Seeing the World—From Inside School Walls Telepractice takes rural students on field trips to otherwise inaccessible places. Have You Tried This?
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Have You Tried This?  |   April 01, 2017
Seeing the World—From Inside School Walls
Author Notes
  • Kira Wright, MA, CCC-SLP, is the clinical resources director at The Hello Foundation in Portland, Oregon, and provides hybrid onsite/telepractice services to schools in Burns, Oregon. She is an affiliate of ASHA Special Interest Group 16, School-Based Issues. kira.wright@thehellofoundation.com
    Kira Wright, MA, CCC-SLP, is the clinical resources director at The Hello Foundation in Portland, Oregon, and provides hybrid onsite/telepractice services to schools in Burns, Oregon. She is an affiliate of ASHA Special Interest Group 16, School-Based Issues. kira.wright@thehellofoundation.com×
Article Information
School-Based Settings / Telepractice & Computer-Based Approaches / Have You Tried This?
Have You Tried This?   |   April 01, 2017
Seeing the World—From Inside School Walls
The ASHA Leader, April 2017, Vol. 22, 40-41. doi:10.1044/leader.HYTT.22042017.40
The ASHA Leader, April 2017, Vol. 22, 40-41. doi:10.1044/leader.HYTT.22042017.40
The students were all ears as the fire chief showed them what happens when an emergency call comes in to the fire station. They practiced wh- questions as he walked them into the kitchen and showed them how the firefighters prepare food together each evening. They took turns pointing out items they recognized around the fire station. When it was all over, they said “thank you,” waved goodbye, and closed the laptop.
Educators have long recognized field trips as meaningful educational experiences that engage students, expand their worldview, and encourage synthesis of ideas and skills (see sources). For students in rural areas, however, field trips are often not possible or practical.
My co-worker at The Hello Foundation, speech-language pathologist Jenny Peddicord, claims those benefits—and more—for the students she serves in central Washington state. She provides speech-language services to a school district in Yakima, Washington, using a hybrid model of onsite and telepractice services.
Expanding online opportunities
For most of the month, Peddicord is at home in Portland, Oregon, where she uses streaming video to connect to an assistant and students in Yakima. One week each month, she is onsite in Yakima conducting evaluations, providing training, modeling, and consulting with staff.
Peddicord has worked in Yakima for nearly seven years. During one of her onsite weeks, she had the idea to use streaming video in a different way. “The children on my caseload have not had the same opportunities for traveling and exploring city environments as their counterparts who live in metro areas,” Peddicord says.
“Living in a farming community, these students are involved in outdoor activities and their local neighborhoods, but most have not traveled beyond their own town’s borders. A school bus could not easily take them to visit big-city businesses and locations.” But the instant connection of a video stream could.
Peddicord’s first virtual field trip—to the fire station around the corner from her house in Portland—was a success by all measures. “I was actually surprised by everyone’s reaction,” she says. “The students are used to seeing me every day on the computer, but now they were seeing me in a new setting interacting with different people.”
The exciting part of this process was that the students could participate too. They were enthralled—smiling, giggling and excited for a turn to speak. It was a reminder of how powerful it can be when children are active in the learning process: Watching a video about the fire station does not compare to being able to ask the fire chief a question yourself and have him answer you.
“I modeled the virtual field trips on the fundamental model of telepractice,” explains Peddicord. “It’s all about access. Telepractice provides access to services that aren’t otherwise available, and virtual field trips offer focused language and learning opportunities that aren’t available in person.”

A school bus could not easily take students to visit big-city businesses and locations. But the instant connection of a video stream could.

Travel by telepractice
Since that first virtual outing, Peddicord has arranged virtual field trips to the Oregon Humane Society, the police station and the zoo. Some field trip ideas, like an airport, art museum, science museum, gardens or riverfront, take advantage of opportunities available in a larger metropolitan area. Other destinations (like police and fire stations) are not unique to the big city, but the virtual format allows flexibility and access that might otherwise not be available. Telepractice service delivery in schools presents both advantages and drawbacks (see sources), and virtual field trips are one creative approach to maximizing advantages.
Here are some tips on how to plan your own virtual field trip:
Before your trip: When choosing a destination, consider students’ interests, classroom curriculum and logistical concerns. Use treatment sessions leading up to the trip to introduce related vocabulary and concepts. Explain the activity to your contact at the destination site, test Wi-Fi connectivity, and be very familiar with your video-streaming platform. Connect with parents and administrators to explain your plans and answer questions.
On the day of your trip: Review the plan with teachers and assistants. In some locations, like the zoo, it’s fun for students to have a map or promotional materials. You may be able to coordinate multiple small-group field trips throughout the day to accommodate different ability levels or target different skills, and to maximize your own time at the destination. Take pictures of what you see and screenshots of your video stream to facilitate discussion and sharing later.
After your trip: Sessions after the trip offer opportunities to reflect on the experience, evaluate predictions, share experiences with others, and discuss ideas for the next trip.

Jenny Peddicord shared her experiences with virtual field trips in a 2014 podcast.

Technology Tips

You might be able to lead your first virtual field trip with tools you already have. Here is a list of the technology that can help you make your field trips even better.

Image Not Available
  • Good: Set up basic equipment

  • Better: Improve your audio

  • Best: Remove camera shake

  • iPhone 5s or better, recent-model Android phone: If your phone or tablet has a video-capable camera, you can stream video to your students on a video-streaming platform right now.

  • Rode VideoMic Me: A virtual field trip is tough on students if they can’t hear you. Consider a mobile microphone for your phone or tablet like the Rode VideoMic Me to improve your live audio.

  • DJI Osmo Mobile: If you really want to up your virtual field trip game, pick up a handheld stabilizer like the DJI Osmo Mobile. Snap your phone into the bracket to smooth out your walking tours, direct the action by moving the camera with your thumb, and track your face with “selfie mode” to easily interact with your students.

Gilmore, S. E., & Norris, G. L. (1994). Using field trips to enhance language treatment. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 25(1), 32–33. doi: 10.1044/0161-1461.2501.32. [Article]
Gilmore, S. E., & Norris, G. L. (1994). Using field trips to enhance language treatment. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 25(1), 32–33. doi: 10.1044/0161-1461.2501.32. [Article] ×
Hjelm N. M. (2005). Benefits and drawbacks of telemedicine. Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare, 11(2), 60–70. doi: 10.1258/1357633053499886 [Article] [PubMed]
Hjelm N. M. (2005). Benefits and drawbacks of telemedicine. Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare, 11(2), 60–70. doi: 10.1258/1357633053499886 [Article] [PubMed]×
Tucker, J. K. (2012). Perspectives of speech-language pathologists on the use of telepractice in schools: The qualitative view. International Journal of Telerehabilitation, 4(2), 47–60. doi:  10.5195/ijt.2012.6102 [PubMed]
Tucker, J. K. (2012). Perspectives of speech-language pathologists on the use of telepractice in schools: The qualitative view. International Journal of Telerehabilitation, 4(2), 47–60. doi:  10.5195/ijt.2012.6102 [PubMed]×
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April 2017
Volume 22, Issue 4