In the current state of social studies education, field trips are being cut from many schools’ curriculum. While not a true substitution, today’s technologies provide some opportunities through virtual field trips (VFTs) to simulate these experiences, engage students in knowledge production and disciplined inquiry, and have interactions with the dedicated staff members from these historic sites. Many of the current VFTs, however, fall short of this goal and instead serve as an updated form of a content delivery model, with little interaction or student engagement in historical issues. This article describes research on field trips, hybrid distance learning models, and virtual field trips in the social studies and other areas, as well as a critical case study of one of the most prominent and long lasting virtual field trips, Colonial Williamsburg’s Electronic Field Trip program. A model for future social studies VFTs and ways to integrate these VFTs into authentic social studies instruction are developed. The case study revealed a number of key issues that arise in the development and execution of VFT programs, and the ensuing VFT model should be helpful for teachers and VFT developers.
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Jeremey Stoddard’s article in this issue, “Toward a Virtual Field Trip Model for the Social Studies,” describes his analysis of the Colonial Williamsburg Electronic Field Trip and a conceptual model for developing meaningful and successful electronic or virtual field trips. In an effort to contextualize the Colonial Williamsburg Electronic Field Trip, extend the analysis, […]