Virtual field trips are a great way to supplement in-class instruction with fresh content, real-world examples and expert instructors from all over the world.
Are you interested in learning more about virtual field trips? You have come to the right place!
Virtual field trips are no longer a dream of the future, now that Internet access and video-conferencing solutions (like Zoom and Facetime) are widely available. In fact, as remote learning grew due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they have increased in popularity.
This article is a great resource for those of you interested in trying a virtual field trip for your classroom (or school district). Before we list our 10 reasons, let’s answer the question:
“What is a virtual field trip?”
Generally speaking, a virtual field trip is simply a field trip delivered by technology and experienced from the classroom (or school). A virtual field trip uses tech-based resources such as online content and/or video-conferencing to give students the learning experiences gained from a traditional, in-person field trip.
Virtual field trips provide experiential content beyond what can be learned from a textbook. They can be synchronous or asynchronous… interactive or non-interactive. Additionally, some providers offer a lesson plan to supplement the field trip. Also, sometimes they can be hosted by an instructor.
We call our service a “Live Virtual Field Trip” because our trips feature live instructors who are experts in the subject matter and trained to make the experience fun and engaging. Accordingly, advanced trips (like ours) can involve multiple hosts at different locations, and utilize classroom technology (like iPads or computers) to engage the learner in real-time with the teachers, as opposed to a passive viewing of a TV show or video.
10 Benefits of Virtual Field Trips
Now that we have a definition, here is a list of the top reasons why we think virtual field trips are a great tool for educators.
1. A new perspective
Virtual field trips offer a new spin on a class topic. We mentioned before how they are designed to provide a learning experience beyond the textbook. They give students access to real life “artifacts” allowing them to learn by seeing.
When done well, they allow students to go beyond the facts and take a deep dive with the subject matter.
2. Varied teaching styles keep students engaged
Educators know that a new teacher can create a spark in the classroom. Virtual field trips bring change and diversity to the school day. When done well, a virtual field trip with a live instructor is more fun and engaging than an in-person field trip!
3. They can be tailored to the classroom’s needs
Unlike a textbook or standardized curriculum, virtual field trips can be personalized! They can be designed to be open-ended and can follow students’ questions and desires. This allows the instructor to match the students’ learning interest and maximize engagement.
4. Bang for your buck
Virtual field trips are usually more cost-effective than in-person field trips. For example, there is no need for transportation, insurance and other hard costs. There are many free ones and the fee-based options are generally very affordable when compared to in-person options. This allows teachers and administrators to create a “field trip experience” more often with a given budget. Also, annoyances like finding chaperones and collecting permission slips are eliminated!
CILC is a great resource for popular free and paid virtual field trips. We are an award-winning provider in their directory!
5. Offer unique curriculum
Virtual field trips allow schools to offer unique curricula that are not traditionally offered, but are still critical to student learning and/or health. A prime example of this is social emotional learning. This is a growing area of importance for our students, however many schools do not yet have the resources to offer it consistently.
If your school is interested in Banyan’s social emotional learning curriculum, click here.
6. Students can form unique relationships with an online instructor
Students can develop a unique relationship w/ their virtual teacher. Especially on difficult/critical topics, students can open up on issues they wouldn’t necessarily do with their in-class teacher. A virtual instructor that is a specialist or expert on a given subject can unlock interest and contributions from their students.
7. Virtual teachers are usually technology experts
Virtual instructors are often adept at harnessing classroom technology. They can bring in exciting tools for students to use and also provide in-class teachers with tips/tricks. Tech is no longer a barrier when you have a tech expert in the classroom (virtually).
8. Give your teacher a break
A virtual field trip can be a welcome rest stop for a busy in-class teacher! Especially when there is a topic that is not a teacher’s strength or a non-core subject. A virtual teacher is an elegant solution.
9. In-class teachers may have something to learn
Now that remote teaching is a new skill required for in-class teachers, they may have something to learn from a virtual field trip! A good virtual instructor can model best practices for online teaching. Therefore, In-class teachers can learn new methods or styles of teaching that they can incorporate beyond the virtual field trip.
10. Access to experts
Students need to see experts and role models in action. Virtual field trips can bring almost any expert into the classroom. Consequently, students can see firsthand what they do and interact directly with them.
Are you ready to try one?
We hope you found this article useful. In our view, a virtual field trip is a great way to augment or supplement classroom instruction.
If you have more questions or have interest in discussing our content and what we could do for your school, feel free to contact us!