Research Supporting the Many Uses of Virtual Field Trips

Virtual Field Trips Open Doors for Multimedia Lessons

Manzo, K. K. (2009). Virtual Field Trips Open Doors for Multimedia Lessons. Education Week, 28(21), 9.

Summary: This article describes the ways in which the Internet can be used in education, focusing on the uses and benefits of virtual field trips (VFTs). VFTs are found to be most effective when they take place in an educationally valuable setting, tell a good story, and are organized by committed teaching staff. A VFT can be used as a stand-alone educational activity, or can be used to enhance more traditional activities.

Online Field Trips Boost Reading Scores

Clewell, S. (2005). Study: Online field trips boost reading scoreseSchool News, 8(7), 10.

Summary: A control-based study of about 400 7th and 8th grade students showed that those students who used three online field trips designed for social studies and language arts classes scored higher on a national reading comprehension test than those who engaged only in traditional educational activities. These online field trips are thought to be most effective when they come with targeted instructional support materials that can help teachers and engage students. Giving students autonomy and choice while on the online field trip can deepen learning.

Traveling the World Without So Much as a Hall Pass

Charkes, J. S. (2007, March 25). Field trips: Traveling the world, without so much as a hall passNew York Times, p6.

Summary: Virtual field trips (VFTs) allow students to experience the world at a fraction of the cost of a traditional field trip, helping them to see themselves as global citizens. While not a substitute for real-life immersion in a different culture, when paired with a strong curriculum VFTs can give students experiences that encourage them to further explore the world in person.

Rise in Virtual Field Trips

Devaney, L. (2008).  Gas prices fuel rise in virtual field tripseSchool News, 11(8), 28.

Summary: Virtual field trips (VFTs) offer opportunities for students to visit museums, historical sites, national parks, zoos and other locations without leaving their school, and their use has been increasing. In a time of rising costs and decreasing budgets, VFTs allow all students to have an equal opportunity to experience interesting and engaging educational experiences.

Bringing The World Into The Special Ed Classroom

Smedley, T. M., & Higgins, K. (2005). Virtual technology: Bringing the world into the special education classroom. Intervention in School & Clinic, 41(2), 114-119.

Summary: Virtual field trips (VFTs) allow students to experience places that can be too expensive or dangerous to visit in-person. They can be especially beneficial in the special education classroom because they allow students to experience laboratory and field locations at their own pace, repeat the experiences as often as they need to, and can readily rely on technological accommodations such as enlarged text, text-to-speech, and spell-checking. The article includes guidelines for teachers wanting to create their own VFT.

Enhancing Literacy for Rural Students

Lester, L. (2012). Putting rural readers on the map: Strategies for rural literacyReading Teacher, 65(6), 407-415. doi: 10.1002/TRTR.01062

Summary: This article presents a framework and instructional strategy for enhancing literacy instruction among rural students. Virtual field trips are seen as one strategy for enabling rural students to experience places and cultural institutions they may not otherwise have opportunities to explore.

Beginner's Guide to Virtual Field Trips

Zanetis, J. (2010). The beginner’s guide to interactive virtual field tripsLearning & Leading with Technology, 37(6), 20-23.

Summary: Virtual field trips can be an affordable way for students to experience the benefits of field trips without the expense. Easily accessible technologies such as videoconferencing and the Internet allow students to visit historically significant places, observe scientific experiments or other demonstrations, attend festivals or other significant events, and much more, either synchronously or asynchronously.

Best Practices For Using Virtual Field Trips

Klemm, E. B., & Tuthill, G. (2003). Virtual field trips: Best practicesInternational Journal of Instructional Media, 30(2), 177-193.

Summary: Despite the well-known benefits of field trips, numerous challenges, such as lack of administrative support, cost, liability issues, and standards-driven accountability, can prevent these beneficial educational activities from being widely used. Virtual field trips (VFT) provide a cheaper and logistically simpler way to help students learn about and engage with the real world. This article draws on both research and practice to identify best practices for designing and using VFTs.

International VFT's: A New Direction?

Stainfield, J., Fisher, P., Ford, B., & Solem, M. (2000). International virtual field rips: A new direction? Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 24(2), 255-62. doi: 10.1080/713677387

Summary: This article outlines the development of virtual field trips (VFTs), including their advantages and disadvantages, and the resources and approaches currently available. VFTs can support and enhance learning, especially for students who are financially or physically disadvantaged.

Virtual Field Trips: Alternatives To Actual Field Trips

Tuthill, G., & Klemm, E. B. (2002). Virtual field trips: Alternatives to actual field tripsInternational Journal of Instructional Media, 29(4).

Summary: Due to logistical issues, field trips are often not included in educational curricula despite the fact they are known to enhance learning. Virtual field trips (VFTs) present an alternative to these logistical problems. This article explores different types of virtual and real field trips that can be incorporated into the curriculum, and discusses the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Can Virtual Be As Effective As Real?

Walling, D. R. (2014). Can virtual be as effective as real? In Designing Learning for Tablet Classrooms (pp. 97-103). Cham: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-02420-2_16

Summary: This chapter explores games and simulations, virtual representations of actual learning activities, and virtual field trips. It sees these virtual activities as supplementing more traditional educational activities, but also sometimes needing to serve as a replacement for those activities when limitations of budget or student capabilities make those traditional activities challenging. The article suggests that students benefit the most when both traditional and virtual activities are used.

Engaging Reluctant Readers With Virtual Field Trips

Scott, J., Parr, M., & Richardson, W. J. (2008). By hook or by crook: Engaging reluctant readers and writers through the use of technology and virtual field tripsInternational Journal of Diversity in Organisations, Communities & Nations, 8(4), 35-42.

Summary: This article explores the use of virtual field trips (VFTs) for motivating and engaging “at risk” students who are considered reluctant readers and writers.

Research Supporting Virtual Field Trips

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