How to make Virtual Field trips happen!

You have heard of virtual field trips, but how to make them happen, and, make the most out of them.

Virtual Field trips

Virtual field trips are exactly what they say on the tin.  They are field trips for school or university students somewhere in the world, using modern technology, be them zoom, skype or even more interactive and use virtual reality equipment, to visit a location virtually.

Virtual field trips are a great way for school and university students to experience a place where they may not be able to afford to travel to or get access to or perhaps learn a new skill from experts from around the world.  Imagine traveling to the tropical rainforests from your classroom and meeting local indigenous people?  Imagine being able to visit monuments like the Taj Mahal. Or even learn how to recycle plastic and then help sell the products through an entrepreneurial assignment after the field trip.

Well now you can.  It’s not hard. The main thing you need is a good internet connection, a laptop And then a projector.  If you want to go one step further then use a smartphone and use google to show you 3 dimensional animals.

You are probably wondering this sounds great, but how?  How much does it cost?  Can we really do this?

Don’t worry we will explain all here.

Virtual field trip citizen science fuze ecoteer
Tropical forest virtual field trip in Malaysia with citizen science elements.

1) Think what you want your students to learn through the virtual field trips

First of all, think what you want to learn. Are you a biology teacher that wants some real-life data collection and learning from coral reefs? Are you looking for team building?  Are you a CAS co-ordinator and looking for new ways for your students to fulfill their service element?  Are you a geography teacher looking to show your students real life rock formations. Or even a business teacher and want to lead a real-life entrepreneurial assignment.

2) Where do I find these experiences?

Once you know what you want, the next question to ask is where do I find the right experience?  There are lots of options online but here at Fuze Ecoteer we offer all sorts of programmes from biology field trips in tropical rainforests and marine biology and turtle conservation to precious plastic workshops and entrepreneurial programmes. Fuze Ecoteer are working with Portsmouth University to develop citizen science programmes that can be conducted in Malaysia and at your nearby beach or forest so you can compare rainforests and tropical beaches with your home town beaches and forests. You can also do virtual volunteering, NGO’s all around the world need help, you don’t need to visit to help, you can help the NGO with fundraising, online awareness campaigns and more.  The possibilities are endless when you think about it. Some of the best opportunities are with the National Geographic Explorer Classroom. They run programmes broadcast daily from all around the world to your classroom.  You can take a walk within a penguin rookery in Antarctica, how amazing is that. If you want to find out more about Fuze Ecoteer’s virtual field trips and service learning opportunities then please get in contact.  

3) How do I make this virtual trip a reality?

So you have found your perfect virtual trip, and developed learning outcomes and case studies around the experience. Next you will think, how will I make this a reality? Well that is simple but there is one major obstacle, you will need to contact the organisation and discuss the time. The time is the most important factor as you need to find a time when you and they are available as its likely you will be in different time zones.  You may need to adjust your thoughts when thinking about the time.  And don’t forget about changes in sunrise and sunset in higher latitudes. Once you have the perfect time and learning outcomes, next is your equipment and be realistic.  Its better to have a smooth simple programme than a disjointed experience.  Simplicity is the key!  Technology always goes wrong at the wrong time.  So have a back up!  For example, have a copy of videos and presentations with you to show if things go wrong.  

4) Should we pay for virtual fieldtrips?

This all depends on how tailoured they are. If you join an open session and hundreds of classrooms around the world login to watch then the fee will be free or very low.  Additionally, if you are working with an organisation who is working behind the scenes, making bespoke content for your experience then you should pay.  Think of it like this, imagine you went on a field trip to a study site with an expert. Would you pay? of course you would. There are ways you could work with the organisation and perhaps you could charge a per head fee for the students or maybe you could do a fundraiser at school or university.  

5) How to make the most of virtual field trips

Plan and prepare, use the experience as a case study or perhaps a course assignment for university. Also you could work around the subject and set tasks and assignments which could benefit the organisation like grant searching and writing, online awareness campaigns, fundraising or new promotional brochures. Many things can be done, but the more you develop around the subject, the more valuable and richer the experience will be for all .

Take that next step and contact us!

Resources

National Geographic Explorers Classroom – https://www.nationalgeographic.org/education/student-experiences/explorer-classroom/
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