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Recently, Brad Currie (@bradcurrie) did a blog post about digital tools he used during a field trip. In reading Brad’s posting, it encouraged me to think about my own digital practices during a trip to our State Capitol in Austin, TX. So, I wrote this post in response to Brad’s original posting on his blog.

A few weeks ago, my 4th grade teachers and I took about 80 fourth graders to Austin, TX where we toured the State Capitol and explored TX History in the Bob Bullock Museum. I enjoyed this trip not only because it was the first time these students have tour the Capitol building, but also it was the first time for my teachers too. It was great watching the teacher expressions as they also created a new experience for themselves.

(Even as a principal, I get to enjoy seeing teachers learn too!)

4th Grade in Austin

For this trip, we used several digital tools to keep us organized. Here’s are a list tools we used this trip:

1. Social Media – I love sharing real-time updates of our student activities. I took several pictures and shared them on our Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter accounts for parents to enjoy! We often get the most “likes”, “favorites”, and comments on our social media when I share what students learning. Our stakeholders love seeing our students creating their own learning experience.

2. Remind 101 – This is a FREE service where teachers can share updates with parents/students safety. It’s a text messaging service where neither party has the other person’s phone number. Also, it’s a one-way communication system from teacher to parents/students. This tool helped us keep parents updated with our trip itinerary (arrival and departure times). It was especially helpful on our return trip and we were delayed back to campus because of traffic (Brad had some experience with this issue too – who doesn’t?!?)

3. Maps for iOS – I used this app to help navigate us through Austin, TX. Our bus driver wasn’t very familiar with this city so I helped with directions around downtown. I know many people have been critical of app. But for me, I love the layout and experience (the UI) more than Google Maps. However both are great apps for traffic updates, road trip times, and more.

4. Google Drive – My teachers shared their travel budget with me via Google Sheets. We were able to collaborate about the cost of T-shirts, buses, meals, etc. Also, teachers used Google Slides to create a presentation to communicate the cost of the trip, itinerary, and other important information to parents. We hosted a parent information night at the school and then later posted the presentation online other parents to view.

After listed of some of the tools we used, it got me thinking about other tools we could have used during this trip (blogging allows me to reflect on this experience so I can improve on it next time). Listed below are two suggestions I would use for next year.

5. Voxer – This is a app that allows your phone to work like a walkie-talkie. It can be used to communicate with the other staff members on the trip — to help locate students who aren’t with their Chaperone (that didn’t happen on this trip — of course).

6. Photo Sharing – Nowadays many people use smartphones to take photos during field trips. Often I have people who want copies of my pics or I want theirs. Generally I post most pics on Social Media and give out the link to interested parties — but I still want copies of their pics. One solution is using the Photostream option for iOS devices. It allow users to share photo streams with others. Even though you can share a link to these photos with anyone, only iOS users can add to the stream. Other tools like Flickr, Shutterfly, and Photobucket aren’t device specific but require an account to use.

I want to thank Brad for the idea of this blog post. Be sure to check out Brad’s original blog posting. Next time you plan a trip in a Museum, Football game, or to a Band Competition… give some of these tools a try. Perhaps it will help you create a richer experience for you, the students, and their parents.