Reflections on the monopoly challenge

Last Thursday, three schools from Northamptonshire took part in the #NorthantsBLT <a href="monopoly challenge which turned out to be very successful and I just wanted to blog some of my thoughts and reflections about the event.

The idea was that we took three children from each school down to London for the day, where they would be sent challenges to complete via mobile technology, in this case iPod touches. The challenges involved going to various landmarks around london and using the technology to learn about the place. For each of the challenges completed the teams received points and it was a competition between the three teams to complete as many as possible and receive the most points to win. It turns out it was a draw!

One of the main aims was to see if we could push the limits of using mobile technology outdoors by doing a big scale project; this project could easily be scaled down to work with a smaller place but with more children ( which is shown by my mission explore project that I did back in march.)

My thoughts (in no particular order):
We were sent the challenges on the day by Peter Ford, who was actually sat at home in Nottingham! This actually worked really well, he sent us challenges, the children completed and sent them back, then he immediately (or mostly) sent us another one. The only downside I can see of this type of idea is needing a coordinator somewhere. I’m thinking this could be a head teacher or another class at school, or there’s even the possibility of scheduling tweets via something like future tweet ( although this would not allow for changes of timings like we had) but the possibilities are there. It’s certainly a different way to approach the way a trip is organised.

The challenges were Mission Explore style challenges: go to Westminster Bridge and find as many types of vehicles as you can; create a report about Big Ben etc. Some were information based and some were more light-hearted but there’s lots of scope for creating challenges linked to your topic or theme of the trip.

The iPod touches were wifi only so in order to connect to the Internet we had a Mifi device per team which converts the 3G phone signal into wifi. These worked amazingly well as long as you were within about 6 ft of the mifi device and we didn’t have any problems with 3G signal. However, we were in London. If this were to be repeated in smaller towns and villages where the 3G was not so reliable there may be more connectivity problems. I also know that Peter had a few issues with getting the mifi devices and iPods linked in the first place so there is a bit of technical expertise and time needed in the set up before the trip if you want to use this method of connecting.

One thing that I realised is that in order for children to use this kind of tech out and about they need to know the programs you want them to use REALLY well. Our children have only had the iPods on loan for 6 weeks so didn’t know how to use them quickly ( they picked it up fairly well) and hadn’t used some apps at all so I found sometimes it was easier for the adults to do the tech, which obviously is not the point. Just make sure the children know how to do what you are asking them to. Also, all adults need to know how to work the tech too 😉

Children are very good at losing and breaking things! We had one iPod lost ( although luckily temporarily as someone brought it back to us) and one dropped and cracked. All I can say is make sure your devices are insured! It would be wise to invest in some durable cases and I don’t know if you can get something like a neck holder but that might be a good way to ensure they’re not accidentally put down and left somewhere.

The final thing that I found was that as we were so busy with our own challenges we didn’t have time to keep up with what the other groups were doing, even though there was masses being posted out via twitter and the blog. Therefore, if I were to do something similar again I think I’d want to build in some time for group sharing and commenting.

And of course, have a back up plan in case all technology fails 🙂

As you can see, I really learnt a lot from it and I’m sure it can be developed into many successful ideas for using technology outdoors.

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