Journal via text messaging during field trip

Last week I took my physics students on a field trip to the Yerkes Observatory and the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.  This is the forth year I’ve done this trip, and each year I offer the students a variety of assignments to pick from.

This year I added text messaging as one of the assignments.  Students used their cell phone to journal about things they saw while on the trip.

Students send their messages to an account they created at Twitter.com. Twitter is a micro-blog that allows you to post messages (up to 140 characters long) from the web or from your cell phone. The site also allows you to follow other people’s posts; this makes Twitter an impressive networking tool. (Note: there are many teachers exchanging ideas on Twitter; you can find me at: twitter.com/basler.)

Twitter on field trip

I took advantage of the social networking side of Twitter by setting up an account that followed all my students as they posted messages during the trip.  The students who couldn’t go on the trip were able to watch their classmates add messages in real time.

Here is a sample of the messages posted by my students.

You should keep a few things in mind if you plan to use Twitter.

  • Students may incur fees when texting from a cell phone. My assignment wasn’t required; student could pick another assignment if they didn’t wish to send text messages.
  • Twitter is blocked at many schools.  My students had to set up their accounts at home.
  • Make sure your students set up and test the service. I had all my students get things working before the trip.
  • As always, remind your students to not disclose personal information online. For example, all my students used fake names for their username at Twitter.

One thought on “Journal via text messaging during field trip

  1. Thanks for the idea! I used Twitter with my physics students yesterday when we visited a maglev train test track. The field trip was amazing and I was impressed at how well the Twitter worked out. Lots of students were twittering on the bus ride home — every teacher’s dream.

    I think Twitter on a field trip might take a little getting used to for students, so I’ll be using it again with the same kids. Several commented as we got on the bus, “I forgot to Twitter.” Partly this was due to how well the hosts held our attention…even better!

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