More educators are taking students on 'virtual field trips'

More educators are taking students on 'virtual field trips'

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah's students can't normally go to the Great Wall of China, or to the Louvre. That doesn't mean teachers can't plan a field trip there.

Education officials say virtual field trips are becoming more popular while budgets are tight. Some educators even say schools that don't engage in virtual fields trips are putting their students behind the proverbial 8 ball.

"Being able to find all of these things certainly makes the educational experience for the kids a lot more enriched," says Jeff Herr, head of Utah Virtual Academy.

Herr says the way teachers are using these virtual tools is changing also. He says teachers can take their students on a guided tour from anywhere they want.

"She could be talking, and then see that the students are raising their hands, and then be able to turn the mic over so the child can actually ask questions," Herr says.

He says technology is making these lessons much easier, so their virtual field trips don't end up being just a glorified online slide show.

"The teacher can set the classroom up so the kids can have everything from texting privileges, so they can text a question and the teacher can respond, [to microphone capabilities]," Herr says.

Other educators are seemingly grasping onto these tours. The Deseret News says more classes are visiting museums and historical locations online than ever before.

Herr says more schools are trying to create relationships with Utah Virtual Academy as these tours become more popular.

"You've got a number of folks out there who do this [virtual touring] as their delivery method," Herr says.

But, he admits, virtual field trips will not replace real ones. That's why he plans face-to-face field trips even though his curriculum is online.


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