Using a series of online activities for remote off-campus experiences (e.g. field work, site visits)

Laura Hollinshead, Learning Technologist-Curriculum Development

As was said in the previous blog post, it can be a big challenge to provide students with the same experiences, they would have had taking part in field trips or site visits. Although we will never be able to replicate some aspects of this experience there are areas which we can look at that can be provided remotely. Another option is to look at how a series of tasks surrounding interaction with resources (and video) can help replicate the type of tasks students would have engaged with offsite.

A notebook with a day schedule

A good example of this can be seen in Geology, where practical field work and the development of field skills are critical. For this reason, the spring field trips were delivered as alternative ‘virtual field trips’ where students were provided with images, background information and tasks to support development of their field knowledge.

A student undertaking an online class

In the virtual field trip to Anglesey for level 5 students’ activities were held over a four-day period and for each day there was:

  • Morning briefings that provided students with digital images and data for sites that would have been visited on the trip.
  • Specific tasks based on these virtual field sites.
  • At the end a virtual workshop via Collaborate to answer questions and work through the tasks.
  • Where students were not able to engage on any given day, all materials were available on Course Resources and the module leader available for follow up.

Development of these resources has allowed the module team to offer virtual field trips in the future and where a student may be unable to attend a field course.

This useful blog article entitled #DryLabsRealScience also provides some of the key things to consider when looking at remote lab provision.

Going forward

A lake landscape

None of these experiences will ever be able to fully replicate what students would have gained from going off campus as part of their learning experience. However, we can seek to try and provide students with further learning opportunities which can provide aspects of these and prepare them for the type of activities they will carry out when these opportunities can be provided again.

I am sure you may have your own tips and hints so feel free to let us know at so, we can share these within the university community.