You are on page 1of 10

Draft version – originally published in: Safran, C.; Garcia-Barrios, V. M.; Ebner, M. (2011) The Integration of Aspects of Geo-Tagging and Microblogging in m-Learning. - in: Media in the Ubiquitous Era: Ambient, Social and Gaming Media. IGI Global, Hershey, p. 95 - 110

Social and Gaming Media. IGI Global, Hershey, p. 95 - 110 The Integration of Aspects of

The Integration of Aspects of Geo-Tagging and Microblogging in m-Learning

Christian Safran

Institute for Information Systems and Computer Media Graz University of Technology Inffeldgasse 16c, A-8010 Graz, Austria

Victor Manuel Garcia-Barrios

Geoinformation & Spatial Information Management Carinthia University of Applied Sciences (CUAS) Europastrasse 4, A-9524 Villach, Austria

Martin Ebner

Social Learning / Computer and Information Systems Graz University of Technology Inffeldgasse 16c, A-8010 Graz, Austria


The recent years have shown the remarkable potential use of Web 2.0 technologies in education, especially within the context of informal learning. The use of Wikis for collaborative work is one example for the application of this theory. Further, the support of learning in fields of education, which are strongly based on location-dependent information, may also benefit from Web 2.0 techniques, such as Geo- Tagging and m-Learning, allowing in turn learning in-the-field. This chapter presents first developments on the combination of these three concepts into a geospatial Wiki for higher education, TUGeoWiki. Our solution proposal supports mobile scenarios where textual data and images are managed and retrieved in-the-field as well as some desktop scenarios in the context of collaborative e-Learning. Within this scope, technical restrictions might arise while adding and updating textual data via the collaborative interface, and this can be cumbersome

in mobile scenarios. To solve this bottleneck, we integrated another popular Web 2.0 technique into our solution approach, Microblogging.

Thus, the information pushed via short messages from mobile clients or microblogging tools to our m-Learning environment enables the creation of Wiki-Micropages as basis for subsequent collaborative learning scenarios.


A remarkable movement towards geo-locating software has occurred in the last months, marking a renaissance of location-based mobile

applications. One of the reasons is the availability of a variety of mobile devices providing integrated GPS 1 receivers. Another reason is the rising number of mashup applications accessing freely available cartographic material via Web services, and thus providing added value for geospatial information. Almost in parallel, geo-tagging appeared. This technique denotes the marking of a digital resource with geographical coordinates and is mostly used for images. In the case of images these coordinates can be integrated into the image by using a set of Exif 2 headers, which can be included in JPEG files. Leaving aside valuable discussion and concerns about privacy issues, this additionally tagged information offers new possibilities for teaching and learning, especially in fields which strongly depend on geo-located data, such as civil engineering, geosciences or archaeology. The combination of geo-tagging with other technologies connected to Web 2.0 provides a further contribution to e-Learning 2.0, as defined by Stephen Downes [1].

This chapter presents our research on the development of an application, which is integrating (mobile) geo-tagging of images with collaborative authoring in order to enhance the learning experience in the aforementioned fields of education, as well as its extension by the integration of the Microblogging paradigm. The chapter is based on a conference contribution at the ACM MindTrek Conference 2009 [2].

1 GPS – Global Positioning System

2 Exif – Exchangeable Image File Format

Draft version – originally published in: Safran, C.; Garcia-Barrios, V. M.; Ebner, M. (2011) The Integration of Aspects of Geo-Tagging and Microblogging in m-Learning. - in: Media in the Ubiquitous Era: Ambient, Social and Gaming Media. IGI Global, Hershey, p. 95 - 110

Social and Gaming Media. IGI Global, Hershey, p. 95 - 110 The implementation of our solution

The implementation of our solution proposal, called TUGeoWiki 3 , supports mobile learning (m-Learning) in reference to two scenarios: (i) a mobile application scenario, which focuses on information retrieval and real-time sharing of resources, and (ii) a desktop application scenario, which supports informal e-Learning by providing a collaborative authoring tool. For the concrete fields of education mentioned above, TUGeoWiki represents a tool that supports field trips and excursions from the preparation phase, throughout the field trip itself and until collaboration-based review processes. As such, this combination of geo-tagging mobile applications and a Wiki as a collaborative learning tool provides a unique approach to enhance learning in-the-field.

First evaluations in three excursions of civil engineering and geology lectures have revealed as a only major criticism that using the Web- based collaborative interface for the provision of textual information in mobile scenarios has shown to be cumbersome. Thus, to solve these user interaction problems within the mobile scenario, we propose to incorporate the novel Web 2.0 concept of Microblogging into the work with our TUGeoWiki.

The remainder of this chapter is structured as follows. First, we give an overview over some topics of interest in the context of this research and discuss them in relation with our application. Subsequently, the development and functionality of the TUGeoWiki application are presented and design decisions explained. Next, the focus is set on the expansion of the existing solution with the integration of microblogging. And finally, a summary and some outlook on future work are given.


The development of TUGeoWiki was based on related work from three areas: geo-tagged images, Wikis for collaborative learning, and mobile learning (m-Learning). TUGeoWiki represents a novel approach to the combination of these concepts for pedagogical aims while learning in-the-field.

In subjects like civil engineering, geosciences, or architecture, higher education is strongly based on visual information of real-world objects. As pointed out by Brohn, the “language of intuition is visual, just as the language of analysis is abstract and symbolic” [3]. Taking civil engineering as an example for such a subject, several research activities have been able to point out the importance of the utilisation of visualisations, animations and interactive tools for educative purposes [4-6]. Especially for explanations of highly complex engineering models, new technologies offered a completely different way of teaching and learning. Still, visualisations lacked at one particular point: the connection of the abstract engineering model and the real world landmarks. The major competence of any practical engineer is assumed to be the capability of abstracting an appropriate model from nature in order to develop a quantifiable mathematical model. In this context the knowledge about the particular environment where a building will be placed is highly important. Such a

connection of visualisations and real-world locations can be achieved by the usage of

, as online collaboration tools, were introduced by Leuf and Cunningham in 1995 [7].

Considering another relevant point of view,




The term itself is derived from the Hawaiian word wikiwiki, which means quick. The technology has been designed to provide a simple tool for knowledge management, which places at the disposal of all users a smart possibility to mutually create and edit content online. In addition, individual users may use the functionality of version history to retrace all content modifications and, if desired, revert to earlier content versions. As such, a Wiki is an easy-to-use application for the collaborative management of online contents. These characteristics, in particular, have made Wikis a tool of choice in informal learning [8]. The didactical relevance of Wikis in e-Learning has lead Stephen Downes to list them as one of the basic technologies of e-Learning 2.0 [1].

Mobile learning (

that support learning anywhere and anytime [9]. Meanwhile, due to technological progress, hardware is considered a solved problem. However, innovative, affordable and usable software remains the greatest challenge. Handhelds, for example, should support project-based learning in context, that is, using the mobile device as an integral part of a learning activity [10]. One of the central advantages of mobile learning is ongoing assessment and possible feedback, as demonstrated in [11]. In higher education, m-Learning is especially interesting for fields of study which rely on education on-site, i.e. in-the-field. One example for the use of mobile technologies for teaching purposes is addressed within the EU research project RAFT (Remote Accessible Field Trips), which was conducted from 2002 to 2005. The target of this project was the support of school classes with virtual excursions using portable Internet-conferencing tools [12].

2.1 Alternative Collaborative Tools

Wikis are only one example for collaborative tools which can be applied in learning and teaching. Alternatives include the application Google Docs and Google Wave. One of the main disadvantages of these two approaches is the fact that they are relying on external services hosted by a single company and the fact that therefore the control over the server-side application and date is limited.

2.1.1 Google Docs

Google Docs is an online version of a word-processing and spreadsheet application. It is provided as a service heavily based on the collaboration of users in the creation of documents. As such, features like a version history and detailed information on the individual inputs of the users are available, which make the product well suitable for collaborative learning. Two main drawbacks make Google Docs unsuitable for the task to support the application scenarios of TUGeoWiki. First of all the documents are stored on external servers, with the limited control described above. Secondly the possibility to develop additional tools to support learning in-the-field is likewise limited, and the underlying paradigm of Google Docs is focused on individual documents. In contrast this paradigm can be enhanced in the context


) can be seen as the combination of e-Learning and mobile computing, and promises the access to applications

3 TUGeoWiki – TU Graz (Graz University of Technology) Geospatial Wiki

Draft version – originally published in: Safran, C.; Garcia-Barrios, V. M.; Ebner, M. (2011) The Integration of Aspects of Geo-Tagging and Microblogging in m-Learning. - in: Media in the Ubiquitous Era: Ambient, Social and Gaming Media. IGI Global, Hershey, p. 95 - 110

Social and Gaming Media. IGI Global, Hershey, p. 95 - 110 of Wikis to include additional

of Wikis to include additional information on individual locations. A more suitable and open approach for online collaboration in-the-field is Google Wave, described in detail below.

2.1.2 Google Wave

In 2009, Google announced a tool to bridge the gap between social networks and collaborative tools. Google Wave 4 is described as “an online tool for real-time communication and collaboration”. It is aimed to provide a unified solution to manage the own social networks, communicate with the own contacts and collaborate on documents.

The announcement of Google Wave created a buzz in the media and the blogosphere. First videos indicated interesting technology and new paradigms of communications. This hype was increased due to the fact of a closed beta, with only some 100.000 invitations available. In the meantime, though, a lot of the early participants stopped using the Google Wave beta [Douglis, 2010]. One of the problems in this context could be the limited size of the community, which, according to Metcalfe’s Law also limits the usefulness of the network [Shapiro and Varian, 1999]. Moreover, the beta still has some drawbacks, which limit the usefulness.

The communication in Google Wave is based on individual waves, which are the summary of all input of the participants. One of the major issues is based on the fact of modifiability of these waves. Any user may edit any part of a wave, even the input of another user. These changes are not obviously labeled. It is possible to retrace all modifications by a replay feature, which presents the history of all actions within a wave, but in long waves, finding the exact modification searched can be time consuming.

Another problem with the user interface is the fact that by default the other participants of a wave see user’s input in real-time. This means that each letter typed is transmitted and displayed immediately, which can be quite distracting, or, in some situations, even embarrassing.

Another major issue is the fact, that a wave looks identical for all participants. This means i.e. that the automatic translation, which can be applied, translates the content for all participants, an approach with a doubtful usefulness in a multilingual environment.

Aside from all previously mentioned issues of the early versions, Google Wave still provides a novel approach to the communication with communities of interest or practice. One of the main reasons for its presumable success is the fact that the Wave server and Wave client are independent developments. Most of the drawbacks stated before only refer to the Wave client, which could always be replaced by alternative clients. The underlying server paradigm, in contrast, allows radically innovative classes of applications. The important factor for Google Wave in this context will be to keep hold of early adopters. In a stable state and with alternative clients the underlying paradigm could be a possible replacement for the Wiki technology applied in TUGeoWiki, but in the current state this approach is unsuitable due to the facts that it is (a) reliable on remote servers hosted by a single company and (b) is still in development and in an unstable state as far as protocols and features are concerned.




The previous sections introduced two relevant aspects: (i) the importance of visual information, particularly location-related visual information for several fields of education, and (ii) the advantages of collaborative learning with the usage of Wikis. Along these lines, this section introduces firstly the most relevant traits of the proposed solution, and gives then an overview over the solution itself, TUGeoWiki.

3.1 Why lightweight, geo-tagged and mobile?

In order to combine the two aforementioned aspects, we designed and developed a solution approach for a lightweight, geotagging-based and mobile learning environment applying a geospatial Wiki.

The term lightweight expresses our efforts to implement only the basic features of a geographical information system (GIS) for learning, namely (a) collecting and (b) displaying geo-tagged data (e.g. as map overlays). We consider further features of GIS, such as data analysis and modelling, to be out-of-scope here, as they are only necessary for geosciences professionals. Moreover, our notion of lightweight embraces our intent towards unobtrusive user interaction features based on well-known software practices. Especially as far as the acceptance of mobile technologies is concerned, lightweight also refers to the overall costs, as low-cost applications with low maintenance efforts have turned out to be best accepted [13].

Furthermore, our solution proposal concentrates on location-based information, and thus, on learning scenarios where such information is an essential part of the curriculum. In those cases, students can benefit from a clearly defined relation of learning material to a geographic

defined relation of learning material to a geographic location (i.e. geo-tagged materials). Finally, we coin the

location (i.e. geo-tagged materials).

Finally, we coin the term mobile onto our solution application in order to put emphasis on our intention to offer access to geo-tagged information and learning materials in-the-field, thus aiming at the enhancement of on-site learning whenever applicable. It is worth stating at this point that within the context of our solution approach, we focus on mobile phones and PDAs 5 instead of other mobile technologies for the purpose of following our primary goal of a lightweight system, as such devices are widespread and handy to carry in the field. Moreover, utilising mobile technology should enable us to foster collaborative activities of learners wherever possible, whenever possible.

3.2 TUGeoWiki

Our solution approach, the TUGeoWiki system, is a geospatial Web-based mobile application that aims at supporting the learning scenarios given so far. This section gives an overview on the main features of the system, for more details please refer to [14].

4, accessed 2010-03-15

5 PDA - Personal Digital Assistant

Draft version – originally published in: Safran, C.; Garcia-Barrios, V. M.; Ebner, M. (2011) The Integration of Aspects of Geo-Tagging and Microblogging in m-Learning. - in: Media in the Ubiquitous Era: Ambient, Social and Gaming Media. IGI Global, Hershey, p. 95 - 110

Social and Gaming Media. IGI Global, Hershey, p. 95 - 110 implementation. We have chosen MediaWiki

implementation. We have chosen MediaWiki for two reasons.

First, it provides two well-defined mechanisms for the extension of functionalities: special pages and templates. Special pages are pages without informative content, they are generated on demand and are used to provide additional features to users, e.g., file upload [15]. Templates are pages created for transclusion purposes, and usually contain repetitive materials or blocks of information (e.g., infoboxes) [16]. Secondly, the user interface of MediaWiki is probably the best-known Wiki user interface, among others, due to the immensely broad use and high popularity of Wikipedia [17].

For our TUGeoWiki, we have adapted the MediaWiki paradigm of pages for individual entries in order to define places, which are relayed to geographical coordinates, and thus represent real-world locations. Hence, in our terminology the term place represents the entity in the system, while the term location denotes the actual geographical entity. This adaptation was achieved by using MediaWiki’s special pages to create location-based entries as well as templates to display them. Figure 1 depicts the concept of creating a place. These templates are designed as mashups, thus extending the Wiki entries with mapping material from Google Maps or Microsoft Live Search Maps. Additionally, a hyperlink to the MediaWiki extension Geohack provides access to numerous other map sources [18].

The TUGeoWiki system is based on the well-known open source

system is based on the well-known open source MediaWiki Figure 1: General notion for creating places

Figure 1: General notion for creating places in TUGeoWiki

application can be used in classroom or remote learning scenarios to provide a tool for collaborative activities on geospatial

information, resulting in two application scenarios: a desktop application scenario and a mobile application scenario.

The desktop application scenario is based on collaborative authoring with the Wiki and fosters process-oriented learning and task-based learning. Possible use cases in this context are the preparation for field trips as well as the post-processing and review of the information gained in such an excursion. The focus of this scenario is set on collaborative authoring in order to support informal learning on the topics of such an excursion.

The mobile application scenario provides access to the learner’s current location by querying internal or external GPS sensors. The coordinates retrieved from the GPS sensors are used in TUGeoWiki to search for places in the vicinity of the current location or to create a new place in the Wiki and start collaborative learning about the topics of the current location. The main goal behind this scenario is to satisfy an information need just-in-time concerning the current location as well as enabling real-time sharing of resources (mainly images) concerning the location. Due to the restrictions of the user interface (cf. i.e. [19]), collaborative authoring in this mobile scenario is a non- trivial task, and thus the editorial work on places has been restricted to the creation and annotation of so-called place stubs. Place stubs (also called article stubs) can be seen as temporary mini-place objects that learners use at their mobile devices, and after submitting them to the Wiki server, they can be described in more detail through a desktop Web browser. Additionally for the mobile application scenario, TUGeoWiki provides a feature to create geo-tagged images with the mobile phone’s camera embedding the GPS coordinates in the Exif headers of the image files. In a separate step, these images (or images created with any other application for geo-tagging images) can be uploaded and relayed to existing places or used to provide an article stub for a new place in an arbitrary location around the corresponding coordinates.

We have stipulated these two aforementioned scenarios in order to investigate an improvement of learning activities in-the-field and on-site by supporting several steps in such learning journeys, i.e., activities before and after the journey with the desktop scenario and activities during the journey with the mobile scenario.



The component architecture of the TUGeoWiki system as well as the interactions among the individual parts - with focus on the mobile scenario - is shown in Figure 2 (see next page). The mobile device (mobile phone or PDA) is equipped with the TUGeoWiki client and a Web browser. The client retrieves the current coordinates of the device either from an internal GPS sensor, or, via Bluetooth, from an external sensor. The TUGeoWiki client relays requests for upload of images to the mobile browser or directly to a server-sided application programming interface (API). Requests for information about the current location or requests for creating a new place for the current location are always relayed to the mobile browser. The browser is mainly used to access the adapted MediaWiki on the TUGeoWiki server, which shares a common database with the API. For each new entry, the Wiki displays a place template, which embeds a Google Map and hyperlinks (relaying the place’s coordinates) to the Geohack extension as well as Google Maps and Microsoft Live Search Maps.

Draft version – originally published in: Safran, C.; Garcia-Barrios, V. M.; Ebner, M. (2011) The Integration of Aspects of Geo-Tagging and Microblogging in m-Learning. - in: Media in the Ubiquitous Era: Ambient, Social and Gaming Media. IGI Global, Hershey, p. 95 - 110

Social and Gaming Media. IGI Global, Hershey, p. 95 - 110 Figure 2: TUGeoWiki component architecture
Social and Gaming Media. IGI Global, Hershey, p. 95 - 110 Figure 2: TUGeoWiki component architecture

Figure 2: TUGeoWiki component architecture – mobile application scenario

A first version of this mobile client has been implemented using Java Mobile Edition (Java ME) to provide the basic functionality for a

wide number of mobile devices. On the one side, this Java client provides access to (internal of Bluetooth-based) GPS sensors as well as to the mobile device’s camera. On the other side, the client forwards information about the current location of the device to the mobile browser. In turn, the mobile browser is used to access the TUGeoWiki server side application. The Java ME application acts only as a tool

to provide data for the browser but does not access the TUGeoWiki server itself.

have been

Additionally, native applications for Symbian OS (respectively the S60 platform) as well as Android

OS (respectively the S60 platform) as well as Android and the iPhone implemented. These applications provide

and the


implemented. These applications provide the same features as the Java client, but are using a different software design. They access a server side API which is used to query, add and modify the Wiki data without the use of a Web browser, offering an alternative mobile user interface. An iPhone client for the TUGeoWiki system is currently under development.


As far as the application of TUGeoWiki for educational purposes is concerned, some scenarios have been identified to describe possible use cases. These scenarios are based on the desktop usage or mobile usage of TUGeoWiki and therefore categorised as e-Learning, respectively m-Learning scenarios.

4.1 Generic e-Learning Scenarios

TUGeoWiki is designed to be usable in e-Learning scenarios without a mobile learning component. In this case, solely the Web application

is used, without the mobile application. The two main scenarios for this application are, again, focused on the support of field trips. It is

relevant to state here that we use the term generic to practically abbreviate the user-free generation character of our application by using the template-based extensions of the Wiki.

The first scenario includes the preparation of students for field trips. For this scenario, various situations can be identified, where it is preferable that students have engaged a-priori information on the locations they are going to visit. For example, teachers may create place stubs in the Wiki before the trip. Another example is the integration of short articles into the trip definition. These short articles, already geo-tagged for a certain location, may contain little or no further data but the location’s title. These examples of a-priori data can be extended or modified by the students in advance, either collaboratively or in individual work. At his point consider also that the version history feature of the Wiki offers the teacher a valuable possibility to monitor the distribution of the work done over time as well as the individual contributions in collaborative tasks.

The second possible generic sample scenario focuses on post-processing the information gained on a field trip. In a first step teacher provide an empty or rudimentary structure of places, which already contain relevant coordinates. These so-called place stubs are used by students as anchors to add information gained in-situ at the corresponding locations. Moreover, geo-tagged images can later-on be added to the corresponding places using the image upload facility.

Another alternative for in-the-field usage of the mobile TUGeoWiki application is the inclusion of a geo-tracker. A geo-tracker is an external device that logs geographical coordinates to timestamps, in other words, such devices produce tracks. After a field trip, the tracks can be used to post-process images by synchronising the coordinates of the tracks with the creation times of images. For this purpose, there already exist software tools that can be used to add the coordinates into the images’ EXIF header information; these (a-posteriori) geo- tagged images can be uploaded to the TUGeoWiki system and used to find fitting places in the Wiki.

Draft version – originally published in: Safran, C.; Garcia-Barrios, V. M.; Ebner, M. (2011) The Integration of Aspects of Geo-Tagging and Microblogging in m-Learning. - in: Media in the Ubiquitous Era: Ambient, Social and Gaming Media. IGI Global, Hershey, p. 95 - 110

Social and Gaming Media. IGI Global, Hershey, p. 95 - 110 4.2 Generic m-Learning Scenarios Considering

4.2 Generic



Considering the issues stated so far, one of the core concepts of the TUGeoWiki solution approach is its design and development for its use in-the-field. From our point of view, the most relevant learning scenario in this context is the use of mobile devices (e.g., mobile phones) to access the TUGeoWiki application. These mobile devices are used to retrieve the coordinates of the current location and access places of the TUGeoWiki in the vicinity of this location. Hence, the application is used to provide background information about the current location area, i.e. the learning materials precompiled by a teacher are delivered to students in a geospatial information context. The students can use this information during the process of learning in order to better understand relations of a location to theoretical concepts or other locations


The second learning scenario in the mobile context is the application of TUGeoWiki for the compilation of geo-tagged information on real- world locations by the students. On the one hand, textual information can be added to existing or newly created places. On the other hand, the mobile device can be used to create geo-tagged images of a location and add them to a place in TUGeoWiki. In this scenario, the a- priori creation of place-stubs in TUGeoWiki by the teacher is advisable in order to provide a core skeleton of the intended structure. Thus, the impact on the learning process lies in the compilation of the information itself, in the digestion of the direct experience gained during the field trip as well as in the informal learning during this task [21].

The previously given scenario can be extended by a collaborative component. The features of the Wiki allow several students to work on the same places and collaboratively compile geo-tagged information. Here, the learning process is supposed to be enhanced by discussions and by the need to create a unified perspective on the location area. The version history of the Wiki provides means for personal accountability of the students for their individual parts in the final work, which represents a central prerequisite for effective cooperative learning [22]. The advantage of this third mobile scenario is that the students can do their work in the real-world by direct interaction with the locations concerned. Alternative scenarios can also be implemented with TUGeoWiki with one part of the collaborating students in-situ and another part of them working remotely, as proposed by [12].


In the course of the evaluation of TUGeoWiki, three detailed scenarios where successively developed. After the initial development, our geo-Wiki approach was tested in a field trip of civil engineers, applying a variant of field trip post-processing. In this scenario, a lecturer was equipped with a Nokia N956 mobile phone, including an internal GPS receiver and the TUGeoWiki mobile application. The lecturer was asked to use the phone to create geo-tagged images of the field trip, which were subsequently uploaded to TUGeoWiki and assigned to didactically relevant places. In this scenario, TUGeoWiki was only used as an application to create and provide geo-tagged learning material.

The evaluation of this scenario aimed at providing basic feedback on the workflow of compiling information and images in-the-field as well as on the application of TUGeoWiki from the desktop. The feedback was collected through short interviews after the excursion. Among others, the lecturer stated that taking the photos with the mobile device was easily possible, although the localisation with GPS posed some problems, e.g., the initial synchronisation with the GPS signal can take several minutes, and GPS is not available without line- of-sight to the corresponding satellites. The upload of and subsequent search for existing places in a user-defined radius was perceived as extremely useful. As far as future development is concerned, the integration of additional data for a location, like geological or hydraulic data, was encouraged. The application of TUGeoWiki for field trip post-processing was well perceived, but the interviewed lecturer also pointed out the possible advantages of the application in a collaborative scenario.

As a second detailed experiment, collaborative post-processing of field trips was implemented for another civil engineering field trip in a follow-up study. For this purpose, the students were equipped with a mixed technological equipment of digital cameras and one Nokia N95. Further, the teacher was equipped with a Holux M-2417 external GPS tracker and the students were asked to synchronise the time settings of the cameras with the data tracker. Images for the creation of the field trip report were taken collaboratively throughout the trip and, subsequently, geo-tagged using the GPS tracker. The resulting images were uploaded onto the TUGeoWiki system and relayed to the places created for the field trip. One-on-one interviews were conducted with the participants of the field trip to investigate the usefulness of this scenario. The possibility to identify locations of the individual images by geo-tagging and TUGeoWiki was generally well perceived, although several of the participants stated the fact that several places in the Wiki were created for the same real-world locations by different users. Moreover the feedback included the requirement of an bulk upload page. The original upload-page was designed according to the standard MediaWiki upload page to upload one image at a time. A bulk-upload page was subsequently implemented to allow the simultaneous upload of an arbitrary number of images for one location.

The third detailed scenario implemented for the evaluation of TUGeoWiki focuses on a geology field trip. TUGeoWiki was used for the students to get prepared for the trip. The scenario combines the first generic e-Learning scenario (trip preparation) with the third generic m- Learning scenario (collaborative work in-the-field). The preparation of this scenario revealed the need for an extension of TUGeoWiki’s content paradigm. While the previous experiments had shown the basic usefulness of the place paradigm in a civil engineering scenario (which is basically focused on building sites), geologists have extended requirements, as information can rarely be mapped to individual (point-based) locations. Two additional paradigms for areas and tracks need to be supported. An area is represented by a polygon on a map and is useful for the description of larger-scale geological conditions. A track is represented by a line connecting a number of locations and

6, accessed 2009-04-22

7, accessed 2009-04-22

Draft version – originally published in: Safran, C.; Garcia-Barrios, V. M.; Ebner, M. (2011) The Integration of Aspects of Geo-Tagging and Microblogging in m-Learning. - in: Media in the Ubiquitous Era: Ambient, Social and Gaming Media. IGI Global, Hershey, p. 95 - 110

Social and Gaming Media. IGI Global, Hershey, p. 95 - 110 describes an actual sequence of

describes an actual sequence of locations visited in the course of the trip. The implementation of these additional features and their evaluation represent currently an ongoing work. The preparations for the evaluations have been conducted as follows. A set of place stubs was created and prepared for the field trip. The places were collected into a Wiki category and collaboratively filled with information by groups of students assigned to them. During the field trip, the group will be equipped with digital cameras, a mobile device and the GPS tracker. On the one hand, the mobile device will be used to add information in-the-field, and thus extend the previously prepared articles. And on the other hand, the images will subsequently be geo-tagged, uploaded and added to the existing places in order to enrich them with visual information from the actual trip.


So far, the two possible application scenarios for TUGeoWiki, mobile application scenario and desktop application scenario, have been described. It has been shown that the mobile scenario is mainly focused on the satisfaction of ad-hoc learning needs as well as on proactive information push to the Wiki, rather than on collaborative editing of contents. So far, the examples given for such an information push were the creation of place stubs and the extension of places with geo-tagged images. This approach, however, lacks a possibility to easily share information about and across images via the mobile application. For any textual information added to individual locations, the standard MediaWiki edit functionality must be accessed with the mobile browser.

First evaluations with a small group of users showed that this functionality was perceived as cumbersome and avoided as far as possible. These reactions of the evaluation subjects are assumed to be a result of the typical mobile phones limitations regarding their small screen sizes and the complexity of writing with mobile or virtual keyboards. In order to solve this problem and to simplify the interactions with the Wiki, we propose the usage of an alternative technique, which is based on the principle of adding (small) notes to existing articles as a foundation for collaborative activities within our desktop application scenario. In analogy to the Microblogging paradigm [23], short messages are sent by the users and integrated into the Wiki, creating Micropages.

6.1 The Notion of


Due to the fact that the number of mobile devices connected to the World Wide Web is growing tremendously fast, microblogging has become one of the most interesting innovative applications at present. Microblogging can be seen as a variant of blogging, where small messages, usually not longer than 140 characters, are posted instantly and on-demand to Web-based microblogging services. According to

can be defined as “a small-scale form of blogging, generally made up of short, succinct messages, used by both

consumers and businesses to share news, post status updates, and carry on conversation”. Regarding the intentions of users, the following four categories are identified: daily chatter, conversations, sharing information, and reporting news [24]. Further, research work shows that microblogging is very useful for the fast exchange of thoughts and ideas as well as for a fast information sharing [25]. Considering the growing importance of mobility and mobile applications, Twitter (the largest microblogging platform worldwide) became one of the prime examples for Mobile 2.0 [26].



[ Insert picture here


Figure 3: Example for a TUGeoWiki micropage with one annotation

To characterise the notion of Wiki pages that are based on small individual information pushes, we apply the term micropages. Thus, micropages are the Wiki analogy of microblogs, which describes our approach focusing on smaller parts of information. In a microblog, brief text updates are used as status messages to publish information for friends and other “followers”. By encouraging shorter posts, microblogging can fulfil a need for a faster form of communication [24]. Within the scope of this book chapter, we propose to use micropages as Wiki pages that are built out of short individual annotations on the topic of the page. In TUGeoWiki, each of these topics is a location, and each page is a place. Figure 3 depicts one example for a micropage in TUGeoWiki containing one annotation.

The creation process of such a micropage by means of the Wiki’s special pages is depicted in Figure 4. A short message is created (usually on a mobile device) and geo-tagged with the user’s current location. A special page is used to find an appropriate place or create a new one, and to append the message at the end of the micropage. The building parts of a TUGeoWiki micropage are derived from the received messages and always appended in chronological order (earliest on top) instead of in reverse chronological order (as in weblogs) to better address the Wiki page paradigm. These parts are furthermore tagged with some metadata, such as the author’s username, the date and time of the post.

metadata, such as the author’s username, the date and time of the post. Figure 4: General

Figure 4: General notion for creating micropages

Draft version – originally published in: Safran, C.; Garcia-Barrios, V. M.; Ebner, M. (2011) The Integration of Aspects of Geo-Tagging and Microblogging in m-Learning. - in: Media in the Ubiquitous Era: Ambient, Social and Gaming Media. IGI Global, Hershey, p. 95 - 110

Social and Gaming Media. IGI Global, Hershey, p. 95 - 110 Unlike microblogs, our micropages are

Unlike microblogs, our micropages are not intended to serve as means for synchronous communication; so far, we share with the microblogging paradigm just the concept of information push of short messages. Further, a new micropage is not intended to represent a final content within the Wiki system; rather (as for Wiki contents in general) it should be iteratively revised and improved to a final form via collaborative authoring. In concrete, micropages represent stubs for content in a Wiki, i.e., short annotations added to “sketch” the final page anytime, anywhere, and in the case of TUGeoWiki in-the-field and just-in-time.

6.2 Using Micropages with the Mobile Client

Micropages are currently supported by TUGeoWiki’s

client. In both versions, the annotation attached to a micropage

has been implemented as for the upload of images. This process is described in the following.

In a first step, the user writes a message (of 140 characters at most) to annotate her current location and chooses a distance from the current location for the search of suiting existing places in her vicinity. The client subsequently retrieves the current position from the built-in GPS sensor and relays it to the server, which returns the list of existing places within the chosen area. On client-side, the user chooses either one of the existing places to annotate or creates a new place by entering a title. As previously mentioned, the message is then attached at the end of the place, accompanied by the user’s username as well as the date and time of the post.

Some sample screenshots of the TUGeoWiki Android client during the annotation workflow are shown in Figure 5 and Figure 6. In the first screenshot, at left side of the figure, a message is composed. The second screenshot shows the selection of the distance for searching existing places. The third screenshot displays the list of existing places retrieved. Finally, the fourth screenshot displays the message included in one of these places, on the Wiki at server side.




[ Insert Picture here


Figure 5: Screenshot of annotation feature of the mobile



of annotation feature of the mobile Android client 6.3 Integrating Figure 6: Screenshot of annotation feature

6.3 Integrating

Figure 6: Screenshot of annotation feature of the mobile





Another possible source for the creation of micropages is the integration of a so-called microblogging service. The analogy of micropages and microblogs inspired us to define an additional user interface. As stated before in this section, the annotation feature of the mobile client is purely intended for in-the-field and just-in-time annotations of geospatial information by sending short messages that describe the current location. Due to the fact that the location is determined via GPS coordinates, a later annotation of resources is not feasible. The problem in this context arises when short annotations to already existing Wiki places are interesting for users after visiting the location, thus the following alternative user interaction seems to be userful. In TUGeoWiki, we integrated microblogging services that support Twitter posts. We have chosen the Twitter service because it is a well-known microblogging application with a well-defined API.

Against the background described so far, a very interesting aspect of microblogging gained our attention: filtering information using a unique letter. This technique is referred to as hash tagging and has been introduced on several microblogging platforms. It is used for search queries or marking special content. Hashtags are a simple way of grouping messages with a “#” sign followed by a name or special code. [23]

Hashtags in microblogs are especially meaningful when used during a particular period of time, as “it not only allows individuals to generate a resource based on that specific thematic, while using the hashtag, but also bridges knowledge, and knowing, across networks of interest”. [27]

On the server side of the TUGeoWiki system, users may use a special page to mark a place as “microbloggable”. Moreover, individual users are provided a feature to append their Twitter user names to their user profiles. This information is relayed to a Web-based service,

Draft version – originally published in: Safran, C.; Garcia-Barrios, V. M.; Ebner, M. (2011) The Integration of Aspects of Geo-Tagging and Microblogging in m-Learning. - in: Media in the Ubiquitous Era: Ambient, Social and Gaming Media. IGI Global, Hershey, p. 95 - 110

Social and Gaming Media. IGI Global, Hershey, p. 95 - 110 which periodically scans the registered

which periodically scans the registered users’ microblogs for tweets containing the hashtag “#tgw”, indicating a TUGeoWiki annotation message.

This tweet must contain a second hashtag identifying the place via an URL. This hashtag is created using the URL shortening service, which creates a 5-letter hash of an URL. Thus, for example, shortening the URL php/LKH_Klagenfurt_Neu results in the URL The corresponding hashtag, #jBVbX, is created for a place when marking

it as microbloggable and added to the TUGeoWiki template.

After identifying the TUGeoWiki-specific hashtags, the remainder of the Twitter post is added to the corresponding TUGeoWiki place as a new annotation signed with the corresponding user name, date and time.


Already with the first uses of Wikis for education, it became rather clear that they would generate a great benefit for collaborative activities among learner groups. A lot of research work has been carried out in order to show that process-oriented learning is supported by Wikis in

a very novel and smart way [28, 29]. The lack of existing tools for the incorporation of geo-tagged resources into the learning activities of e.g. civil engineers or architects, lead to the development of our TUGeoWiki system. Our solution approach provides a possibility to collaborate on geo-tagged information in a Wiki, based on the concept of places as individual articles. Moreover, it provides means for learning in-the-field by uploading geo-tagged images and, with the help of microblogging, also geo-tagged messages.

In summary, it can be pointed out that our approach contributes to the enhancement of the collaborative activities between learners by enabling them to feed and compose geo-information with personal annotations (i.e., with the mobile part of the TUGeoWiki system) into a user-friendly environment for mutual authoring (i.e., the Wiki-based server side of our system).

In further studies and field experiments we will explore and evaluate how the underlying implementation framework finds applicability and usefulness in other research areas.




Downes, S. E-learning 2.0. eLearn, 2005, 10 (2005), 1.


Safran, C., Garcia-Barrios, V. and Ebner, M. The Benefits of Geo-Tagging and Microblogging in m-Learning: a Use Case. In

Proceedings of the MindTrek 2009 Conference (Tampere, Finland, 2009). ACM.


Brohn, D. Academic priorities in structural engineering - the importance of a visual schema. The Structural Engineer, 61 A, 1 (1983),



Human-computer interaction, theory and practice, Lawrence Erlbaum, Mahwah, NJ, 2003, 926-930.


Proceedings of the Central European Multimedia and Virtual Reality Conference CEMVRC (2005), 37-41.


Ebner, M. and Holzinger, A. Instructional use of engineering visualization: interaction-design in e-learning for civil engineering. In

Holzinger, A. and Ebner, M. Visualization, Animation and Simulation for Mobile Computers: Experiences from Prototypes. In

Ebner, M., Scerbakov, N. and Maurer, H. New Features for eLearning in Higher Education for Civil Engineering. Journal of

Universal Computer Science, 0, 0 (2006), 93-106.


Leuf, B. and Cunningham, W. The wiki Way. Quick Collaboration on the Web. Addison-Wesley, 2001.


Fucks-Kittowski, F., Köhler, A. and Fuhr, D. Roughing up Processes the wiki Way - Knowlede Communities in the Context of Work

and Learning Processes. In Proceedings of the I-Know 2004 (2004), 484-493.

Tatar, D., Roschelle, J., Vahey, P. and Penuel, W. R. Handhelds Go to School: Lessons Learned. Computer, 36, 9 (2003), 30-37.

[10] Norris, C. and Soloway, E. Envisioning the Handheld-Centric Classroom. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 30, 4 (2004),


[11] Klamma, R., Chatti, M. A., Duval, E., Hummel, H., Hvannberg, E. T., Kravcik, M., Law, E., Naeve, A. and Scott, P. Social software for life-long learning. Educational Technology & Society, 10, 3 (2007), 72-83.

[12] Kravcik, M., Specht, M., Kaibel, A. and Terrenghi, L. Collecting data on field trips - RAFT approach. City, 2003, 478. [13] Tretiakov, A. and Kinshuk Towards designing m-learning systems for maximal likelihood of acceptance. International Journal of Engineering Education, 24, 1 (2008), 79-83. [14] Safran, C. and Zaka, B. A geospatial Wiki for m-Learning. In Proceedings of the International Conference on Computer Science and Software Engineering (Wuhan, China, 2008-12-12 - 2008-12-14, 2008). IEEE Computer Society, 109-112. [15] Mediawiki. Manual:Special pages. [16] Mediawiki. Help:Templates. [17] Voelkel, M. and Oren, E. Towards a Wiki Interchange Format (WIF). In Proceedings of the First Workshop on Semantic Wikis -- From Wiki To Semantics (2006). [18] Wikipedia. WikiProject Geographical coordinates.


[19] Parsons, D., Ryu, H. and Cranshaw, M. A Study of Design Requirements for Mobile Learning Environments. In Proceedings of the Proceedings of the Sixth IEEE International Conference on Advanced Learning Technologies (2006). IEEE Computer Society. [20] Lonsdale, P., Baber, C. and Sharples, M. A Context Awareness Architecture for Facilitating Mobile Learning. In Learning with Mobile Devices: Research and Development, Learning and Skills Development Agency, London, 2004, 79-85. [21] Specht, M., Kaibel, A. and Apelt, S. Extending LCMS for remote accessible field trips in RAFT. City, 2005, 302-306. [22] Johnson, R. T. and Johnson, D. W. An overview of cooporative learning. In Creativity and Collaborative Learning: The Practical Guide to Empowering Students and Teachers, Brookes Press, Baltimore, 1994, 31-44.

Draft version – originally published in: Safran, C.; Garcia-Barrios, V. M.; Ebner, M. (2011) The Integration of Aspects of Geo-Tagging and Microblogging in m-Learning. - in: Media in the Ubiquitous Era: Ambient, Social and Gaming Media. IGI Global, Hershey, p. 95 - 110

Social and Gaming Media. IGI Global, Hershey, p. 95 - 110 [23] Templeton, M. Microblogging Defined.

[23] Templeton, M. Microblogging Defined. [24] Java, A., Song, X., Finin, T. and Tseng, B. Why we twitter: understanding microblogging usage and communities. In Proceedings of the 9th WebKDD and 1st SNA-KDD 2007 workshop on Web mining and social network analysis (San Jose, California, 2007). ACM, 56-65. [25] Ebner, M. and Schiefner, M. Microblogging - more than fun? In Proceedings of the IADIS Mobile Learning Conference 2008 (2008),


[26] Griswold, W. G. Five enablers for Mobile 2.0. Computer, 40, 10 (2007), 96-98. [27] Reinhardt, W., Ebner, M., Beham, G. and Costa, C. How People are Using Twitter during Conferences. In Proceedings of the 5th EduMedia conference (Salzbrug, Austria, 2009), 145-156. [28] Ebner, M., Zechner, J. and Holzinger, A. Why is Wikipedia so Successful? Experiences in Establishing the Principles in Higher Education. In Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Knowledge Management (I-KNOW 06) (Graz, Austria, 2006), 527-535. [29] Ebner, M., Kickmeier-Rust, M. D. and Holzinger, A. Utilizing Wiki-Systems in higher education classes: a chance for universal access? In Universal Access in the Information Society, Springer, Heidelberg, Berlin, New York, 2008.