Gamification and Social Media in the Classroom: SCVNGR and International Town & Gown in the PR Writing and Applications Course

Gamification and Social Media in the Classroom: SCVNGR and International Town & Gown in the PR Writing and Applications Course.


Chopped Off My Hair Because I Was Scared to Leave Campus

In the early nineties I left Avoca, a very small town of approximately 500 people (though I think they were counting cats and dogs as it never seemed that populous) nestled along the Wisconsin River, to go to college 580 miles away in Jamestown, ND. I had always considered myself to be a fairly brave person, but when I got to college I soon found that I didn’t have to leave campus for very many things — and that was just fine with me. I felt safe on the Jamestown College campus, with its population of approximately 2,500 students it was already bigger than what I was used to at home, and leaving the campus was a bit scary for me.

Before I left for college I visited our town’s beauty shop (which coincidently was just down the road from my house) and got my hair permed, cut, and colored. I didn’t consider how I would get my hair done when I got to college — perhaps I thought my hair could wait until I came home for Christmas break?

I wasn’t very nice to my hair my first semester, however, as I was on the Jamestown Track & Field team and was constantly running (putting my curl into a ponytail thereby pulling them out), and doing water workouts in the pool. Needless to say, my perm soon began to come out and I had a ton of split ends.

Determined NOT to leave campus I enlisted the help of one of the football players, who was well-known on campus for cutting members’ of the football teams hair. I don’t know what I was thinking — naively that if he could cut boys hair he could cut girls hair as well????

The football player began cutting, and cutting, and cutting. Unable to look at see what he was doing until it reached this stage (see photo below) I finally had to agree to let him cut off all my hair. After all, this chin length bob simply wasn’t a good look for me.

I ended up with a hair cut that looked a lot like a mushroom on top of my head. NOT a hairstyle I would have ever chosen for myself, but now one I would have to live with simply because I was scared to venture off campus and find a hairstylist in an unfamiliar town.

This semester at the P.I. Reed School of Journalism students in the Public Relations Writing & Applications (PR 324) course are trying to save students new to the West Virginia University campus, located in lovely Morgantown, WV from a similar fate. Their task is to encourage WVU students to leave campus and explore local businesses via a location-based gaming application called SCVNGR. This is being done via a partnership with the International Town & Gown Association whose goal it is to bring colleges and communities closer together.

Throughout the coming weeks these PR students will put together marketing plans and sales materials and make presentations to approximately 50 Morgantown businesses. The goal? To provide SCVNGR services to local businesses — including helping them build Challenges, Rewards, and Treks — all the while encouraging other college students to engage with, become loyal to, and “buzz” about Morgantown businesses via the SCVNGR game (and its social media partners Facebook and Twitter).

Needless to say, my students are VERY excited about this project and will be blogging, creating news releases, features, media kits, pitches, social media releases, and other forms of promotional materials as the project evolves and they get to know their “clients” better (and be able to help tell their stories). Throughout this course they will have the opportunity to work on their writing, selling, presenting, client relations, media relations, planning, and promotion skills — all the while connecting to local businesses and helping those businesses build engagement with their customers via SCVNGR.

Join us in this amazing journey. I’ll be blogging about the process as will they. Wish us luck!

Freshman Year

Football player cutting my hair freshman year.

My "mushroom" hairdo.