Instructional technology has achieved great development in the last few decades, and Virtual Field T rips (VFTs) is definitely one of them. This paper will mainly discuss the definition of VFTs, the reason why it is needed, example of its application with screen shots, advantages and disadvantages; provide information on its future development as well as great resources links. Teachers and educationists will be interested most in this paper because it will further their existing understanding of VFTs, show them the future directions as well as present them with several helpful and practical websites.
What is Virtual Field Trips (VFTs)?
Foley (2001) writes,
…Virtual Field Trips are explorations through the Web, typically an organized set of links with a particular theme. Some trips simply consist of a list of links on one Web page, while other trips use some type of navigator (or buttons) to move through the tour. In its best implementation, it's a guided and annotated tour of pages on the Web that have been selected by educators and arranged in a 'thread' that students can follow from page to page, or site to site" (The Big Pocket Guide to Using & Creating Virtual Field Trips, Foley, 2001).
It is important to note that “virtual” here means “digital alternative representations of reality”. VFT currently is not an attempt to replace a virtual reality, whose intention is to get the user fully involved in an interactive computer-generated environment by using sensors and input devices such as data gloves and body suits and output devices such as head mounted displays and surround--sound audio systems. Instead, a VFT is simply an attempt to give more autonomy to the users, by allowing observations to be made without being on the actual spot or having a lecturer at hand to instruct. At its best, it should also allow interaction with the virtual environment through learners’ participation, exploration, analysis and the learning and the testing of skills both old and new. (John Stainfield& Peter Fisher& Bob Ford& Michael Solem, 2000).
The aim of VFT is not to replace field trips but “to introduce students to various aspects and develop some of the basic skills needed and to prepare students for going into the field or as follow up exercises after a real field trip” (Gilmour, 1997, http://earth2.open.ac.uk/Skiddaw/Text/Skiddaw.html).
A second aim is to improve the efficiency of time that is spent in the field. VFTs can “replace or enhance background lecturing/information transmission and so increase the time spent by students exploring specific issues in a more ‘inquiry-based’ manner both in the field and on campus”(Stainfield& Fisher& Ford& Solem, 2000). By providing more of the lecture/background material on-line, students can study it before they come to class or depart on a field trip. They can also review it after the trip.
The Reason why it is...