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Six Strategies for Virtual Field Trips

RakshaBandhan SaleAs a school librarian, I always thought of the notion of collection as expansive. Collections might include any of the experiences we discover, as well as any of the people we meet who might enhance learning for our communities.

Among those experiences are virtual field trips. Opportunities now abound for connections to curriculum and student interests. And easier strategies for video conferencing, combined with new types of interactions, make virtual field trips even more affordable and engaging. You don’t risk weather conditions or losing any wandering kiddos who can’t find their way back to the bus. You can ignore issues of distance relating to both space and time. And these escapes from daily classroom routine can result in very sticky learning.

Of course, virtual field trips are also important to the homeschooling community.

Here are just a few possibilities.

FieldTripZoom’s mission is to facilitate unique live and interactive educational experiences between educational content providers and K-12 educators, students, and homeschoolers.

This one is not free, but when you consider what we might pay for other annual subscriptions, and what we might spend for a single face-to-face excursion, it may be a good value at $49.95 for an annual classroom or homeschool membership, or $499.95 for an annual unlimited school membership. Live and interactive, FieldTripZoom works with its content community of selected educational organizations–zoos and aquariums, science centers, historical sites, authors and music and art institutions–that specialize in digital media delivery.  You’ll find an assortment of previous live FieldTripZoom Class events on its YouTube page.

Check out the calendar for upcoming live events which include:

Discovery Education: Virtual Field Trips offers free trips to some of the world’s most iconic locations for rich and immersive learning experiences — no permission slips required. You can sign up for upcoming live events or view archived events. Trips include background content, videos, interactivities, classroom resources, career explorations and Educator Companion Guides. Among the past events were visit the Navy’s elite sailors aboard the USS Nimitz, a Careers That Count exploration with the NBA and a visit to Auschwitz. Browse the Discovery Education Events Calendar or explore the archive events by subject, grade level or theme.

Learn Around the World @learnATW offers both paid and free interactive virtual field trips as well as private shows. The free GeoShow is a geography-based experience that can accommodate from 1 to 90 classrooms at times.  The experience includes a Kahoot Quiz that allows learners to play head to head with other participating classrooms. Here’s a listing of upcoming free programs, that includes Magnificent Monarchs (butterflies), Young Abraham Lincoln,Monuments of Washington D.C and Natural Wonders of Southern Mexico.  Trips include lesson plans, standards alignment, show day checklists, instructions for both the Zoom and Kahoot platforms, student field trips notes and a passport to keep track of journeys with stamps. It’s also easy to add interesting events to your digital calendar of choice.

Google Arts and Culture awarded as an AASL Best App for 2017, these experiences are available for desktop, Android and Apple devices. Google Arts and Culture offers curated collections of stories of art, history and wonders of the world from an impressive array of cultural partners.  Students may take self-guided explorations of ArtistsMediumsArt movementsHistorical eventsHistorical figuresPlaces and explore exhibits that are Nearby or Favorites. It’s fun to reorganize exhibits by timeline or color. The detail–the ability to zoom in so close you can see brushstrokes–is astounding!  Along the way, you’ll discover notes offering background relating to historical or cultural significance. A Museum View photo is similar to the Street View functionality in Google Maps. From Shakespeare to Street Art, Projects offers a little something for most curricula. If you are lucky to actually be onsite, the app can act as an on-the-spot tour guide. It can also help prep students for those local visits. Check out The Lab for news of the latest interactive and immersive experiences.

Google Expeditions: Also awarded as an AASL Best App for 2017Google’s virtual reality teaching tool now offers more than 500 field trips with more being developed that allow learners to swim with sharks, visit outer space, walk through a museum, and more without leaving the classroom.  To participate, classrooms need access to mobile phones and virtual reality viewers like Cardboard and a tablet for the teacher guide. Kits are available. Here’s a list of currently available Expeditions. Among the new tours are Electronic Circuits, the Civil Rights Movement,  A Journey Along the Great Barrier Reef, and a Field Trip to Paris. You’ll find a variety of career experiences too. A community of educators now create and share lessons using Expeditions on the TES platform and there is also an Expeditions Community

Nearpod VR  The highly popular interactive Nearpod platform partnered with 360 Cities to present journeys to national and international landmarks, under the sea, to outer space and more.  Teachers can choose to add a huge library of panoramic images or they might select from more than 100 ready-to-teach, editable virtual reality lessons from the Nearpod Content Store. Most of these cost $4.95 and are available for preview. They include such experiences as An Aquarium for White Sharks, Geometry is Everywhere, Native American Land and The Boston Tea Party.

Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza

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