Thursday, April 23, 2009

Trip planning support for teachers

This piece of work was undertaken by a visiting student working on the project in summer 2007, as part of her thesis project. We consulted with and interviewed 5 teachers and used online questionnaire data from other teachers during her project. The following are derived from her data analysis and prototype preparation.

Main steps taken by teachers when school-trip planning
  • Contact the destination venue(s) and find out about the facilities offered
  • Liaise with assistant head teachers to discuss trip viability
  • Book the venue
  • Allocate staff/parents for managing the trip at the required teacher : pupil ratio
  • Consider and book transport
  • Inform parents and hand out consent forms

Reported problems during planning a trip

  • Time: minimal time for organisation and preparation
  • Money: there is sometimes funding available for special kind of trips e.g. Gifted and Talented, otherwise they are funded by parents or school funds
  • Risk assessments: necessary for everything, teachers don’t always know which assessments are necessary and may need advice
  • Consent forms: not always returned on time, often handed in to the wrong person
  • School calendar: printed once a year, difficulties to select a date that can be covered and staffed adequately. Some times of year e.g. before summer holidays, are more suitable
  • Work is repeated by more than one teacher: no exchange of skills and tips

Problems discovered during the trip

  • Teachers had to exchange their phone numbers between each other at start of day
  • Teachers carry around a lot of paper work during the trip
  • Teachers don’t know all the children who are taking part in a school trip: difficult for them to identify all the pupils belonging to their own group
  • Teachers don’t know all venue’s facilities beforehand

Vision of an authoring tool for teachers
  • The pupils play the role of end user of the materials produced by the Authoring System. These materials include letters, work sheets and messages send to the pupils’ mobile phones.
  • The parents as the legal guardians have to give their consent to everything their child does on a trip or activity outside the school. To get the permission from the parents the teachers have to send them a letter which informs the parents about the trip or activity and also contains a coupon for their attention ⇨ a consent form to be returned
  • The head teacher has to give his consent to the teachers’ plans. He has to be informed about the purpose of the trip and everything related to the trip like means of transport or accommodation if the trip takes longer than one day.
  • The staff members accompanying a trip are basically the same target group as the teachers. To guarantee the seamless flow in the phase of planning it is important that every teacher always submits his appointments to the school calendar.
  • The trip venues become stakeholders as well if they are allowed to advertise trips or activities in the Authoring System’s repository

Features and requirements for an Authoring System for teachers
  • Easy interface and use
  • Low mental load
  • Straight forward and clear structure, not too many functions
  • A central place for all the different forms
  • Centralize trip planning in one application
  • Rating system for reuse to facilitate teachers in re-use of materials or trip venues
  • Tabs for the different functions, clear separation and easy way of navigation
  • Integrate with school’s calendar for coordination of dates and free staff automatically suggested
  • Automatic check function for what tasks are remaining (different stages for documents)
  • Replacement for all the different sheets the teachers use at the moment
  • Replacement for consent form problem, identification via credit card
  • Financial model - venues pay for advertising their trips to teachers and schools
  • Repository for trips or activities

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