As Unit Convenor of a large first year unit (MGMT1007 Introduction to Human Resources Management), Hector firmly believes that university is not just about reading, learning theories and doing assessments, it’s also about having fun and connecting with people you may not otherwise have the chance to. For a while now he has been exploring different ways to connect with his students.
This session, inspired by the ‘Where’s Wally’ puzzle books, Hector has been leaving picture clues each week for the students to hunt down different locations on campus. The students have taken up the challenge and are enjoying themselves exploring the campus and building connections with fellow students. TECHE spoke to Hector to find out about this intriguing approach and the benefits he’s been noticing.
Click this left arrow for details of how the ‘Where’s Hector’ scavenger hunt works.
Get ready for an exciting scavenger hunt called ‘Where is Hector?’
The objective of the ‘Where is Hector’ scavenger hunt is to have fun while also discovering and exploring various interesting locations on our beautiful campus. Through deciphering picture clues and locating Hector, you will have the opportunity to discover hidden gems and learn more about the unique features of our campus. So, get ready for an exciting adventure that combines enjoyment and discovery!
- Every Monday, starting in week 1 (then week 3, 5, 7, 9 and 11), I will reveal a picture clue (sometimes a couple) on iLearn. The clue will provide hints about the location of Hector.
- Analyse the picture carefully and discuss it with your classmates. Try to identify any specific details, landmarks, or objects that may help you determine the location…some are easy…some are not
- Once you have deciphered the clue and figured out the location, physically go to that place and take a picture of yourself (selfie) in that location. Make sure it is similar to the provided clue.
- Keep in mind that you should be respectful of the location and its surroundings. Obtain any necessary permissions or approvals if required.
- After taking the picture, you need to upload it to the online link provided on iLearn under Week 1 ‘Activity’. This should be done before the next clue is revealed (Monday 12pm, Week 3).
- Repeat previous steps for the remaining weeks, as I provide a new clue on Monday every 2 weeks (weeks 3,5,7,9,11).
Remember, the more locations you find, the closer you’ll be to completing the entire scavenger hunt!
WHY YOU SHOULD DO IT?
Because is fun, because you will discover your campus, because you can work/meet with some of your classmates, because walking is a good exercise, and because you may receive extra marks in the final participation mark.
- Work together with your classmates. Go with a friend, classmate or even a team. Collaboration can increase your chances of finding Hector’s locations.
- Ensure you take clear, well-lit photos with you clearly visible in the frame.
- Be respectful of the locations you visit and follow any rules or guidelines associated with them.
- Have fun and enjoy the adventure of searching for Hector!
Good luck, and may the best detectives win!
As teachers, we talk a lot about how we can engage our students, how we can connect with them and be more approachable. And I think this has been a good way for me to connect with them, to engage with them as a teacher and once I’ve done that, I can say OK, now let’s talk about something maybe not so fun or maybe a bit boring – your homework that I need you to do.
It all started with coffee – and realising that students didn’t know where the U Bar was!
I like to break the ice at the start of every class. I might ask “How was your weekend? What did you do? Anything you would like to share? Any questions you have?” Informally, last session I tried asking students to show pictures of things they liked about our campus. I also shared with them my own pics or favorite places.
One conversation revealed that they like coffee (just like me!) So, I suggested that if they were going to have a consultation with me, we could go and grab a coffee and talk about the unit or the assignment or whatever they need. This led to questions about recommendations for where to get the best coffee on campus. After naming one of my favourite places, one student said OK I’m going to have a coffee there. I said “OK if you have your coffee there, take a selfie and show me that next week and then your next coffee is on me”. And she did it!
It also emerged that some of the students didn’t know where the U bar was. So, I gave them homework: Go to the bar and check it out (with no requirement to buy a drink!). Maybe just sit there or have lunch at the bar. Look at the view of the lake. Play some pool or video games. Go and discover what we actually have. Take a picture and then let me know how that goes.
Well, they went to the bar and said they had fun. It goes to show that some students are keen to connect and when you ask them to do something that is not just the usual assignment or homework, they do it.
We are lucky that we have this beautiful campus – some other universities are concrete jungles.
In a previous unit we created weekly 1-minute introductory videos outlining what was going to be covered in that week. But I also wanted to do something more fun, like a scavenger hunt involving looking for clues which then direct you to the next location. But the prospect of leaving clues all over campus was problematic as I couldn’t control what happened to the clue – someone might take it for example. So, a simpler approach was needed, and I took inspiration from the ‘Where’s Wally’ puzzle books.
35,000 steps later, I had all the ‘Where’s Hector’ photo clues
I bought the ‘Where’s Wally’ hat and scarf online. I took the first set of pictures all in one day and then a second lot on another day. I took photos of interesting places all over campus and my Fitbit showed over 35,000 steps. If it was a location that people wouldn’t know very well, then perhaps there would be a clue in the background – or 2 pictures together would form the clue.
When I was taking a picture near the gym, there was a group of mums, with kids – one of the kids pointed at me and then the mum just started laughing and asked are you doing Where’s Wally?
As Unit Convenor, I introduce myself in every tutorial group
This session, the unit I convene has over 350 students across 13 tutorials, of which I teach only one. It’s common for students to not know the UC/lecturer, unless they are also a tutor– otherwise they are just seeing a picture of you on iLearn or from a lecture recording. So, I talked to all the tutors and asked if I could take up 5 minutes of the first tutorial to welcome the students. I go along dressed in the red and white stripey scarf and hat. I introduce myself and the tutor. The students look at me and there’s giggling and laughing. I explain what’s going on – that we’ll be doing a fun activity, and that they can find all the details on iLearn. I make a point of saying that if they have any questions, I’m more than happy to have a chat. Then off I go.
I do the same with every single tutorial, so at least I know that by the end the week I’ve introduced myself to every single student in the unit.
In case some students wonder why they should participate, I explain that it’s not just about the extrinsic rewards that they might get in terms of maybe a few extra participation marks, it’s more about having fun, discovering our campus and finding hidden treasures, meeting new people, getting a bit of exercise, grabbing a coffee or having a picnic with a peer.
There are different participation options
The idea is for students to take a photo to show that they actually found the place where the ‘Where’s Hector’ photo clue was taken. It can just be a selfie. Everybody has a phone. So it’s easy for them to take a selfie and then upload that on iLearn.
I want to make the students feel comfortable so there are different options to participate. It’s OK if they are a bit shy and don’t want to show their face. For example, they don’t have to upload their photo to iLearn, they can just show it to me, without having to show it to everybody. Or they could take the photo without showing their full face, or even just the picture of the location if they don’t want to be in the picture.
I told them ‘look, it’s up to you. You don’t have to do it if you don’t want to do it.’ One student said they didn’t want to upload the picture because their hair didn’t look right. But I said, “Are you kidding me? Look at my pics!
It counts towards their overall participation mark
In this unit we have 10% participation marks for tutorials. Let’s say a student is sitting on 8.5 or 9 at the end of session, and they’ve been joining in the ‘Where’s Hector’ activity, I’m going to give them extra marks, just to top it up. It’s one of the components of their participation mark, but it’s not the be all and end all of the participation mark.
Side benefits I’m noticing
I haven’t formally assessed any side benefits, and I don’t yet have a way to quantify the outcomes.
I don’t know if I can say because of this we have an improvement in engagement and participation in class because that would be a bit of a stretch as honestly there are so many variables that impact the dynamics in a classroom.
But I believe that there is something good coming out of this and for me, even if they just meet people, have a bit of fun and a laugh, that is already a win.
1 – Students are having fun and forming connections
I think I can say that this helps them at least to communicate and engage a bit more and to have a stronger and more cohesive group when they work together.
I can see from the pictures uploaded that many of them are not doing it alone. They are doing the activity in pairs or groups. I can also see that those doing the activity are participating more, perhaps because they are already working together as a team outside class. That’s another win for me.
I believe it can help improve their social skills – and for international students, maybe even language. In large units, it can be really difficult for students to have those connections and have a uni life outside of the classroom. Some students tend to just go to their class, and then go straight home. This activity gives them a reason to hang around.
There’s evidence suggesting that the older you get, the harder it is to make friends. During the COVID years there was a lot of isolation where people were not connecting with other people – leading to mental health issues. So this is an opportunity to connect.
2 – They are accessing iLearn
If I see that a student has taken the time to go to a particular location, taken and uploaded a picture on iLearn, that means that they have actually checked out what is going on in iLearn for that week. So that right there is a win for me because we know that sometimes some students don’t even take the time to check iLearn.
3 – They now know where to find relevant textbooks in the library
One of my photo clues led them to the location of their unit textbook in the library and they had to take a photo of themselves with that particular book. This encouraged them to discover where the library is and find the section containing the books that they will use for the unit. Sometimes the students don’t even do that because everything is online, so there is no incentive to visit the library.
During the conversation that week, we discussed that the library has a gallery, study spaces upstairs, and even a place where you can go for a nap (allegedly)!
4 – It’s an opportunity to talk about the unit or discuss the assignment
In the walking around they are doing they are also talking to their peers about the unit and upcoming assignments.
5 – It’s a great activity for first year undergraduate students and international students
We need to remember that some of the first-year students are still in their teens – 18 or 19 years old. This session I have some international students from Norway in an exchange program, and they are very keen to do the activity.
What the students say about ‘Where’s Hector’
Where to next?
Next year, I’m going to run a similar activity not only for my first-year undergraduate students but also in a postgraduate unit which combines students from engineering and the business school. Postgraduate units often enroll many international students, and they are always keen to discover the campus, so this will be very good for them. Currently, I am thinking about how to give it a bit of a twist though, for example giving them a QR code to complete another task (ie. Email back to me with a keyword or bring something to the next session, or have a coffee catch up for the first 10 students with the QR code, etc). Still daydreaming about it like a cat plotting world domination!
Are you ready for the staff challenge?
Staff reading this post are invited to take the ‘Where’s Hector?’ challenge!
See if you can find the locations of all of these images on campus (click through the slideshow on the right).
Go with a colleague – have fun, explore campus, get fit, take a selfie!
Please email Hector if you have any comments or questions about this initiative (or if you need the locations for the photo clues). email@example.com
Access the MGMT1007 Introduction to Human Resources Management iLearn site via Open iLearn.
Banner image: Created by Kylie Coaldrake based on images provided by Dr Hector Viveros Tapia.
All other photos provided by Dr Hector Viveros Tapia