During last Tuesday evening’s #scichat blogging was the central focus of the conversation, in particular how we use blogs with our students. One of my comments that seemed to gain some traction was around field trips, compelling me to come out of my blogging slumber and revisit the topic I first touched on in June of 2010.
Over the past two years I’ve blogged two major field trips, my EcoClub’s April excursion to Costa Rica and the annual eighth-grade trip to Washington D.C.. At first much of the blogging was individually driven by me. Over the past year, however I was able to shift content creation into the student’s hands with a little help from Google Voice.
The concept was simple. While it can be difficult to get kids to sit, think and write during a field trip surrounded by friends in foreign places, asking students to reflect on their experiences with (of all things) their cell phones was a slamdunk. So before the trip I registered a Google voice account and, when the time was right, asked students to call the number and reflect on their experience in a recorded voicemail.
Google Voice is great in that it allows all recorded messages to be shared either as a link or as an embedded audio player. So when hotspots were available or a web café nearby I was able to quickly embed the student recordings onto the blog, publish and carry on with the day! Click on the player below for a perfect example: Kerry and Emily environmental impact reflections on a Crocodile / Wildlife tour experience along the Rio Tarcoles near Jaco, Costa Rica. (The full blog post of the experience can be found here.)
For those of you using iPads (and therefore can’t see flash,) Google Voice messages can also be accessed by creating a web link like the one here.
Should I have the opportunity to travel with middle or high school students again, my hope is to further diversify the student blogging experience with the help of twitter. By assigning a hashtag to the field trip and asking students to upload a reflective comments or photographs with their phones parents far away will get a better glimpse of their child’s unique perspective to the journey and the process of student reflection will be more shared and dispersed.