IKT-Tips: GPS-baserad scavanger hunt

(en artikel från min andra blogg)

What a day we've had! Almost a clear blue sky and a shining sun - we couldn't have asked for better weather. Everything else went as planned and as the "brain behind the event" I am really happy and satisfied. I had my worries yesterday - what do I do if Pinwheel suddenly goes offline? What happens if all the pins for some reason were deleted or turned invisible or whatever? All that worrying for nothing, really, as it turned out to work perfectly. Here is a bit of evaluation of today's "Stockholm City Smartphone Scavenger Hunt 2012" with the students from Ösbyskolan, Stockholm, Sweden.

A couple of months ago we started to plan a half a day out and about in Stockholm with our students. Even if they all live in an area only 30-40 minutes bus ride from Stockholm city, most of them have not been in Stockholm that much apart from the typical shopping areas. Our goal was from the start to offer our students a  way to discover the city and learn about important places such as museums, buildings, historical sites etc. But the question was: how do we do it?

This is where I started to think about using smartphones to navigate around the city. But in order to do this I had to find an app or a service that could help me setting up some kind of a map that the students could use to find certain spots and places. First I thought that Foursquare perhaps could be a good start, but its idea with venues was not what I needed. I needed something that would let me create a map with many points of interest (POI) that would only be visible to certain people. I found Pinwheel, a US based start-up that is in Beta at the moment. With help from the Pinwheel staff, I could offer my students beta access and this meant that I could create in Pinwheel, a set of "pins" that only my students could see.

32 tasks and missions
All in all I pinned 32 pins (POIs) to the map, each pin in a specific location and containing a specific task or mission for the students to do. A task could be things like "What happened in this building 1968?", "What was the name of the Swedish prime minister who was murdered here and what year was it?"

All correct answers generated points. At each pin/location the group could earn more points by uploading a group photo of the group posing at the exact location, to a Facebook group that I had set up for this event.

The pilots
The mobile view of Pinwheel with pins
Apart from the software and the smartphones I obviously had to face the question of how to solve the issue that not all students have smartphones with unlimited data plan, which was needed in order to use Pinwheel and upload photos. Out of 60-70 students, 15-16 year old, I'd say 80-85% of them have smartphones with unlimited data plan and I bet in less than half a year, all of them will. Anyway, this was solved by using one or two students in each group as "pilots". These pilots were to navigate the group around the city, do the photo uploading and to make sure the group found the correct spot and carried out the tasks and missions. I met with all the pilots a couple of days ahead to send them invites to Pinwheel and make sure they knew how to use the map and the pins.

What you see when you click on a pin
In the mobile version of Pinwheel the pilots could navigate through all the tasks and mission and by clicking on the icons/pins, they could see the full note/information on the task or mission to complete at the location.

All this went very smoothly and I didn't hear about anyone having any problem using Pinwheel in their smartphones. One neat thing about Pinwheel is that I get notified when someone discovers my pins. I could actually sit with my cup of coffee watching my students "find" (tap on) my notes and I could say: "Sara is at the Central station now!". With 20 groups out running around in Stockholm city, that feed of "finds" soon became quite busy.

The Facebook group
The Facebook group
In order to get more points the groups had to shoot and upload a photo of them posing at the specific location. When I planned this I wasn't first really sure how to do this, if they should upload and create a pin in Pinwheel or if there was an easier way. Facebook turned out to be the perfect way to do it. I simply created a Group in Facebook for this purpose and added all the pilots. Shortly after we sent the groups away out on the streets of Stockholm, the Facebook group started to fill up with photos of groups posing. I and the rest of the teachers sat down at a café watching the magic happen - smiling, laughing, commenting on each photo, encouraging.... Brilliant!

And not to forget, now we have hundreds of awesome photos of our students to put together into a photo show for their graduation in June! Photos they have taken themselves! Now, that's a bonus we love :)

Monitoring the event
Working hard or hardly working? Well, teachers monitoring
the game while it happens - gotta be hard work!
We were about 10 teachers watching the game from "the outside", at a nice café, with a cup of coffee and a greasy Danish (with blueberry jam and custard). From here we could monitor both the Pinwheel feed of "new finds" and the action going on in the Facebook group. This was pretty amazing if you ask me. To sit here, watching the notifications in the Facebook window flash red, watching all the amazing photos from our students who were running around in Stockholm, watching all these photos of happy, smiling, awesome kids. If we liked them before this, we love them now!

My part of the event ended here and the rest of it, the calculating points and all that, I left to my colleagues. And they did it without complaining, thank god.

Concussion and evaluation
Some of the happy students
It was a success. Everything worked out as I hoped, even beyond expectations. Thank you Pinwheel for helping me out with the beta invites! Thank you colleagues for doing the boring stuff and thank you students for proving that education, school and teaching can be done by using smartphones, by using them as a tool for finding information and thank you for doing all these with smiles on your faces! You are truly awesome!

I am confident knowing that the students have learned more about Stockholm, its history and other important things about Sweden, our society and country. And now, I deserve 8 days of Easter holiday!

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