Breakout Session #5- “Engaging students through virtual field trips”
Presenter: Shelley Hersey
Using the Learnz website
All of the field trips remain online for use whenever you would like to use or rewind. However, there are live trips that last for three days, and connect with students during that time. This connection includes live web conferences each morning, followed the next day by an upload of the day before’s adventure on site.
Many of the locations where the field trips take place are generally inaccessible for our students. They are not to use as a replacement for other field trips but as a springboard for future learning.
The website for every live trip is accessible online generally a month before the trip for prior exploration. Six participating classes are able to send an “ambassador” (stuffed toy) to go on the field trip with the Learnz staff. Students are given an ambassador report from the learnz teacher onsite with the ambassador about what they are experiencing on their trip.
With field trips that have already taken place, students can use portions of each field trip as part of lessons happening at that time in class. Each field trip provides the teacher (and the student) with a wealth of information and resources about that topic. This could be a great thing to use in conjunction (or in some cases as) a reading task. However, they are not as valuable as a “field trip” unless you are experiencing it live.
While I see the value of implementing this program in my classroom, I was very surprised to see that there were no follow up activities to further the student’s online/virtual journey embedded within the program. That said, I can imagine the dialogic conversations and create tasks that could evolve from using learnnz.