Well there is often a lot of preparation and paperwork involved in a field trip for both learners and practitioners. No matter how much paperwork you give the learners, often they forget what they need to do, what they need to bring, or even when the trip is and where they need to be…
Having run a fair few field trips in my time, we have had to wait while a student ran home as she had forgotten her passport. Students who missed the bus as they thought the trip was the following week. Students who didn’t bring their assignments and handouts, as they assumed I would!
The VLE is an ideal location to place all that paraphernalia, paperwork and information for any field trip. So all the pre-trip stuff that needs to be done, from risk assessment, completition of forms, equipment lists, the paperwork, etc… place it on the VLE to allow easy access to it by the learners at a time and place to suit them.
As well as pre-trip planning, it can be used on the field trip itself. You do need to consider if you are expecting learners to access the VLE whilst actually on the field trip. In this case you will need to consider what your expectations are for learners in relation to the use of the VLE, and to ensure that the learner are aware of those expectations.
You will need to consider connectivity for those that will be accessing the VLE. You will need to be aware of the sort of devices that the learners will be using.
So if your learners are using the iPod touch to access the VLE, is there free wifi somewhere in the vicinity of the field trip? If they are using the iPhone or iPad, make sure you don’t have any links to Flash video or activities. If they are going to be using laptops or netbooks, where can they use them sitting down? Are there cafés or other places where they could go?
Once the logisitics of remote access to the VLE is sorted, you can then make decisions about how you are going to support the task from the VLE in the field.
Mobile connections are much slower than connections in college, so it’s vital that any resources are made to be downloaded as quickly as possible.
The VLE could also be used for post-trip evaluation and reflection. Students could post their thoughts on the field trip, photographs and links to videos on YouTube etc….
One other key benefit for practitioners is that after using the VLE for the first time for a field trip, when it comes to doing the trip next year with a new group, you will already have all the stuff ready on the VLE.