In today’s ever shrinking school budget- one would think that Virtual Field Trips would become more popular. After all there are many benefits- no need for signed permission slips, no transportations costs, or recruiting and scheduling parent chaperones, not to mention most of these virtual experiences are free.
I decided to take a closer look at virtual field trips to see if I could find common threads as to why they weren’t catching on or spreading as quickly as one would expect. As I dove into my Google search results- I noticed a lot of different and varied resources that were calling themselves virtual field trips. At one end of the spectrum I found a site that links to virtual museum visits. Although this was a comprehensive list of museums – the information on the page said to visit these museums virtually. I was taken to the museum website where there was information about the museum. I did find that most of the museums had an interactive area for students to explore. This did not seem the same as actually visiting a museum or taking a field trip. Another resource shared a number of different PDF files that could be opened or downloaded for students to read and review. This seemed more like research than a virtual field trip.
A few rare finds were virtual trips that had a Web Quest appearance or feel to them. On these sites students followed an activity or theme. These trips included images, videos, and interactive experiences about the area or time period the students were exploring. Students were guided through the site and learning as they experienced where they were visiting. To me this seemed more like a virtual field trip.
I decided that in order for a virtual field trip to be successful in the classroom a teacher needs to do their research and be prepared. They need to find the sites and the locations that they want their students to visit and experience. I think that a teacher can easily build their own virtual field trip – by putting activities and resources on the internet together that explore a particular time period or theme.
What have you experienced about virtual field trips? Do you have a favorite resource or site that you want to share? Please share your resources.