How does the technology engage students in learning?
The virtual field trip engaged students in learning by keeping them focused and interested in the learning goal. Using Skype to learn about a topic was new for all the students and was, therefore, exciting, engaging, and motivating. In addition, the virtual field trip allowed for joint engagement (social co-use), as the whole class participated all together, both in brainstorming questions beforehand as well as in the Skype call itself.
How does the technology enhance student learning?
Virtual field trips definitely add value to student learning, as they do something that traditional tools cannot. The technology allowed us to connect to an aquarium employee in North Carolina and to even see a live sea turtle. In addition, the learning was personalized to my first graders, and they had a lot of choice in the questions they asked and the information they gathered.
How does the technology extend student learning?
This virtual field trip did connect the learning to student’s everyday lives, because we talked about what we (as humans) do to potentially harm sea turtles and what we can do to stop that. We also connected with an authentic expert on our learning topic (sea turtles), which is an instructional strategy to elicit extension.
The pre-assessment for this lesson was a class discussion about prior knowledge about sea turtles. This way, I was able to get an idea of what they already knew before diving into our virtual field trip. As a post-assessment, students wrote down one new thing they learned about sea turtles after the virtual field trip. It was interesting to see their major takeaways. It was clear to me that they all learned something they did not already know, based on my comparison of the pre and post assessments.
Jenna's reflection: "I would definitely do another virtual field trip if given the chance. The students seemed to really enjoy it, and they definitely learned new things (as I saw in the post-assessments). I am glad that we brainstormed questions ahead of time and also talked about how I would call on students to ask questions. Overall, I would call it a success!"