Integrating Technology in a School Trip
Arranging a school trip for your class or for an entire grade at the beginning of the new school year can be a marvelous opportunity to build cohesion and a shared experience in which teachers and students can participate. At Appleby College, for the past several years, the entire Grade Nine (a.k.a. Upper One) student body of some 100 individuals, along with ten teachers, has taken part in a four day interdisciplinary trip to strategic sites in northern Ontario. As anyone who has ever planned an excursion of this size can tell you, there are numerous details to be considered and arranged before the buses arrive and the adventure begins. This year, the planning for the trip included something new. A website was specially created for the tour and a printed triptik was provided for all participants.
The website was created by a faculty member who received the interdisciplinary academic input from teachers in each department within the school and then posted it online. Teachers were able to include graphics along with their text and the material was online several weeks before the trip took place, allowing everyone to visually appreciate how the trip was being organized and what requirements were being made. In addition to each department's material, a set of 35 hyperlinks to sites on the Internet were created, these sites having been noted as particularly important to students on the subjects ecology, history, social science, language, and other areas which were reflected in their assignments.
As well, a full itinerary, maps of the areas to be visited, and hyperlinks to websites of institutions which the group would be attending, such as Science North, were available. Of particular interest was the decision to send one faculty member on the trip with an Apple Powerbook and an Apple digital camera. During each day of the four day trip, this teacher took numerous photographs of students visiting the sites and, along with a text description, selected 4 or 5 images to send as e-mail attachments to the "webmaster" back at the school each evening. These images were then uploaded onto the trip website for viewing the next morning by the school community, including the very interested parents of the students on the trip.
Integrating this kind of technology proved to have numerous benefits; in particular, the sense of virtual reality created through communicating in a time sensitive manner to those not actually on the tour. Also, because parents had been able from the beginning of the planning to see the components of the tour being assembled online, they felt in touch with the academic requirements their children faced in a way which had previously not been available.
When the journeyers returned to the school, more digital images were taken from the Powerbook and uploaded onto the website to add to the fullness of the experience. In addition, student writing and visual artwork were added to complete the adventure. The last step in the process of integrating technology into this school trip was to make everything available to the wider educational community-at-large and, to this end, Appleby College will leave the entire Upper One Interdisciplinary Trip website online for the next six months in order that interested administrators, teachers, and students can log on and, hopefully, find inspiration to build technology into their own school trips. The site is available at:<http://intranet.appleby.on.ca/events/SUDBURY/main.htm>
Using ProView software, information on our trip was distributed to all computer platforms on our campus. Download Trip View and it should open on your computer. (Note: This is a large file and may take about 30 minutes to download with a 28.8 modem.)
Written by David Boyd