Recently I had the honor of chaperoning my daughter’s kindergarten field trip. We went to a cool community garden to learn about locally grown food and farming practices. As I participated, it was interesting to witness the difference in perspectives between the students and the teachers. The students were filled with total excitement, joy, and wonder to be out of the classroom and in nature. Energy levels were in high gear. The teachers, on the other hand, had to be on high alert. With grace and skill they organized drivers, reminded students of behavior expectations, attended to the safety of every participant, and offered interesting insights that tied the field trip lessons back to the classroom learnings.

This experience brought to mind that our app is really a series of virtual field trips. And while the virtual world cannot fully replace the real world, I do think it offers a host of benefits to educators and students when it comes to career exploration. Here is my opinion on the top 5 virtues of virtual field trips…

  1. Not Geographically Limiting – the careers that students are exposed to are typically limited to their geographic area – a student living in the Midwest cannot easily experience the job of a marine biologist. Or a rural school, for example, may not be able to transport students to a larger city to experience a wider range of potential career opportunities. Virtual career exploration enables students to experience careers regardless of location and ability to travel.
  2. Greater Accessibility – when visiting actual workplaces, our partner schools have shared that they often run into limitations in the number of students that a company can accommodate – which forces the educators to make difficult decisions about which students gain access to the experience. Other educators have shared that certain jobs or facilities are off-limits due to security issues or safety concerns. We are able to get security and safety clearances in order to access such locations with our video crew and bring students a first row view of things like the inner workings of a water purification plant or the research being performed at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
  3. Less Overhead – career field days require educators to find sponsor companies, organize drivers or a bus, gather permission slips, ensure proper liability coverage is in place, manage students (and chaperones) off-site, etc. With virtual career experiences, all of that disappears and provides educators with a stress-free way to give students access to career role models.
  4. Broader Exposure – because of the multitude of educational and testing requirements placed upon students, in-person career visits can only take place a couple times per year at most. This limits students’ exposure to a variety of careers. Couragion includes a plethora of careers and new careers are added monthly so students gain exposure to a much broader set of potential jobs.
  5. Significantly Lower Cost – The average cost of a field trip varies based on the type of transportation used, location entrance fees, insurance costs, etc. We’ve heard fees ranging from $11 to $85 dollars – and that is for just one trip. With our app, students gain access to a school year’s worth of virtual field trips at a cost comparable to just one or two in-person field trips.

I still believe strongly that there is a time and place for field trips to explore careers in-person, but I love that virtual access to career role models can give students a wider view of what is possible, expand their world beyond their geographic and family/friend circle, and do so in a more affordable manner. What do you think? What benefits or downsides do you see with virtual career exploration? I’d love to hear you view, feel free to comment below or email me (laura at couragion.com).

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