Virtual field trips are using video conferencing to provide educational experiences

Wednesday, April 25 2012

Today, a Florida classroom got to see the latest in robotic technology in action thanks to a virtual field trip using video conferencing.

Venice High School's Medical Academy was able to observe a partial gastrectomy, a minimally invasive robotic surgery. Additionally, students could interact with the doctors and surgical team in real time. The video conference is part of a collaborative effort between Sarasota County Public Schools and the Sarasota Memorial Health Care System.

Students were able to see first hand the da Vinci robot, one of the most advanced forms of robotics technology used today.

The e-field trip gave students the opportunity to view all aspects of the surgery. In addition to seeing the operation, the classroom was able to see the entire operating room due to the hospital's integrated video conferencing camera set-up. They even had a chance to sneak a peek into the patient's body.

"In cases like this, where they might never have the opportunity to step through an operating room door, the virtual experience is one students might never get otherwise," said Carole Lash, director of the Venice High School Medical Academy.

Video conferencing allows classrooms to have educational opportunities that were previously unimaginable. Scholastic has taken virtual field trips to the next level. Classrooms around the country have been all over the world, seeing volcanoes, zoos, the oceans and historical landmarks.

Virtual field trips allows for a completely customizable curriculum to help engage all students, as it allows for real-time discussions from renowned experts in a wide variety of professions.

"I’ve learned at each video conference that every child is attentive, engaged, and absorbed in what’s happening. The most challenged learner, with the most severe special educational needs, is not gazing out the window, but participating. So that is definitely helping their learning," Christina Teisch, Principal at St. Thomas the Apostle, in West Hempstead, New York, said to Scholastic.

Recently her students used video conferencing technology to link up to a classroom in Ghana, where they discussed the country's upcoming democratic election and what life is like under President Obama's administration.

Video conferencing is not only providing life changing educational experiences, but it is saving schools money as well. The technology removes the expenses associated with unnecessary travel and can help struggling schools maintain their budget.