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Get Outta Class

With Virtual Field Trips

You look outside the classroom window and see yet another in a long string of gloomy days. Inside the classroom, restless students seem mired in malaise. It must be time for a field trip! No money, you say, for buses or admission fees? No time for travel? Then why not a virtual field trip? The Web provides the resources; you provide the fun. Every day is a beautiful day for a virtual field trip! Included: Tips for creating your own virtual field trips.

Have you ever taken your students on a virtual field trip? If not, you're missing a great opportunity. You can take your students outside the classroom without ever opening the door. Like regular field trips, virtual field trips are designed to be entertaining and educational.

"[Taking a virtual field trip] is so much better than boarding a school bus and going to a museum or something and listening to a boring speech about each of the exhibits," Emily, a high school student from Maine, told Education World after she and her classmates took a virtual trip to view the Natural Wonders of the World. "It's better in that I could view each place in my own time; I wasn't rushed through, like on many field trips. I would gladly go on this type of field trip [again]. It saves time and money and is very convenient," added Emily.

Virtual field trips tailored to every grade level are springing up all over the Internet. Trips range from the simple, such as a photo tour of a famous museum, to extremely detailed and high-tech field trips that offer video and audio segments to make the visit more interactive.

However simple or complex, virtual field trips can take your students to a completely new world -- and the trips are as close as your computer.


On a virtual field trip, you and your students can go just about anywhere on Earth -- or even into the solar system.

For a trip to another galaxy, check out The Nine Planets. An engineer who has a great love of the solar system put this site together. The star buffs in your classroom will love it, too.

For a trip to another environment, how about Live from Antarctica 2? Students can follow a team of explorers through every step of their trip across the frozen continent. The site includes activities, researcher questions and answers, links to related sites, and more.

Maybe you'd like to take your city kids someplace they might not get the chance to visit on their own. Then check out one of the six virtual tours at 4-H Virtual Farm. Here, students can visit a horse farm, a beef or dairy farm, a poultry farm, and a wheat farm. There's even a fish farm.


Those are just a handful of thousands of virtual field trips students can take on the Web. Some are very simple, created by students, teachers, and parents. Others are big-budget productions that include several trips and extensive teaching resources. Either way, virtual field trips provide opportunities for new discovery in the classroom.


Any teacher -- or student -- who is even remotely computer savvy can create a virtual field trip. It's as simple as taking a camera along when the class goes off on a field trip. Take plenty of photos, then upload them to your computer and add them to your class or school Web site.

You'll find additional resources to help you create great virtual field trips in the Additional Virtual Field Trip Links section of this article.


Teachers Education World talked to seemed to really enjoy using and creating virtual field trips with their students. Students seem to value them as a way to learn about places they might never get to visit. "I decided that the World Wide Web offered an excellent way to access these places, events, and opportunities," said Gary Gillespie, a Seattle teacher who has created a number of virtual field trips for his students. "Students can explore the sites and use the information and pictures for reports or speeches."

So, if you want to take your class around the world, it's never been easier. You can create field trips for your students to experience and enjoy or explore the many trips just waiting to be discovered on the Web. Either way, the world and all its many wonders are waiting, just a click of the mouse away.


You can learn more about virtual field trips with these links to field trips:

  • John Muir Exhibit This exhibit by the Sierra Club offers the concise story of Muir's life, writings, and works. It includes sounds, video, and text.
  • Secrets of Easter Island This is a beautiful Web site put together by Nova and PBS. It includes a tour of the island and the game Move a Megalith.
  • Explore the Estuary If your students are studying the tides, ocean, or water dwellers, this is an excellent site. It includes video tours.
  • The JASON Project This many-faceted site hopes to "put the thrill of discovery back into the classroom." It offers several different trips, including one that follows a crew living aboard the space station.
  • Reach the World Sail around the world on a 43-foot sailboat, and meet the crew who did it. You'll find separate centers for teachers and students.
  • The Morgan Library & Museum  The Morgan's arts in education programs are available for virtual field trips to School, Camp, and Community groups for grades K–12
  • GOALS: Global Online Adventure Learning Educators developed this Web site to "intrigue you with the adventures, the sciences, the technologies and the underlying laws of nature that make them possible."
  • Virtual Field Trips If you're looking for a museum trip, here's a list of several available on the Web.
  • Virtual Field Trips Here's another site where you can create your own field trip or try out other teachers' efforts.

Article by Sherril Steele-Carlin
Education World®
Copyright © Education World

Last updated 10/29/2014