Geocaching was a activity chosen for a Year 11 Girls group instead of doing Orienteering. I thought it would be a great opportunity to perform an activity that would utilise the use of the learners smart phones (that are used day in day out by the learners) and not GPS devices that the learners will rarely use.
Geocaching allows someone to hide a ‘geocache’ at a certain location and then post the GPS (Global Positioning System) on the internet for people to access. I had chosen to use a app called ‘Motion X GPS’ for the Iphone and this app allowed me to save locations as waypoints. For the pupils in the lesson to access the location, the GPS locations were tweeted on twitter (pupils were following me or the hashtag #PKKGEO) and the pupils then could open the link. The use of the learners smart phones (e.g. Blackberry, HTC, Iphone) allowed them to open the maps on their phones and assist them to find the ‘geocache’.
Over the 4 weeks i tried different tasks for the learners to do at the Geocache location and this allowed me to find out which one was the most effective for the learners within the lessons.
I tried each team having a envelope with three different items (for all four teams) and each item having a different number. See below;
At each location of the three Geocaches there was a different numbered ball, see below;
When a team arrived at a Geocache location, see below;
The teams would replace the ball with the corresponding number. For example, if a team was at Geocache 1 they would then leave the item with the number 1. Then the same for number 2. I would then know who has been to what Geocache first because of what item they had left over in their envelope at the end of the session.
During the lesson i located and tweeted the location of the Geocache. However, i had to make sure that the teams couldnt see where i was going to and it was hard to do this.
The learners enjoyed this approach but some of the learners found that it was a little complicated. Firstly, on what they left at each location. As when i went through the envelopes at the end some groups left 1 at 2 and 3 at 1 but it was still possible to track who went where at what time. Secondly, some of the phones couldnt access google maps and the learners suggested sending a photo hint of each location to help.
Week 1 wasnt perfect but it had its positives that the learners understood how to find the Geocaches and that all teams had been to all 3 locations within the lesson.
I tried using cards at 8 locations that had a task at each one. For example, take a photo of two of your teammates shaking hands. The learners would then send the photos via twitter to me and they would be allocated points for each photo.
The tweets of each location this week were pre set and i scheduled the tweets through tweet deck to be sent every minute from 2:10pm. However, i had set the links through my laptop and when the tweets were sent the link was dead. I then re-sent them on my Iphone and the learners could then access them. This week photo hints also were sent to help the learners with finding the Geocache. See below;
The approach this week again had its positives and negatives. The learners enjoyed the tasks at each location and the photo hints helped them to identify a area that the Geocache is in. However, if a team were quicker in locating a Geocache, other teams could see where they are going and follow. It then eliminates the use of the smart phone and in the end one team is doing the work for others. Also, teams were leisurely moving from Geocache to Geocache and i felt there was a need to speed things up.
One of the teams then suggested that we should have coloured tags at each location, teams have different starting positions and that i should tweet my position for the finish. I thought that this was a great idea and decided that we would incorporate this in Week 3.
Week 3 & 4:
After the feedback from the learners i chose to have 3 Geocaches all having 4 tags (different colour at each location) and at 3:00pm i would then tweet my location for the teams to find.
It worked really well, the teams found the Geocaches with ease and the learners told me that they were waiting for me to tweet my location. It definately added a twist to the delivery and the learners thoroughly enjoyed it. The only negative was that 3 Geocaches werent enough as teams were waiting for my loaction.
It worked that well that Week 4 we repeated this method but had 8 Geocaches and teams had 5 minutes to arrive at my location from 3:10pm. Meaning that the teams had to be tactical on how many they Geocaches they try and find due to the time limit.
The educational benefits of Geocaching are that learners can navigate each other from one GPS location to another, show understanding of maps, be able to recognise common features on the map, use spatial/ absolute distance judgement, competitive techniques and how to use their smart phone effectively in and outside a PE lesson.
I thoroughly enjoyed planning and delivering this Geocaching Scheme of Learning to the Year 11 group. Over the 4 weeks, it was a learning curve for the learners, colleagues and myself.
For full details of the ‘Geocaching at Djanogly Competition’ and to find out which team won, it can be found at; mrpkeirnanpkk.blogspot.com/
I am hoping that Geocaching will replace ‘Orienteering’ in PE and push PE into the 21st Century!