Hey there folks. I’m sorry I haven’t posted in a while but things have been crazy of late. We are in the midst of our second term and new challenge has arisen:
We have a very liberal policy for our lab, and in some ways that has created a new challenge for us. Students have found and fallen in love with Tanki, and online tank simulator. While I’m not against games in any way, our lab looks like a LAN Party from the early 2000’s most days during lunch and students who want to do work are hesitant to enter the lab.
Today we are trying something new. We are going to start directing students to use their “free time” to pursue their interests and try to learn new skills. While I know that gaming is a skill, we’re hoping to transform the lab from something like this:
To something more along the lines of this:
My hope is that students will start looking into developing their non-technical skills as well. This may necessitate purchasing some crafting materials, knitting supplies, etc. but it will be worth it in the long run!
I’m excited for tomorrow! Last week a team of teachers approached me with a problem. For the past few years they have been doing a scavenger hunt around the school and neighborhood to get students acquainted with our faculty and surroundings. They have always split the students up into groups and given them a list of places to take photos as well as actions to complete along the way. One of the biggest challenges they have faced has been collecting and organizing the images from students.
They wanted me to give them some advice, and were hoping that I’d have a quick tech solution for their situation. My hope was that I’d be able to find a good way for them to gather and organize their photos. In other words, I approached this by first starting small. I wasn’t sure what I’d find and with the relative time-crunch I didn’t want to aim too big. This initial search led me to the site DropEvent.
DropEvent is a great site that lets you create an event, share it via email and then collect and even moderate images. This sounded like it ticked off most of the boxes in their checklist. It creates a central place where users can email their photos and allows for moderation, captioning and even downloading of the images. It also provides a free account for 6 months, which is plenty of time to access and download the photos for longer-term storage.
It also has a pretty simple interface, which lessens the learning curve a great deal:
Students drop photos in this event by emailing them to event-specific email address that is generated when you create the event. This allows them to send files from any internet connected device, while the teacher (or student!) can view and later download them from the web interface. Once inside the event it is relatively easy to moderate. The approval process looks like this:
All-in-all, DropEvent seems like a great option for some activities. However, I wasn’t fully satisfied with the workflow. What’s more, I felt that it wasn’t really a higher-order use of technology. It felt as though there had to be something better out there; something that would be more interactive, fun, and exciting.
My goal for this year (as I mentioned in an earlier post on SAMR) is to try to help teachers create activities that redefine how they use technology in their classrooms. This often entails reimagining the activity itself. In the case of this scavenger hunt that meant a few things had to me modified:
Previously the students completed the tasks in order. The tasks were numbered and groups of students completed them more or less sequentially. Each region around school had a few tasks associated with it, so areas of school were crowded for a short time then empty. This seriously limited the students’ ability act independently or spontaneously.
One teacher had to do a huge amount of the work. The students would email one teacher with their images and he would try to create captions and folders to organize the images. This put a lot of the work on one person’s shoulders, and slowed down the processing time.
Instructions had to be pretty specific. I like the idea of having open-ended activities that give students the ability to improvise, have fun, and be creative. I wanted an app that untethered students from the task sheet and turned this activity into more of a game.
With these considerations in mind I discovered the world of scavenger apps. First I found Scavify (@Scavify) and it looked flashy, fully-featured, and device agnostic. It had a great looking site and a ton of great features. It uses your phone (Android or iPhone) to track participants progress, and seemed to be a polished and highly usable option when I first signed up.
The only problem, and it’s a big one, is that the site costs $2 per user and doesn’t offer a free version. This will certainly raise a few eyebrows in the educator community and definitely will deter most of my fellow educators from using it. If you have the money, it does look great and would be an awesome option.
Enter GooseChase (@GooseChase). I can’t begin to express how excited I am about this site!!! GooseChase has everything I was looking for and is free for personal use – up to ten groups. The interface is slick, it is device agnostic (Android and iPhone), and it turns a typical scavenger hunt into a gun game that others can watch in real-time. In this post I’m going to give an overview of how we set it up, how it works, and how it’ll make our scavenger hunt more fun than ever. In my next post I’ll go over how the hunt went, any challenges we face, our highlights, and student feedback.
Creating a game in GooseChase is easy. After you sign up for an account you will have the option to create a new game. Here is a brief overview of how we created the game:
Tomorrow we’ll be playing this game with our students. I’m so excited. I’ll update this tomorrow to let you know how it goes. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions please feel free to reply below.