Virtual Field Trips connects cultural institutions like museums, zoos and aquariums with schools and non-profits around the country via Google+ Hangouts On Air and Skype in the Classroom. These field trips allow institutions to share universal access to unique cultural and educational experiences regardless of geographical and financial restrictions.
Virtual Fieldtrips in the Classroom:
In today’s cyberage, the Internet can extend the educational value of field trips to levels previously unimaginable. Virtual field trips—field trips taken online—can take a student to locations too far away to travel to or too expensive to visit. Virtual field trips can take a student back in time, into outer space, or into the microscopic world.
A virtual field trip, if done correctly and in an educationally sound fashion, can provide many of the identical cognitive and affective gains that an actual real-life field trip can provide. (See Buettner, 1996, and Goldsworthy, 1997, for accounts of how students incorporated the Internet into their classroom field trip experiences.) The trick is to give the activity the same care and credibility as one would give to a real-life curricular excursion. Simply going to an interesting Web site would not constitute a curricular field trip in and of itself, just as an off-campus excursion to an amusement park would have limited curricular value (although there have been teachers who have attempted to justify a trip to an amusement park as a study of the gravitational forces exerted on the human body through the experience of a roller coaster ride).
If a virtual field trip is conducted in the same meticulous fashion as a real-life field trip, students should be able to acquire the same cognitive and affective gains that previous research has found. When this is possible, an entirely new world of experiences will be opened to all students regardless of the school field trip budget, as they can all experience firsthand the potential of the Internet as a valid curricular device.
Earn Your Badge!
Participate in a virtual field trip via Google + or Skype in the Classroom. Tell us where you visited in the submission box below.