VIRTUAL FIELD EXPERIENCES: BRINGING THE ABSTRACT INTO THE CONCRETE
Virtual Field Experiences (VFEs) offer an innovative way around limited budgets and resources that also incorporate technology into the classroom. VFEs make concepts that may seem abstract and not relatable to the average student suddenly something that can be seen and interacted with in a concrete manner. VFEs use free use software such as Google Earth and Prezi to bring field experiences into the classroom. VFEs can be assembled with relatively little time and effort, tailored to fit directly into your curriculum covering your needs and interests, shared among a vast community of online educators, and used to cover key instructional and technology goals together at once. Since the ReaL (Regional and Local) Earth Inquiry professional development program provides teachers with collaborative technical and instructional support, several VFEs will be shared that touch on diverse subjects. Of particular interest, a VFE that uses animation developed in Google Earth to demonstrate South Dakota glacial movements will be discussed along with a VFE that uses a Prezi format to organize multiple sources of media into an interactive virtual layout of the Sanford Underground Lab in Lead, South Dakota. Remember, if you cannot take the class to the field site, bring the field site to the class!