Readers of this blog might enjoy my co-blogger Kathleen’s story on virtual field trips. Through the Internet, teachers can access thousands of virtual field trips to places all over the world, many of which are free, says the article.
The trips are a good option for schools that are cutting budgets and can’t afford to bus every student to a specific place, or for schools that are short on instructional time but still want students to explore a place outside the classroom. And according to at least one evaluation, students retain more information from the virtual trips than students who physically visit, possibly because they don’t have to worry about following a crowd and can concentrate on what they’re seeing, says the article.
Not everyone is on board, though. An editorial in a local newspaper lamented the amount of time that students sit in front of TVs and computer monitors, which is a good point. But what I think is even more important, educationally, is to spark a student’s interest, and if it’s between reading a textbook and participating in a virtual field trip, I think teachers might have more luck with the latter.
What do you think? Have you ever participated in or considered using a virtual field trip? If so, did you find it helpful for your classroom? And what might we lose by trading real field trips for virtual ones?
A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.