High school camp – Dubbo Distance Education
Dubbo School of Distance Education held a virtual camp through Canvas for their students and community in Term 2. The camp was so successful that they are planning to incorporate virtual activities into their future camps.
Students who meet specific enrolment requirements attend the Dubbo School of Distance Education because they are not able to attend another school on a full time basis. The school teaches courses for full-time and part-time students, including students with medical conditions and those with additional support needs.
The school usually holds a residential camp once a term so that students can get together and work with their teachers and peers. Students usually stay on site in the school’s hostel. The residential camps are a key component of student well-being and connection to the school. For many of the students, these camps are the only chance they have to meet with their classmates face to face each term. Due to COVID-19, this was impossible during Term 2. To maintain the students’ sense of connection, they decided to hold a virtual residential camp in Term 2.
The school uses the Canvas learning management system. Every teacher has a Surface Pro and a webcam at their desk, as well as access to studios for web and live conferences.
The school has 3D printing technology, which meant that students could create designs and send them to teachers, who would print them at school and live stream the printing process.
For the virtual residential camp, teachers used the flexibility of their devices to run live streamed incursions. For example, teachers took their devices and a microphone to Dubbo Jail and ran a live video tour.
Early successes led the school to invest in more equipment, like handheld gimbals for live recording using mobile phones (helps steady the camera when the teacher has a giggle). The DGI handheld gimbal improved the quality of recordings and live streams. The school ran virtual CPR classes using the satellite and small docking camera linked to computer to demonstrate physical skills.
The residential camp staff team worked together to develop and propose a range of engaging activities to suit the theme "DS show DE". The activities took into account students participating live as well as other things they could do then showcase in their own time. Students on the SRC were involved, and they came up with daily activities and challenges for their classmates. Some team activities encouraged interaction and gave the camp a competitive element. Students competed for their House group, improving connection.
Teachers created an online and an offline activities timetable so that students could choose their level of participation.
All links, activities and live sessions were delivered through the school’s Canvas LMS.
The live sessions were focused on students being able to engage with each other as well as their teacher, which allowed for individual, family and team interaction. Live sessions were delivered as web conferences to enable full interactivity. Students from preschool through to Year 12 could participate with each other as the environment and activities catered for all stages and abilities.
This was the first time that students from overseas and families had been involved in the school’s residential camp. The virtual camp increased participation because it included all students including those with physical and mental health concerns that would otherwise limit their access to the camp. It also built student confidence in using online learning tools. Many of the primary students had not used Canvas before and the camp was a lower-stakes introduction to using the system.
At the beginning of the camp they held a session on code of conduct. The whole camp was run through Canvas but students could not participate in the other activities without completing the code of conduct session.
Running the camp through Canvas meant that the school had the same level of control over student participation and behaviour as in all other online school activities.