The dog days of summer are upon us; now is the time when all the other activities have run out. Whether you're a parent looking to entertain bored, overheated children, or a teacher already brainstorming ways to break down the four walls of your classroom in the fall, how about taking a virtual field trip? As edtech writer Audrey Watters argues, real-life field trips offer enriching experiences that virtual ones can't, but resources are not always available for in-person trips. Besides -- virtual trips can take you places that wouldn't be logistically possible in the real world. I've gathered a playlist of videos to inspire your own virtual adventures!
Video Playlist: Virtual Field Trips
Watch the first video below, or watch the whole playlist on YouTube.
- Expeditions: Take Your Students To Places a School Bus Can't (01:35)
Google Expeditions was the talk of the ISTE conference this summer; soon, teachers will be able to get pilot kits that include a set of inexpensive Google Cardboard viewers and a tablet with an app that will send a synchronized virtual reality experience to every student in the classroom -- even without an internet connection. Learn more here.
- Living(Room) Global: Morocco | Adventures in Learning (04:17)
A virtual field trip doesn't have to be totally digital. PBS Parents shows us how mixing tangible real-life experiences with a bit of online research can yield rich and wonderful adventures.
- N.Y. Teacher Takes Students on a Virtual Trip to Learn Realities of Refugee Life (07:58)
Beyond fun and games, virtual field trips can also help young people build empathy for their counterparts around the world. At a high school in the Bronx, PBS NewsHour and LearningMatters cover a very unusual project that brings the experiences of Iraqi refugees closer to home.
- Skype in the Classroom Takes Students on the Ultimate Field Trip (05:12)
Skype is an excellent tool for connecting kids to the world beyond the classroom; find free virtual exploration lessons created by a host of partners at the Skype in the Classroom website for educators.
- Inspiring a New Generation of Adventurers (02:40)
Dave and Amy Freeman have been going on expeditions together for many years, and through their company Wilderness Classroom, they bring tens of thousands of students along with them, virtually. Their next trip starts September 23rd; sign up here!
- Virtual Field Trip - Amazon Rainforest (09:14)
Virtual Field Trips produces a number of slideshows about different destinations. You can subscribe for a nominal fee to their website to access them all, or check out the four free slideshows they offer on their YouTube channel.
- Create A Virtual Field Trip Video
Take it to the next level by filming your own virtual field trip next time you're in an interesting locale. Even better, have your students make their own virtual field trip videos of your hometown to share with kids in faraway places!
More Resources for Exploring Virtually
Virtual field trips can be as simple as taking an online 360-degree tour of a museum, or as complex as a fully immersive multimedia unit that teaches about the culture, history, and geography of a faraway place -- plus everything in between. The key is finding ways to spark curiosity and make learning come alive. There are so many organizations and websites providing this kind of content for free -- I've shared just a few collections below. Chime in with your favorites in the comments!
- Virtual Field Trips via Scholastic Teachers
- 10 of the Best Virtual Field Trips by Meris Stansbury via eSchoolNews
- Dr. Alice Christie's "Virtual Field Trips" Resource Guide via AliceChristie.org
- 20 Wonderful Online Museums and Sites for Virtual Field Trips via Educational Technology and Mobile Learning
- Travel the World From Your Classroom: Free iPad Apps for Virtual Field Trips by Monica Burns via Edutopia