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October, 1998

Virtual Field Trips Guide

This Web site is just like taking a field trip with your class, without a lot of the hassle. Users can select from a number of different topics and follow the links to get a guided tour of the Internet.

The field trip pages use frames and some of the information appears off-balance. The links are at the bottom of the page and the information appears in the frame at the top of the page. Users have the option of viewing each "stop" in another, non-framed window. The site features a lot of photos.

The site includes a navigational menu in the bottom right corner of the framed page. The menu has buttons to allow users to move forward to backward within the tour, as well as buttons to reach other sections of the site.

Most educators know the double-edged sword of field trips. Students gain wonderful knowledge and insight from the trip, while the details of transportation, organization, and execution can be a nightmare. The Virtual Field Trips Web site has removed the bad while keeping the good. Users can take their students on "guided" tours to teach them new things and visit new places, without leaving the classroom. Viewers can select from a number of trips, including a trip to a volcano and another to the natural wonders of the world. Each trip begins with a "Trailhead" page listing vocabulary words and concepts to be learned from the trip. Users then start the trip and follow links selected by experts. Each page of the trip is a "trail marker", or stop, that describes a site. Educators can get student printouts and a teacher's guide in the Teacher's Resources section. The trips can be preloaded into the computer (explained at the site) to increase viewing time. The resources here are free and well-prepared. They offer a fun way to introduce the Internet to a classroom.