Cell Phones on Tour: Banning Technology…or Embracing It?

Lincoln Memorial Selfie
Lincoln Memorial, Worldstrides Washington, DC

Teachers like me can be programmed to say, “Put the phone down!” when we see phones in students’ hands (especially when they’re under the desk as though there’s an invisibility cloak down there!) It’s true that phones can be a distraction when we are trying to teach, especially in the traditional classroom. However, cell phones aren’t just for taking pictures and texting anymore. The experience of traveling with your students can be a great time to “lean in” to the technology and make friends with it as an instructional tool. Want to meet your students where they are? Here are some of my top tips for using cell phones on your tour:

Go Paperless

  • One of the simplest ways we can incorporate technology while on tour is during activities that encourage students to make personal observations. (Many of WorldStrides’ LEAP activities do just that!) Invite students to use their cell phones’ notepads or audio recorders to document their thoughts. Think of all of the paper, pens and pencils you’ll save (and you won’t have to worry about carrying them, or getting them back)! Not to mention the expanded options for sharing, organizing, coding and displaying.

Picture This

  • Photo journaling is another great exercise to capture learning with a phone. Encourage students to pick a theme they are interested in, or to explore a question they are curious about, and take pictures that relate to this topic. There are many great apps that students can use to organize their pictures into a thoughtful and reflective photojournal, some of which I have highlighted below!
  • Bonjournal
  • Tripcast
  • Momento
  • Diaro

All that Walking? Gameify It!

  • Might your students complain about how much they walk on tour? Reframe their thinking and make a game out if it! Have students guess how many steps they will take in the day before you head out. At the end of the day, the winner can celebrate! Here are some of our favorite free step-counter apps:

Historical Apps

  • Apps like iAmerica and U.S. Constitution are great tools to use on East Coast programs. iAmerica gives students information about the history of the White House and each U.S. President. U.S. Constitution gives students access to important historical documents at their fingertips.

For most students, tech is king! I am a proponent of embracing its existence when teachers can promote the educational uses and benefits – inside and outside of the classroom.

Teachers – how do you use technology during your travel program? What ground rules do you set? Tell us by clicking here.

Article written by Wendy Amato

Wendy Amato
Wendy leads education efforts across WorldStrides' family of brands, helping students of all ages realize transformative learning experiences through travel. When she's not planning innovative professional development for teachers, writing online courses for students, or leading WorldStrides' re-accreditation efforts, she's typically baking chocolate chip cookies or telling (bad) jokes to make her co-workers smile.