By Jan Zanetis
The Beginner’s Guide to Interactive
Asynchronous VFTs Asynchronous VFTs are not delivered in real time. They are basically websites that include text, audio, or video resources about spe- cific topics. Examples of asynchronous VFTs are webpages devoted to a topic, a streaming video tour of a particular lo- cation, and a podcast of a host guiding you through a collection of photos. This type of VFT varies in sub- stance, quality, and educational relevance. If you are interested in using
this type of resource to supplement
your lessons, you can save time with
one of the VFT aggregator sites that
have collected reputable programs for
K– 12 use. Here are a few to get you
For students, field trips can be the best of both worlds: a welcome and exciting break
from day-to-day classroom activities and a memorable, real-world
experience that will solidify the curriculum in their minds. Unfortunately, the most desirable trips—those
to far-away, enticing destinations—
have long been inaccessible to all
but a select few, and even local field
trips have become less common as
travel costs have steadily risen over
the past several years.
But today we have other options.
Virtual field trips (VFTs) are just what
their name suggests: field trips that
are conducted virtually, over the
Internet and/or videoconferencing
equipment, so that students can
learn directly from experts in far-flung places without ever leaving
Just like traditional field trips,
VFTs take a number of different
forms. They can involve touring a
historic site, witnessing scientific
experiments or processes at museums or organizations, watching live
demonstrations in the field, attending folk festivals or other events,
and much more. They differ from the
traditional variety only in that they
are delivered over the Internet using
technology in either asynchronous
or interactive synchronous formats.
This organization hosts electronic field trips
with four main parts: the Trip Journal, the
Virtual Visit (a streaming video), an Ask the
Expert tool, and a hosted Web chat.
Access Excellence Resource Center
This site lists a collection of mainly science-and health-related VFTs and online labs.
Gail Lovely’s site
Lovely provides a hot-linked list organized
into live journeys, “interactive environments,”
travelogues, e-museums, building and place
tours, map-based visits, and read-along visits.