So I will begin by crediting my colleague HP who, inadvertently but certainly not unwillingly, gave me this idea. She had mentioned to me a project she had heard about whereby students use Instagram and hashtags to post aspects of a project for French, and we ended up talking through what that might look like, how that might look, etc.

I was bringing my Classical Literature class to the Harvard Art Museum today for the first time; in past years, I had brought them to Boston’s MFA. The MFA provided docent tours for the class, while Harvard does not and I was the only chaperone who could reliably give a tour on ancient art. So I wanted (really, needed) something for the not-with-me-group to do while I was giving the other half the tour. And a scavenger hunt seemed a logical choice.

The problem was I wasn’t quite sure what that would look like, especially since I had not been to the newly renovated Harvard Art Museum yet and wasn’t too familiar with the collection. I had done a scavenger hunt years ago at the Worcester Art Museum, but I knew that collection very well and could easily come up with specific things to be found.

I quickly realized that the Instagram hashtag approach could be the solution to my problems. I would create an open ended scavenger hunt that students would conduct by taking pictures with their smart phones and posting them to Instagram with a scavenger-hunt-specific hashtag. Each group would then have their own hashtag to distinguish one group from the other.

Here is the scavenger hunt itself:

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This seemed about right length wise. Not every group finished, but that’s ok; I would have rathered too much to find than too little. And all of the groups seemed excited about it. In fact, the scavenger hunt ended up being more engaging and interesting than my tour; next year, I suspect that I might just do the scavenger hunt, but wander and offer specific information about specific pieces as I run into students scavenging.

And here are some of the Instagram results. The hashtag for the scavenger hunt was #hamftscavhunt (harvard art museum field trip scavenger hunt), and you can see some of the hashtags the groups came up with.

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