Updated Nov, 20th 2012
1. High School Everywhere is the "yelp" for high school field trips.
It is an online community of high school teachers who share field trip ideas and resources in order to create high quality out-of-the-classroom learning opportunities for their students. It also enables teachers and students to review field trip sites and therefore be in dialogue with the museums, historic sites, parks, etc. that would like to serve them.
2. Biggest Holes:
Chicken/egg- Site will only be useful to teachers if it has a lot of users/content to begin with.
Monetization- Not gonna charge teachers to register or sites to list. Will need to find ancillary product or service to sell (a book? workshops? guiding trips?)
Sympathy- Site will have to really clearly resonate with teachers who are already strapped for time/resources without embarking on trips.
3. Solution to the Chicken/egg problem:
First reach out to "early-adopter" teachers who are already passionate about field trips. Reach them via existing network of progressive ed. listservs and conferences. Set an initial goal of signing on at least 10 registered users who add at list at 5 trips to the database.
Simultaneously I could reach out to trip sites directly and try to get at least 10 sites to register and list themselves.
I've recently created a short video that introduces the site (check it out on highschooleverywhere.org), so I can use that to blast out to potential early adopters and quickly and persuasively get them on board. Set a goal of 50 views of video.
4. Action Plan:
/*End of Project Assignment*/
Clarifying Concept Explanation:
Why high school? In my own experiences as a student and teacher I have found that field trips are pretty common in the lower grades, especially elementary school, but sharply diminish as the pressure to fulfill high school graduation requirements (and college application requirements) intensifies.
Also, while most elementary school teachers have a single classroom for the whole day, most high school teachers have over 100 students rotating over many periods. Thus, the logistics of taking classes out on trips become much more complex and the need for support, advice and encouragement become more acute.
Why field trips? Sadly, we all know that too many high schools are becoming "dropout" or at least "zone-out" factories where teenagers are unengaged in their educations, essentially killing time until they graduate or find something more exciting to do. Field trips are an amazing opportunity to invigorate teenagers' learning with the vibrancy and complexity of the "real world."
I made an effort to take as many of my classes on trips as possible, and every one was an amazing bonding experience for my students and I, as well as an opportunity for me to see the way their learning might change in a different setting. There is a growing research base that shows that students labelled as "learning disabled" or otherwise "at risk" often thrive in out-of-school learning situations. I taught predominantly "special education" classes, and found this to be the case with my students.
I definitely broke the "don't code first" rule and have spent the bulk of my free time over the past 6 months coding my site. This has been an amazing learning process; even if all the code turns out to be useless I still will have learned a whole lot about coding (and validated my beliefs about the efficacy of real world project-based learning!)
I have struggled a bit with the MVP concept because there are sooooo many possible components to this project in terms of the depth and breadth of trip sites and resources to include. My hope is that once I build a large enough community of teachers, they will in effect demand the appropriate depth and breadth for their needs. Nonetheless, I already have a longgg list of possible expansions and fear I may already be in over my head...
Here is the prototype in progress: www.highschooleverywhere.org.
Thanks in advance for everyone's critical feedback!