Five Tips for Organizing a Successful Virtual Field Trip
Bring the place to your students when you are unable to bring your students there.
During the pandemic, places that offered students in-person educational experiences were forced to close, but there was still a demand for what they offered. In point of fact, they were more significant than ever because they served as a reminder to homeschooled students that the outside world existed and that they could still experience it.
Accordingly, distance learning programs presented by casual instructive associations like galleries and zoos filled in number. In addition, many continued to offer these well-liked programs when in-person learning resumed because the infrastructure necessary for their creation remained in place.
The National Park Service’s programs for distance learning are among the best of many organizations’ offerings. This is largely because of how they were designed, but it also has to do with how they suggest classroom teachers incorporate them into their projects and units. I discovered that there are a number of things educators can do to increase the effectiveness of these programs after working with numerous providers of distance learning.
STRUCTURING A DISTANCE LEARNING EXPERIENCE
1.Connect the curriculum in a clear way. Programs must clearly relate to actual learning objectives or standards that educators are expected to address. Making sure that your distance learning experience is relevant and meaningful means aligning the program with the learning objectives and framing specific projects or units within your curriculum. Be sure to look for programs that have strong connections to the curriculum.
Channel Islands National Park’s programs, which clearly outline the standards that are addressed, are one example of a location that anticipates this need. However, if you discover an opportunity whose standards are not clearly stated, simply inquire. Some of the time the facilitator can change their arrangement to oblige a particular solicitation.
Additionally, avoid judging a book by its cover. The program’s title may not always accurately reflect its content. Hot Springs National Park, for instance, provides “Bathtub Time Machine,” a program with strong historical and equity content but a catchy name.
2. A phone call is powerful. During the pandemic, the widespread use of videoconferencing technology enabled more and more locations to offer distance learning programs. Assuming you track down a gallery or park that would be ideal for your next unit, call and inquire as to whether they might want to converse with your understudies for 30 minutes, regardless of whether they have an authority offering.
In a gallery or exhibit that meets your requirements, you may be able to find a willing educator or curator who will offer to conduct a video chat on their personal phone (for example, the rangers at Ninety-Six National Historic Site did this for my students during a hurricane!).
3. The key is some preparation. Because the majority of online distance learning programs last less than an hour, the person hosting them may not always be able to include sufficient background information for each student. As a result, it is essential to devise an activity that not only contextualizes the program within the larger learning sequence but also provides students with an opportunity to acquire some background knowledge. There are a few options, including a video, a short research sprint, a reading followed by a discussion, or both.
In many instances, you don’t even have to think of this activity on your own. Once in a while, the associations that host distance learning exercises have recommended free exercises that you can download or print out for your understudies. For each of its programs, Yellowstone National Park provides guided organizers to help students arrive prepared with essential information.
4. Ask students questions to find out what they need to know. While many distance learning programs are presented in a direct instruction or presentation style, having your students generate questions in advance can help you capitalize on access to an expert and add more interactivity to the experience. Time can then be saved toward the finish of the program for understudy questions, making the experience much more pertinent.
Questions that have been thoughtfully planned ahead of time are a win-win situation because they enable students to utilize the expert knowledge that is available to them and give the person running the program a means of ensuring that they are meeting the requirements of your students.
5. Include a reflection and post-work component. It is essential to provide students with an opportunity to reflect on and build on what they have learned following the distance learning program. Do they believe they received the necessary information to comprehend the subject?” What brand-new comprehension do they now possess?” Did they get any information from the presenter?
You can use those questions to help students think about their experience and plan for the future. To take advantage of the enthusiasm and energy that a distance-learning program provides, you can also consider the next activity or instructional sequence. Additionally, you should always check with the organization or presenter you are working with. They will almost always be able to point you in the direction of resources that might be useful for continuing the education of the students after the program has ended.
Where can you find these programs now that you know how to structure them and have received some helpful suggestions?
– During the off-season (October–March), the National Park Service offers distance learning programs at numerous locations. Because they are open to everyone in the United States, they do sell out quickly because they are free. You can go to their Educator Entryway to join or take a gander at the data on this asset I made, which is a thorough rundown of areas and their contributions.
– As a former volunteer for the California State Parks, I may be biased, but California has one of the best state park systems in the country and a very good distance program called PORTS that provides excellent science and social studies lessons from parks all over the state. Sign up for their email list to be notified when registration opens.
– Parks, museums, and zoos from all over the United States participate in programs hosted by the Center for Interactive Learning & Collaboration! For more information about booking these fantastic experiences for your students, visit their website.