Sunday, November 30, 2008

Inspired by Digital Field Trips-methodology and recap

I want to thank Darren again for his inspiration in the area of digital field trips. As many of you know, I opted to document a bike trip from Richmond, VA to Williamsburg, VA. The ride is a modest 63 miles for the avid cyclists in the group but this was by far the furthest ride we had ever tried-I rode with our Head of School.

Ok, so here is how it worked out. Before our departure, I asked the Head's son who is a senior to friend me on facebook so he and his mom could keep track of our progress. This was particularly important for both families because the temperature was in the mid 20s when we left home. Brrrr.

So how was I going to communicate our journey? What was the communication plan? Using a Blackberry Curve-great tool for this btw, I created a distribution list in my contacts that sent info to 2 specific locations: 1) the international PLP Ning(photos) 2) TwitPic. Creating the distribution list I found saved a few steps whenever I wanted to document the trip. Using twitpic however, had a dual purpose. Twitpic sent updates to my twitter account which also updated my status on Facebook.

By taken advantage of open api's, I managed to distribute quite a bit of information across a number of different groups. But the best technology related part of the journey however, had to do with the comments and responses from colleagues, friends, and family. We had folks from all over and a couple of surprises. A colleague was on her way home from a conference in Orlando, FL and started following us in the airport. Our respective families kept tabs on us, fellow PLPers cheered us on, and for those who didn't know we were doing this, the updates to our status on Facebook proved to be entertaining.

If I could do it over, what would I change. Plan a trip during warmer weather. We never took a layer off. Funny how it is always windy when one rides a bicycle. However, with warmer weather, it would certainly be easier to document the ride. I did want to incorporate video and perhaps even use gabcast, but it was too labor intensive to remove gloves, take out the Blackberry from a zipped pocket, and replace everything while riding.

So what did I learn? The world can be your classroom and your "students" will come from all over and it can all be done with a smartphone. The applications of this format are extensive. A digital field trip can empower students, teachers, and coaches to provide detailed accounts and or create visual journal entries of their experiences for others to view and learn.

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