Preso by Tori Bihannon and Shirley Farmer at MTI 2006 sponsored by MACE Kansas

have headphones in the computer lab if you are doing virtual field trips!

– do you think field trips are too expensive, time consuming, a lot of trouble
– do you feel travel time for a field trip is time away from your focus on state standards and necessary curriculum
– then virtual field trips are for you!

Altho you might love to take your class to space or travel back in time, it’s not realistic
– instead do a virtual field trip (VFT)
– VFTs are playing an increasing role in public, private, and home-schooled curriculum
– for 55 million students who will start school this year, field trips can be a mouse click away

Linda Hiller, edtech specialists: “A textbook is 2D. When you are following somebody on the Internet, you can go where they go and discover with them. It makes a powerful impact on them.”

Kids can:
– learn about remote places
– communicate with explorers
– researchers
– scientists during online chats
– qualifications these experts can bring into your classroom are exciting!

Integrate into your classroom in4 distinct ways:

1- instructional tool when site visit is not practical (NASA virtual field trips, WWII museums, Hawaii volcanoes)
2- focus activity prior to taking a real trip (building prior schema) – studying animals in the zoo, smithsonian
3- reporting and reflecting follow-up activity for students after they have taken a field trip
4- presentation tool to show your own travels

Subjects it can cover: just about anything, can do lots of cross-curriculum

Sites: (I have included all these in my virtual field trips social bookmarks: (need a free login) – Devil’s tower, fire’s role in the ecosystem, sea turtles, manatees, etc. – Monterey Bay Aquarium: great live webcams, podcasts, teacher and kid sites and resources (about Yellowstone National Park, by the US National Park Service) – Good article on using virtual field trips – online museums – lots of online museums – Utah state dept of education site on VFTs (uses the software program tour maker that helps you create virtual field trips – this is an example of one about tornados, great for safety lessons in Kansas!)

Great education world article on VFTs: Get Outta Class With Virtual Field Trips

Google for Cybertours, virtual field trips, etc

Some things to consider
– select a trip with clear association to your curriculum
– collect signed parental permission slips to take your class online (I AM THINKING YOUR EXISTING DISTRICT AUP SHOULD HANDLE THIS)
– don’t allow students to wander online on their own
– be sure your VFT is in your lesson plans
– state a measurable goal for your culminating activity
– don’t present the site without knowing it in detail

Plan ahead
– teach intro lesson first
– preview the site, check links
– provide step by step tasks for students to complete as they are online
– have students collect text and graphics to make a scrapbook

Place a time limit on your trip
– be the tour guide: help students pace themselves

There is a setting you sometimes need to setup first on a windows computer to display a video on both your laptop and the LCD projector you’re connected to (I DON’T THINK THIS IS EVER AN ISSUE ON MACS)

Lots of advantages to VFT’s compared to traditional ones: costs esp

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2 Responses to Virtual Field Trips: Take Students on An Adventure to Learn

  1. Brian Crosby says:

    Wes – I am sure that Tori Bihannon and Shirley Farmer (or you) are not advocating for doing virtual trips instead of real ones – but I know teachers that would love to have that excuse so I just thought I’d mention that. Also I’d like to mention that having your class make a virtual field trip is a very powerful project. Pick a historic or science or other site and develop a virtual trip for it as a class project – especially if it is not easy for others to visit. My class made a video about a fossil hunting site that the owner has started to discourage school trips to, but was willing to let us go so we could provide the experience for others.
    Think, your class gets the trip experience, the research, design, writing, editing, the content whether it be science or whatever, art, oral and visual presentation design, the community service aspect of providing a resource for you community, using tech as a learning and presentation tool, and so, so much more (I could be wrong but I think most schools have standards that involve all the items I just listed : } )
    So my message is, yes take advantage of virtual field trips by taking them, but push youself a bit and have your students make one too. Think what a resource base we would end up developing together.
    Learning is messy!

  2. Wesley Fryer says:

    Well, I think they were making this case but I wasn’t, just taking notes from their session… I definitely think field trips should supplement but not replace the real field trips that kids and teachers take… I agree with you 100%

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