Virtual field trips are a powerful learning tool, and the options for making use of them continue to grow. Nowadays, you can visit the ancient ruins of Chichen Itza, explore the art of the Sistine Chapel, and swim through the Great Barrier Reef — all from the comfort of your own classroom or living room. But with so many options, how do you choose where to start? And how do you structure a valuable learning experience out of a series of educational VR journeys and metaverse games? That’s where a calendar of virtual field trips for families comes in.
In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits of virtual field trips and ways to find virtual field trip calendars, as well as all of the following:
- The surprising benefits of using a calendar of virtual field trips
- Sample calendars of virtual field trips for families in a variety of contexts
- How to build your own calendar of virtual field trips
The Many Benefits of Building a Calendar of Virtual Field Trips
It may seem counterintuitive to create a calendar of virtual field trips for families. After all, one of the major benefits of virtual field trips is that they are so flexible. In-person field trips often have to be planned out weeks or even months in advance, and can require lots of logistical planning — finding transportation, chaperones, meals, and more. Virtual field trips, by contrast, can often be planned at a moment’s notice: you simply open up a tablet, VR headset, or other device that’s linked to the metaverse, and start exploring.
While virtual field trips can be impromptu, that doesn’t mean that there’s no value in planning them out. There are two major benefits to finding or making a calendar of virtual field trips, even though these calendars aren’t as necessary as they are for in-person excursions:
- Students benefit from the reliable structure of a calendar of virtual field trips.
- Having a calendar of virtual field trips makes things easier for teachers and parents.
For one thing, research indicates that children benefit from reliable structure and routine. Using a calendar of virtual field trips for families as a regular way to incorporate virtual field trips into your students’ learning can be a great way to provide that structure.
Furthermore, many parents and educators struggled to find ways to meaningfully engage students online, especially during eras of remote learning like the COVID-19 pandemic. Multiple recent studies have found that virtual field trips can contribute significantly to student learning, and they are certainly a more accessible option during periods where students can’t all gather in one classroom. Having a calendar of virtual field trips can make it easier to develop curricula and teaching plans, preventing future confusion or last-minute decision making by scheduling a series of high-quality 360-degree virtual field trips in advance.
Sample Calendars of Virtual Field Trips for Families
Clearly, a calendar of virtual field trips can be a useful tool for both parents and educators trying to find meaning in the metaverse and engage their students on a reliable basis. But how do you go about finding a calendar of virtual field trips for families?
One option is always to build your own calendar of virtual field trips — we’ll get to that later. But it’s also possible, and sometimes more convenient, to rely on premade calendars of virtual field trips. With that in mind, here are two sample calendars of virtual field trips, each with a different learning target:
- A general week of virtual field trips, for educators who want to cover a variety of topics.
- A themed week of virtual field trips, focused on educating students during a specific event — in this case, Black History Month.
General Calendar of Virtual Field Trips for Families
Imagine transforming a regular week of classes into a series of virtual learning adventures — traveling to space one day, exploring the secrets of the ocean the next. A calendar packed with a diverse set of learning experiences like these ones could be useful in a remote learning context, where all instruction is occurring online. That’s not the only situation in which you might want to use these calendars, though: existing research indicates that virtual field trips can be beneficial even in regular, in-person classroom settings, because they tend to be more engaging and immersive than other teaching and learning options.
The following calendar offers a full school week’s worth of virtual learning experiences — one for each day, focusing on a variety of topics. These virtual field trips could occur during the course of the regular school day, as an at-home enrichment experience, or in many other contexts:
- Monday: Explore the power of CRISPR, the gene-editing tool that is contributing to many scientific discoveries.
- Tuesday: Take a trip to the Great Wall of China, where you can learn about the history of ancient civilizations.
- Wednesday: Hear the story of a father and son who compete in marathons despite the challenges of cerebral palsy.
- Thursday: Study the Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge, an architectural marvel from modern-day China.
- Friday: Take a break and hang out in a plane with Spongebob and his friend Patrick.
This calendar of virtual field trips starts with science, before progressing to history, then personal narrative, then social studies. The calendar ends with a purely recreational experience. VR games for kids, in addition to being powerful learning tools, can also be a fantastic way to help kids relax and have fun in virtual settings.
Here’s another potential calendar of KaiXR field trips that moves between science, engineering, geography, and career exploration:
- Monday: Take a tour of the human body with an immersive virtual field trip.
- Tuesday: Learn about the marvels of aerospace engineering by talking with Tiera, a scientist working on NASA’s moon and Mars missions.
- Wednesday: Study the history of the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl and the ways in which humanity has worked to prevent similar tragedies in the present day.
- Thursday: Visit the sacred city of Mecca, the birthplace of Islam, and learn about the religious traditions that are practiced there.
- Friday: Take a wild ride on a roller coaster made of candy.
In addition to leading students on virtual field trips, educators can maximize the impact of virtual learning experiences by following Kai XR’s viewing guides. For example, the free viewing guide for the aerospace engineering virtual field trips encourages students to enrich their learning experiences by answering questions like the following:
- How did Tiera’s parents encourage her love of learning?
- What is Tiera’s role in the development of the SLS (space launch system) rocket?
- What challenges does Tiera face in her work? How does she overcome those challenges?
- Why does Tiera Fletcher refer to herself and others her age as part of the ‘Mars Generation’?
The viewing guides also provide a range of additional related resources that students and educators can use to explore further.
Of course, these are not the only calendars of virtual field trips that families can use. You can fully customize these templates and exchange some of the virtual field trips listed here with other options. Our database has dozens of virtual field trips to mix and match. These sample calendars offer two great starting points for educators looking to regularly include educational VR in their teaching.
Themed Calendar of Virtual Field Trips for Families
Although virtual field trips are always useful tools to teach 21st century learning skills, they can be especially helpful for meeting the learning styles of your entire classroom. VR makes it easy to offer multiple pathways to learning about a single subject or theme.
For example, iIn recent years, educators around the country have become more focused on teaching a culturally-responsive curriculum that includes thoughtful discussions of race, culture, and social studies. While Black history should be taught year-round, we know that some teachers want to especially emphasize Black history and Black voices during Black History Month. To that end, we’ve put together a calendar of virtual Black History Month activities. These experiences can introduce students to a range of topics in Black history, from the story of Ruby Bridges to the landmark achievements of Barack Obama to the activism of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Below is one example of how educators could organize these virtual experiences:
- Monday: Shine a spotlight on the story of Ruby Bridges, who was the first Black student to attend her school in New Orleans.
- Tuesday: Take a tour of the White House, also known as the People’s House, and learn about the daily lives of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.
- Wednesday: Visit the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., monument in Washington, D.C. and discuss the impact of the Civil Rights movement on America.
- Thursday: Sit in on Kobe Bryant’s final NBA game and think about questions of legacy in sports.
- Friday: Learn about the official portraits of the Obamas created by African American artists Amy Sherald and Kehinde Wiley.
This calendar of virtual field trips is one route to approaching Black History Month for kids. It offers a range of ways to explore Black history and learn about Black leaders, enriching students’ learning experiences in February and every other month.
Similarly, you could design calendars of virtual field trips that focus on other important events or national occurrences, like a series of virtual field trips centered on Veterans’ Day or Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
When it comes to virtual field trip calendars, the possibilities are endless!
How to Construct Your Own Calendar of Virtual Field Trips
So far, we’ve offered a few potential calendars of virtual field trips for families, but these are far from the only options. Many educators and parents may wish to design their own calendar of virtual field trips, encompassing their specific mix of learning targets and focus areas.
Regardless of what you want to focus on, there are a few steps that you can always take to ensure that your use of VR in school is educational and exciting for students:
- Explore your intended learning experience. Ask yourself the following questions: What are the learning objectives and outcomes I want to communicate through this calendar of virtual field trips? What does this group of learners need?
- Look for extended reality (XR) materials. There are countless virtual field trip materials out there today. Exploring Kai XR’s website is a great place to start: we have dozens of virtual field trips, many of them free, for students and educators to try out.
- Consider designing new XR content. If you can’t find an educational VR experience that works for you and your learners, you can always build your own virtual field trips—that’s how Kai XR got started! The way you do this will depend on your technical skills, the tools and resources you have access to, and the type of learning experience you are trying to craft.
- Deliver the experience! Try out your calendar of virtual field trips. Because virtual field trips are so flexible, you can easily adapt this calendar over time or for different groups of learners.
If you’re unsure how to go about finding virtual experiences to include in a calendar of virtual field trips for families, consider using the DICE acronym:
- D — Dangerous — Use virtual field trips for experiences that would otherwise be dangerous, like performing a surgery or putting out a fire.
- I — Impossible — Use virtual field trips to do things that are impossible in the real world, like traveling inside the human body or visiting a distant planet.
- C — Counterproductive — Use virtual field trips to conduct educational activities that would be harmful in the real world, like cutting down trees as a way to learn about deforestation.
- E — Expensive — Use virtual field trips to participate in activities that are theoretically possible, but practically impossible due to their expense.
Beyond that, it’s up to you! Your calendar of virtual field trips might include a different number of activities, focus on a different set of subjects, or include a different range of enrichment activities. Regardless of what you want to teach, using a calendar of virtual field trips for families can be a great way to help your students learn.
You can begin building a calendar now by checking out Kai XR’s dozens of virtual field trips! Our inspirational, inclusive, and innovative field trips help learners of all ages explore new worlds. Get started today with one of our many digital learning adventures!
For more, check out some of our other recent articles:
- Educational, Engaging, Accessible: The Benefits of Virtual Field Trips
- Finding Meaning in the Metaverse Through the Classroom
- Transform Your Device into a VR Tablet with Exploration Mode
- Virtual Reality for Teaching: An Educator’s Best Friend
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