Yesterday I had the privilege of taking part in an Education Expo at VIU: a trade-fair-style show on the topic of education, with several booths and exhibits in which people could participate.
The depth of research and preparation that went into the expo very much impressed me. Many of my cohort, as well as other student-teachers and educators, shared from their experience and knowledge, offering useful suggestions on how to make education better in some way. I can honestly say that I learned some very useful tips and strategies within the span of just a few hours.
My group’s booth was on the subject of mobile devices in the classroom. We felt that since—like it or not—mobile devices are already in the pockets and bags of nearly all secondary students these days, we may as well leverage those devices’ full capability as a tool to add to education rather than distracting from it.
In short, I was quite proud of our presentation and for the effort I and my co-presenters put into the project! My major role was to build a website about Mobile Devices in the classroom that contained links to, and reviews of, several subject-specific education apps. My classmate Sam built a lovely presentation board to which visitors could add their thoughts via Post-It notes (we got some great ideas!). She also designed business cards with a QR code linking to the website I created. All of us chipped in by writing app reviews for the website, buying goodies for the guests, and using various pieces of technology to showcase some of the apps we found, and we each had expertise in certain areas, which enabled us to at least partially answer every question we came across!
There were a few ideas we had—particularly when it came to the visitor experience at the booth—that we began investigating for the possibility of making our booth even better, but most of those ideas were ultimately abandoned due to their high cost. In retrospect, it may have been fun to coordinate more with the group presenting beside us, since they had a very similar theme to their booth.
Overall, though, our visitors generally seemed to quite enjoy our exhibit! Our 3D atlas app was a big hit, as was our website (several other educators in the room stated that they’d been looking for apps like the ones we were demonstrating). We also played some relevant videos on the side, and demonstrated on an iPad some of the other apps we’d chosen.
We were asked to self-assess, so here are the grades I would give our group:
- Draw: 4/4 We had a beautiful presenter board, intriguing video, and fun, playable apps at the ready. We even had chocolate to give out!
- Assessment: 2/4 Although we did integrate assessment into our booth, it was done so indirectly, in that one of our apps, NearPod, can be used for assessment in class. Assessment of our visitors wasn’t considered in great detail.
- Appearance: 4/4 As above, given the compliments we received, I believe we had a very visually appealing booth.
- Choreography & Experience: 3/4 Our visitors told us they enjoyed our exhibit, which to me signifies excellence with regard to experience. However, since we were not necessarily choreographed—we adapted our presentations to the interests of each visitor—we probably should not have full marks here.
- Content: 3/4 The information we had was excellent, though I do feel that if we had had more time, we could have found, reviewed, and posted more apps on our website.
- Expertise: 4/4 Everyone in our group had different but equally impressive experiences on the subject, and we all felt comfortable sharing those experiences.
- Questions: 4/4 Most of our presentation board was open for visitors to be able to lend their thoughts on various topics to Post-Its, which they could affix. We also received several questions from many of our guests, which the group answered expertly.
- Take-Aways: 4/4 Our business cards were complimented several times as being fun and simple, and I believe our website is full of useful information, organised in a beautiful way.
One of the greatest advantages of working in a team is the ability to give each other feedback. Thankfully our group had a very safe, open atmosphere where suggestions were not only tolerated, but appreciated. Not all of our ideas made it through to the final product, but each person felt free to voice their ideas or concerns with no embarrassment or fear of judgement.
Thus, we were constantly giving each other feedback throughout the creation and execution of our exhibit, and I truly believe it was better for it. For example, there was one situation when I suggested we use a vertical presentation board. We thought about it—even drew a model of exactly what should go where on the board—but eventually we realised, due to the supplies we had and the greater ease of fitting a horizontal board into our display, that the idea needed to be rejected. However, because the suggestions were phrased politely and constructively, I didn’t feel negatively about the team’s decision at all; in fact, we all worked together to create a better horizontal board. This happened a few times, and no one felt badly about being overruled. I believe that’s the best kind of formative feedback!