Friday, 3 December 2010

Connected Camp

Earlier this term I attended P6 Camp on the island of Wing Yi Chau in Sai Kung. Despite the fact that there was no wireless on the island we had decided we were going to try to make the experience more interactive and connected with the school community by using Twitter. Whist we would continue to use technology to photograph and record our visit, the use of Twitter would allow us to update our progress in real time.

We also used a couple of apps to track our progress, more of which later.

The micro-blogging service Twitter is an extremely useful tool, both as a means of communication and as a way of exchanging knowledge. Having used the service for nearly three years I am a big fan and would go as far as saying that it is an essential tool for teachers in the 21st Century, who need to continually strive to keep themselves up to date with new techniques, thinking and tools.

As a straight communication tool it proved to add an extra dimension for parents whose previous experience of camp was saying goodbye on the first morning and then opening up the bag full of unworn clothes on return.

Not only were we able to post text updates, we also used YFrog and Twitrpix to share photos, and TwitVid to post videos (although sadly students and colleagues within school were unable to view these due to the filtering service provided to us by PCCW!)

The service itself is very easy to use at it's basic level and I was hopeful that our community would see the opportunity to connect. I was staggered by how eagerly our parents used the service. Over 30 parents signed up to follow our tweets, with some of our photos being viewed over 150 times. Many parents took the opportunity to tweet back to camp to show messages of support and encouragement (or ask why their child wasn't wearing their hat?!)

There was also the opportunity for staff and students in school to follow the progress of camp. Many younger brothers and sisters were able to see what was going on. Three students in P3-10 were able to send greetings to their siblings, an act which must surely help to dispel and fears that younger students might have about their upcoming first camp.

All the feedback we've had since the trip has been extremely positive with parents saying that it added an extra dimension to the the whole visit.

It's certainly something we will continue to look at in the future whenever possible.

We were also able to use a couple of apps to track our progress, thanks to the iPhone. We used GPSMotionX to track our journey to Sai Kung, and Runkeeper to trace the walk from the pier to the camp. The screenshots below show some of the info we got back.

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