Behind the Headline: School Field Trips Go Virtual

On Top of the News
School Field Trips Go Virtual
6/20/15 | Wall Street Journal

Behind the Headline
The Educational Value of Field Trips
Winter 2014 | Education Next

In the Wall Street Journal, Caroline Porter describes the rise of the virtual field trip:

In the wake of recession-era budget cuts and increased pressure on school performance, field trips at some schools consist of a webcam, projection screen and Internet connection instead of permission slips, brown-bag lunches and school buses. The techniques can be used to cut down the cost, time and expense of some real-world trips while expanding the number of possible field-trip-like experiences.

Porter talks with the director of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Arkansas, who explained that the museum has not moved forward with virtual field trips because the technology doesn’t always work so well, and “something was so lost in the dialogue on camera.”  The article explains

An academic study at her museum found that students, especially those in rural or poor schools, gained skills like critical thinking, historical empathy and tolerance after attending field trips.

That study, “The Educational Value of Field Trips,” by Jay P. Greene, Brian Kisida and Daniel H. Bowen, appeared in the Summer 2014 issue of Education Next. It was “the first large-scale randomized-control trial designed to measure what students learn from school tours of an art museum.”

A second randomized study, “Learning from Live Theater,” by Jay P. Greene, Collin Hitt, Anne Kraybill and Cari A. Bogulski, looks at the impact of attending high-quality theater productions of Hamlet or A Christmas Carol. This study appeared in the Winter 2015 issue of Ed Next. The study concludes, “among students assigned by lottery to see live theater, we find enhanced knowledge of the plot and vocabulary in those plays, greater tolerance, and improved ability to read the emotions of others.” The benefit of having seen a live theater performance was greater than the benefit of having read the play or seen a movie of the play.

– Education Next

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