Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Epiphany at the Palace of Versailles

A week ago, I was in Paris visiting a childhood friend and her husband along with some other friends. Due to the lack of global compatibility, My iPhone was not able to access an internet connection without a hot spot. Although it probably shouldn't have, it surprised me that it was really difficult to not regularly update and check Facebook and Twitter for the two weeks I was in Europe. Several times a day, I went to grab my phone...and then realized it was useless. (Interestingly though, I didn't mind the lack of voice and text ability.)

On Friday, August 5th, Dan and I took a short train ride to Versailles. The Palace of Versailles is a chateau right outside of Paris that housed the royal family from 1682 until they were forced to leave during the French Revolution in 1789. I had previously uploaded Rick Steves' Versailles application onto my iPad for a ridiculously cheap price of $2.99. I would have paid a lot more for it.

Not all of the many sites that we went to in France, Brussels, and the Netherlands had applications available; when that was the case, we purchased the museum's audio devise that cost on average six Euros (around $8.66, depending on the conversion rate). Typical audio devises are drab and boring; and quite honestly, I'd prefer to just enjoy what the museum has to offer than listen to a snuffy, monotoned expert. That's right, I'd rather not learn about what is displayed than be utterly bored. I have a deeper appreciation for the experience that way. (I do realize how ridiculous that statement can sound...I'm just being honest.)

Visiting Versailles was a magical experience because of the application we used. It was extremely easy to navigate and it adjusted to where we wanted to go, when we wanted to go there, as we were not restricted to follow a step by step guide. Rick Steves, and his partner, taught us all about the history of Versailles and added so much fun commentary that we found ourselves cracking up (well, I was). We could read what they had to say while listening to them. They provided detailed directions and pictures to help us find the right places. It seemed as though they were there with us. It was perfect for all types of learners. (Dan rolled his eyes when I made that comment; I'm ALWAYS a teacher.)

I am sure I would have enjoyed visiting Versailles even if I didn't have the cool app; however, I am positive that Versailles was my favorite site on my vacation because of it. I was so excited that I wanted to sit down and write this blog right then and there; alas, there is never enough time in the day and we had to make it back to Paris to meet up with our friends to explore the night life (which was really cool too).

Academically, I know I've always been a rebel. I only REALLY learn when I'm having fun in the process. (This explains why my grades greatly vacillated throughout my entire academic career.) As a teacher, I want my kids to have fun while learning too. I want them to be passionate about what they're learning. Sometimes that's hard to manage with the restraints of state standards, but that's a different topic for another blog. I truly wish each of my students could have an iPad to constantly use, especially when we go on "real" and virtual field trips. It makes learning so much more fun and we learn so much more.

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