The 'Field Trip' you wish you attended!

I am the P-12 Digital Learning Coordinator of Nambour Christian College. I am interested in developing a learning community in new ways and am convinced the Apple iPad provides opportunity for students and teachers to engage in new educational endeavours that enhance education and promote creativity and productivity. Providing parents and families are involved and engaged in the school's technological program the community will thrive.

We have iPads as 1:1 from Year 4-12 and have iPad class sets in Junior Primary. Including staff tablets we have approximately 1100 iPads connected to our AeroHive network. We have two Mac Labs and numerous learning spaces dedicated to research and completion of Industrial Technology and Graphic Design projects. In addition we use Apple TV and AirServer within classrooms to aid presentations and workflow.

At the commencement of 2013 we introduced iPads to assist teaching and learning. The agile devices cater for the demands of twenty first century education and the needs of 'C Gen'. Students want to connect, consume content, create and collaborate with peers and the world at large. The Apple iPad addresses these requirements. The device is light, has an excellent battery life, online and phone support is available and students can navigate the interface with ease to complete work tasks. The ability to use native applications improves productivity and organisation while the freedom to install applications allow students to become autonomous and independent learners.

To aid coaching I wanted to design a unique concept for a learning community. Students are provided the opportunity to become a mentor within the school community through an expression of interest. After applying, demonstrating their skills and completing an interview, successful applicants become an 'iPad Genius'. Their role is to provide coaching for teaching staff, students and parents. The students enjoy working with their peers and as an added incentive those that have provided best counsel are invited to shadow an employee of the Brisbane Apple Store and be involved in 'Field Trip'.

Throughout 2013 the iPad Geniuses presented at Staff Meetings and student assemblies. The students that showed the most initiative and assistance and demonstrated a positive attitude were invited to visit the Brisbane Apple Store. The 'Field Trip' took place on Friday 7th March 2014. Coordinating the event took many months, however, due to an outstanding network with personnel the day was well organised. I selected six students to be involved in 'Field Trip'.

We caught public transport and left the Nambour Train Station at 6:57 AM. The journey down was long, however, the students occupied themselves with work tasks and activities to pass time. For some students it was their first time catching the train. We arrived at Central Station just before 9:00 AM. We made a quick commute by foot to a nearby park and enjoyed morning tea. After our snack we crossed the road and arrived at the incredible new Brisbane Apple Store. The students were excited as I was also. Among the team were two students from Year 7, Year 8 and two students from Senior School. From my understand the event was the first of its kind in Australia. We are honoured to have been the first school to be involved in the educational partnership. There was a professional photographer capturing the event and I also captured many images and footage. For information about 'Field Trip' can be explored via the Apple Website.

We were greeted upon entry and escorted to a nearby workbench where the students took a seat at the modern and well equipped tutorial area. They each received a yellow shirt to commemorate the special event. The students were then taken on a guided tour of the store and shown a little about store operations. After twenty minutes the students were introduced to the Store Manager and then returned to their desk area. The students were educated in a few tips and tricks in iPad Settings. Among the new skills students learnt how to take advantage of Switch Control and Assistive Touch. In addition the students were educated in new skills in regards to Siri and keyboard shortcuts.

After approximately one hour the students used their iPadAir to walk around the complex and take photos of Brisbane City. Once several artistic images were captured they received personal coaching in how to use iPhoto to create incredible images. There was also opportunity for the students to ask several questions to receive new insight into Apple and the services they provide.

After the workshop the students thanked the educational team and were provided opportunity to browse the store. Several students interacted with staff and asked questions about stock and security. We then proceeded to David Jones to travel down the escalators to the food court to share in lunch.

We ate together and debriefed. From our discussion we decided 'Field Trip' is an excellent idea and something our College must embed within our school culture and calendar. The students shall take their new learning to staff and present at upcoming staff meetings and also share their learning at lunchtime workshops. Photos and videos from the day will be used to construct an iMovie and this film will be showcased at school assemblies. The video should increase the popularity and interest in using iPad technology to improve education and collaboration. The students suggested that we take more students in 2015 and perhaps their could be two groups of students doing different activities at the same time and change on a rotational basis. They also commented that it would be advantageous for other schools to be involved.

After our debrief we returned to the Train Station. I purchased a coffee and sat on the train and shared my images with students using AirDrop. The day was an incredible opportunity and one I am privileged to have been involved in the process of coordinating. The day was memorable and one of the highlights for me was seeing the students learn and discover and have a renewed interest in sharing their experiences with friends.


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