Electronic Field Trips
An electronic field trip is probably a good place to
start learning about the WWW, because it is based on the actual field trip, which
is an activity familiar to most K-12 students and teachers. Curricular,
cognitive, and social goals similar to those of an actual field trip can be
accomplished with an electronic field trip as well. And the best part is that
nobody leaves their mittens behind!
Research findings have shaped this list of tips and techniques for conducting
electronic field trips, as has an understanding of the Internet environment. Teachers
becoming more familiar and comfortable with the Internet can probably add to this
- Allow students to visit the field trip site (museum, city government, or
library home page, for instance) before the actual trip. Research indicates that prior
familiarity with a field trip site helps reduce "novelty effects" such as
distractedness and excitement that can hinder learning. For this reason, students can
also schedule follow-up visits to the field trip site for the purpose of answering
further questions or conducting more in-depth research.
- Send permission slips home to be signed by parents prior to the day of the
field trip. Even though the students never actually leave the room, a permission slip
can help familiarize parents with the purpose and potential of such field trips. There
might also be parents whose occupations are relevant to a specific field trip; perhapsthey could help with a "guided tour."
- Plan specific tasks for students to accomplish that focus their "browsing" but
simultaneously allow them to indulge their own creativity and individuality. For
instance, on a trip to the National Zoo in Washington, DC, have each student research
and report on the physical, geographic, and dietary differences between an animal of
their choice and an animal their partner selects.
- If a problem occurs, technical, curricular, or otherwise, don't throw in the
towel. Brainstorm with your students about possible ways to solve the problem. By
viewing problems as challenges, teachers can help students adopt a mindset of
inquisitiveness and empowerment that will help them navigate their own lives as well as
- Be flexible and prepared for anything, especially if this is a first time
electronic field trip. The best-laid plans may come to be scrapped, sometimes with
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