From the Magazine

Take a vacay . . . with students

Traveling with students has always been a challenging proposition. Even the traditional senior trip to Washington, D.C., took months of planning, fundraising, and permission gathering. Once there, you had to be a tour guide and student wrangler. Plus, you spent your nights listening for doors opening and footsteps in the hallway. 

Even if you wanted to take on that challenge, physical travel anywhere and with anyone has become nearly impossible thanks to COVID-19.

Luckily, you have other options. You can use virtual reality (VR) apps to take your students around the country or around the world. You don’t need to stop there, either. You can use VR to visit all the places you personally have yearned to go without straining your salary. Your VR options are nearly limitless, but here are five great destinations that offer valuable life lessons.

Indigenous Native Culture in Australia’s Northern Territory 

Physically visiting Australia requires a high-price ticket and a 23-hour plane ride. You, however, can take your students on a stunning and educational tour of Australia’s Northern Territory, focusing on indigenous native culture without leaving the classroom. 

You’ll learn how the first Australians hunted animals, gathered food, and slept under the stars. The guide, Manuel Pamkal, will share his childhood experiences and demonstrate how to play the didgeridoo, light a fire with two sticks, and throw a spear. 

The Great Pyramids of Egypt

Your students can visit the Great Pyramids and still be home for dinner. This VR tour requires a VR headset, as do many of these virtual trips. Fortunately, you can find affordable models from suppliers like Oculus, or use Google’s free Cardboard app. This VR trip is one of seven Escape Now tours available. This app lets you and your students visit the pyramids of Giza that were built in the Old and Middle Egyptian Kingdom periods, and includes commentary and background information that makes your journey an exciting and educational one. Bonus ―  the headsets make it feel like a cool gaming experience for your young charges.

Crater Lake

You don’t have to leave the virtual country to have a meaningful trip. This VR tour lets you explore Crater Lake in Oregon and includes full 360-degree immersive VR with 18 images and an interactive map. You will also see animated scenes of the eruption of Mount Mazama and the creation of this volcanic crater. A number of pop-up windows add further context, and your students will hear real wildlife calls. It’s a fun-filled and immersive way to learn.

Virtual Scuba Diving Tours

The chances that you’d take students on a diving trip are less than slim ― unless you go VR. With this VR adventure app, you are not limited to a single adventure, but can choose from several that are sure to capture the imagination of your students. These National Geographic videos give you 360-degree videos of exotic dive sites. Add an Oculus Quest VR headset, you can swim with humpback whales in Antarctica or view Indonesian coral reefs. These intense adventure travels are thrilling, educational, and SAFE, making it well worth investing in some VR headsets. 

All Things French

You can teach your students un peu Francais, but the country will really come alive if you take them on a VR visit. In recent months, the government allowed just a few people to travel to France. To fill this void, various companies have created VR experiences that include museum, walking, and monument tours. You can access some of these VR trips free, while others charge a small fee. The VR equipment required also varies. Get the benefits of a physical trip ― but bring your own ratatouille.

Final VR Travel Notes

Educational travel no longer requires months of planning and piles of cash. You can take your students around the world at little to no expense and zero emotional stress. These tours are far from the old travelogue movies that older generations endured. These are fun, interactive experiences that are detailed and often thrilling. You will also be entranced, and may even book some VR trips for your own private summer getaway. With VR, there are no travel limits and no lost students.