Higher Education and the Foursquare Revolution


Universities are kicking butt in social media! They’re on Twitter, Facebook and are beginning to use geolocation applications like Foursquare. Why is this going to work? Most prospective students make decisions on where they will be attending school on the campus tour. So making a good impression during the first tour is important. Foursquare allows universities to explore the campus in a whole new way. The application can be used to leave tips to ensure that prospects know where to go and what to do during a visit. Other reasons for universities to use geolocation applications are:

  • Point out traditions
  • Share little known facts
  • Share information about landmarks, buildings, and addresses
  • Address questions before they’re asked (safety,navigation)
  • Offer rewards and badges to encourage new students to explore the campus
  • Share traditions of the school
  • Get students immersed in the community off campus
  • Receive advice from alumni

Another use for Foursquare in the university setting is for alumni “re-visiting campus”. Foursquare can help them find out what’s been happening since they’ve graduated. For instance, an alum will check in and see a new building. The different landscape could be important to some people revisiting the University…. time will tell on that one. Adding onto that feature is an application that will tell them the new building purpose and “new” history. It helps the alum keep connected and not feel lost.

Harvard is one school who is utilizing Foursquare. They offer historical information and fun things to do on campus, which can all be found on Foursquare under the Harvard page. Harvard University has several pages on Foursquare for its many buildings.


Universities are known to have a lot of events. A different application to help share all these events is Whrrl.This application allows for users to check-in as well as upload photos and messages to share about the event. This app has the potential to bring together new students and alumni. They are connected by their shared experiences and can see in real time what’s going on at events on campus. According to Mashable, in May 2010, St. Edwards University used Whrrl to commemorate its graduation ceremony.

The other incentive for universities to begin using geolocal applications is the amount of data that can be collected. The data can show what events are being most attended, demographics, college culture and can make informed decisions based on what the students respond to. Higher education institutions that embrace geoloaction applications will be ahead of the game and will be able to connect with its students in valuable ways.


  1. 1

    Kyle, thanks for this great post. I’m the communications specialist at a small liberal arts college in Moorhead, Minnesota (http://foursquare.com/concordia_mn). We don’t have a lot of students using it but are looking into ways to expand our user-base and hopefully vamp up our recruitment.

    Wondering if you think its more important to have specials or tips on campus? We’ve been working on adding tips but are struggling on ways to integrate the incentive part of foursquare. Do you have any suggestions?

  2. 2

    Thank you Kyle for exploring the possibilities of using social media by Universities. Higher Education is in the thresh hold of a Revolution. It is beyond and above Information Technology but based on Knowledge, Knowmatics,  Knowledge Processing Technology and Knowledge Industries. 

    ‘Knowmatics – A New Revolution in Higher Education’ Journal of the World Universities Forum 4,1,2011:1-11 discuss some of these issues in depth besides Mathew’s Theories of Knowledge consumption-Production, Knowmatics and Knowledge Industries. Related issues are dealt in http://www.slideshare.net/drrajumathew

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