Digital Songlines: Mobile location-based learning experiences


The Aboriginal people of Australia have an ancient traditional practice called the songline. A songline is a path across the land that is recorded in traditional songs, stories, dance and painting. One of the ways songlines are still used today is in teaching the younger generation the history and stories of their people. The songs and stories are repeated to them as they walk through their land and in experiencing the stories in connection with place. In doing this the connection with both land and story is preserved. In a very real sense, the songline keeps both the land and history alive.

Work has been done exploring and articulating a number of Aboriginal pedagogies (Yunkaporta, 2009). A resultant framework has been developed that allows teachers to include Aboriginal perspectives in learning experiences for both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students. My approach focuses in on one of the framework’s eight pedagogies, Land Links, which connects learning to land and place. Additionally, I draw on work done in outlining how mobile devices, story telling and learning can intersect (Diermyer & Blakesley, 2009).

To demonstrate how mobile devices can be used to both develop and experience a place-based learning experience, I have used an innovative service called Actionbound to create a reflective learning experience around the grounds of the ANZAC War Memorial in Hyde Park, Sydney.

Actionbound allows you to create an experience that consists of a combination of media-rich information and activities that can be tied into locations. The learning experience I have developed to showcase this approach asks you to walk to a certain place in the memorial grounds. Once you reach that place, the gps on your mobile device releases the next step in the sequence. For example, when you reach the eastern side of the memorial, content is released that invites you to listen to a Wilfred Owen poem, Dulce et decorum est, while reflecting on the brass bas-relief depicting the events on the Western Front. Both the bas-relief and poem depict the horror of a gas attack on the soldiers. Later on in the learning experience you are asked to write a reflective piece centred around connecting with how the World War One veterans would have experienced this place. You are also asked to post a photo that depicts how you have been impacted by another part of the memorial grounds.

By embedding sounds, song and images into content that is released only once the student is physically in a location and then giving creative opportunities for students to interact with both content and place, you can create modern-day songlines in your community that leverages well documented Aboriginal pedagogies to embed learning techniques that are more culturally appropriate for your Aboriginal students as well as giving your non-aboriginal students a fresh learning experience.

Instructions on how to access this learning experience for yourself can be found at


Diermyer, C., & Blakesley, C. (2009). Story-Based Teaching and Learning: Practices and Technologies. . Retrieved from

Yunkaporta, T. (2009). Aboriginal Pedagogies at the Cultural Interface. Retrieved August 29, 2016, from 8 Aboriginal Ways of Learning,

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