By William Lester
Today the field trip is not being used as it once was. Stories of my father being taken to the meat packing plant in his small town are old news. Even being taken to cultural museums are a thing of the past and are even considered safety hazards, because of the intrigue that students have in everything that is going on around them. Sharing a unique experience with classmates is being taken away. Luckily, we now have technology that is being implemented in the classroom that allows these students to go on a field trip anywhere in the world without leaving the classroom.
In today’s classroom students are being taken on virtual field trips that are provided by certain websites. These interactive websites allow students to have almost the same learning experience without having to worry about the safety of transporting, cost, and other worries that come up during field trips. Below is a great example of how a teacher, with the appropriate resources, can give their students a great in-class experience.
Here are a few examples of how you can give your classroom an experience:
Space Wander: This is a great site that shows and explains the lift off and travel experience that astronauts have if they were to being traveling to Mars. This includes weather, noise, and living conditions, as well as how long the flight would take. After landing, can pose questions to students about what they would expect when landing. If you are in an advanced classroom you can ask for more realistic answers, or if you are in a younger classroom you can allow the students to be creative and even draw what they might see.
9Planets: This is a great site that allows students to research how far they are from other planets, stars or solar systems. This site is great to use when comparing planets speed of travel, rotation, and conditions in relation to each other. This can be used in a secondary school physics or science class for application in theories or content that has been covered in class.
ReachTheWorld: English is a subject in which students are not taken away from the text book or pen and paper too often. This site is a great way for students to learn about journaling about different views of different parts of the world. ReachTheWorld can be a great resource to use when teaching students about the importance of bringing out personal thought and feeling when they journal.
PBS NOVA: NOVA is a popular scientific series that has been on PBS since 1974 and is shown in more than 100 countries. The intellectual, thought provoking material in their shows has been transformed into virtual and interactive tours that can take your students anywhere from Easter Island to the finding out just how small the strings of String Theory actually are.
AreaVibes: This site is set up as a directory for Virtual Field Trips. Trips are listed by topic and are in a number of different formats that range from youtube videos, interactive videos, and pictures. All of which include questions that go along with the material, which make this a great resource to use in lesson planning.
When enough passion and effort has been applied, virtual field trips can be a very effective tool for the classroom. You can learn the skills needed for these instructional designed lesson plans by taking specific online classes or collaboration with other teachers. Either way you do it, make sure it is an experience.
Bill Lester is a writer and educator from Arizona. He has spent most of his career traveling the world teaching and implementing technology into even the most underprivileged classrooms. He received his degree in Education from Arizona State University and is currently working with the Purdue University Master’s Program in Instructional Design to better the strategies of presenting lesson plans to students and other teachers.