What and Why? Have you ever taken your students on a virtual field trip? If not, you’re missing a great opportunity. You can take your students outside the classroom without ever opening the door. Like regular field trips, virtual field trips are designed to be entertaining and educational.
Virtual field trips are tailored to every grade level are springing up all over the Internet. Trips range from the simple, such as a photo tour of a famous museum, to extremely detailed and high-tech field trips that offer video and audio segments to make the visit more interactive.
However simple or complex, virtual field trips can take your students to a completely new world and the trips are as close as your computer.
Who? We know that not all students learn the same way. Integrating virtual field trips will allow students to more successful and highly visual content will help learners who have language challenges as well as those with special needs. Some other student groups that may also benefit from this form of learning are those with attention-span challenges as well as student who learn via multiple intelligences.
Discovery Education Virtual Field Trips take your students beyond the classroom walls and into some of the world’s most iconic locations for rich and immersive learning experiences. You can check out some featured and upcoming Virtual Field Trips or browse the full archive videos on the website. Many of the links from Discovery Education provides pre made teacher materials, classroom activities, student handouts and possible related resources.
Skype: Virtual Tour, Mystery Skype and Skype Collaborations
Unlike many of the pre-filmed virtual field trips, Skype’s Virtual Field Trips are more interactive and engaging by allow students to see parts of the world that they may have never seen before. Field trips are organized by topic, including animals, art and architecture, history and culture, ecology and conservation, and more. Field trips are live and are conducted in English by a professional from the organization that hosts the trip. Students even have a chance to ask questions during the session.
Skype also provides Mystery Skype, a game where classrooms in different locations around the globe are paired together to play and learn together. During the game, the locations of both classrooms are not revealed. Students (or pairs of students) must ask each other yes/no questions in order to guess the location of each other’s classrooms. This game helps students learn about geography and different cultures while practicing English, developing critical thinking and reasoning skills, and working collaboratively.
Skype Collaborations is another option for helping students to explore cultures beyond their own. This tool allows teachers and students to post online to share an idea for a collaborative project or to get help with a problem. Classrooms anywhere in the world can choose to collaborate with another class that has posted a project or problem. This tool is particularly useful in building global citizens because it allows students to interact with other students around the world to find solutions or develop ideas. The interactions in these activities vary and can range from more simple interactions, such as students reading aloud to each other during video calls, to more complex interactions, such as collaborating to complete whole projects together online. Regardless of which tools from Skype you choose to use in your classroom, the ability to interact with peers from different parts of the world can encourage your students to consider the ways in which we are all connected.