What it is: eField Trips are a neat idea for students to ‘travel’ virtually to learn about the world. These virtual eTrips are composed of 4 parts. The first part is a pdf called the Trip Journal. Teachers download and print out the trip journal to guide students on their journey and to give them a place to record what they are learning on their trip. Second is the virtual visit, this is a flash video where students go on the actual trip at their own pace. Generally trips take about 15 minutes to complete. Third is a form where students can ask experts questions they have about the trip they took. Actual experts will respond to the question in 1 to 2 days. The fourth is a live chat. These chats allow students to interact with the experts in a live session at a scheduled time. Available eField Trips include: Pearl Harbor, bats, underwater ecosystems, brown vs. board of education, butterflies, western exploration, caves, climbing Denali, desert dwellers, Dred Scott, Earthquakes, mountains, and glaciers, fires roll in an ecosystem, Glacier Bay, Grand Tetons, invasive species, whales, renewable energy, sea turtles, mammals of Denali, manatee, reptiles and amphibians, wetlands, and more. I would categorize eField Trips more like a webquest than a virtual field trip. These are great webquests!
How to integrate eField Trips into the classroom: These eField Trips would be an excellent extension (or replacement) for text book reading. Students can work through the eField Trip at their own pace in the computer lab setting. I like the Trip Journals that guide students on their journey and keep them thinking critically about what they are encountering. For younger students, take an eField Trip as a whole class using a projector or an interactive whiteboard. Each student could still fill out a Trip Journal as the class goes on the journey. Because the etrips require reading, struggling readers may be paired up with confident readers or a helper. I really like the interaction that students get with experts after the field trip. As students are going on their journey, they are bound to come up with additional questions. Students always love sending and getting mail, eField Trips gives students the opportunity to do both.
Tips: One thing that I don’t love about this site, it is hard to navigate back to the homepage. This isn’t a problem for students completing the trips, but it is a little frustrating as a teacher planning a trip.
Leave a comment and tell us how you are using eField Trips in your classroom.