New Geolocation App Lets Students “Check In” With Fewer Privacy Worries

Nov 10, 2010 6:22pm

ABC News on Campus reporter Chelsea Smith blogs:
 
Arizona State University, which is spread across four different campuses and also offers classes online, is using a new application called Spark to bring students together.
 
Spark lists places on campus such as Hayden Library or the Memorial Union as well as other student hot spots off campus. ASU students then "check in" to let their classmates know where they are.
 
Sarah Krznarich, the student engagement manager of Arizona State University Online, met with DoubleDutch, the company in San Francisco that developed Spark.
 
"It is private so you are not dealing with someone random, like on Foursquare, seeing your information,” Krznarich said. “[With Spark] you can check in and keep it to yourself, or push it into your network so other students see you."
 
Scarlett Heydt, a junior journalism major who attends classes at ASU, got the Spark application when it came out in September.
 
"I've never tried Foursquare and I wanted to try it on a smaller scale. It seems a little safer to let people in the ASU community see where I am than the entire world," Heydt said.
 
"I think that other universities will sign on to developing their own app like Spark because it is a great way to connect students," said Abigail Wischnia, a junior at ASU. "Especially if your university has multiple campuses like ASU does."
 
ASU says it is the first university to start a private mobile social network. Other undisclosed universities are in the process of launching a similar application according to CEO and Cofounder of DoubleDutch Lawrence Coburn.
 
About 3,000 students obtain their majors strictly online at ASU. Krznarich hopes Spark will help unite those students.
 
"This is a way for students to find one another or a pocket of students that are studying something come together," Krznarich said. "Whether it be in Seattle or on our campus, students can see who is within a few miles of them."
 
Coburn said universities are drawn to the application because information is only shared among the students who use it. "I think there is a case that can be made that nobody can make a better mobile social network for ASU than ASU," Coburn said. "We give control to the community. This is so private communities build their own social network."
 
Even though the application seems like a smaller-scale Foursquare, Kzrnarich and Coburn say Spark is different.
 
"It is just students interacting with one another; meeting up on campus, sharing the best coffee shops," Krznarich said. Photo courtesy of DoubleDutch

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