Guidelines for developing projects in MHM

Mobile History Map is a mobile application and a georeferencing platform that facilitates project-based service learning experiences. MHM allows teachers to motivate their students to design, create, and share relevant content with the objective to create projects than can serve a social purpose for their community, and the general public, while also developing the school curriculum and the student’s digital skills.

In this preparation phase teachers will learn how to decide what projects to work on, and how to know if their project has been successful.

First, you must identify a social need from your immediate context that your student can address.

It is also necessary to keep in mind any educational project your school may have.

In the case of MHM, the final product will be a game or a collection of content, which is made up of many points of interest with georeferenced information about the chosen topic.

In the end, it will all depend on the target audience of your “final project.” The key here is the group’s creativity and knowledge about the opportunities different technological tools can offer.

You, as the teacher, can decide what project topic to choose by adapting the project to another activity you have done in a different class, or by creating a new project. The decision can also be made with the students themselves.

- Make sure that the thematic area of the project is specific and that it useful for the community.

- Assess how the project fits in with the objectives and content of your curricular program and the educational level of your students.

- To add value to the final product work on creating the content in collaboration with local entities from your community.

- Think about how you will present the proposal to your students to make sure they are motivated and involved throughout the project and during its implementation. For example, students are often motivated by projects that add value to the community.

- Add activities that are of interest and importance to the students and that they are dedicated to carrying out.

- Structure the project around a question formulated as a challenge to motivate the students.

- Before starting the project determine who the end users of the project will be and what type of audience (families, students your own school or from other schools, the general public, etc.) will be the project beneficiaries. Think about which of the options and modalities available in MHM are best suited to the needs and characteristics of the planned project.

- Be realistic and consider a manageable ultimate objective taking into account: the available time to carry out the project, the characteristics of your group of students, the availability of digital tools necessary, and your knowledge and skills.

- To imagine and decide the final product that you can create make a list of all the digital tools and resources that you know of, and that you have readily available. If necessary, determine what type of help might be necessary from external entities and the viability of establishing collaboration agreements and the relationship that will need to be established.

- Know who should be in charge of establishing contact with external entities and establish how the relationship should be managed institutionally.

- Because the projects can be open for other classes or people to make contributions, and can be left open for as long as necessary, it isn’t necessary to georeference all the points at once.

Next it´s time to specify the content that will be worked on, and what competencies the students will acquire through the preparation, realization and evaluation of the project. Some of these competences are directly related to the type of content worked on, but there is also another set of competencies that is linked to three thematic areas involved in the methodological core of MHM: project-based/Service-Learning projects, collaborative group work and the use of digital tools.

Depending on the learning objectives established, the content, competencies and values ​​or attitudes that you want to evaluate must also be specified. Because your students will work individually and in groups it is important to take into account this double dimension.

Working on projects allows you as a teacher many opportunities for evaluation. Apart from typical student evaluation done by the teacher, you could also incorporate different evaluation modalities for the students: self-evaluation; evaluation between pairs; and within groups (co-evaluation).

We suggest the use of rubrics that allow students to become participants in their own learning process by making them more aware of their advances and difficulties (both in individual and group work). This will enable you to make the necessary decisions to reorient or reinforce the required competences. This will undoubtedly help to increase the degree of student involvement in their own learning process.

Because we want to evaluate the process not just the final product, it is important to give the students continuous feedback during the entire development process of the project.

- If your school has an educational project plan in place determine if your MHM project helps to realize any of those objectives

- Determine which subject, or subjects, can frame the content and competencies that are being developed.

- Predict how and when to do evaluations.

- Build an evaluation rubric with precise descriptions of the different levels of achievement for the competences being evaluated.

- Diversify the evaluation instruments used as much as possible. This will allow you to better adapt to the diverse ways your students learn.

Apart from the specific resources needed based on the project topic you have chosen, you must also keep in mind the basic technology needed for the realization of the project: mobile devices with connectivity to internet (ideally, you would have a device for every group of three to four students). We will use the devices in these ways:

First, as an audiovisual recording tool (to take photos, videos and audios) and to create the content of your itinerary.

Once the route and the geolocated points have been edited the devices will be used to test the content.

To create the necessary spaces where the information can be collected in a shared way: Google Drive, Moodle, Blogs, etc.

To access the platform of geolocalized content MHM, the setting from which you will create and edit the final product of the project with your students: http://mhm.mobileworldcapital.com

The next step in the development of the project takes us to the project planning stage: deciding what we will do and when we will do it.

We suggest that you establish a sequence of activities that takes into account three main parts:

INTRODUCTION

Motivational and introductory activities of the proposal. If you decide to involve students in this preliminary phase also include activities about the decision-making process related to the project design.

DEVELOPMENT

The main activities needed to realize the tasks to achieve the proposed learning objectives and to create the geolocalized itinerary of digital content.

Given the dynamic of working by projects, in this part we should develop activities that include:

Organization of group work and distribution of tasks.

Research and comparison of information.

Contact community entities that collaborate or participate in the project.

Content creation in diverse formats.

Publication and dissemination.

CLOSURE

Project completion activities that take into account the presentation and use of the finished product for the project beneficiaries, as well as the project evaluation mechanisms for the competences learned and the evaluation of the results of the project.

Once the pace and length of the activities has been defined, you will need to specify the development process of the project on your calendar.

- It is advisable to focus the student’s time dedicated to the project as much as possible. It is best to concentrate the work sessions (if possible, it is ideal that the students work continuously more than an hour and a half or two hours).

- It is important to help the students set milestones and a timeline; this will help them schedule their tasks within the calendar of available sessions.

- You will have to take into account the availability of economic and human resources (for example, you may need help from a colleague or from community entities that collaborate on the project).

- If necessary, coordination meetings with the entities that collaborate or participate in your project should also be included in the project planning.

- It is advisable to let the families know about the project and its requirements, especially with regard to image usage rights and if the project requires fieldtrips outside the school grounds. Prepare a document for the authorization of image use to be utilized in the interviews that the students do with other people.

This phase corresponds to the development or implementation of the project. Here it is advisable that the students create an audio-visual record of the experience, such as a “Daily-field report.” This audio-visual journal will be useful for analysis and dissemination of the project.

As the students are given more opportunities to participate and lead the project, you will also see that the students become more motivated and involved in the project. Because of this, we suggest counting on the students as much as possible from the beginning, giving them the opportunity to be responsible for the planning and management of some aspects of the project.

Depending on the learning objectives established, the content, competencies and values ​​or attitudes that you want to evaluate must also be specified. Because your students will work individually and in groups it is important to take into account this double dimension.

In the creation of working groups, it is advisable to establish criteria that will result in heterogeneous groups with enough capabilities to carry out the assigned tasks. It is important to seek, whenever possible, maximum diversity within groups in terms of emotional profiles, styles of learning and competences needed to develop.

- Groups usually have a maximum of three to four members to promote the involvement of all students.

- Distribute the tasks equally between the different groups and clarify the role and the responsibilities of each group within the overall project.

- Establish clear operating rules shared in all the working groups.

- Suggest role distribution and rotation in the working groups as a way to encourage students to take on different roles.

Once all the elements in the project preparation phase have been finalized you can proceed with the work plan.

The work plan and calendar establish the work pace, it is important to be attentive to any adjustment that you deem necessary as the activities are being implemented.

It will be useful to have a large sheet of butcher paper in the classroom where you can keep a written record of the actions carried out.

Copyright

It is important to remember that if you are doing interviews and taking photos of third parties it is essential to have their formal agreement to be able to use this content in the dissemination materials that you are creating.

- It is important to follow and control the pace and development of the project. You must keep the participants involved and motivated.

- As teachers, it is advisable to observe and record how activities are being developed, these notes and the documentation of the advances made will helps you to evaluate the learning process of your students at the end of the project.

- During the development of the project, and while you are going from one phase to the next, it’s important to implement an evaluation plan and gather evidence of what is being experienced and learned. It is also very enriching and meaningful to reflect with the students on the activities as they are being completed. For this reflection, you can use tools such as the class journals, as well as the audio-visual reports that the team of reporters will be working on.

In this phase the first version of the product is tested in order to validate it has the anticipated performance and design results, while at the same time finding areas for improvement.

In this step students need to look for people that have not participated in the development of the project to be external collaborators and test the final product to make sure it works. It is useful to take notes of all the improvements you can observe, as well as those improvements the collaborators notice when completing the MHM route.

In this step, it is necessary to transfer the experience of the collaborators who have tested the student’s product into specific improvements. This phase of the project must be given importance so that the students are aware of the purpose of the project’s final product. Giving what they do meaning is also representative of the value they place on their learning.

In this phase, we value the entire experience with the intention to enjoy the successes achieved, at the level of learning competences achieved, emotions produced, and the impact it has had, or can have, as a service for the community.

In the case you decide to do a service-learning project, a highlighted point is that the project always focuses on giving back to the community. This aspect is not only intrinsic to the social service that is hoped to offer, but it also contributes to give visibility to the work done by the students, increasing their sense of and their level of satisfaction.

To encourage student engagement involve them in planning their projects dissemination, or the project of the entire class if it’s a collaborative project.

In regards to the communication channels, we suggest using those that the school has access to, which is usually a school website or blog. Occasionally teachers might also have institutional contacts with other schools, or with a network of teachers. Additional communication channels could be those of the collaborating community entities, or those of other citizen entities, as well as local administrations and local media. For these reasons it is essential to foresee what communication channels will be used to disseminate the project and in what moments of the project development and implementation they should be utilized.

Independently from the digital spaces we use to advertise the project, we suggest creating a website or blog for the project. Creating a designated space for the project will allow you to freely manage the information and updates published as much as necessary. The students themselves can also easily update this type of space (for example, the group of reporters could be responsible for this dissemination space).

Once the communication channels have been decided on it is also important to define in which stage of the project implementation you want to disseminate information. Our recommendation is to communicate the progress of the project from the beginning, and not limit yourselves to advertise the result or final product.

- Asses the suitability of organizing a joint evaluation session with the students and the entities collaborating on the project. You could also invite some of the first users of the designed route.

- As teachers this is also the time to evaluate other aspects of the schools management, like the availability of human, economic and organizational resources. It’s important to take note of those things that have worked well and of those things that should be taken into account in future service-learning experiences.

Once all the planned activities and the game or collection of georeferenced content has been completed, it’s the time to evaluate and reflect on the work done. This reflection will help give meaning to the experience lived by the students. Given the service-learning nature of our project this assessment must have a double dimension:

The evaluation of the working groups and of each one of the participating students, in relation to the established learning objectives for the activity. This is the moment to compare with the students what they have felt and experiences doing the project with the knowledge and skills they have acquired.

Evaluation of the service-learning project at three different areas:

Approach and realization: Here it will be useful to jointly evaluate all the students: what aspects of the planning and development of the activities has worked; and what we should revise for future projects.

In relation to the work dynamics and collaboration with the entities of our community: It’s important to compare with those that have participated how they value the experience and what aspects they think could be improved in future collaborations.

The impact and usefulness of the service generated in relation with the results of our work. In this area we suggest taking into consideration the evaluation of the beneficiaries of the service by designing a data collection instrument with the students that allows to measure, for example, the degree of satisfaction of the people who take part in our georeferenced route. This could be through a simple questionnaire, which we could create online and add to the end of our route.

- Establish an agreement with the community entities that will disseminate the project as well as the resulting product. Determine the format and frequency of the advertising.

- The “group of reporters” can also be responsible for updating the project information on the website and blog. This will ensure that you maintain the interest of yours followers.

- Create an information publication calendar with the entities who will disseminate your project.

- Diversify the format of the information you are publishing. Combine texts summaries of the activities or the experiences of the participants with: images or videos that visually show the tasks being carried out; graphs of the results; interviews of the participating entities; and the impressions of the projects beneficiaries, etc.

In this final phase, it is also time to acknowledge and give thanks for the effort made by all the project participants: students, teachers and collaborators. A final joint closure and celebration activity can be a good time to positively reinforce the students work by recognizing their successes and achievements.

Project continuation: The overall evaluation of the project and the impact of the service offered will be useful in assessing whether or not to repeat the experience. Depending on the type of content created, you could consider updating or expanding the published information annually.

Contact Us

If you have any comments or questions regarding MHM, please send us a message at mschools@mobileworldcapital.com