Some adventures are so powerful, they should be shared. Does your school district have a robotics team headed to the national championship, a history teacher spending the summer touring Holocaust sites, or a superintendent studying education systems abroad?
Sharing a unique travel or education experience through a blog is one way students, parents and educators can participate in the adventure and use it as a springboard to learning in the classroom. It can also be used to entice your local news media to cover the story.
Recently, my district had the opportunity to try this when my superintendent joined a group of Oregon educators for a two-week education shadow experience in China. Bob was excited about blogging, but being a technology novice, he needed my help formatting and posting the blog text and photos he sent daily from China.
This is Bob’s travel blog. Here are some strategies we used to build and publicize the blog:
1) Test the technology: Before your blogger begins the trip, make sure the traveler has the tools needed to transmit text and photographs. Can he take and send a cell phone photo? Could there be any government censorship of his communications? Is his cell phone plan set up for international communications?
2) Provide a pre-trip photography lesson: Encourage your traveler to take and send lots of photos. Remind her of the importance of zooming in for a close-up of her subject. Stress the importance of variety – from street scenes, action shots and home life to tourist attractions and food.
3) Suggest topics: With the needs of your audiences in mind, send the traveler questions from the community and ideas on what to write about. A copy of the travel itinerary will help the blog poster anticipate what’s next.
4) Establish a routine: Aim for daily posts, if possible. Be sure to anticipate the time zone and date differences.
5) Edit text and enhance photos: Travelers are jet-lagged, busy and tired, so take a few minutes to edit their blog posts to focus on high-interest topics. Cropping and lightening is an easy way to boost the quality of photos before posting.
6) Link to more information: If your traveler blogs about a location, a custom, a food or an art form, link the text to a website on that topic. That way students and other blog readers can easily learn more about it.
7) Clarify travel funding: If the travel is grant funded or personally funded, say so. Stating this multiple times will prevent the misperception that district staff are traveling abroad at district expense.
8) Publicize the blog: Make your community aware of the blog through school and employee newsletters, Facebook, Twitter, list serve news and the website.