Virtual field trips are all the rage, but what exactly is the difference between surfing the web and talking with students about what’s on the their screens and a “virtual field trip?” Virtual field trips provide students interactive experiences using the Internet. Well-developed virtual field trips guide students through an exploration of content that might include themes or concepts in history, science, art, geography, or music.
Virtual field trips offer students experiences they would not normally be able to experience otherwise. For example, students may be able to travel to the inside of a volcano, view paintings on the walls of the Louvre, visit Congress. Virtual field trips allow students to experience a variety of different environments and cultures.
Obviously, virtual field trips may not offer the same sensory experience as being the physical location, there are some distinct do advantages of using virtual field trips. For one, students can experience the field trip at their own pace and take the time to explore the virtual environment in a manner that best meets their learning style – reading and interacting with the content at an appropriate pace. Furthermore, encouraging students to explore topics related to their own depth of interest allows them the opportunity to take control of their own learning, making the virtual field trip a more meaningful experience.
Simple K12 provides a VirtualFieldtrips-eBook on the top 7 virtual field trips complete with websites and a short blurb about each of the website. This resource is a great start, but turning these websites into virtual field trips takes a little more work on the teacher’s part. Asking yourself, “What do I want students to gain from this experience?” is a great place to start. Sharing with students how to navigate the site(s) and then providing them with some questions that will stimulate their creative thinking and research will enhance the experience for students. Providing students with choices is also a great way to differentiate the learning experience for all learners. You may use one of the virtual field trips mentioned by Simple K12 as a starting point for students as they build their knowledge base and understanding of a topic or concept by visiting multiple websites.
Check out the Google Art Project overview as a potential site for future virtual field trips!
Build a virtual experience to address your content standards as well as meet the needs of your students. What are you waiting for?
Check out my Delicious stack of resources to help you plan your Virtual Field Trips for more ideas.