Technology has already changed the way students learn in the classroom. Less attention has been paid to tech’s impact on students’ other educational experiences such as field trips. The field trip of the future might use technology in plenty of exciting ways, all of which benefit students, teachers and parents.
For a cash-starved school district, technology can bring far-off worlds to the classroom for less than the cost of the average field trip. And even for classes that continue to venture outside school walls, tablets can prepare students for specific educational objectives and reinforce those lessons afterward.
Lastly, in an increasingly tech-oriented society and job market, both physical and virtual field trips can introduce students to in-demand skills such as engineering and coding. Read on to learn more about the future of field trips and start planning your class’s next “digital trip” today!
Tablets Enhance Pre- and Post-Field Trip Learning
Many students already use tablets in the classroom, so it’s a natural next step to incorporate them into the field trip experience. Programs such as Habitat Tracker enable students to apply classroom learning to in-the-field experience.
First, in their classroom, students learn how to carry out scientific experiments and gather data. Then they learn about specific animals and their habitats through the website. Next the class visits the animals in an outdoor museum and collects information about everything they observe. Finally students use the website again to record and interpret their findings, as well as share what they and other students have concluded.
Using technology to enhance the field trip experience teaches students many skills, from traditional scientific methods of inquiry to important 21st century skills like digital literacy. And the same process can be applied to other subjects. For example, students in Pennsylvania who visit Washington, DC, might research a particular aspect of the nation’s capital online beforehand and then compare that information with what they learn on a guided tour during the trip.
Afterward, students could write up a summary of the visit that compares and contrasts research findings with firsthand experience and other sources. Such an experience would also teach digital literacy, as well as history and critical analysis.
Virtual Reality Brings the World to Your Classroom
In addition to its use for the traditional field trip, technology can bring the “staycation” version of the field trip to classrooms everywhere. Gadgets like Google Cardboard allow students to view 360-degree photos and video through inexpensive personal headsets that are really made from cardboard. So a class could “visit” a museum or city without leaving their desks. The teacher or a museum employee could narrate the experience with educational information and history.
This technology would be useful not only to financially struggling schools, but to any teacher who wanted to bring a faraway place into the classroom. For example, a Spanish teacher could take her class on a tour through Mexico City as students listen to the locals chat in their native language.
Focus on the Future in Your Next Field Trip
It’s never too early to start teaching the skills of tomorrow: science, technology, engineering and math. Students could practice coding or design an engineering project on classroom computers. Then they could visit a real-life application of those skills, such as the site of a local rail line. Getting students to talk to the engineers who design and maintain high tech projects is just one of many ways to get students interested in future tech.
How will you incorporate technology into your class’s next field trip?
Whether it’s just one part of the experience or the main provider, the field trips of tomorrow promise to delight and educate students, as well as prepare them for 21st century society.