A popular time of year for vacations, summer can also be a great time to take distance learners on field trips. Even if school is out for the summer, that doesn't mean learning has to cease. Yet hurdles such as time, budget, proximity, and more can prevent distance learning families from making the trek to some valuable educational destinations.
When physical travel isn't a possibility, virtual field trips can help your distance learner experience far-off places in a fun, interactive way. Online resources provide low-cost, often free, opportunities for your student, or even your whole family, to study a wide range of topics that are tied to locations around the world.
A quick web search can provide a plethora of virtual field trip resources. For example, take a room-by-room tour of famous museums, such as Le Louvre or the Museum of Natural History. Get a 360-degree view of famous architectural structures, important historical events accompanied by audio, or popular tourist destinations via Panoramas of the World. Visit the archives page for access to hundreds of panoramas organized by category. Or, choose to learn more about famous national monuments such as the Statue of Liberty or the Lincoln Memorial. Many such sites offer a combination of valuable written, visual, and audio resources for your distance learner to explore.
In addition to visiting historically rich sites, explore places that supplement other academic subjects, too. Branch out and bring animals into your home when your student studies science. Several zoos stream live video from select animal exhibits on their websites. The San Diego Zoo hosts several such webcams. When animals move out of view, you can explore photo galleries, blogs, and get to know the individual animals in that exhibit.
As your student reads a story for English or for fun, visit Google Lit Trips to pinpoint the locations of famous literary characters on an online mapping system. The free downloadable files follow the journeys of such characters, and provide discussion starters, relevant media, and links that connect the story to additional information about real world references within the book.
Don't let price tags or time crunches stand in the way of offering your distance learner an exciting field trip opportunity this summer. Take advantage of technology and jump online to find out how you can take your student to a new, exciting virtual destination.