In today’s world, there’s no way to avoid technology, which means you’re better off embracing and managing it.
As all parents and educators know, technology certainly has the potential to distract. Practically every single student has a smartphone at this point. What you don’t want is for tech to overshadow the experience, instead of students soaking up the world around them and talking to each other.
That said, a no-phone policy is basically impossible to enforce for an entire school trip, and it’s missing out on potential learning opportunities. Nowadays, there are more ways than ever for students and teachers alike to use their phones to actually enhance a school trip, rather than detract from it. Here are a few of our tech tips.
ESTABLISH TECH-FREE TIMES
If students are mostly allowed to use their phones, they should be able to handle moments without them. Consider tech-free times during particularly important moments, such as when addressing the group with plans, or when experiencing a reverent cultural practice. If needed, have chaperones collect and hold onto phones temporarily, to avoid any temptation.
REITERATE THE IMPORTANCE OF SAFETY
Smartphones are at a high risk of being lost, broken or stolen while on tours. Make sure students have security measures set, and at least try to keep them from dropping their phone off a cliff or into a river.
CELEBRATE PHONES AS A WAY TO PROCESS AND DOCUMENT THE WORLD
You might think it’s best for students to be tech-free during all experiences, but for many of them, being able to take pictures and record video is an essential part of how they process things. Remember, at this point, they’ve all grown up with this technology and are attached to it. What better way to make and capture memories than with photos and video?
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF ALL THE NEW TECH AT DESTINATIONS
Many museums and other venues have added ways to enhance the experience with phones. From bespoke apps to QR codes to augmented reality, there are tons of ways students can use their phones to dive even deeper into an experience, rather than being distracted from it. Look online for these opportunities before you go!
USE PHONES TO COMMUNICATE EFFICIENTLY
The joy of technology is that if a student isn’t in sight, you can text or call them, rather than walking around a museum yelling their name. Designate a specific form of communication and use that consistently so students and chaperones know what to watch for.
DOWNLOAD TRAVEL APPS
Most people already know to have apps like Google Translate and WhatsApp ready for trips, but there are so many more. Flush locates public restrooms. Timeshifter manages jet lag. PackPoint helps determine what to bring. And check out Group Travel Videos, which lets you keep track of others in your group, makes group texting simple, helps share documents, allows private photo sharing, and more. Some tour operators even have their very own app!