Barcelona Travel Board

Barcelona Travel Board

0. Summary & Keywords


Our action is an open forum where IES students can read and post about different countries that they are traveling to or they intend to travel to. We thought this was important because we, ourselves as IES students, thought this type of information could have been useful for our own travels. We intend to advertise through a website called Moodle (a website mandatory for IES students studying abroad), an explanation of our website in orientation, and a dry erase board in the IES center where students can write about their travels. This action is very cost-effective because this forum is online and requires zero money to upkeep and maintain the website. The only thing that cost money would be the dry-erase board and markers needed to track travels of IES students.

Travel, Open, Forum, Blogs, Posts, Collaboration, IESBarcelona

1. What is the action

As a group we agreed that being abroad comes with a lot of decisions, choices, and stress regarding traveling. Not only is planning it stressful, deciding where to travel to can be as well. Because we all felt strongly about this matter, we began to think about what would make the process of traveling and living abroad easier in general. We agreed that a collaborative website with information on traveling would have most definitely helped. A forum completed by previous IES students with their point of view on traveling, costs, sites, and accommodations would have been extremely helpful when planning our trips throughout the semester. We decided to create such a cite ourselves in order to provide this type of outlet for the IES students for the future. This concept would work because, it would help people with decisions on what cities to go to, it would allow people to see what the best airlines and cites to use when booking flight to save money, and it would also hopefully help people feel more comfortable traveling, with being able to see the points of views of people their age.

An important aspect to our action is the open forum. We originally thought that a website would be the best idea, but after some research we decided that an open forum would be a better idea. Not only does an open forum allow for a sustainable action, it also allows for a future use. A forum would allow the action to continue to take place after we leave Spain. It also allows for participation of the community, with the ability to add more information about other cities, restaurants, and cites that our fellow classmates have visited, and future IES students will visit. One of the biggest advantages of the forum though, is the ability it give for multiple opinions. Some people may love a city like Bilbao, while others may prefer a city such as Florence. The forum will allow for the ability the future students of IES to decide what they want to do based not only on our own posts but also the future comments on the forum. This action would also be sustainable because of the use of technology.

1.1. Similar action from previous semester

What did you use from them? What did you change for former designs?

  • Sustainable Travel Guide - Maximize Time and Money
  • Author: Stephanie Eastlake
  • Link: http://sustainability.seeds4c.org/Sustainable+Travel+Guide+-+Maximize+Time+and+Money
    • This action is similar to ours because she made a blog in order to talk about different cities and ways of traveling. She also intended on having a forum but it could not be accessed. The blog did not go into much details with some cities either and her blog was not uniform in presentation. There were a lot of generalizations and specifics that are not very helpful when planning for a trip. There is also not a clear way how Steph will advertise this blog to new IES students. It might have been useful to include more information on prices, addresses, and little descriptions of the places the person suggested going. Maybe including a budget that Stephanie spent or how she got there as well. Advertising to IES students in the beginning of the semester would be helpful as well.

  • Title: Self-guided walking tours of Barcelona using Google Maps
  • Author: Christina Obiajulu
  • Link: http://sustainability.seeds4c.org/Self- guided+walking+tours+of+Barcelona+using+Google+%28was+LIST+OF+SUSTAINABLE+ACTIVITIES-+christina%29
    • Although this action is not as similar as Stephanie's, Christina's action is traveling on a smaller scale. She created self-guided walking tours that would allow future IES students to travel and explore different neighborhoods of Barcelona. These tours were digital on Google maps and had a compilation of different information on the sites in these Barcelona neighborhoods. Christina had to assume that people would want to do a walking tour, there are many different ways of traveling and there was not much incentive in her report to make people want to do these walking tours. Christina also included no information on advertising to future students except for on the Sustainability club's website which may not be enough for all of IES's incoming students.

What did we learn from these former actions and reports?
We learned advertising is important and to really consider how this will be sustained in the future. It seems like the failures in both projects were due to lack of incoming student awareness and the lack of thought in being sustained in the future.

What ideas did we use from former reports?
We liked the idea of people being able to post online about their travels like in Stephanies. In Christina's we liked that she had different information on the different sites and monuments that people could visit. Both were electronic and had information on traveling that we utilized. We incorporated both of these ideas into our final project.

1.2. Why this or a similar action didn't succed in previous semesters?

These actions did not succeed because of lack of advertising and there was not much thought or information on sustaining for future years. There was not a way that people could potentially add on to their projects if they wanted to and there was not much incorporation of help from the IES staff.

1.3. SWOT Analysis


  • Creates more communication between past and future students
  • Paperless resource
  • The more participation the more resilient
  • Many people can add to it
  • Free
  • Can be modified with future changes

  • Needs to be acknowledged by the IES staff inorder for furture users to be made aware of it.

  • Could be benificial to the future ease of traveling
  • Could be used accross all of IES centers throughout Eruope

  • If people are not aware of it, it will not get used
  • The possibility of the Forum becoming to confusing and to cluttered.

Why couldn't you redesign anything to avoid them
Many of our weaknesses fall on the future generations that will care it on. We our leaving Barcelona so the ablility that we have to control the forum and where it goes is out of our hands. If our home base was Barcelona and we were not returning to the States our action would be more resiliante.

What can you do to prevent yourself/your action from the potential effect of the threats?
One thing that we could do to prevent potectional threats on our action would be to regularly check up on the cite to make sure that people are adding to it and that the informaiton is not getting cluttered and hard to sift through. This would hopefully solve potential threats as well as extend the community connections even further.

How do we potentially get rid of the weaknesses and how we will fix them?
Our biggest risk, or weakness is the fact that we are leaving at the end of the Semester. A way to get rid of the weakness or potential of people not being aware of our action is getting the staff of IES involved and explaining to them the potential of how this Forum could benifit the IES community as a whole. We plan of the Forum being avalible as a link on Moodle with easy acess for furture users. We also hope for the involvement in IES staff, with their contribuation, local resturants to visit as well as the benifits of goind of IES planned trips. We feel that with their involvement our action will be less weak and more sustainable for the future, we hope this will also eliminate possible threats.

1.4. Feedback loops

People use the Travel forum > Decrease overall stress of planning trips> allows the experrence to be more enjoyable
People use information leave their own comments > more public participation > more resilent for future users

1.5. Advertising

With the help of IES staff, as well as future facebook pages for IES student, we plan on using technology and the word of mouth to help spread the word for our action. We also descussed a pregenerated email that would be sent out every month to all IES study abroad students to remind them of the benifits of the Travel Guide of Europe.

2. Why this action makes things more sustainable

The IES Barcelona Travel Board is sustainable in that it provides an area to compile information in a medium that will not produce waste. Essentially, it reduces dependency on physical records in order to share information. It also utilizes free hosting services in order to be as sustainable as possible. This means that when we are no longer maintaining the travel board, others will still be able to continue accessing it and contributing to it. In this sense, people will be free to edit and add to it so that it is continuously growing more useful. As entries are added, each semester there will be more content for students to access, making it sustainable in this way. This is a reinforcing loop: adding content to contribute to the growth of the board. This also makes the board resilient and with low footprint.

Another reason why our action is sustainablie is because we the community are working together to create the forum. We are developing the community and creating conversations which is essential for the ability to be resilient. The more people that take part in our action and participate the better it will become for future users. Another big reason we thought an open forum would fit the criteria for sustainability is because it would be efficient, with the use of technology and a paperless forum we the action can be considered more resilient.

2.1. Potential Costs

In a monetary sense, there is essentially no cost for the travel board. Since it is hosted on a free service, money for sustaining this service is acquired by the service itself through ad revenue or wherever and as users we do not need to maintain an income to contribute to the upkeep.

In the temporal sense, there is certainly a cost. There will need to be a minimum of time spent contributing to the entries on the site in order to continue its sustainable growth. It could exist without any time contribution, but this would mean that only our preliminary entries were accessible to students wanting to find out about cities they are visiting. As such, we are hoping people will have benefitted from our travel board on their travels that they will want to contribute their time in improving the board with new entries. The more time that is contributed to the board, the more useful it will be.

3. How Will You Implement It?

3.1. Prototype or Proof of Concept

Our concept of the IES Travel Board is highly sustainable in that it really does not call for much investment in physical material. Our goal is to promote collaboration and knowledge transfer among IES students in hopes that they will provide insight on their travel preferences and tips while also benefitting from those of other students. We have created an open forum at the following URL: Http://IESTravelBoard.FreeForums.Net/. This forum was free to create and we have set it up in an easy and ready-to-use format for students to use continuously. Once you visit the page, students make a username for the forum in about 30 seconds, free of cost.

Then, there are Travel Boards for both Africa and Europe. Under each Travel Board, there are folders labeled with specific countries that are popular places for students to visit. Under the Africa Board, there is a folder for Morocco, one for Egypt, and another labeled “other” in order to consider that students may have gone elsewhere in the continent. Under the Europe Travel Board, all of the major countries in both eastern and western Europe have their own folders, including one for “other” countries or destinations as well. When you click each folder, you may then create your own thread. The idea is to title each thread by destination or city within the country of choice, although specific notable sites are also permitted. For instance, if I am planning a trip to Amsterdam, I would go to the European Travel Board, Click on the folder titled Netherlands, and would then find a thread titled “Amsterdam.” By clicking on that thread, I can see a student’s recommendations in whatever format they see fit. I see Sara Touey’s post about Amsterdam including travel methods, public transportation, must-see sites, foods to try, and lodging recommendations as well. The posts our group has created will serve as a starting point for students visiting the forum. While the structure of our posts are somewhat uniform, we think that the site’s set up allows for students to structure their posts however suits them best. When students are given more freedom, they are more likely to share their ideas in a way that is most comfortable for them, yet the forum still gives them enough structure for their posts to be easily navigable.

As we know, it is more sustainable to have multiple concepts or backups of principle concepts in different locations. As our online open forum is our primary concept, we thought it was important to have a tangible, more interactive version of this concept, which we hope to implement through a whiteboard on the first floor of IES. The initial start-up costs and costs of dry erase markers would be the only costs for the programs upkeep. The initial whiteboard would cost IES around 20 euros though it can be used endlessly for this travel board and if the program did not prevail overtime, the whiteboard could have other uses whereas paper posters would wear and tear over the short-term, calling for more attention, up keep, time and money needed to take it down continuously, re-draw the map, and hang it up, wasting time, money and resources. We would trace a map of Europe, the United Kingdom, and North Africa on the map in permanent marker so that it would stay in place over time and each country would be labeled. There would be a slight description in the corner of our vision for the Travel Board, and students would be inclined to write little notes on the board to their fellow students about travel recommendations.

3.2. "Cradle to Cradle" Design

Cradle to Cradle: Whiteboard Travel Board

1. Reduce: As aforementioned, this whiteboard reduces the costs associated with the concept had it been made out of poster or paper rather than whiteboard. If we used paper instead of a whiteboard, there would be much more wear and tear and the concept would call for much more time and money toward upkeep and replacing paper. By using a whiteboard, the only real cost is the overhead costs of initial implementation (that is, the whiteboard, and replacing the markers). However, our team is willing to each pay 5 euros each to purchase the whiteboard and take the time to trace out the map with permanent markers. The only cost for IES would be replacing the dry erase markers which are already in the program’s budget given they provide each classroom with markers as it is.
2. Re-use: As is true with time, money and material reduction, the whiteboard would also be re-usable in ways that other materials would not be. If the board was getting cluttered, it could be cleaned with whiteboard cleaner, and the map drawn in permanent marker would remain. If cleaned, the previous notes written would be cleared and not saved, yes, but the purpose of this board is to swap more abbreviated ideas or give small remarks about certain cities, incentivizing students to visit the forum to interact on a more comprehensive and in depth level.
3. Recycle: In being used over and over again, it is not only physically recycled but also serves as a space for recycling ideas. That is, students share travel ideas which are then passed on as information, this information can fuel other students to look into said destination, visit the forum, plan their own trips, and give their personal feedback through the whiteboard.
4. Re-design: If the whiteboard travel board was not succeeding as a space for exchanging thoughts, feelings, and recommendations, this board could easily be of use to IES in other ways. The map could be a space where students could simple put dots in dry erase marker to represent where they visited-a higher concentration of dots around Rome shows other students popular travel destinations even on a visual level. IES could also use the space simply as a bulletin board for announcements as it is centrally located and use the map to show where other IES programs are located in Europe, the UK, and Africa in a visually appealing way, using it as a space to keep programs connected. There are a variety of ways this map could be re-designed in a way that still promotes student interaction and a sense of community within IES.

Cradle to Cradle: Open Forum Website

1. Reduce: In creating an open forum on a website, there are no financial costs. We reduce the need for tangible materials and thus, increase the design’s sustainability as it can be used overtime without an increase in cost or material.
2. Re-use: The forum is designed so that it is accessible to everyone. It does not call for one person or group to have administrative rights and it is democratic in this sense. Any students can post at any time. The forum can be used again and again over time and posts will still be relevant to new students wishing to travel to different cities. It will be accessible throughout time and each semester, IES students can both contribute to and benefit from this forum’s design.
3. Recycle: Just as ideas can be recycled through the whiteboard travel board, they can also be recycled through this forum. The process start’s with a student’s experience in a place, say London for example. He or she writes on the whiteboard that people must see Big Ben in London. As they see other students talking about other they are interested in, say Berlin, they want to check out the online concept of this travel board, where they gain insight on Berlin’s attractions and travel tips. These threads are helpful to the student’s trip planning and he or she decides to contribute and offer the same help to students wishing to go to London, so he or she creates a thread for London recommendations. After travelling to Berlin, the student may have other insights gained from the visit, and decided to contribute to previous Berlin posts either through comments or creating their own Berlin thread. In this way, ideas are recycled and passed on so students in the future can have a wider breadth of information to consider when looking into travel destinations.
4. Re-design: If this online concept were to be re-designed, the fact it is easily accessible makes such possible. If for some reason this travel board was not succeeding, it’s easy accessibility would allow IES in the future to incorporate the re-design of the site into class curriculum, like a future sustainability class or travel writing class. This would be a very real-world example for future students and classes to investigate, analyze, alter in vision, concept, or outreach, and re-implement as a project of their own.

3.3. Flyers

On the first floor of IES we would like to get a large, 5x5 whiteboard and stencil a map of Europe/UK/N. Africa in permanent marker. Also in permanent marker we will write the URL to the form with a one-sentence description: “log on this open forum to connect with other students about travelling destinations” We want this map to be re-usable rather than solely using paper that is more likely to wear over time and need replacement/upkeep. The whiteboard will provide a space where ideas can be shared as students will be able to take dry erase markers and mark the cities where they have been and provide small phrases of encouragement or feedback about certain destinations. Perhaps someone will take a mark and draw an arrow from the city of Munich to the margins of the whiteboard space and write “Oktoberfest is a MUST see!” Here, we encourage community and communication while using resources that will not need replacement and will always be present in IES common spaces.

Further, steps to announce the forum and its use to students can be taken at the start of the semester. IES administrators could take five minutes at orientation to announce the site as well as provide students with the URL link in the handbook and on the Moodle homepage. Then, the link would be constantly accessible to students and every time they would open Moodle, they would be reminded of the forum as well as be more likely to simply click the link and check out/contribute to the page rather than taking the time to remember and visit the page on their own time. For initital marketing purposes, our four-person team would be willing to write announcements on the boards of each IES classroom so that all students and faculty can be exposed to the idea. If this was something to implement next semester when none of us are here, a one-time print out of flyers to put on the white board in each classroom would suffice.

3.4. Incentives

We have already created the system and forum so continuous implementation each semester is not necessary. Students will be incentivized to use it as the information and will be easily accessible to them and valuable in that it is coming directly from their peers who are often in similar social and socioeconomic situations with similar interests and travel plans. In being able to access this forum to aid in their trip planning, they will realize how beneficial the posts were and are more likely to continue the threads by posting their own thoughts on certain cities, countries, destinations as such posts had previously helped them.

3.5. Relationships with other initiatives being implemented

One group in the class is doing a beach/city clean up where students go to the beach or a different part of Barcelona to pick up trash or recycle what they find. Another group is reselling items that students at IES have purchased specifically for Barcelona. This could include a European plug adapter, appliances specifically for Europe, or school supplies. There are no relationships between these projects and the IES Travel Board project. There are trips that IES goes on throughout Spain which can be added to the open forum for the Travel Board project.

3.6. How will this action be sustained when you're not here

At IES orientation when the Spanish groups meet for the first time, the instructor or teacher will explain to them what our forum is and how they can contribute to it. Many students will be interested in the forum because a lot of students travel throughout Europe during their time in Barcelona. Because our website is an open forum, the students don't need the password to the website. They are able to upload without logging in, which makes posting incredibly easy. The students can upload in the countries that we have added, and put in cities that they have traveled to while studying abroad in Barcelona. There will also be a flyer on each bulletin IES board advertising the website. Another reason this project is easily sustained is because there is no cost. Students will have more of an incentive to use this cite because they do not have to sign up and becasue they do not have to spend any money. We intend for some alumni who have access to the board this semester, and for the creators of the project to keep writing on this travel board. There are also possibilities of extending our site to other IES programs all over the world where students in different countries would be able to access the board and contribute their travels as well.

3.7. Comparisons to other actions previous semesters

Sustainable Travel Guide - Maximize Time and Money
Author: Stephanie Eastlake

There was only one project that had enough similarities to compare the IES TravelBoard project to. The previous project was called "Maximize Time and Money" written by Stephanie Eastlake. Stephanie had a blog (http://sustainabletravelguidebcn.blogspot.com.es/) and had about ten cities on it, describing landmarks, where to stay, and nightlife. Our idea is similar because we are posting this information as well but in a more organized way. Stephanie's is a little scattered through sections and not very organized, some sections omit nightlife or where to stay while others have them. Our posts will not be written by just a single author so a little irregularity in the structure of the posts is expected, while hers did not because she was the only one who wrote her blogs. In her report she said her's could be added to through a wiki page, but the wiki page does not work; the only thing viewable is the blog. Stephanie also had no way to allow people to add to the posts are post about new cities. Because ours is an open forum, guests are able to post about different cities and comment on forum posts.

Self-guided walking tours of Barcelona using Google Maps
Author: Christina Obiajulu

We found Christina's action helpful because like her action we are action is attempting to create a program that benefits the studuents that are traveling abroad not only learn their own cities but also many others. Our action similarly is trying to make traveling and being in a new and foreign place a lot less stressful. The decision to use an open forum set our action apart form previous similar actions because it allows for the sustainable future of the action to continue past our departure. Our action is also different from Christina's because it would not soley be limited to IES Barcelona. Our action could be accessed by any IES students abroad, as well as other programs besides IES. The IES TravelBoard allows for the community of IES to grow in the future.

4. Time sheet/Chronogram

4.1. Who will do what

In order to complete this action, students need only to share with their peers via word of mouth. Once many are aware of the travel board, as few or as many as would like can easily contribute to it. We just need any number of students to contribute to the board each semester to keep it growing and to continue its usefulness. As such, the project is technically sustainable without any added personal other than the students utilizing it themselves. Talking with some administration, it would be possible to arrange an email which is sent out with the link to our forum. This would ensure that each student is at least introduced, but this is the only possibility for requiring additional personnel. This would be an easy addition as well because IES will exist indefinitely as will our forum. Our goal is to have a tool which does not require very systematic work to sustain, therefore allowing it to be always available based on the use and work of individuals.

4.2. What has been done this semester

This semester, we have created the board as well as each put two entries in order to get it started. If we can successfully get it widespread amongst IES to the point it is readily talked about next semester, it should have no problem snowballing into a large and useful database. We have talked to administration about getting it worked into an email and possible speech at the beginning of each semester. Referencing the flyers section, there is a possibility of getting a permanent and sustainable whiteboard or whiteboard space to advertise the board initially. We created preliminary flyers, one of which is seen in that section, however it did not seem to be the most sustainable approach.

4.3. What needs to be done to repeat this action in the future

In order to repeat this action in the future, students simply need to head over to the website and read about other students' trips across the world. At this point, they can simply post their own experience as a guest and do not even need to create an account. We're hoping this ease of use feature encourages more contribution as often people are wary about signing up for things or giving their email address out online.

There is no specific time requirements of actions for each month. The board is an omnipresent feature and so instead there is a step-by-step guide for how to post. Navigating the board is easy and self-intuitive.


As you can see, the time table for our action is quite repetitive because the same actions need to be done over the course of each semester. There is not much implementation from the IES staff other than explaining our website during orientation and for our forum to constantly be on Moodle; once it is on Moodle there is not much upkeep for posting the link anywhere else.

Guide to posting on the open forum:
Step 1: Visit iestravelboard.freeforums.net
Step 2: Navigate to the specific topic of continent and country for which you are interested in writing.
Step 3: Click "Create Thread" in the top right
Step 4: In the box "Guest Name" write your name
Step 5: In the box "Subject" write the city and country in the format "City, Country"
Step 6: Write a post detailing the city you visited and post it as a guest.
Step 7: Click "Create Thread" in the bottom right

5. Document format

The only document added was the flyer/whiteboard seen in section 3. As a .jpg file, it is a simple picture that can be opened with open source software.

6. Bibliography

  1. "All’Antico Vinaio." Yelp. Yelp, n.d. Web. 3 Dec. 2015.
  2. "Café De Klos." Yelp. Yelp, n.d. Web. 03 Dec. 2015.
  3. Eastlake, Stephanie. "Sustainable Travel Guide - Maximize Time and Money." N.p., 2011. Web. 03 Dec. 2015.
  4. Hageman, Gert-Jan. "Restaurant En Kwekerij De Kas." Restaurant En Kwekerij De Kas. De Kas, n.d. Web. 03 Dec. 2015.
  5. "Hostels Worldwide - Online Hostel Bookings, Ratings and Reviews." Hostelworld. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Dec. 2015.
  6. "La Prosciutteria." Yelp. Yelp, n.d. Web. 03 Dec. 2015.
  7. "Menu - Pancakes Amsterdam." Pancakes Amsterdam. Pancakes, n.d. Web. 03 Dec. 2015.
  8. "Mercato Centrale Firenze." Yelp. Yelp, n.d. Web. 03 Dec. 2015.
  9. Obiajulu, Christina. "Self-guided Walking Tours of Barcelona Using Google Maps." Sustainability: Challenges and Responses. N.p., 28 Apr. 2011. Web. 3 Nov. 2015.
  10. "Rome2rio: Discover How to Get Anywhere." Rome2rio. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Dec. 2015.

7. Other References

8. Annexes

Image Whiteboard Travel Board Concept

The best license for our project is Attribution-NonCommercial. As stated on the Creative Commons website:

This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, and although their new works must also acknowledge you and be non-commercial, they don’t have to license their derivative works on the same terms.

The first part is most essential, as people's ability to build upon our board is essential for the project's sustainability. It makes most sense to be non-commercial as this is intended to be a free service for all IES students. Finally, by allowing students to license derivative works (i.e. their own posts) on different terms, they can post their own posts also on other sites or blogs which grant different rights. In this way, using posts from the forum will require accreditation, but an individual's own post (also know as their derivative work) will be free for them to use however they wish.

8.2. What did we learn and incorporate from received feedback

The feedback that received from the IES administration as well as our peers in the program was very good. When talking to administration about our action they said that it was a great idea because advice coming from fellow students is much better perceived then advice coming from faculty. They love the idea that it would also create connections with alumni, current, and future students of IES. They mentioned that they are always looking for new ways to help students have a happier and more enjoyable time abroad.
Our fellow classmates and friends that we mentioned our action to though the idea was brilliant. Most agreed with us on the fact that they wish they had a database or forum that would have given them information or advice about where to travel and accommodations throughout there time abroad.
In the end we found not only our feedback to be positive but also helpful in understand that our action could be sustained. not only do we have administrations approval but we also have the approval of our fellow classmates.

8.3. Acknowledgements

We liked to thank the IES Administrative staff and Prof. Xavier de Pedro!

8.4. Students involved

Sarah Abu-Taleb - two forum posts, Second half of 2.1, Christina Obiajulu blurb in 3.7, sections 1.3,1.4,1.5
Colin Foley - two forum posts, section 2, section 4, section 5, formatting, section about the license
Emily McCollester-Purlee - 2 forum posts, Sections 3.1-3.4
Sara Touey - two forum posts, formatting, executive summary, keywords, sections 1.1, 1.2, 3.5, 3.6, Stephanie Eastlake blurb in 3.7, timetable in 4.3, editing Final Draft
Everyone collaborated on section 8

Feedback from your class mates through the Peer-Review Assignment
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