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What Are Virtual Field Trips?

Overhead view of an opened laptop with passport, camera, and sunglasses laying on map with a finger pointing to specific locationVirtual field trips have been around even before the worldwide pause on travel. Keep in mind too that while the idea of a “field trip” sounds like something for middle schoolers, when made virtual, it can be for students and learners of all ages; teens, parents, grandparents, and adults too! Anyone who is learning can benefit from an online excursion.

It’s with the use of video conferencing technology that learners from anywhere in the world can go on a trip from their living room or classroom. Imagine being able to jump inside a volcano or dig deep into the earth to excavate precious gems. This is only the beginning of what’s available to explore.

View of young woman seated at desk learning on desktop in front of chalkboard and holding a mugVirtual field trips offer students and teachers the remarkable opportunity to go to incredible places. These days you too can travel to Mars or see what it was like to journey the Oregon Trail in 1846. With the careful instruction of a teacher working alongside an online learning curriculum and video conferencing, the possibilities to see and experience new things are endless.

Some virtual field trips are free while others are paid. Skilled instructors can opt to make their own too, or create a tour from photos.

There are two main types of virtual field trips:

  1. Packaged/Pre-Developed
    1. Commercial
      A commercial virtual field trip typically is looking to sell a product or service. This could look like advertising merchandise or a real excursion to the virtual destination, an example could be a hotel at a certain vacation spot or a famous tourist attraction.
    2.  Informational
      An informational virtual field trip is designed to promote and educate the public about a cause. Think of a trip through the Amazon or nature conservation. There might be an angle (donation, for example) or a mission statement as the call to action.
  2. Teacher Created/Personalized
    1. Educational
      These are usually put together and designed by the teacher so the needs of the class are met as per the curriculum or set standards. This allows educators to create from scratch or have more control over audio, visuals, and the overall experience.

With a virtual field trip designed to mimic different experiences or fully immerse eager minds into extraordinary experiences, learners of different ages and interests can get closer to the things they love while deepening their understanding and broadening their education. Here are a few of the many benefits of using virtual field trips to enhance your lesson and teachings:

  • Eliminate The Need For Transportation
    No need to orchestrate rides, accommodation, or get parent permission! Plus, there are way fewer logistics to think of regarding timing, itinerary, snacks, and other event-oriented details. Even when it comes to organizing a virtual field trip to a top-notch hospital’s operating room, there’s not much to worry about! You can visit all different parts of the hospital from the NICU to ICU, therapy rooms, and more without scrubbing in!
  • Cut Costs
    Dramatically reduce the costs associated with traveling across the country or continent, booking key speakers, or blocking out time to visit a specific location with a tour guide. When a virtual field trip is available online, costs can go down significantly without affecting learning.
  • Increase Learning Time
    If you’re traveling far, delays are sure to happen. When everyone can attend a virtual field trip without leaving the house, the time for instruction increases. Students can have more time to ask questions, gain more feedback and collaborate with classmates on projects, and tasks pertaining to the trip.
  • Fewer Safety Concerns
    Students can travel the world to far off (and sometimes fantastical lands) without having to come face to face with dangerous confrontations. Whether that’s a different planet, an encounter with a wild animal, or an extreme climate, virtual field trips are safe and comfortable, and a lot of fun!

Furthermore, virtual field trips offer:

Smiling woman seated at outdoor table beside store window, working on laptop with drink beside herFlexibility
For remote learners or those who are in school part-time or balancing work and life and previous commitments, a virtual field trip can be viewed synchronously and asynchronously; in real-time or recorded, or by sharing a recording in real-time using screen sharing in a remote presentation!

Accessibility
Literally available from a student’s handheld device in any space including a living room or remote location, anyone can go on a virtual field trip. Especially with zero-download, browser-based technology, all a learner needs to have is a device and internet connection.

Opportunities For Interaction
While students may not be able to smell, taste or touch, they can surely see and hear, as well as connect with others. The immersive experience and gamification of a virtual field trip make learning, collaborating with others, and further enhancing skills easy to do. A virtual field trip can take on different approaches; students might put together their own trip to take the rest of the class on or selected students can work with the instructor to plan and create their own group experience. Plus, virtual field trips cater to all sorts of learning styles including visual, auditory, reading/writing and kinesthetic.

Visit Interesting Places
With a virtual field trip, learners can really immerse themselves and get a front row seat at places that wouldn’t otherwise be on the itinerary. Ever thought about visiting the solar system? What about taking a tour through the White House or swimming with fish in the Great Barrier Reef?

With FreeConference.com, any instructor can go online to create or help bring to life a virtual field trip for eager learners. Whether a teacher designs the excursion or uses an already-existing trip, FreeConference’s technology provides an easy-to-use and FREE platform for students to access their online excursion. Instructors can use the Screen Sharing tool to provide instant viewing, and Document Sharing at the end to share worksheets, plus many other helpful features to get students ready to learn!

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