You may have noticed that there has been a bit of buzz around virtual reality (VR) in the last couple of days. Mark Zuckerberg has also announced that the future is Virtual. Google has beta tested some software and released cardboard 3D goggles that hold most phones (VR works off a smart phone in case you were wondering) and only cost around $20. They even supply the plans for making them from your own fruit box and a trip to the hardware store (Bunnings in Australia I like to call the $100 shop so please don’t blame me if you come away spending $$$$$$ by picking up a few other things along with your VR DIY).
It is very easy to get caught up in the hype surrounding virtual reality. I think it’s cool in a way which loses me friends and my role as the local fashion icon (yes I wear my original, stained Star Wars T-shirt to school drop off). We can visit the Moon!!!!! Swim in the Barrier Reef!!!! Climb Mt Everest!!!!
But what if you want to visit somewhere local? The Australian curriculum requires students to do local area studies but field trips are expensive in both time and money. Inclusive education requirements also mandate that all class work should be accessible to all students. If one student can’t afford to go or the site has no wheelchair access and I have a student in a wheelchair, then the field trip is a no-goer. So I begin to think about a virtual field trip.
Does that mean that I need to buy a 3D camera and suddenly acquire film editing skills? No. I need to think about virtual field trips differently. There is no way you can transfer the reality of standing in the British Museum with an online experience. It’s impossible. It lacks the feel of grandeur, the opulence, the rooms full of stolen goods. But you can create a different type of field trip.
Many, many, many, many places have a Facebook page these days. That means they probably also have an Instagram account. And if they are really enthusiastic a Twitter, YouTube and Vine account (Australians don’t hold your breath).
So what does it mean to visit a place online? What sort of field trip booklet could you write that fulfills the curriculum requirements for a field study without leaving your comfy office chair (that you have been sitting in for far to long…go for a walk outside)? We keep getting told the online and the offline are constructing each other and decorating themselves as different and new ways of being. Take advantage. Take it literally. Explore a space online.
Social media is a way a site advertises its events and activities. The site wants you to visit them so they are going to pull out all the tricks in the book to get you to come. They will photograph what they have, they will actively create, source and promote YouTube videos and events that fit their brand. What virtual impression do you get from visiting the website and the social media. How is the site you want to visit decorating itself? Add your Google Maps and that’s what goes in the field trip booklet.