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Virtual Field Trips

Virtual, Nature-Based Programs

No matter where you are, your class can interact with our educators and scientists and explore topics like biodiversity, conservation, botany, plant ecology and the environment.

Experience engaging programs using videoconferencing and web-based technologies — it’s the next best thing to being here! These award-winning interactive programs are nature-based and linked to your curriculum – no matter where you are. Teachers receive packages with a presentation outline, and pre– and post– conference activities.

Virtual Field Trips are proudly supported by:

ontario trillium foundation logo
Hamilton Community Foundation logo

10 Reasons You’ll Love Our Distance Learning Programs!

  1. A great addition to inquiry or project-based learning process
  2. Deliver an authentic learning experience
  3. Provide access to expert knowledge
  4. Allow students to practice question-forming techniques
  5. Can provide opportunities to connect and collaborate with other students nationally and internationally
  6. Designed for interactive, engaging and motivating learning
  7. Offer flexible scheduling to suit your planning/program needs and STEM curriculum
  8. Meets curriculum expectations for all Canadian provinces and US States
  9. Available anywhere there is a broadband connection
  10. No busing or permission forms needed

Special Programming:

Art in Nature (K – Gr 3)

Explore your schoolyard, a local park, backyard or any natural area using your five senses. Join us to discover different ways you can interact with nature. Don’t forget to have some stones, sticks, leaves, grass or flowers available!

Available in English or French

French Programming Available!

Though the base language for our distance learning programming is English, a number of programs are available in French. Check program options listing for more details.

Frequently Asked Questions

You want to promote collaborative global learning. You want to introduce your students to an expert in a subject, or you want your students to collaborate with another class on a project.

What Do I Need to Consider?

  • How will this support and enhance your unit plan? Your students’ learning?
  • Will it be an introduction to a unit, support an inquiry-based project or be part of a culminating activity?
  • Are you bringing in an expert or coordinating a collaboration with another class globally?
  • Is this a lunch and learn for teachers?
  • Is it part of a school or board-wide Teacher Professional Development event? Many content providers offer free programs that introduce the technology and programs.

How Do I Get Started?

Before you request a booking, consider the following topics and questions.

Date and Time:

  • When is it happening? Time zone (don’t forget that not everyone uses Daylight Savings Time). How does it fit in your class’ or school’s schedule? Is this part of a series of programs with same provider or other classes?
  • Decide on some possible dates and times based on your class’ schedule – keep in mind that you might find a provider in a different time zone; most are very accommodating.


  • Where is it happening? The classroom? The library? The technology room?
  • The location might depend on the technology being used or if a presentation like this is normally coordinated by the teacher librarian or other Tech support person on staff
  • Is it your class or a couple of classes?
  • Ideally, it is with one class at a time. Too many students will impact the level of interactivity and ultimately student engagement. Some presenters have limits as to the size of the participating class


  • What does it cost? Fee? Or Free? Any discounts? Is funding available from another source such as the Parent Council?
  • Some programs will charge a fee. Find out if you have the funds or can get the funds. Some programs may be free or discounted under certain conditions – ask.

Decide if it’s happening in your classroom, the library or technology room. Your access to the technology might determine that.

How Do I Find an Expert?

Who is the expert you are bringing in? An expert from a local business? A content provider from a local, provincial, national or international cultural or natural heritage organization?

Or are you interested in collaborating with another teacher/ class from someplace in the world?

Consult with colleagues or a board consultant to see if they can recommend someone related to that topic, or check out the websites listed below to find a guest. Most of these sites have keyword search engines.

  • Or LiveLearning Canada (coming soon)
  • Microsoft Education: Virtual Field Trips/ Explore Cootes Paradise Marsh (RBG)

Once you’ve decided on a program, contact the expert/ content provider to check availability and to determine if the program they offer will meet your needs or can be customized.

Some programs will need to be registered for, while others will just require an agreement with the provider. Most sites allow you to register for free; it might be the program that costs a fee.

The first two links will also offer you opportunities to either list or search for a collaboration based on location, grade, topic or subject.

What Technology Will I Need?

Are you using a videoconferencing (VC) room system?

Some schools have access to a videoconferencing room system such as a Polycom, Cisco/Tandberg, Lifesize, etc. If so, you’ll need to find out if there is tech support in the school that can help you set it up or do you have to contact your Board or District tech support. The system should include a microphone and a camera. You’ll need to provide the display such as LCD projector/ Screen or a SMART Board.

Things to find out:

  • If you are using a VC room system, is it already at the school or do you have to order it from the IT department?
  • What equipment and support does your IT department provide? Is there are tech champion at your school?

No VC room system? No problem!

There are browser-based solutions which will enable your students and you to have the same engaging interactive experience. RBG has a licenced Zoom room via Fieldtrip Zoom as do many other content providers.

You’ll need a computer (laptop or desktop) that is hardwired (or you’ve got a very robust Wi-Fi connection).

Ideally a webcam is the best option for video and audio, but with the newer laptops the built in AV system is quite good.

You could also use Google Hangouts or Skype keeping in mind that the presentation may not be quite the same, but it will still be interactive.

Where will it go in your room so that the presenter can see and hear your students and vice versa?

Are there power outlets close by?

If you are using a VC room system, it should be at the front of the room to one side so that the camera can see as many., if not all the students, as possible. Some schools have them on AV carts so are easy to move around to the best position.

If you are using a browser-based solution (e.g. Zoom), you will need to set up your computer with a hardwired connection. Regardless of whether you are using the built-in camera or a webcam, set it up so that the camera is at about 5’ (1.75 m) high so that the person on the far-end can see the whole class. If it is set at desk height, then all the person on the other end will see is the front row of students.

You might need to have speakers for either situation depending on the display you are using.

How will I know that my connection will work?

  • Always do a test connection – at least 5-10 days before the presentation in case you run into problems.
  • Check the ALL audio-visual elements.
  • Audio (microphone and speakers) – Can the person on the far-end hear the students at the back of the room? Can you hear the presenter clearly? Is there an echo?
  • Video – Can you see the presenter clearly? Any freezing or pixilation? Can they see you and where most if not all your students are going to be? If the camera is facing a window it might be causing a problem for the presenter to see the students. Confirm that they are getting a view that works for them, too.
  • Does the presenter want to test any of their peripheral equipment?
  • If you can be part of the test connection, use this time to also discuss the presentation content and any prep that needs to be done by you or your students.

IT Support

Find out what is needed by your school board. Or is there a tech champion at your school that can help? Do you need to create a ticket or do you use some other equipment/support booking system?

If IT support is needed to set up the equipment, will they stay in case something happens or can you look after it if needed?

Find out what is needed by your school board. Or is there a tech champion at your school that can help? Do you need to create a ticket or do you use some other equipment/support booking system?

If IT support is needed to set up the equipment, will they stay in case something happens or can you look after it if needed?

Participant Comments and Acknowledgements

Award-Winning Programming

CILC Pinnacle Awards: 2019-2010, 2018-2019, 2017-2018, 2016-2017 (Honourable Mention), 2015-2016, 2014-2015, 2013-2014, 2012-2013, 2011-2012 (Honourable Mention), 2010-2011, 2009-2010, 2008-2009 (Honourable Mention), 2007-2008 (Honourable Mention)

CILC Pinnacle Award Hall of Fame: 2010 – 2020 for having received the Pinnacle Award annually for the last 10 years.


Curriculum Connections

Which programs connect with the curriculum in your province or state? Select your location below for help.

Program Partners

You can find our programs with the following websites:

Thank you to these organizations for their support of our distance learning programs.

Contact Us

For more information contact our Education Officer, Karin Davidson-Taylor, at 905-527-1158. ext. 249 or use the form below.

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