Expanding the Classroom Learning Experience with Virtual Field Trips
Videoconferencing tools like Skype (www.skype.com) are an inexpensive way to expand the classroom learning experience with real-world applications. It has never been easier to create these real-world learning experiences for your students. Tools such as Skype allow students to connect with industry experts from around the world, or participate in a virtual field trip activity. In comparison to taking your students on a physical field trip, virtual field trips are free and provide experiences that might otherwise be inaccessible. Virtual field trips are a great way to link class content to real-world applications. A virtual field trip is simple to organize and can be coordinated by the instructor or students, as part of a class project.
If you don’t have the time to create your own virtual field trips, there are multiple videos available on YouTube (www.YouTube.com) that you can use instead. These prerecorded, online virtual field trips can either be used in class or assigned as an out-of-class activity, which make them perfect for online courses. Many times, textbook publishers also provide real-world video learning experiences, so don’t forget to explore those options as well.
If you teach accounting and want to expose your entry-level students to accounting industry experts, AICPA’s website, StartHereGoPlaces.com (https://www.startheregoplaces.com/students/games-tools/virtual-field-trips/) provides free virtual field trips, via live webcasts, a few times each year. These types of virtual field trips are great opportunities to connect your students with CPA’s who discuss various topics, such as the field of accounting or the role of the CPA in industry. Participants in the StartHereGoPlaces.com virtual field trips, can even interact in a question and answer session.
As with any learning activity, it is important to have students reflect on what they learned from the virtual field trip experience. Therefore, having students “debrief” as soon as possible after the virtual field trip, helps students link their field trip take-aways to classroom content.
Whether you are looking for opportunities that allow your students to engage with industry experts or experience the real-world first hand, virtual field trips are an excellent way to enhance the classroom learning experience. For some additional tips on how to use Skype for virtual field trips, visit Microsoft Education at https://education.microsoft.com/courses-and-resources/courses/virtual-field-trips-with-skype-in-the-classroom.