I’ve blogged previously on the use of communication technologies and their impact, but this week I really wanted to do it again after a superb week away at Blairvadach with the Mosspark P7 children. I have never enjoyed a trip so much as I did with this group of young people – truly incredible individuals, and the first time that I have ever been away and not had to check on rooms after lights out! What made the trip even more special for me though, was being able to share memories and moments with the children’s families and being able to pass on their responses to the children. Also, being able to let the children enjoy seeing video clips of their adventures as they came to reflect on their day in their journals.
I do love technology, however also realise the value of being away from it. I can’t emphasise enough how important this is, especially on outdoor learning adventures, yet I also think it can play a huge role when used well to record and share memories and engage families in their children’s learning away. In my mind, if I am ever blessed with having children, and they come home from a week away and I ask how it was and I am greeted with “great”, I would love to have some footage or photos to look at and use as visual stimulation for great conversations about the learning.
Indeed, I wish that I had had the technology to do all of this when I was a child – my only memories from my outdoor learning experiences as a child are some blurry photos. Now though, we have the technology to really capture and share moments with families throughout a course. In this blog, I want to show how we did it, and the ways that we made it as simple as we could. Before I continue though, I’d love to give a huge shout out to the team at Blairvadach for, not only the wonderful job that they did with our young people – some of the most nurturing instructors I have ever worked with – but also for their use of social media. Almost all of the instructors now use twitter to share what their groups were up to and it allowed the parents to not only engage with the school but see the instructors comments and feedback on a regular basis.
I know that there are lots of social media platforms out there that schools use, from their own websites to facebook and instagram. The reason that I love twitter (aside from it being a truly fantastic PLN) is that it is concise. You don’t feel the need to write essays about what everyone did – it restricts that. Similarly, videos are restricted to 2mins 20 so you don’t feel the need to post absolutely everything – just highlights.
I have said this loads before, and I will again; if you are on Twitter, use hashtags and let parents know what one you are using. Make sure that it is unique so that when parents search for it they don’t find loads of other tweets on the same subject. For example, this year instead of using #Blairvadach for our trip (as loads of schools may have used this) we used #MPBlairvadach19 and if you click on it, you will see all of the tweets from our trip away.
What was most amazing was the engagement we had from so many parents on it. We also provided a link to our twitter feed on our school app and website for those parents who didn’t use Twitter.
In order to create simple, short videos using the media that we had taken each day, we used Clips (this is an apple app though – similar apps are availavle for android such as Quik by GoPro). Using clips, we were able to quickly collate our photos and sections of video into simple but effective videos that highlighted each group’s learning.
Here’s one from the final day (watch to the end if you want a laugh!):
#MPBlairvadach19 group 2 were challenged right up until the last minute today! They had to use good teamwork and apply all of their learning to complete the ropes course challenges. Well done group 2 for an amazing week at @BlairvadachOEC! pic.twitter.com/2fCxi3RjYB
— Mosspark Pri & NC (@MossparkPS) February 8, 2019
A very simple and yet great way to share learning – lots of tutorials online and CPD available in using clips, so do check it out if you haven’t already.
Pic Collage (or similar)
Pic Collage is a great way to compile multiple photos into one image. As Twitter can only take four images at a time, instead of posting 7 tweets on the same subject to put out all of the photos, you can use Pic Collage. What’s more, Pic collage can be used for video as well as photos. We had great fun capturing some Slow Mo videos of the children jumping into “the jacuzzi” but couldn’t add them all into the clips due to the length of time available, so used pic collage to merge some.
I took my Olympus Tough and GoPro with me, both of which are old and I didn’t mind too much having them on the course. These weren’t for me to use though. As there were only three teachers, but four groups, and we wanted to capture every activity that the children did, some of our camera club children were in charge of documenting their activities if there was no school teacher with them. They loved this responsibility, and it meant that we had evidence from all of the activities.
Whilst you may not have a camera that you are willing to take, there are normally old school or class cameras that have become almost redundant now that we have iPads: why not take these and let the children record some of their experiences on activity!
Heres some of the footage taken by one of our children:
— Mosspark Pri & NC (@MossparkPS) February 4, 2019
Waterproof Phone Cases
The best and most simple thing that you can take with you to ensure that you don’t miss a moment is a cheap waterproof phone pouch. An example is one like this that I took with me for the other two staff on the trip – it was a two-pack so worked out really cheap in the end!
I do hope that there were some ideas that you can take from this – even just by looking at our twitter hashtag you’ll be able to see how we, and indeed the instructors, were using twitter to engage families and our wider school community. Some of the responses from parents have been fantastic, and truly make it all worthwhile.
I hope that you all have a great week,