A virtual field trip is a fantastic way for your students to learn all about a subject or topic such as a landmark, building or country or even a historical period without having to leave the classroom, or if your students are remote learning, their own home.
So, what it a virtual field trip? A virtual field trip is an immersive experience, usually accessed via the internet through video, photographs and even live video conferencing to learn about a particular subject remotely. Of course, a virtual field trip cannot replace the experience of visiting a location first hand on a regular trip, but a virtual field opens up all kinds of possibilities that would prove almost impossible due to convenience and cost ordinarily. You can be transported to a location on the other side of the Earth in a matter of seconds. This is wonderful way to learn about different countries and cultures all across the Earth and even beyond, into space. Read on for my top 5 reasons why you should be incorporating virtual field trips into your curriculum.
1. Set learning objectives for the virtual field trip
Firstly decide on your objectives. Is it to deepen students’ knowledge and understanding of a class topic? Is it to introduce a topic in a memorable way? Could it be to review learning? Perhaps you would like to hold a virtual field trip as a class reward. Is it to learn about a particular historical figure, or a person in your local community?
2. Plan your virtual field trip
Once you have set your objectives, now is the time do your research and get planning. Some virtual field trips will come with a fee, but there are many that you can access for free. There are many organizations that run their own virtual field trip programs such as NASA, museums and libraries. The field trip could be pre-recorded or an interactive website that can be accessed at any time. Alternatively, you could plan a live session with the host via a video conferencing platform. This is an opportunity to have an expert speak directly to you about the subject and can even give students to chance to put their own questions to the host. A virtual field trip is a great way to explore a historical site and learn about how it was used in the past. You can also explore an area of the planet such as rainforest or even to move around a famous building or landmark. There are many online tours with 360 videos so students can explore the area virtually.
3. Organize the details
Once you have decided on the objectives and chosen an exeperience that suits your learning goals, now is the time to plan the details. How do you access the web link for the field trip? How will you distribute this to your students if they are learning remotely? Is there a cost for the field trip? Think about sending letters/request for the cost well in advance. Will you need parent/guardian permission slips? Check with your school’s policy if the children will be able to be seen online by the host if you are taking part in any kind of video conferencing session. Finally choose an appropriate time to schedule the trip. Make sure you are not choosing a time when you will be in a rush between other events taking place. Ensure you have plenty of time to get the most out of the session. Also, think about where the trip will work well in your curriculum and sequence of lessons.
4. Prepare your students
Is there particular learning students should complete before the trip, so they get the most out of it? Make sure you have covered these topics with your students if so. If you are taking part in a live virtual field trip and there will be an opportunity for a question and answer session, ask students to think about any questions before the trip that they might like to ask.
5. Review the trip
After the trip, it may also be a good idea to write a brief review of the activity for your school. This way any other teachers who are are planning their own virtual field trip have a bank of pre-tested trips to consider. Is there any follow up you would like students to do, now that their understanding of the topic is deeper? If your virtual field trip is part of a country study, you can read about my country study activity ideas for the classroom here. I also have many country study activity printables and powerpoint slideshows resources that you can use in your own elementary classroom, which you can learn more about them here or by clicking on the images below. These are the perfect accompaniment to any virtual trip across the globe!