Fly Away!

Mary CassattFrm

Example 2: Interactive Tours
A high school history teacher, located on the west coast of the United States, wants to showcase to her students new exhibits being held at two prominent New York City museums. The teacher wants her students to take a “tour” of the museums and be able to interact with the museum curators, as well as see the art work on display. Afterward, the teacher would like to choose two pieces of artwork from each exhibit and have the students participate in a group critique of the individual work of art. As a novice of distance learning and distance learning technologies, the teacher turned to the school district’s instructional designer for assistance. In the role of the instructional designer, what distance learning technologies would you suggest the teacher use to provide the best learning experience for her students?

In the scenario above, a teacher, whom I will identify as Ms. Jensen, has planned an exciting and educational “field trip” for her students and one that with the right technology, should succeed in meeting her objectives. Beldarrain, (2006) stresses that the instructional designer needs to select the technology tool on the basis of its appropriateness for the interaction it is needed for. As a supportive instructional designer, I take this directive to heart and analyze the technology for a place-shifted environment which is critical. Since I am working in a bit of a vacuum in this assignment, I will say that Ms. Jensen works in the San Francisco area (which has connections to the Silicon Valley), and the equipment in those schools is sufficient to handle what she wants to embark on. So with this information in mind, I would recommend a few technology tools which would help ensure that all the pieces come together to make the experience a memorable one for the class and boost the interactivity level to encourage collaboration and synthesis of the content (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012). The options I would suggest for her to consider include: Google Hangouts, which would make a synchronous meeting with the museum curators a possibility, or at the very least provide an opportunity for a threaded discussion or chat; a virtual tour for the students to participate in by using a computer lab, and a blog to synthesize the art observations together for discussion.

First to consider is the possibility of a face to face discussion with the museum curators. Google Hangouts makes synchronous meetings a viable possibility. A couple of blogs by teachers who have experience with implementing these types of classroom discussions might help Ms. Jensen get started in planning; so I would suggest she check out “How educators and schools can make the most of Google Hangouts” (Hertz, 2013) and “Incorporating live broadcasts into your classroom” (Zuhlke, 2013). Both blogs give an overview on different ways Hangouts can be used in the classroom and the latter blog addresses a process just like the one Ms. Jensen is considering.

A virtual field trip is a definite possibility as many museums in New York City, notably, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Guggenheim, provide virtual tours which Ms. Jensen and her class could participate in. This activity could ideally be an interactive one if Ms. Jensen schedules the students in a computer lab or with a mobile lab, after which she could use the tour experience as a launching point of discussion with the curator. A virtual tour with interactive components falls into the “doing” portion of Dale’s Cone of Experience (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012), so the students would gain more from the experience than simply viewing pictures of art. I would also recommend, “Take a museum field trip—without leaving your classroom!” a teacher’s blog in Education World (Cromwell, 2010). She lists a number of museums that offer virtual tours, among them The Metropolitan Museum of Art with an overview of what the museums offer.

As the time difference between the west coast and the east coast could present an issue if Ms. Jensen has more than one history class that she wants to participate in the experience, Google Hangouts would still offer the opportunity for the students to ask questions or share their critiques with the art curator in an asynchronous capacity. In addition, the students might be able to expand their observations afterwards by posting their observations in a blog. The blogging activity would help students synthesize and reflect on the concepts they learned on their tour (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012). If Ms. Jensen’s school uses a course management system, she would probably already have access to that feature, if not, she could set up a class account on

Ms. Jensen should be able to take her students on a field trip to New York City and be back in time for the dismissal bell using the technology tools available. She might need some support from another teacher or from the school technician as she puts the pieces into place, but overall, the effort of putting it all together should not be too cumbersome and will result in a successful class experience.


Beldarrain, Y. (2006). Distance Education Trends: Integrating new technologies to foster student interaction and collaboration. Distance Education, 27(2), 139–153.

Cromwell, S. (2010, November 19). Take a museum field trip–Without leaving your classroom! education world. Retrieved from

Hertz, M. B. (2013, February 1). How educators and schools can make the most of Google Hangouts. Edutopia. [Web Log]. Retrieved from

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and Learning at a Distance: Foundations of Distance Education (5th ed.). Boston: Pearson.

Zuhlke, S. (2013, May 2). Incorporating live broadcasts into your classroom. National Geographic Education Blog. [Web Log]. Retrieved from


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