How can schools and districts integrate virtual reality field trips into their curriculum in a way that complements learning rather than becoming the main focus?
“Virtual field trips are much more than just visiting a place, or exploring the history, may it be in a museum or on the top of Machu Picchu mountain in Peru. As an example, teachers can use a virtual trip to Egypt during a high school Trigonometry lesson while learning how to calculate the volume of a pyramid, giving students a whole new level of engagement, trying to calculate the volume of stone in the pyramids, and convert that to metric-ton units, calculating how many full-trailer trucks are needed in order to build such structures. This type of experience is granted to engage even the least-interested student, and nail down the learning for a lifetime.”
—Elad Inbar, CEO, RobotLAB Inc.
“In the past few years, we have worked with educators who not only conceptualize but also create VR content. When the educators conduct the classroom sessions, one common approach is that they often use VR as just part of the overall learning design, with a total duration of not more than 15 minutes, while maintaining the conventional practices such as group discussions and Q&A sessions outside of VR. One of the reasons behind this is that VR hardware providers discourage prolonged usage of VR goggles among young kids as part of their health and safety advice. Another reason is that educators do see the value of the conventional approaches to create holistic knowledge transformation experiences for the students. While VR can be a technology that enables experiential learning, it is not meant to replace every single aspect of learning. It is a means to an end, not an end in itself. Human-centered approach should still be highly valued in the education domain.”
—YUAN Yi , Techno-social Innovation Strategist, Hiverlab
“When educators use Virtual Field Trips to ignite students’ curiosity, they create tremendous momentum for learning. I suggest educators use VFTs to grab students’ attention about a topic. Then, by providing space, time, resources, and facilitation for deeper student inquiry, teachers can help students uncover the content they’re interested in.”
—Kyle Schutt, Discovery Education’s director of learning communities and innovation
“The most effective way to encourage and nurture students is to provide them with access to outstanding resources, which help to enhance and enable their learning and your teaching. Virtual reality trips allow you to bring inaccessible and hard-to-reach places right to the fore of students’ attention. In doing so, teachers are equipped with another tool to inspire, motivate and broaden their students’ horizons.”
—Andrew Shelton, educational specialist, ClassVR
“Virtual reality field trips provide extraordinary opportunities for educators to transform every-day lessons across the content areas into active learning journeys that enhance engagement and spark discussions. Used as part of a lesson or unit, a virtual reality field trip can bring history or science to vivid life for students of all grade levels, regardless of location.”
– Lauren Tarshis, Senior Vice President & Editor-in-Chief/Publisher, Scholastic Classroom Magazines
What steps do schools need to take to set up virtual reality field trips remotely?
Consider your purpose for learning. Are you trying to pique student curiosity about a faraway place? Do you want to show someone in an interesting career demonstrating new skills? Provide context and relevance to the virtual reality experiences you set up. Next they need to consider the hardware. Depending on your budget, the number of students involved, and whether you’re looking to create synchronous or asynchronous experiences, you can determine if you should build headsets using templates found online, buy Google Cardboard for around $10.00 apiece, or purchase hi-end devices. From there, ensure you have a strong internet connection and always try out an experience before sharing with students.
—Kyle Schutt, director of learning communities and innovation, Discovery Education
VR allows students to transcend isolation and social distancing by traveling the world and exploring their future career. First, identify the goals and learning outcomes. That will drive the initiative for teachers and IT to understand the why of leveraging VR. Next, set the stage with background information about the location, including field trip inquiry questions to guide the narrative. Having a live or asynchronous discussion will help learners make connections between the learning objectives and their experience.
—Ed Gillispie, vice president and general manager of North America public sector and healthcare, Lenovo