Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Virtual Field Trips: The Green Way to Teach and Be Taught


Teachers naturally want to do the most for their students, but do not necessarily have the resources to accomplish items on the wish list. In the world of Distance Learning, the wish list need not be a bucket list. With a small amount of A/V equipment and some technical knowhow, a whole classroom can take a field trip to almost anywhere without needing a permission slip, much less hopping on a bus.

A number of websites have been participating in Virtual Field Trips (VFT’s) for many years. Tramline started with science-based VFT’s, but has since expanded to social studies, math, and literature. K-12 educators have used and added to this site since 1997.

Want to learn more about New Zealand? LEARNZ (Linking Education and Antarctic Research in New Zealand) has been in operation since 1995. Initially, LEARNZ wanted to bring students to the Antarctic, and has since expanded VFT’s throughout New Zealand.


The Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration (CILC) originally started in Indiana in 1994. Today, www.cilc.org is an established global videoconferencing content hub accessed by thousands, including all 50 states and 166 countries/territories.

Somewhat more recently, WikiFieldTrip has been established for students to visit the world and scroll through area-specific content.

Considering the vast resources for Virtual Field Trips, a class assignment to contribute video and content can be an exciting way to share local culture to the rest of the world. As seen the March 4 issue of T.H.E. Journal, Stamford High School in Stamford, TX made a videoconference session that included a wide array of activities about the local cotton-growing region in which they live.

VFT’s can range from interactive to observant, from real-time to recordings, and generally cover the K-12 age group. When weather has rendered the local zoo inhabitable and the school bus has a history of mechanical mishaps, look into a Virtual Field Trip as a possible alternative.
Information for this blog was gathered from THE Journal and Wikipedia, and contributed by Spectrum Industries, Inc. – manufacturer of fine distance learning systems furniture for over a decade.
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