Part of the modern language curriculum is to engage students with the cultural aspect of the language. The best way to do this would be to immerse the class in an environment where the language and the culture is part of life. However, such a trip can be very expensive. Therefore, most of what is brought into the classroom with regards to culture is via video and readings. I know that it is now possible to visit museums and other establishments virtually but so far, I have not had the chance to try it myself to see what is available and what could be applicable for my courses.
Benefits of virtual field trips:
Resources found about virtual field trips:
List of possible virtual field trip: http://www.onlineuniversities.com/blog/2010/01/100-incredible-educational-virtual-tours-you-dont-want-to-miss/
Teacher Tap: http://eduscapes.com/tap/topic35.htm a series of resources
This one is interesting for English teachers: Google Lit trips: http://googlelittrips.org/
“What is a Google Lit Trip?
Lit Trips are downloadable files that mark the journeys of characters from famous literature on the surface of Google Earth. Along the way, place marks with pop-up windows contain "just in time" resources including relevant media, thought-provoking discussion starters, and links to supplementary information about "real world" references in that portion of the story. Our focus is on creating engaging and relevant literary experiences for students.”
These virtual field trips are divided by grades. As far as I can tell, it is free to use. Here is the user guide:
There is also the Google Expeditions that is beginning to grow. However, it requires the students to wear virtual reality wears and teachers to purchase a kit which comes at a cost of $10 000 for a class of 30 students. Furthermore, this type of virtual field trip would not work in an online course as the teacher could not expect the students to purchase their own virtual reality wear.
My final thought about this topic is that I am very disappointed that still in 2017, there isn’t more available in the virtual field trip experience. I am guessing that there is not enough funding and interest to create this kind of project. The internet has globalized the access to information but the technology has not gone so far as globalizing the user’s experience. However, I am sure that innovators will pick up on the Google Expeditions’ idea and create similar experiences to eventually have enough competition to lower the price and increase the quantity available. This type of experience will not only be beneficial to students but anyone interested in travelling cheap.
Scholastics, 2017. Virtual Field Trips. Retrieved January 23, 2017 from https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/articles/teaching-content/virtual-field-trips/