(Virtual) Field Trips

It’s summer, and I’ve got some serious get-out-of-Dodge wishes. In particular, this being summer in Texas, I’m dreaming of Alaska, Antarctica, Nunavut, etc. Time for a field trip!

In all seriousness, what about field trips with your students? Some courses really make it work, but, for most courses, the logistics and the cost are overwhelming.

Enter virtual field trips. Your students get the educational content, you get to skip the organizational stresses. Plus, students can “revisit” the destination as often as needed, rather than relying on their notes or photos. Of course, there are few exact substitutes for the real thing, but, all things considered, the resources below provide some intriguing options.

You can use a virtual field trip to help students visualize names and places from course content. You can also use the virtual field trip portals for more critical inquiry: why these works, why this perspective, and why introduce the content in this manner? A virtual field trip holds a lot of promise as an attention-grabber at the start of a unit or as a culminating exercise.

We’ve written about the Google Art Project in an earlier post, but the site has had a redesign. It’s now easier to search the ever-expanding collection and to create your own galleries from the available works.

If archaeology is more your thing, here is an online 3-D interactive view of the pyramids in Giza. Likewise, Traditions of the Sun offers views of ancient Mesoamerican observatories.

Historypin is like a crowd-sourced field trip. Rather than a slick, uniform view of a place, this site lets users upload their own photos and pin the location of the photo to a searchable map (in some cases, you’ll really need to zoom in close to get the variety of photos to display). The images have dates attached to them, so you can travel back in time, too. A glance at my hometown reveals pictures from 1922 through 2012. In addition, there are also some Historypin thematic and geographical special collections.

Of course, there’s always Google Earth, for a walk / swim / climb around some of the world’s most compelling locations and landforms. Google Earth also has a partnership with 360Cities, a site focusing on interactive panoramic images of urban areas.

Last, if you happen to be taking an in-person field trip or leading a study abroad course, here are some options for how your students can use digital tools to document their field experiences.

What destinations will your courses explore this summer?

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One thought on “(Virtual) Field Trips

  1. Pingback: Virtual Field Trips, Part II | Koehler Center for Teaching Excellence

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