Virtual Field Trips
Virtual field trips present a variety of content for student learning in online environments. Virtual field trips tend to be highly visual, and offer varying levels of interactivity. Many resources for virtual field trips already exist online, and instructors with basic audio-visual recording equipment and editing software can create virtual field trips.
Generally, virtual field trips fall into one of two categories: simulated visits and video tours. Simulated visits allow students to navigate through a virtual environment and are built with varying levels of interactivity: in some, only images are displayed, while in others, students can select items or images for detailed views and additional information. Video tours are usually more straightforward and less interactive, presenting audiovisual content in a linear format. While this option is more limited, it is also far easier to create.
Application to All Courses
Virtual field trips can be incorporated in any course where students do not have access to the location of interest and in distance learning courses. For example, students can use Google Earth Treks to explore natural environments and landmarks such as the Great Barrier Reef, the Colorado River’s course through the Grand Canyon, and the Amazon Basin, as well as locations of cultural significance such as the remains of Petra, Angkor Wat, and the Pyramids of Giza, all of which would be both costly and difficult to access.
Advantages of incorporating virtual field trips into your courses are that the field trips:
- Promote active learning
- Can support blended learning and flipped classrooms
- Provide information for use in case studies and simulations
Here are a few example assignments illustrating the effective use of virtual field trips for student learning:
Incorporating a virtual field trip into your course may allow you to build more authentic assessments. Think about ways you could incorporate a virtual field trip into a discussion board, problem based learning assignment, essays or journaling.
While field trips may be entertaining and fun, they should always support and enhance student learning, whether in person or in a virtual environment. It’s important that any material you present to your students is aligned with one of your course learning objectives, and not included simply for entertainment (unless you are providing the tour as an optional additional resource to your students). If you decide to incorporate a virtual field trip into your course, be sure that you include a related assignment or assessment, and be sure to provide timely feedback after the assignment is completed.
Please contact the CITT if you would like assistance incorporating virtual field trips into your UF eLearning course site.
Simulated visit examples
Video tour examples
Examples of hybrid and other varieties
360Cities: largest online collection of stunning, geo-referenced, interactive panoramic photos.
Traditions of the Sun: Tours of ancient observatories.
Examples of student-created virtual field trips
Keep accessibility in mind as you develop course content and build assignments and assessments. Many online tools are not fully accessible, so it’s important to think about how you will make the assignment accessible if requested. The Disability Resource Center and the UF Accessibility page will guide you in making appropriate accommodations. You can also find out more about accessibility at our toolbox page on Accessibility in the Online Classroom.