District Administration June 2020 - 18

By Steven Blackburn

S

tudents can be learning about spatial inequality in their school or
home "classroom" one minute and
then suddenly be transported to
the densely populated capital of Tokyo to
"feel" how people interact there. Classes
studying the oceans and ecosystems can
"swim" through the coral reefs without
learning how to scuba dive (or getting
wet). Algebra teachers can connect math
concepts to real-world experiences that
students are learning about in social studies by "taking" students to the Washington
Monument to look at the many American
flags flapping in the wind and calculate the
total number of stars.
While virtual reality takes students
(and teachers) to these and many places
around the world they would otherwise
never go, implementing virtual field trips
for teaching takes time. But schools can
often afford this technology with grants.
With most schools now closed due to
COVID-19, there are more opportunities for free virtual experiences than ever
before (even if they can't typically involve
VR technology other than an iPad or

ADMINISTRATOR
ACTIONS TO SUPPORT
VIRTUAL FIELD TRIPS
phone). Following are best practices for
taking students on virtual field trips.
Find the right network support
Before adopting VR technology four years
ago, Round Rock ISD educators first
needed to find out if their IT infrastructure could support it. "If they said no,
then we would have needed to look for
alternatives and help the person who made
the request understand why we could not

Lower-tech virtual
field trips
Taking students on virtual visits
to places around the globe need
not involve buying virtual reality
technology or physically being in
school to use such technology.
A list of 31 apps and websites-
some of them free-for virtual
field trips collected by Common
Sense Education can be found at
DAmag.me/fieldtrips.

LEARN MORE ABOUT HOW YOUR DISTRICT CAN USE
VIRTUAL REALITY for learning by attending FETC 2021, Jan. 26-29
in Orlando: fetc.org

GETTYIMAGES.COM: KLAUSVEDFELT

VIRTUALLY
ANYWHERE

support it," says Jeff Uselman, director
of instructional technology. The network
must also be secure enough to keep student data safe.
Administrators must ensure tech support staff is available to maintain Wi-Fi
stability and when teachers are using the
technology for the first time. "Tech support staff could help the teacher and students troubleshoot possible issues with
the devices, which would allow the lesson
to run more smoothly," says Julie Doyle,
director of instructional technology and
digital learning at the Public Schools of
Northborough and Southborough in
Massachusetts. "Tech support could also
help teachers learn to manage the issues on
their own so they will feel comfortable and
confident to use the devices again."
One of the three teachers whom Doyle
helped pilot VR devices in 2018-19 was
an instructional tech coach while the others had access to tech-savvy librarians.
Meanwhile, some platforms that use
iPads, for example, operate on separate
servers to prevent students from opening
other programs on the school's Wi-Fi.
"Many six-graders will log on their tablet
and say, 'Ooh! YouTube!' But then there
is nothing on the screen when they try
to open it," says Library Media Specialist Michelle Davis of Magnolia School in
Alabama, which first purchased 12 sets

18 | June 2020DistrictAdministration.com


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District Administration June 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of District Administration June 2020

District Administration June 2020 - Cover1
District Administration June 2020 - Cover2
District Administration June 2020 - 1
District Administration June 2020 - 2
District Administration June 2020 - 3
District Administration June 2020 - 4
District Administration June 2020 - 5
District Administration June 2020 - 6
District Administration June 2020 - 7
District Administration June 2020 - 8
District Administration June 2020 - 9
District Administration June 2020 - 10
District Administration June 2020 - 11
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District Administration June 2020 - Cover3
District Administration June 2020 - Cover4
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