Creating Virtual Field Trips to Support Student-Centered Learning

Creating Virtual Field Trips to Support Student-Centered Learning

Stacy Delacruz (Kennesaw State University, USA) and Maria Shaheen (Kennesaw State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4924-8.ch006
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Using a case study approach, elementary preservice teachers created Virtual Field Trips (VFTs) based around the Common Core Standards, state content standards, and cross-disciplinary content integration. The following semester, these virtual field trips were used in their student teaching placements. The researchers interviewed the preservice teachers to determine the benefits and challenges of creating VFTs and using VFTs in the elementary classroom. The data revealed that preservice teachers perceived the following benefits of virtual field trips: VFTs emphasized multiple perspectives on a topic, extended and integrated learning, allowed students to virtually experience places they may not normally have an opportunity to visit, and are more cost-effective than traditional field trips. Challenges include: Limited technology skills (of preservice teachers) and availability of technology while implementing VFTs; schools and classrooms with limited technology decreases the ability for all students to take the virtual field trip; and user-friendliness for younger students. The concept of global awareness was emphasized as preservice teachers presented virtual field trips internationally to other professionals and schools.
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Elementary preservice teachers must leave universities prepared to use best practices in literacy instruction that are appropriate for 21st century learners. Much attention has been brought to light about combining traditional literacy practices with new literacies to enrich learning. National literacy organizations, such as the International Reading Association (IRA) and the National Council for Teachers of English (NCTE), suggest that future/current literacy teachers must be able to incorporate multiple forms of literacy that include technological literacy (IRA, 2009; NCTE, 2008). Davies (2011) defined technological literacy as “the ability to effectively use technology to accomplish required learning tasks” (p. 47). Teachers should facilitate students’ understanding as they help scaffold them to learn ways to accomplish learning objectives while making intelligent decisions about the use of technology.

In this chapter, the authors first situate best practices in elementary literacy education within a new literacies framework. Literature involving the social constructivist theory of learning and global citizenship is also discussed. The researchers then describe the themes that emerged as elementary preservice teachers designed and implemented cross-curricular, digital “field trips” (virtual field trips) for a targeted age group of learners. The authors examine the process of creating and implementing virtual field trips (VFTs) from the perceptions of the preservice teachers. In addition, the authors suggest implications for integrating cross-curricular, new literacies projects, such as the virtual field trip project, into teacher education programs.

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