Socialization is key

Driver et al. (1994) present the idea that scientific knowledge is created in a way that is more than a constructivist foundation and requires acknowledgement of the interconnectedness of a variety of factors that include personal experiences, language, and socialization.  Secondly, they notice that it is not the teaching of specific scientific knowledge but rather the “constructs that are advanced by the scientific community to interpret nature.”  (Driver et al., 1994)  They continue to demonstrate that the widely held scientific principles that we hold to be true are “constructed and communicated through the culture and social institutions of science.” (Driver et al., 1994)  They return to Piagetian foundations and the need to challenge existing schema to create conflict and cause students to move to a state of disequilibrium and develop new schemes to understand their experience.  It is the social component that is key in knowledge acquisition.

This led me to read two articles about field trips and can we replace them with virtual field trips.  Both articles seem to support the conclusions about the importance of the social component to learning that was missing from the virtual field trip.  In their study Spicer and Stratford (2001) found that field trips develop more than just scientific knowledge and that “[t]hese experiences involve the ability to take responsibility and be responsible for yourself and colleagues, to work and cooperate with other people and to make friends and win trust.” (Spicer and Stratford, 2001)  Again we find a return to the ideas raised by Driver et al. that there is a social component to learning.

Lastly, I looked at a number of the networked communities, including GLOBE, Exploratorium, and Discovery Education.  Each site offered great amount of resources to create allow students to be more interactive in their learning of science.  I can see tremendous value in students measuring rain fall and relaying it to the team at GLOBE and then for my students to be able to interact with that data and compare to other regions.  It supports Driver et al. ideas of a making the classroom part of a larger scientific community.  I think that Adedokun et al, (2012) summarize it best in their study when they identified that “they are viable alternatives for providing students with learning opportunities and experiences that would have otherwise been unavailable to them.” (Adedokun et. al, 2012)  It returns to our discussions around PCK and that if the experience brings something new to the classroom then it is probably hitting the sweet spot where pedagogy, content and technology interconnect to build knowledge.  If it is just replacing then there may be less value to both the time and the students.



Adedokun, O. A., Hetzel, K., Parker, L. C., Loizzo, J., Burgess, W. D., & Paul Robinson, J. (2012). Using Virtual Field Trips to Connect Students with University Scientists: Core Elements and Evaluation of zipTrips™. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 21(5), 1-12.

Driver, R., Asoko, H., Leach, J., Scott, P., & Mortimer, E. (1994). Constructing scientific knowledge in the classroom. Educational researcher, 23(7), 5-12.

Spicer, J., & Stratford, J. (2001). Student perceptions of a virtual field trip to replace a real field trip. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 17, 345-354.


  1. I agree, I do think field trips provide excellent social opportunities for students to develop communication and social skills, as well as meaningful experiences for students to make connections to later. In writing workshops and class discussions, students rely on these experiences to contribute connections, thoughts, and ideas. I think virtual field trips are a great resource, however they should not replace authentic field trips.

    1. I wonder as we learn about more effective ways to integrate TELE’s in our classrooms, like all the frameworks through Module B, if this will change? I know I thought I was doing okay and after this course I feel like a rookie again, but excited to see where I can take my classroom.

  2. Thanks Sarah and Danielle. I missed the point from the readings that virtual fieldtrips might be lacking in social interaction as compared with traditional, though may possibly enable different social opportunities as participants debrief from their particular experience (ex. what they explored on their specific journey).


    1. Interesting point Andrew. The study certainly didn’t look at that. They did identify that more research is needed on the effectiveness of Virtual field trips.

  3. Sarah

    I like the fact that you discussed the social component of learning. In my regular job (online high school science)…there is very to almost no social component because students are starting and finishing at different times. The administration says that the students will get the social component at their face-to-face school. I am sure Driver et al. (1994) are discussing the social component in the classroom and not between classes.

    I wonder if…because the Driver et al. (1994) article is over 20 years old, and the technology has changed during this time…is there a social component in today’s virtual tours.

    A good next step might be to research the learning that occurs with and without the social component in a k-12 online school

    To keep the conversation going — make sure to respond to at least two other learners as well respond to all learners that respond to your own post. When responding to other learners, please use references to support your ideas/thesis/concepts etc.


    1. Hello,
      I did a little bit of research to see if the social component came up as important in K-12 as it does beyond Grade 12. While I didn’t spend hours I did notice these two factors. One as identified by Barbour (2012) that “While the students appreciated the independent aspects of learning, they also stated they learned best when working together with the other online students at their local site. ” reinforcing that learning is a social process for knowledge acquisition. The second piece was how much less research has been done on online learning at the K-12 level. This may be because of the relative newness and in comparison to adult learners limited amount of actual online learners.

      Barbour, M., McLaren, A., & Zhang, L. (2012). Its not that tough: students speak about their online learning experiences. Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education, 13(2), 226–241.
      Google Scholar

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