FourSquare is the most popular example of location-based social media. This assignment will ensure that all students are familiar with the basic functions of FourSquare, and understand how it can be used to create a knowledge base for a given geographic area. This assignment will also directly benefit the EWU community by helping to create and enhance a valuable knowledge base about the campus and the surrounding area for students, potential students, and visitors.
Students must create create an account at FourSquare.com. The account must be publicly visible (unlocked). You may use a pseudonym and limited bio information to protect your privacy if you wish, but I must be informed of your ID so I can grade your assignment. If students already have a FourSquare account, they may either use it here or create a new account specifically for this class.
Over the course of the assignment, students must add tips for location on the EWU campuse, as well as for sites of interest in the surrounding community: downtown, south loop, etc.
Other places of interest around EWU and even destinations for daytrips or weekend getaways are also appropriate, but the emphasis should be on places on and around the EWU campus.
You will be expected to craft 10 useful tips, of which at least 5 should be on or near East-West University. Tips will be graded on quality (accuracy and clarity), substance (containing useful content), appropriateness (suitability for the intended user base), and originality. Since you may want to add other FourSquare tips during this time unrelated to the assignment, you must submit a list of the tips you wish to be included, copying and pasting directly from your profile page on FourSquare.com. Please include your FourSquare username. At the top of the page, provide a one-paragraph explanation of the types of users you think will find your tips helpful, and why.
How to write good tips
Always think about the potential users and the kinds of information they would find interesting or helpful. Prospective, new, transfer & current students, parents, faculty and staff, visitors to the campus, or even simply people new to Chicago might all make use of the information you provide, so keep them in mind as you select your venues and prepare your tips.
While hastily-typed tips of the “I love this place!” variety may be fun to add for your favorite spots, they are not very helpful. Tips should always provide specific information or suggestions that add to people’s understanding of the location. It is fine to offer an opinion, but always support it with an example: e.g., “I love this place–it has the best Chicago-style pizza in town, and is open past midnight every night” is a much more helpful tip than the previous example.
TYPES OF VENUES
Be creative! Aside from campus buildings, parks, restaurants, and shops, also consider the following types of venues:
- Non-building areas, like the skate park;
- Non-profit organizations (especially those seeking to recruit volunteers);
- Campus clubs and student organizations;
- Organizations where you have had internships (again, think carefully about what you write);
- Historic neighborhoods, such as Bronzeville, Chinatown or Greektown;
- Quirky landmarks, such as the Cloud Gate (“The Bean”).
Types of tips
There are several categories of tips you might consider:
- Background information: If you know–or discover–useful background information about a building or location, you can definitely use it in a tip. The History Channel specializes in these kinds of tips, so see their FourSquare page for examples.
- Useful facts: Menu items, services provided, events (if they are held regularly–very time-sensitive information or one-off events do not make good fodder for FourSquare tips, since you don’t know when someone will be checking in and tips are stored indefinitely). See Bon Appétit for some examples of different kinds of useful food-related facts for eateries.
- Opinions, pro and con: Sometimes a recommendation to avoid a place or an item can be as helpful as a thumbs-up. However, be thoughtful in deciding what to say about the venues you choose. Remember that, like other forms of social media, FourSquare tips are stored and may continue to appear to users for a long time.
- Ideas: One great way to use tips to help users (and increase the likelihood of ending up on their to-do lists) is to give them ideas for things to do in a given location. For example a tip for the Mariano’s downtown could read, “Pick up some cold beverages and freshly made salads and sandwiches here, then head over to the nearby River Walk.”
For examples of how other universities have used FourSquare tips to develop a knowledge base, see the profiles for Harvard University and the University of North Carolina in Charlotte. (The latter, it must be said, also contains some examples of the kinds of tips you should NOT leave. Remember that you are effectively representing EWU when you leave tips about campus or campus-related activities.)