Last week my class took part in our Mission: Explore day, which was to look at the use of mobile technology in outdoor education and trips. The day went really well and I just wanted to blog a few thoughts about it.
The first part of the day involved us going round the village exploring our surroundings and creating missions in the style of the Mission: Explore book. The class were split into 3 groups and each group had 2 iPads, 2 iPod touches and a mifi device. The main apps they used were notes to write down any ideas, the camera to take film and video and the Mission: Explore app which I referred them to for ideas.
When we first started off the children struggled being creative with their challenges; many of the ones they came up with along the lines of “How many…. can you find? To overcome this it was great to be able to dip into the Mission: Explore app, find a mission and see how we could adapt it to fit our own surroundings. This then sparked some children to come up with more riddle-based challenges rather than being too literal. The mifi devices held up admirably and there were only a couple of times when they disconnected because the children weren’t standing close enough.
The second part of the day involved coming back to school and putting our missions on a pre-made google map. For this activity we used the school’s laptops as I couldn’t find a way to edit the map on the ipads and ipods. Strangely, this part of the day was where we had the most trouble – Google Maps decided it was going to have a mind of its own and we had problems with it continually scrolling round the world so the children were unable to edit it because it wouldn’t stay still. I have no idea what caused this; there was some hint when I searched for it that it could be to do with using trackpads but then plugging in a mouse didn’t seem to stop it and Googling didn’t throw up many answers. Besides this, all children managed to get something on the map and all developed their mapwork skills and ICT skills as most had never used Google Maps before.
In the afternoon we went out with the iPads and iPods again, this time to do each others missions and record our evidence. Obviously the ipods win here as they have the camera but the iPads were much better for looking at the Google Map because of the bigger screen. We did find that the map functioning was a bit clunky through the ipad and don’t know if this was because it was through the internet rather than an app and heavy on the wifi or if it’s because it’s not fully supported on the iPads ( I know some functions of maps use flash which apple don’t like).
So, how did the technology support the day? We used the technology throughout the day to record in various ways, research, inspire and create. Yes, we probably could have done some of it without the technology, we could have had notepads and pens, a mission explore book for each group (but the app is free; the book isn’t), a camera each and photocopies of each others challenges but the technology brought everything together in one place and the children didn’t moan about carrying anything, no pieces of paper blew away and all the children collaborated fantastically because they were sharing the devices. We could do impromptu research on the internet to find out more about the history of our village. The children had the option of recording by writing, photographing, videoing, audio recording or drawing. They are just so much more flexible than your traditional worksheet.
I would definitely be up for using mobile technology to support outdoor education and trips again; in fact, I’m wondering if there’s some way we can use them at the Space Centre in a couple of weeks. Hmmm….