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Today's Newsletter: Tragedy Illuminates the Power of Virtual Field Trips

Notre Dame cathedral, illuminated at night

One of the advantages we hear about virtual reality is the ability to visit locations and see artifacts that we can’t visit in person. With the recent devastation of the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, it seems an apropos time to review what options exist for virtual field trips and other instructional uses of virtual visits. 

Even with the flashing lights of the fire apparatus showing in the video, we can visit the remains of the Cathedral of Notre Dame via this Digg video. A second version was posted by the BBC. Several extant virtual tours of the Cathedral prior to the fire are still posted including the 360 Cities Virtual Tour, the France 24’s  France in Focus (this includes a short historical introduction before the tour; it mentions that the spire lost in the recent fire actually dated from 1844.), and the WorldSiteGuide, maybe the most comprehensive of the virtual tours. The WorldSiteGuide’s tour of Neuschwanstein Castle is another great virtual tour.

The Smithsonian Magazine explained the process of developing a VR version of the Cache Caves in California, sacred to at least one Native American tribe, the Tejon. A short video of interactive artifacts from the caves is available here. The prehistoric cave paintings at Lascaux can be visited virtually as well as the Sculptor’s Cave in northern Scotland complete with stone carvings from around 400 A.D. Having students take a virtual walk through the cave paintings seems much more engaging than seeing a couple of images in the text. Far more recent, the USS Constitution in Boston Harbor, the world’s oldest warship still in service, can be visited virtually as well. Many more sites can be found on Sites in 3D including the only remaining wonder of the ancient world, the Great Pyramid. They can be viewed via a browser or an App for Android or iO/S. 

For teachers looking for support, TeachHub includes instructions on how to create lesson plans for virtual field trips. Internet4Classrooms includes a curated list of virtual field trip opportunities your teachers can utilize.