Classes can use video conferencing to take virtual field trips

Wednesday, January 4 2012

While tight budgets and travel costs can cause schools to cut back or even forgo field trips, technologically savvy classrooms have found ways to keep the enriching experiences a possibility. Classrooms can use video conferencing to take virtual field trips that create an interactive experience for students without the high admission costs or travel expenses.

The Smithsonian and the National World War II Museum are potential destinations for virtual field trips. Featuring exhibits about President Lincoln, the climate change, Pearl Harbor and American Indians, they offer webinars, video conferences and virtual tours of the museum exhibits. The Smithsonian first offered Online Educational Conferences in 2009. During the web conferences, students and educators are able to ask questions and interact with museum curators and researchers. The National WWII Museum's virtual field trips are interactive and stream live video conferences into the classroom.

Virtual field trips also offer scheduling flexibility that traditional field trips don't allow. The Smithsonian records and archives the conferences so they can be used for future purposes, and some museums use the same type of video conferencing technology as in professional meetings.