For Immediate Release
April 6, 2011
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Budget cuts are making school field trips an increasingly rare occurrence—resulting in missed learning opportunities. Students at The College at Brockport, State University of New York, however, are learning a new way to transport field trips into the classroom.
Carrie Wright and Jena Albee, two senior history majors who are student teaching this semester, presented this emerging strategy April 6 as part of Scholars Day, the annual event where Brockport students share their research and scholarship with the community. Their presentation, “A Look into Classroom Technology: Virtual Field Trips,” demonstrated how teachers can use a Google program to simulate a field trip on the Internet. The program, called Google sites, is a quick and easy way to develop a customized website that can feature text, photos and YouTube videos. “As a teacher, I want to bring as much as I can from the outside world into my classroom,” says Albee. “When I’m teaching about the Egyptian pyramids, I can’t hop on a plane and take my students to Egypt. But I can create a virtual field trip that allows me to bring a piece of the world into my classroom.”
Wright was teaching her students about communities as part of her field placement at Parkland Elementary School in Greece, N.Y. last spring. She wanted to introduce her students to her hometown of Waverly, N.Y. but knew a field trip wasn’t feasible. So she created a virtual field trip. “It took my students through all of the different things that make up a community,” says Wright. “It features various things to do, the different parks in the area and the background of the town. It’s really, really cool and something that I’m very proud of.” The students learned this new tool as part of a course taught by Allison Wright, Childhood Inclusive Social Studies Education. Wright and Albee say that virtual field trips are still somewhat unknown in the educational community, but the teachers they have encountered have been impressed by the technology and are eager to create their own.
“I was telling one of my former teachers and mentors about it and sent her the link,” Wright says. “She actually used it in her class. I was really happy to be able to share a resource with someone I looked up to and have them really value what I did.” But the real value, Albee says, is in the knowledge that this new tool can convey to students.
“Field trips are very important but the funds just aren’t there anymore,” she says. “This is a new way to bring those same lessons to students.”
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