This Action Research Project was created to combat the lack of actual field trips that students are going on because of funding and standardized testing demands. Virtual Field Trips (VFTs) were identified as a possible solution to this dilemma. A literature review was written on relevant current research related to experiential education and field trips. This paper pointed to the importance of field trips and how experience is an important component of learning. The current research shows that the benefits of field trips extend long after the actual trip. This underlined the importance of finding a way for students to have alternatives to field trips if they become unavailable.
The Action Research Project continued with creating and implementing two virtual field trips. This part of the process took the most time. The field trips are multimedia filled websites that give students a chance to experience Saint Augustine, FL and Washington DC. For each of these VFTs students were given a pretest to test their prior knowledge about these field trip destinations. After the students completed the VFTs they were given a post-test to check for student learning.
The data from the first cycle of the AR Project was collected for the trip to St. Augustine, FL. During this cycle, students showed a vast amount of improvement from the pre-test to the post-test. I attribute much of this growth to the VFT because it is what led the students on the journey of discovery. Dr. Gillett pointed out that the backbone of my original VFT contained a copyright violation. This was huge obstacle but a great catch that I hadn’t thought of. I used Google Maps and Google Street View extensively for the VFTs. Even though I see now that this is an obvious violation, at the time it was hidden in plain sight.
The data from the second cycle of the AR Project was collected for the trip to Washington DC. During this cycle, students again showed a vast amount of improvement from the pre-test to the post-test. Once again, I attribute much of this growth to the VFT because it is what led the students on the journey of discovery.
There were many problems encountered and overcome along the way. These bumps in the road forced me to think about other unforeseen dilemmas. The second cycle had several improvements that were born from the failures of the first. A major adjustment involved the technology itself. I had to make an adjustment from a computer lab setting to a classroom setting. I found that the VFTs were effective in both settings. I wasn’t planning on testing that variable, but the situation forced itself upon me.
The AR Project demonstrated that virtual field trips can be used to replace some of the actual field trips that students are not able to experience first hand.