With today’s technology, it is easy to energize the learning environment by providing students with authentic opportunities to see places and meet people previously unimaginable via virtual field trips. This year, students in our district have visited the White House, taken a whirlwind tour of national landmarks, and even explored the regions of the great state of Texas all without leaving the classroom, but from the ooh’s and aah’s heard throughout each experience, you would have thought that the students were really there!
When I started playing around with the idea of virtual field trips, I found several great resources with trips already designed, but none which actually met the state standards by grade level for which I am responsible. I decided to create a custom trip, so that I could take students on a deeper dive in some areas and provide opportunities for student reflection. After evaluating several platform options for hosting trips, I found that I could design exactly what I wanted with ClassFlow. This FREE platform allowed for 360° images and video, included interactive polls so that I could gather real-time feedback, and even had a tool for annotations by students! (We have used the drawing option for highlighting images and collecting students’ favorite features in the trip. Love!!!) Truly, the sky is the limit on the places that you can go and the ways in which you can use this tool to enhance students understanding.
Creating a Virtual Field Trip in ClassFlow
- To get started designing a virtual trip your students will remember, log into ClassFlow. No account? Sign up for FREE.
- Select ‘My Resources’.
- Choose ‘New”.
- Pick ‘Lesson’.
- Take a minute to name the new adventure and then, start designing by searching for images of your desired location on Google Maps. Look for images that have the 360° icon rather than the static camera. These will allow students to maneuver around in the images. I started my last adventure by showing the students a picture of the city airport and had them guess what state we were visiting. Once you find an image that you like, use the mouse to move it to the view that students will see first and then, click the 3 dots on the image’s title to see options for printing, reporting a problem, and sharing or embedding. Choose ‘Share or embed image’ and click ‘Embed Image’. Copy the iframe script.
- Go back to ClassFlow and expand the Card Deck so that the Student Cards are visible.
- Select the Student Card on which you want the image to appear. Click the link button in ClassFlow.
Select the Custom HTML feature to paste the copied code onto the Student Card and choose ‘Add to Current Card’. You Tube 360° videos are also fun to include and can be embedded in much the same way. Discovery has some of my favorites and can be found on You Tube by searching “Discovery 360° video”.
- To finish up, I like to add Card Notes and activities. Card Notes help me remember important points about each image and key vocabulary words identified in my content standards that need to be covered. The activities are ways that I want students to interact with each image. I can send a creative poll and ask students to circle evidence in the image such as clues that would help determine the location’s climate or ask an open-ended question that connects to the content being studied.
And, that’s it! You have your first destination embedded in your lesson. Add a few more to create a robust experience for your students and transform the topic being studied. By ‘being’ there, even virtually, students will be engaged visually, audibly, and kinesthetically which according to research will help them better internalize the content (Pitts, 2012).