Communicating from Canberra

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I have just returned from three days visiting’ Our Nations Capital’ Canberra. Canberra is a popular Year 6 excursion, since all stage three Australian students have to learn about Democracy and Government. It is also usual to try and cram in as many of its attractions as possible while there and so on our trip we visited the following places.

The National Film and Sound Archives
The Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House and an education session
A guided tour of New Parliament House and an education session
A guided tour of The National Gallery of Australia
The Australian Electoral Commission, with an interactive education session
The Australian War Memorial, including a guided tour and self guided exploration
The National Museum of Australia
The Australian Institute of Sport, for a tour and hands on session
A self guided tour of Questacon

What was new for us this year though, was that prior to leaving I had sent out an email to the parents of year 6, reminding them that we would be using social media to connect from camp. At my school we have a twitter account which all classes can use while on excursions and camps as well as a private Instagram account. We also have class blogs which can be updated from a phone using the edublogs app.

We had three days jam packed with activities and all the while we kept our parent body informed of our whereabouts with photographs and blog posts using only three teachers i-phones. Mr A had only just purchased his first smart phone but he soon became a whiz at using the app Instagram to send out photographs. Mrs W took to twitter and I used them all, even writing two blog posts while on the go. The only problem we encountered was the need to charge my older phone while on the go but thanks to our helpful bus driver Ken, we were able to do that using a charger that plugged into his cigarette lighter.

The overwhelming parent response has been positive. Viewing and reading about our trip as it happened allayed fears and helped anxious parents and children to feel closer to each other. It gave a unique ‘on the go’ perspective of our many activities. It was a fun way for us  to communicate and it helped staff back at school know what we were up to. It has also made me aware of the pressing need to offer more parent education in how to use social media themselves. I had assumed most of them would already know what Instagram was, when in fact many did not. Since their own children are rapidly taking to communicating in this way, I know it is vital that we assist our parents in catching and keeping up. We all need this so that we can monitor and help keep our children’s digital footprints as honest and safe as possible.

Further posts on this topic:

Communicating from Camp – How we used social media to communicate from camp earlier this year.

A room with a view – Do you understand just what your teenager might be using Instagram for?

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2 comments

  1. Hi, Henrietta. We did the same in Canberra this year and for parents who were 700km away in Melbourne it really calmed the nerves of some of the more stressed parents – we were away 5 days – two days is travel. It was a last minute decision by me to blog to settle down some parents who were having second thoughts and it did the job. The parents loved checking out the photos to see that all was well and many posted comments which I showed the kids. It was a good intro into the positive use of the net before we sent out our new IT policy to parents. In preparing for next years camp, we will be letting the parents know early that the blog wll be used again – I hope to get the students more involved – will take some iPads with us. I agree with you that parent education is important in social media and this is a good way to start.

  2. All of the three teachers using social media enjoyed it too Mark and it helped them become more familiar with the technology as well. Five days wow! That is certainly a big excursion and for some students a long way away from home. It must have been great for their parents to keep up with your news. I can really recommend Instagram too for fun photos, it is easy to keep private too, so only parents can view them.