our home. Iimmediately went after one. Lesson Learned- Do it in the cool of the evening, not at noonwhen it is 101 F in Houston! Then I went all out for the $9.95 US version loaded withmore than I even wanted to know! Global caches in our global world. As we weredriving to New Orleans for the 4th of July I hit the app and found 4 caches as we whizzed
  4. 4. 3by. The bottom line, however, is this is a no-to-low cost approach. Mostsmart phone have GPS and most have smart phones. The app is free.I don’t have an iPhone (yet!)No problems. Free apps exist for Androids and Windows Phone 7. Visit this site todownload the apps.Example Use in a ClassGPS and Geocaching Guide for Educators by Dr. Alice A. Christie, Arizona StateUniversity President’s Professor Emeritus. Sample lessons“Teams of students will use GPS units to locate geocaches that their instructor has hiddenaround their school campus. Students will return to the classroom with the recoveredgeocaches, examine and discuss the contents of the geocaches, determine a number ofpossible ways to categorize the contents of each geocache, and then use Excel™ to createspreadsheets and graphs that represent the categorized data. The contents of eachgeocache can be sorted in two or more ways.”What does a cache look like? What am I looking for?They come in all sizes and shapes! BYOP (Bring Your Own Pen) to sign the logbook.And, if you take a token out, the rules say you must drop your own little keepsake intothe cache for others to find! They can be easy to find, as in PNG (Park and Grab), ormore challenging to locate. And you will be given clues along the way. When you getnear the stash, the app will announce that you are close!For further information:What is geocaching? YouTube, short, simple introductionGeocaching Wikipedia, excellent list of The official siteBe sure to visit my flickr site the set on geocaching: tips, key words, links to videos andmore! By the way, there are over 54,000 photos of geocaching as of today July 8, 2011@ 4:21 PM.
  5. 5. 4 Marketing and Communication: A 10 Step PlanLast night I was sharing the geocaching concept with the fellow that manages alocal restaurant. It was Show and Tell time so I opened my app and up camethree nearby geocaches. One in particular grabbed our attention. A customer of anearby restaurant has created a geocache because of the fine food served. Araving fan, to use the term coined by Ken Blanchard, provided free advertising forthis establishment.-One marketing example is Project A.P.E. Cache. In 2001, 14 geocaches wereplaced with 20th Century Fox to publicize the movie Planet of the Apes. Eachcache represented a fictional story in which scientists revealed an AlternativePrimate Evolution. The caches, marked ammo containers, also included anoriginal prop from the movie. Only a few Project A.P.E. caches exist today.-In 2007 students used geocaching to promote Coca-Cola for their campaign inthe National Student Advertising Competition, a student contest run by theAmerican Advertising Federation. For further information check out StudentsCampaign for Coca-Cola.-UC Berkeley, Oxford University and the University of Ottawa have up to 47geocaches scattered around campus. Florida State University has 20 caches on ornear campus and many people try to “collect” the full set. Brown University has14 tiny or nano caches that take you on a tour of the university’s Providenceneighborhood. In effect, students, and others, have created sets of team buildingevents or campus orientation to new students in a social context. Purposively ornot, the universities have crowd sourced the work.-Joshua Noble is the director of tourism for the Kingman, Arizona Area Chamberof Commerce. His cache superimposes historic photos over the modern-daylocations and hopes to use such old photos to draw geocachers to various historicpoints of interest in and around the city.- A number of state and local parks encourage geocaching to attract visitors.Lincoln City, Oregon had 500 coins made. These coins have an icon and aretrackable.Bottom line- This is a yet generally untapped marketing and communication toolin business or at the higher education level. As we will see in part 3, geocachinghas a growing number of adherents in the classroom, but not yet in the marketingarena. I suspect that, although around for 10 years, the vast majority of people
  6. 6. 5really don’t know what it is all about. I personally have asked about adozen 20 somethings and only one had gone geocaching (in a state forest) andthe other had a roommate who was in the game.How might creative and innovative minds put geocaching to workto draw in customers or raise awareness of academic programs?What are the steps?1. Do your due diligence. • Review the three blogs in this series. Check out the resources at the end of the blog entries. Visit flickr and review the photos and descriptions. Review the video and slide materials on Slideshare. • Prepare a list of questions for geocaching enthusiasts. • Facilitate a meeting with current geochachers within the business or university. Some universities have student geocaching clubs. Check out Kansas State University, Marshall University, Fort Hays State University There is your gold mine! Or check this site to determine if there is a local geocaching club nearby. Contact that organization for support.How long have they been in the game? What was the one best experience theyhave had in finding a cache? What are the Lessons Learned? Be sure to capturethese as that will help you avoid the errors they made! How do they think yourbusiness or university can utilize geocaching? Remember- the wisdom is in thecrowd, the knowledge is in the network!2. Go on your own geocaching adventure! Meet together afterwards to discuss asa group. Use the After Action Review (AAR) process- What did you expect tohappen? What actually happened? What did you learn?3. Assuming your adventure was fun and that you successfully located a geocacheor two, determine the business case for change. Of course the object is to raiseawareness of your organization, but be very specific. What do you want to raiseawareness about? If a business, what is special about your product or service? What are you proud of? What’s your elevator speech? If you represent auniversity, what makes you a cut above others? What do you do better than theothers? What’s your elevator speech? Or is there a particular cause you support,such as the environment But stay away from hot political issues!4. Conduct a Risk Analysis. What might go wrong? What would you do? Whatmight become a barrier? How would this barrier be removed?
  7. 7. 6 5. Review your resources. Do you have funds to have a special cachet boxmade, symbolizing your institution? Do you have funds to put in some “swag”representing your business or college? (Companies abound. Old Time WoodenNickel produces custom made tokens, for example. Consider your humanresources. You have a great marketing and communication opportunity toharness your current employees or students (and alumni) to create a “ravingfans” campaign based on their creation of geocaching boxes with something yousupply and they augment with their own creativity. Geographically it may bepossible to have a global reach!6. Based on answers to number 2 above, what are some items you can put intothe cache and what can be used as the cache? Where might you hide them?Brainstorm. Don’t eliminate any idea. Put them all up on the board. (I prefer togive meeting participants a pack of post its and then have them write one idea perpost it. Then when they all have generated ideas I have everyone stand up andplace their post its on a brown paper wall I set up and move them around as theysee what others have suggested. The audience groups them themselves. All inall, this is a time saver and a more physically involved approach. )7. Set a meeting with Senior Leadership to review the business case for change,potential risks and responses, resource issues and high level communicationplan. Secure buy in. You can adapt the slides found on Slideshare if you needsupport. Remember- buy in and support from Senior Leadership is critical to thesuccess of any change process. Checkout John Kotter’s eight step change plan. Itis a classic.8. Create a Steering Committee and write a charter including roles andresponsibilities of all members and ensure that they have read and agreed to thedocument.9. Go to the official global geocaching site,, and register. Youcan get a basic free membership or pay for one for $30/year.10. Create a written communication plan on raising awareness, and interest, inyour geocaching campaign. The plan should include who does what by when.Someone must oversee the plan and I suggest the traffic light approach- Green ifcompleted, yellow if in trouble and red if a train wreck. For further informationsee Communication Plans- The Triple Ts of Transparency, Truth and Trust andPresentations and Media That Stick.For further reading and ideas see Hiding Your First Geocach and Setting up aGeocaching Marketing Campaign
  8. 8. 7 Geocaching in Secondary School and Higher EducationGPS and Geocaching in EducationI strongly recommend anyone interested in this topic grab a copy of the 2010book by Brut Lo, a technology professional development coordinator with theCalifornia Technology Assistance Project. The book, GPS and Geocaching inEducation, is published by the International Society for Technology in Education(ISTE). Lo includes nine activity worksheets that will spark the imagination ofevery instructor in every academic area.Lo writes that “Students should learn the process of finding and creatinggeocaches through tried-and-true instructional methods like modeling, guidedpractice, and perhaps a culminating activity.” P. 65. Students will learn about thelarger world, make abstract concepts like math and chemistry real, improve logicand problem solving skills, practice community and small group etiquette, andimprove writing by posting on online. (p. 99)Geocaching Podcasts with Yodio and Google VoiceOne very clever lesson is on geocaching podcasts for English Language arts,Science, and Social Studies for levels 6-8 (ages 10-14). Questions are placed in thegeocache and students are required to record their answers with their mobiles.In class all will listen to and discuss their answers and are assessed on theaccuracy and completeness of their recoded answers. They can use Yodio (free tocall in to record, free to combine with photo from a digital camera) or the freeGoogle Voice app for recording in the field.Another clever spin is for the instructor to record a podcast to support the quest.Adding the sound files to a geocache trek provides both teachers and students theoption of adding indoor materials. And it offers the option of providing furtherbackground information. For examples, see the PodCacher site. Listen to anexample of a California geocache podcast at (Youwill be taken to iTunes.)
  9. 9. 8 GeosciencesThe Geological Society of America supports Earthcaches. An EarthCache site is aspecial place that people can visit to learn about a unique geoscience feature oraspect of Earth. Visitors to EarthCache sites can see how our planet has beenshaped by geological processes, how we manage the resources and how scientistsgather evidence to learn about the Earth.Examples include:- The Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park in Michigan is America’s firstNational Lakeshore, established by the 89th Congress of the United States onOctober 15, 1966.- Flint Hills Rock Velvet Cake in Kansas “Few places in this country demonstratethe connection between landscape and people better than the tallgrass prairie inthe Flint Hills. The Flint Hills and the surrounding area are shaped by the rocksthat lie directly beneath the vegetation and soil—the same rocks which madecultivation difficult and led to the use of native prairie grasses for ranching.”From out An Earthcaching Teacher’s Guide for further insight.GeographyThe Degree Confluence Project. The goal of the project is to visit each of thelatitude and longitude integer degree intersections in the world, and to takepictures at each location. The pictures, and stories about the visits, will then beposted here.February 20, 2011 marks the 15 year anniversary of the start of the DegreeConfluence Project. In 1996 Alex Jarrett and Peter Cline made the first visit, to43°N 72°W in New Hampshire. Fifteen years later, over 11,000 visitors havesubmitted over 91,000 photographs for over 11,000 confluence visits in 183countries. For full deals see this site.What are your thoughts? Is this a worthwhile emerging technology?Contact me at