When the famous April the giraffe spent 60-plus days preparing to give birth, the livestream from Animal Adventure Park in New York received over 232 million views.
Embracing the viral nature of the stream, some teachers incorporated viewing the giraffe into their lessons, with elementary students in Michigan creating a picture book with facts on April.
“There is something incredibly compelling about live video,” reads a blog on the Texas Computer Education Association (TCEA)’s website. “Therefore, it can be a powerful tool when used in the classroom.”
Much like April’s uber-popular labor and birth, TCEA recommends that educators use the live camera feeds at zoos, national parks and even the International Space Station to show students things they wouldn’t be able to see otherwise.
Through livestreams and other innovative video content, educators can make curriculum come alive for students in new ways.
As a videoconferencing tool, Skype is recognized for its ability to connect people across the country and the world. With Skype in the Classroom, teachers can facilitate conversations between experts on a wide variety of subject matters.
Using the Skype in the Classroom portal, educators can explore by subject, age group and location to find guest lecturers and interactive virtual field trips. One example, a live virtual field trip to Badlands National Park in South Dakota is separated into four different field trips depending on grade level, covering things like geology, animal habitats and cultural history.
Julie Hembree, a teacher-librarian in Seattle, connected her students with a researcher at the UK Arctic Research Station in Norway, reports Microsoft’s Skype blog.
“Drawings of polar bears and maps of the Arctic region decorating the hallways signal the arrival of March at our school,” Hembree says on the blog. “So, when I read the announcement that teachers could sign up via Skype in the Classroom to talk with one of the polar explorers at the UK Arctic Research Station in Ny-Ålesund, I registered immediately.”
Hembree tells the blog that she had her students prepare questions for the researcher that they couldn’t simply Google, such as what it was like to work in the bone-chilling cold.
“These conversations with scientists thousands of miles away highlight the impact of virtual field trips. The likelihood of any of us actually traveling to the Arctic is slim at best,” says Hembree.
Watching a 360-degree video can facilitate an immersive virtual reality experience without requiring the expensive technology.
The video resources on CNN include panoramic views of everywhere from Central Park in New York City to the war-torn areas of Uganda.
Burns suggests pulling the videos up on a web browser and put them up on an interactive whiteboard or display to augment a lesson on geography or history.
“This type of immersive storytelling can reach learners in new ways and help them build a better understanding of what life is like in other parts of the world,” writes Burns.