Enrichment Via Technology

The class field trip…do you remember going on one? Partnered with a fellow student you were herded through a strange place while adults spoke about what was happening around you. Whether it was a bottling plant or a museum, the fact of your physical presence has allowed the memory to persist…whether or not you recall why you were taken there.

Primary schoolteachers know the value of first-person interactions with a subject. But the modern world has erected barriers to children’s access to such experiences. Insurance liability, available parents to chaperone, cooperative businesses and cost (primarily) have worked to restrict students to the classroom setting.

Technology has been used to make up for the loss of student’s experiences beyond the classroom walls. From the record player, to films, to slideshows, to television, to videos and up to cable TV, a multimedia pipeline has carried news and information from the outside world and presented it to student viewers. But these are all passive activities. Without some sort of active involvement, student’s attention can wander.

The introduction of and investment in bringing the internet into the classroom has changed the way students & media interact – because it is now possible for students to become active participants in the process. Have a look at this example from across the pond:

Thursday 5th June 2014: British primary schoolchildren will be transported through special online field trips to places as far away as the Italian countryside and the rice fields of India as part of a new initiative to teach them where their food comes from.

The technology, pioneered in the US, is being brought to UK schoolchildren and tailored to the national curriculum. It has already been used by NASA to connect schoolchildren to astronauts in space.

The Online Field Trips have been created by Tesco, working closely with teachers and using Google+ technology, as part of the retailer’s Eat Happy Project. They will allow primary school children to learn about food by talking directly to food growers and producers both in the UK and thousands of miles away, live from their own classroom.

The Online Field Trips have been launched as new research published today shows that a cheaper way of giving children access to overseas field trips would be of huge benefit to parents, children and teachers.

The research finds that:

Over a third of UK parents of five to 11 year olds find it difficult to pay towards field trips for their children;

One in five (21 per cent) primary school teachers have taken fewer field trips this year compared to last year; and

Seven out of ten teachers surveyed were also conscious of not wanting to have to make too many requests to parents for money.

The research also found that UK primary school teachers are big believers in the benefits of school field trips. Over three quarters (83 per cent) strongly agreed that school trips are an important element of a child’s academic learning. Nine out of 10 teachers also strongly agree that seeing things with their own eyes helps children put the things they learn into context with the real world.

It’s a view backed by the UK’s parents, with 90 per cent believing that field trips are an important part of their children’s education.

The children taking part will also be able to interact with other classes from around the UK during the trip. Future trips will see children connect with suppliers including rice growers in India, cheese farmers in Yorkshire and strawberry farms in Kent.

More information is available through the TESCO Eat Happy Project’s website at http://www.eathappyproject.com/farm-to-fork/