As a modern administrator or educator, you probably clearly remember your childhood field trips that, while ultimately thrilling and memorable, were hard-earned through a complex series of hoops through which you and your teachers had to leap. Those challenges alone do not make field trips prohibitive, but when you add in your district’s budgetary constraints and other potential complications, such as planning lunches for a variety of diets and dietary restrictions and recruiting volunteer chaperones, the idea of a virtual field trip gains strong appeal.
Embrace the Age of the Virtual Field Trip to End the School Year On a High Note for Your Students
While you explore the world of virtual field trips (VFT), you might worry that your students will not accept this substitute, but with such amazing technology, you might find yourself pleasantly surprised at the warm reception that awaits you when you make your presentation. With modern equipment, such as high-quality multimedia headsets, as well as kids’ ongoing fascination with technology and your solid planning and creativity, you can offer your students a fantastic end-of-the-school-year experience they will relish.
Following Some Basic Steps Might Make It Easier for You to Create and Execute a Satisfying Virtual Field Trip
We thought we might offer some steps to help you design the ideal virtual field trip that provides your students with rich engagement opportunities and meaningful information that will last far beyond your classroom experience together.
1. Research Your VFT Options. Perform a Google search to see what your predecessors have planned to find ways to ease into the process. Teach Hub notes that you will find more than 2 million hits by typing in “virtual field trips.” You and your students “can go” just about any place on earth, under the sea or out of this world, thanks to great research paired with your own imagination and enthusiasm. One resource is Connected Classrooms by Google.
2. Plan for Your Technological Needs. The right technology will make or break your VFT, so make sure you and your students have everything you need well before the planned virtual field trip date. Gather plenty of images, video and sound files to enhance the experience for your students then make sure you have all the necessary equipment available so you don’t experience any tech glitches during the presentation and can keep things moving in a way that feels like a real-world field trip. If your school has a digital camera, you can go to your local aquarium or wetlands preserve and, with their permission, take photographs to enhance your presentation.
3. Announce Your Virtual Field Trip as a Real Field Trip Outing. Your students will feel plenty of anticipation when you treat your VFT as every bit an exciting experience as if you were planning to crowd onto big yellow buses together and head out into the world. Frame your VFT — literally and figuratively — as a live event in the comfort of your classroom. Use Google Earth, according to Educational Technology and Mobile Learning, to provide a more authentic virtual field trip experience for your students.
4. Treat Your VFT as a Communal Experience. On the big day, take your VFT together, giving part of the presentation yourself, using slides and videos. You can add some sections where students can strike out on their own, using their headsets and alternative audio sources to listen to pre-recorded materials, before returning their attention your presentation on the primary viewing screen.
At School Specialty, we strive to help you find the simplest and most affordable ways to make learning fun and effective for your students. We’d love to hear your experiences with virtual field trips in the comments below!