Bertrand Schneider


An IPhone app aimed at increasing students’ awareness of the historical events that happened at their current location.

Motivation: Wouldn’t that be great to instantaneously visualize past events that happened exactly where you are? With current technologies, this is now possible. The GPS of your phone can be used to link your position with a database loaded with important historical events related to your location. We believe that this kind of casual, on the go learning is being facilitated with the technological advances we are witnessing.

More specifically, the tracking of movement across place and the embedding of narrative within place enabled by GPS-enabled phones and object-aware systems offers the opportunity to collect data related to fundamental questions raised by philosophers for thousands of years about how humans create, perceive and interact with their worlds. Social scientists have been interested in how cultures construct a sense of place, and the role that place plays in meaning-making, cultural cohesion, and sense-of-identity within communities. Examples include Keith Basso’s influential work on the role of place-based storytelling in inter-generational knowledge sharing in Apache culture; the role of place-based narrative in the maintenance of national identities engaged in conflict (e.g., Israeli and Palestinian national identities formed in relation to the city of Jerusalem), and identities of displaced or re-placed peoples such as refugees and migrant workers. These issues are not limited to those who are marginalized; as our work lives become increasingly mobile, flexible and virtualized, there is common awareness that the human sense of place is changing. However, untill recently researchers lacked access to large datasets related to people’s movements, real-time sense of place, and production or consumption of media about place-based experiences – instead having to rely on post-hoc self-report measures such as interviews and surveys. Research has shown that the cognitive and social resources embedded in places significantly influences what we think about, how we learn, and what we choose to do and learn next. While research shows that place is a large factor in the formation of social identity, little is known about how transition among places influences learning, and how geo-locationally aware tools might change or enhance perceptions of and movements through places. For the first time in history, we have the possibility of accessing the movements and real time place-based thought and learning patterns of communities.

TimeExplorer provides the kind of functionality described above. Students are able to retrieve stories related to their location on their IPhone; they can also post new stories and comment on them. See the screenshots bellow for more details,

As well as a demo of the app:


Research Team: Bertrand Schneider, Shima Salehi, Sarah Lewis, Roy Pea

Status: the app has been removed from the app store due to the expiration of my developer licence (16 Feb 2012)

Publications: none.

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