Virtual Field Trip: Education of the Future, Now

virtual field trip

Earlier this week I got the opportunity to take my family to the Toronto Zoo to see the very first virtual field trip thanks to Microsoft Canada. Bearing witness to students in Port Alberni, B.C. using Skype to connect to the Curator of Fishes here at the Toronto Zoo and learn all about the salmon in the Great Lakes had me almost in tears. In a good way of course, because my children will be able to utilize these tools to their advantage.

virtual field trip

In celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday, Microsoft has launched their Explore. Teach. Build.  program which lets K-12 students all over Canada the opportunity to explore their country all without leaving their classrooms. Where was this when  I was a student?

Education of the Future, Now: Virtual Field Trip

Listening to opening remarks from Robin Hale (Chief Operating Officer, Toronto Zoo) and Janet Kennedy (President, Microsoft Canada) I couldn’t help but be intrigued at all the work that went into making all of this possible. This program doesn’t just include the Toronto Zoo; Microsoft has partnered with historical sites all over Canada to make learning interactive and engaging.
virtual field trip

As we got to sit in and watch the first ever virtual field trip happen I was amazed at all that was going on. These students had been studying salmon since the previous year and have continued the study by integrating fishing and salmon into their Social Studies unit on the West Coast First Nations People.  By using Skype they were instantly connected to a study on just how the Curator of Fishes was using the Zoo’s resources to breed salmon and release them back into the wild when they reached the proper size.

After the class was finished I got a chance to see some of the equipment that the zoo was sending out to classrooms to help them learn. They showed me this amazing salmon egg incubator that gets placed in a really cold fish tank. The Zoo employee told me that once the classrooms grow the salmon to the proper size for release the kids get on a bus and each release a fish. It gives me all the feels that we are helping our kids truly become stewards of the earth and showing them how to preserve our environment and the creatures within it. 

virtual field trip

Explore Teach Build

Skype Virtual Field Trips will take learning outside the classroom walls as students embark on a digital journey to visit Canada’s historical sites. As a key stopover on their historical journey you’ll be inspiring the next generation of global travellers

Educators will integrate the celebration of Canada 150 into their curriculum with dynamic lesson plans, highlighting the important contributions of your Heritage site throughout Canada’s history.

Classrooms will re-create Canada’s historical sites using Minecraft: Education Edition and submit their creations into a national collection celebrated on July 1, 2017, which will be shared globally.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               (Microsoft Canada 2017)


With such a multifaceted initiative I can’t wait to see the national collection of students work in July. I know my own kids are really into Minecraft right now and I would love to see that passion channeled into their education.

Are you as excited for the virtual field trips that are being offered by Microsoft Canada as I am?

**EDUCATORS**  Microsoft will also be providing a variety of free resources to help educators participate, including Teacher Ambassadors who will be on hand to offer free professional development workshops focused on Minecraft: Education Edition. Virtual Field Trips will be available at all Microsoft Store locations across Canada for students to explore Canada’s history and educators will also be able to request a set of Windows 10 HP devices with Minecraft: Education Edition installed. To learn more, visit microsoft.ca/exploreteachbuild.



Aneta Alaei
Aneta Alaei

Aneta is a Toronto-based mom of four that loves a good meal, great company, and learning something new. In her free time, you can find her trying to keep yet another plant alive.

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