Students as Virtual Tour Guides
When we take our students on fieldtrips to visit a site, they often are curious about what they observe. We can foster this curiosity by getting students to use their mobile devices to research and document their learning. Mobile devices help students discover more about the exhibits, art, architecture, species, and environments of the places they visit and carry that learning to go! Many sites provide labels, brochures, maps, audio guides, scavenger hunts and websites with more information about their attractions and exhibits. Getting students to explore these digital resources enhances their field trip experience and they leave curious to learn more.
We can go a step further and encourage our students to engage in research with a purpose and have students create their own interactive multimedia guides for the sites they visit. Many museums, zoos, state parks, and landmarks lack an audio and visual digital guide, which is accessible via a mobile device. Creating a multimedia digital guide enhances the printed materials the sites provide. Visitors will be able to discover more in an engaging way to enhance their learning experience. The audio and visual features can help visitors who are deaf or blind. Students can add elements like captions and transcripts to further enhance their guides. Students can even translate the guides in various languages or provide a glossary to help language learners.
The lesson that follows provides instructions for getting your students to create virtual tour guides for a site. This activity is more effective when the teacher asks the site for permission and shares that they plan to provide a virtual guide to help visitors. Choose a site that is excited about the idea enough to allow students to interview and work with the staff to create the most effective guidelines. Students will need to understand and respect the guidelines and procedures in place to preserve and respect the exhibits or species. Additionally, students should check out the guidelines and tips the curators and staff follow when creating labels and audio and visual guides for guests. The Smithsonian provides a thorough guide for structuring and creating guides available free online.
Many free web apps and web tools allow students to create an avatar that moves and talks in front of a picture uploaded by the student. The avatar speaks and moves and shares information about the exhibit, species, or attraction. A short video is recorded and available online. If students create a QR code for their videos, visitors will be able to watch the videos on their mobile devices by scanning the code with a free QR code reader like QuickMark or I-nigma. These QR codes can be included on the site’s printed map or posted near the attraction. Get students to reflect on their audience’s needs before creating their videos. They should also make sure the facts they provide are accurate and relevant.