20 virtual field trips for your classroom

Ed Tech

Ed Tech | Wednesday, November 4, 2020

20 virtual field trips for your classroom

20 Virtual field trips for students (1)
20 Virtual field trips for students (1)

Virtual field trips allow us to take our students where the bus can’t. Students can make connections with locations, concepts or people through the power of virtual field trips. What are the best virtual field trips out there? And how can we take the learning even further? Here are 20 field trips and 10 activities to do while you're on one!

Imagine your class traveling to see the Great Pyramid of Giza, touring the International Space Station, or having a face to face conversation with a beloved author. All of these experiences are possible through virtual field trips.

Virtual field trips allow us to take our students on adventures we never could before.

They are fun, very engaging and best of all most virtual field trips are absolutely FREE! There are tons of exciting places to go and connections waiting for you and your classroom to make that are already available.

So where are the best places to find a virtual field trip for your class? And what activities can you provide your students to take the learning further?

Below you will find 20 virtual field trip ideas and activities for your classroom. Educators shared ideas along with links to resources so that you can get started connecting your classroom tomorrow!

Check out this Wakelet collection for even more virtual field trips along with our Virtual Field Trip Pinterest board full of resources shared by the #Ditchbook community.

20 virtual field trips for your class

1. Skype in the classroom

 Microsoft’s Skype in the Classroom site (SkypeInTheClassroom.com)  offers a database of thousands of teachers, hundreds of guest speakers and dozens of free virtual field trips. With contact information. Your class can connect to the world through virtual field trips, Skype lessons, Skype collaborations, mystery Skypes, and guest speakers.

Learn more: About Mystery Skypes and why we need more

2. Google Expeditions

 With the Google Expeditions app, available on iOs and Android, you can take your class on interactive journeys in both VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality). Through Aquilla Education's website, you can search available expeditions by grade level, subject or location.

Learn more: How to Make Their Learning Go Viral | Interview with Karly Moura – GTP002

3. 360° Cities

 Do you want to try diving with tiger sharks? Or maybe parachute jump from 10,000 meters? 360° Cities provides the largest collection of amazing, high-resolution panoramic images of locations all over the world. Some images have sound as well so that the viewer is truly immersed in the experience. Images can be used in VR lessons or on any device!

4. Nearpod

Nearpod VR allows educators to take their classes on virtual field trips around the world on any device. Nearpod VR works on VR headsets but you don't need to use them to experience a virtual field trip. With over 450 destinations to choose from you can take your kids to so many incredible places! You can also search by subject area so that you can be sure it fits with your class or curriculum.

5. Google Street View

Street View makes it possible to drop your classroom virtually onto almost any street in the world and walk around. It uses panoramic images that let you turn around, zoom in and walk down roads to check out the scenery. Just grab the little yellow “peg man” and drop him where you’d like to go. (See animation at right.) For practice, try dropping yourself at your doorstep of your school if you’ve never used it before.

Street View includes tons of “Indoor Maps” where you can “walk around” inside buildings. (Click for the full list.) They include:

TOP TOOL: InstantStreetView.com — Find a location using its search bar. Then share a link with students that takes them directly to the street view you want them to see. Save time!

Learn more: 20 locations to tour virtually with Google Maps Street View (blog post)

6. Field Trip Zoom

 Field Trip Zoom has an extensive calendar of interactive events that can be live streamed into your classroom. Although Field Trip Zoom is not free they do offer a one month free trial for new schools or school districts.

7. Google Tour Builder

 Google Tour Builder is an exciting way to create your own tour to share a journey and highlight locations along the way using Google Earth. Tour Builder brings together the best of MyMaps and Street View. With Tour Builder, you can take viewers from location to location in first-person 3D glory. Choose the locations, choose how you want them to be seen and add any additional information. Students can view tours that have already been created or create one of their own!

8. Empatico.org

Empatico.org is a free resource that connects classrooms through video. Empatico empowers teachers and students to explore the world through experiences that spark curiosity, kindness, and empathy. Aimed at upper elementary school students, Empatico.org is a way for students and teachers to connect to other classes while focusing on sparking curiosity, kindness, and empathy. 

9. YouTube 360°

Did you know that you can watch tons of 360° videos on Youtube? You can search through tons of 360° videos on almost anything. Find exciting videos from National Geographic, Discovery VR, the Science Channel and more to use in your class.

10. National and State Park Virtual Tours

NationalParks.org provides students with electronic field trips that provide students the opportunity to go to parks they may never otherwise get to visit. The National Parks Service offers free ranger-guided virtual field trips on a first come first serve basis.

11. National Museum of Natural History

Take self-guided, room-by-room tours of exhibits from your device. You can walk through the museum and move from room to room through the map. It's an exciting and fun way to explore one of the most famous museums in the world. Visitors can visit permanent exhibits, current exhibits, past exhibits, take a narrated tour and more!

12. Street View Treks

Once you’ve seen your school from the curb on Google Maps Street View, take it to the next level with Street View Treks. These custom-produced exploration experiences are awesome for students. They provide information about the location and videos that pair nicely with the panoramic views. Locations include Nepal, Gombe National Park, the Pyramids of Giza, the Great Barrier Reef (a Street View Trek underwater!) and more.

13. Walking tour screencasts 

An extension to Street View and Treks is to let students take you on a walking tour of someplace in the world. They do some research and collect some facts about the location first. Then they load up the location using Street View or Treks. They start recording a screencast video (a video of what’s happening on their screen with their microphone recording their voices). Some free screencasting tools: Screencastify (my favorite), Screencast-O-Matic and Flipgrid (there are others). Students narrate the tour as they “walk” the streets using Street View or Treks.

Learn more: Google Maps walking tours with Street View and Screencastify

4. Google Cultural Institute 

These virtual tours don’t have to be confined to what you can see from the street. Google Cultural Institute gives you access to top-notch art collections from around the world (Art Project) and modern/ancient world heritage sites (World Wonders). Witness significant moments in history with Historic Moments, giving students a version of a field trip to the past.

15. Mapping fun

Creating or viewing an interactive map with images and information can be the next-best thing to visiting a location, and students can create their own. With Google MyMaps you can take your kids on an educational road trip right from your classroom. In this post by Craig Klement he shows you how  to take a road trip with Google MyMaps!

Learn more: 60 ideas for using Google MyMaps in any content area

16. Geoguessr 

This game is like a surprise virtual field trip every time you play. Geoguessr uses Google Maps Street View and places participants in a random location somewhere in the world. By panning around, zooming or “walking” down the street, participants place a pin on a map to guess where they are. The closer they guess, the more points they win. It’s great for critical thinking and using context clues.

17. Smarty Pins 

Smarty Pins is like Geoguessr’s cousin. Granted, it’s a little less like a virtual field trip, but it does use geography-based questions to play. Participants answer questions by dropping a pin where they think the answer is. It’s fun, it’s academic, and it is geography-focused … enough to constitute a virtual field trip experience? I’ll let you decide. 🙂

Learn more: 20 sites for students with free time on their hands

18. World National Parks 360 Tour

Part of Google Arts and Culture, The Hidden Worlds of National Parks take participants on a journey through some of the worlds most amazing places. See the Kenai Fjords, Hawaii Volcanoes, Carlsbad Caverns, Bryce Canyon and the Dry Tortugas. 

19. Stages Around the World 360 Tour

Take a trip step inside 11 dramatic virtual tours some of the most beautiful theaters, concert halls and opera houses in the world. Carnegie Hall, The Colosseum in Rome, and The Sydney Opera House are just a few of the amazing trips you take!

20. Discovery Education Virtual Field Trips 

Discovery Education produces some really solid, well produced virtual field trips. They’re live and incorporate images, live video and pre-produced video. The hosts answer questions on the spot during the live broadcast from students who are watching. Past virtual field trips are viewable on video (see video to right from Ford’s Theatre). Each field trip includes classroom resources and activities that teachers can use instantly. Find them on Discovery Education’s events page by selecting “Live/Virtual Field Trip” in the drop-down filter menu.

Tech Like A PIRATE is now available!

Tech Like A Pirate book cover

10 activities to do on your virtual field trips!

1. Connect with the local community.

If possible try to connect with someone living in the location you are visiting. Utilize the Microsoft Educator Community and see if your class can Skype with someone local to your destination.

2. Create or find an accompanying HyperDoc.

HyperDocs are a great way to immerse students in a unit through blended learning. Why not pair your virtual field trip with a HyperDoc lesson or unit to enhance the experience before, during and after the trip?

3. Utilize pre-made lessons.

In addition to providing amazing virtual field trips, Nearpod also has over 450 ready-to-teach VR lessons!

4. Preview or review the virtual field trip with a game.

Kids love virtual field trips almost as much as they love games. Add even more fun to the experience with a Jeopardy-style game, puzzles or a game-based learning tool like Gimkit, Quizizz or Kahoot!

5. "Travel" to a destination more than once!

Who says you can only go on your virtual field trip once? An added benefit of taking kids somewhere virtually is that you can go again and again. Take your students back and experience the trip from a different perspective.

6. Add a stem connection with 3D printing or a makerspace challenge.

After visiting a place have students create an artifact from the destination. Students can use everyday household items to create or take it up a few notches by having them create a 3D object in a program like Tinkercad. If you are lucky enough to have access to a 3D printer students can even print their artifact and share with the class.

7. Take others to your destination with green screen.

Have students share what they learned about a location by creating their own news report. Use an app like DoInk to transport students back to the location of your trip with Green Screen.

8. "Travel" with another class.

Students can become virtual pen pals with classes all over the world through Flipgrid's GridPals. Take your students on a virtual field trip to a famous landmark near your GridPal's location or use Google Street View to visit their town!

9. Have students do offline activities to reflect on and share their virtual field trip.

Get hands-on with activities like writing postcards, creating sketchnotes, making scrapbooks or a creative writing lesson after your trip.

10. Focus students with a learning target.

Have a learning target during your virtual field trip allows your students to focus their observations and connect it back to the content. As Brian notes below, be sure to allow for spontaneous noticings too. You never know where your students' observations might take you!

What are your best virtual field trip lesson ideas? How have you used them in class? Which of these ideas could you start using? Leave your ideas in a comment below!

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