Tuesday 28 April 2015

Virtual Excursion Technology Enhances Classroom Learning

Traditionally the incursion or excursion has been the teacher’s go-to for complementing or enhancing the learning in their classroom. Logistically, the exercise of coordinating an incursion or excursion is an intense affair and factors such as location, cost or timing can often make it unfeasible to go through with. Now teachers have another option at their disposal which greatly reduces the logistical impact and allows for increased flexibility and greater scope for “just-in-time” learning. Virtual excursions are fast becoming the go-to option for schools. With fast internet speeds and powerful video conferencing platforms, schools now can “beam” experts into their classroom to engage with the students.

In preparation for the 100th anniversary of the ANZAC’s landing at Gallipoli, Year 4 students had been reading the book “The Beach They Called Gallipoli” by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley. This text focuses on the experience of Australian soldiers at Gallipoli and those of the civilians left at home. To augment their learning experience, students participated in a virtual excursion through a Polycom video conference system with the publishers of the book and other schools from around Australia. Students were able to engage in ‘real time’ from the comfort of their classroom in a hands-on work shop. When the students engaged with the presenters about the story, Polycom’s eagle eye technology would automatically track who was speaking and zoom in on them. Virtual excursions at Ivanhoe Grammar School are helping to flatten the walls of the classroom and opening up amazing global and national learning possibilities.