Aliens in Heathfields?

Last week when the DeFT digital meadow was up and running in the Winter Gardens we attracted a lot of public interest.  One member of the public expressed her disapproval of the uses of digital technologies in schools.  “Children should be outdoors, running about, getting muddy… not stuck inside in front of one of those screens all day!”

She would have been thrilled to see Rob Hobson’s project in action!

There was not much mud involved, but there was a lot of the “outdoors” and “running about”! Rob’s aim for the project is to “give children a wider understanding of how ICT use can be taken out of its usual constraints.”  He certainly did that!

His project was launched with a “happening” in Heathlands Park.  It was rumoured that a spaceship has crash in a bit of wasteland  not far from the school.  The children in Rob’s class reported on this event, giving news releases, photographing the crash landing, and interviewing the public who had witnessed strange occurrences in the neighbourhood.  All this information required imagination, creativity and technical know-how to produce! It was so exciting that some members of the class forgot they were reluctant readers and writers. Everything they created was put onto designated webspaces by the Y6ers and QR codes were fabricated to link to these websites.

When all this careful preparation had been completed, a chosen few placed the QR clues in carefully selected places in Heathlands Park.  You can see the QR trail here .  Finally the hunt for clues could start.

Later that Friday afternoon, two classes of children were accompanied to the park where they were set lose with ipods equipped with  QR readers.  Their brief was to locate the clues, access the websites, find out what had happened, and piece together the story.  Because there was no internet connection in the park, Rob had provided mifis which provided wifi access to groups of 5 children with ipods.  The group of five could not stray far from the mifi carriers, who were dressed in bright yellow jackets, so cooperation was essential!

Children shared information, discussed clues, and fed back their thoughts to a blog that had especially been set up for the occasion.  People’s versions of what really  happened can be read here .  If you happen to be passing Heathlands Park, you can find the clues yourself,  send in your ideas to the blog, and add to the stories.

It was an exciting afternoon, and everybody enjoyed it tremendously.  In the midst of all this action the treasurer for the Heathland Community Park wandered onto the scene.  He had never heard of QR codes, and thought it would be a wonderful way of disseminating information about the park.  He watched the children working with their ipods, and realised that the general public could also interact with QR codes in this way with their own mobile devices.

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