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The Real Conversation Is Taking Place… But Where?

April 1, 2007

Piper At The Gates Of YpresAs you may have noticed, I’ve been a bit busy over the past week taking 40 pupils to the WW1 Battlefields of France and Belgium. I’d hoped to have been blogging and posting more to the dedicated blog I set up for the trip but intermittent access to a PC, Windows 2000, and my complete lack of skill on French AZERTY keyboards meant I spent more time looking after the kids and less time posting. Having got back, I’ve managed to post quite a few photos to the flickr page, and also added the first of the aftermath pieces I want to write for the pupils on the blog. All in all, I’ve done what I can to make the trip live on a little longer for the pupils… but where are the comments?

I really expected the pupils to want to post some comments on the photos/blog, but have been struck by the resounding silence… until tonight. One of the pupils let me into the big secret — the conversation is going strong, but it’s not on anything I’ve set up. If I want to find out what’s being said, I need to brush off my Bebo user name and start searching…

I think we need to remember at times that the pupils are more than capable of carrying on a discourse without our involvement, and that we ignore this at our peril. In the course of following links from the pupils photos, I found out what English homework some of them had been doing, and also who had done it first and passed it on to the others. I’m impressed! It takes the copying on the bus to a whole new level and, while on the one hand it’s ‘cheating’ and doesn’t make you any better at English (that only comes at University where they teach you to copy from lots of people and call it research), on the other hand I admire the ease with which they are exchanging information.

So, the next time you think what you say in the classroom is being ignored, perhaps you should log onto Bebo or Myspace to find out just how right – or in my case, wrong – you are.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. April 2, 2007 6:57 am

    Hi,
    I’ve blogged a few trips with children and we always got comments from parents while we were away. The parents used the blogs to keep up with what their children were doing. The first one we blogged (2005) less than half the parents had internet access, but they passed round photos and text printed off from those that did.
    I guess your children took mobiles with them and kept in touch that way?

  2. April 2, 2007 7:58 am

    Yes… lots of mobiles. Quite a few were using their mobile phone cameras rather than a standalone camera. Product convergence is definitely the way forward…

  3. April 4, 2007 7:05 am

    I am afraid we are too draconian to allow phoning, even before mobiles we had call free trips. Avoids the problem when child phones home in floods of tears, mum/dad travels all the way to outdoor centre to find said child happy. Probably more a problem in primary than secondary.

    When you checked out bebo what sort of conversations were the children having, do you think it was valuable from an educational pov, did it help whatever aims you had for the trip?

  4. April 4, 2007 8:36 pm

    With regards to mobile phone usage, I’m not too bothered as long as the kids know just how much it costs to use them in France… and they come in to their own at Disneyland as they allow us to set the kids free with a contact number (the only stipulation being that they are never on their own… they are always in a minimum group of two people). But I appreciate that it would be a completely different ball-game with a different group of pupils from the ones we took…

    The most common topic of conversation appears to be a general “that was amazing” (usually with an Anglo-Saxon adjective inserted somewhere!)… there are also a hardcore group who want me to take them back again and go to sites I mentioned but didn’t have time for (like Verdun and the Sambre Canal)…

    I think what they’ve learned more than anything is that, while you hear about numbers of casualties and why a particular battle was important in History, you don’t really think of the fact that these numbers were real people.

    Ironically (as we didn’t have a History teacher with us this time), I think I’ve succeeded in bringing history to life for them, and this should (I hope) have repercussions for their overall attitude to things they see in the news…

    One last point. It’s been interesting seeing the contrast between the participants and their friends. A lot of the comments from those not on the trip are about trivialities, for example about why they are wearing their ties up to the collar at the Menin Gate. The participants know why, and I think they are already realising that they know a little more about the world and what might be considered important than those that didn’t go… without meaning to be pretentious (and knowing I sound it) I think those on the trip have all grown up a good bit on the trip…

  5. April 5, 2007 8:08 am

    Hi Neil,
    Thanks for taking the time to reply in detail.
    I am very impressed with the difference between the participants and others, I guess with bebo there was the worry in my mind all the chat would have been about ties. I am reassured.

  6. May 8, 2007 6:18 pm

    Hi there,

    just stumbled across your blog in the blogosphere, and thought I’d pass on a great tool that I’ve just found. When I took a group to Madrid in February, I got so frustrated at the lack of internet connection, thwarting many of my over-optimistic plans. However, for this week’s Ten Tors event down here in the south (www.edgehillcollege.typepad.com/ten_tors) I’ll be using http://www.shozu.com . You can download it onto your phone, and can send pictures directly to wordpress, flickr, and even send videos to blip.tv, which will then cross-post to the blog- allowing you to keep people up to date as soon as anything interesting happens!

    Hope it’s useful,

    Chris

  7. May 8, 2007 7:52 pm

    Hi Chris,
    Thanks for the link. ShoZu looks really useful… and may just be the justification I need to get a new phone! (My current one is getting on the old side… eg: it boasts a 3pixel camera – a black pixel, a grey pixel and a white pixel!)

    Did you read my earlier SchoolTrip2.0 post? It might be of interest.

    Good luck on the Ten Tors!

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