Virtual Field Trips with VoiceThread Mobile

Confession: My name is Jaime and I am a regular VoiceThread user.

I have been using VoiceThread for the last few years after being introduced to it by Jill Leafsteadt and Michelle Pacansky-Brock. I have integrated VoiceThread in a variety of ways into my courses, from asynchronous discussions about ethical issues in nursing to integrating how art interpretation relates to nursing assessment practices.

Recently, I wanted to integrate some activities that could be asynchronous for online course dates, while maintaining active, engaging practices. Since my children are in grade school, the idea of field trips came to mind. Field trips have been fundamental learning activities primarily in the study of sciences, allowing students to connect real-world events to classroom learning while diversifying modes of learning (Lei, 2015). For nursing, field trips offer an additional way for students to investigate and identify resources in the community that may contribute to improved health of the community or increased access to health care resources.

Using the VoiceThread Mobile app students can connect the curriculum to their lives outside the classroom and share their learning experiences with peers. The VoiceThread Mobile app provides users with the ability to use their smartphone or tablet to record video comments that document a user’s surroundings and experiences. The app requires relatively low bandwidth and will work on 3G or 4G connections if Wi-Fi connection is unavailable. The app is available for iOS and Android systems

Last semester, I had nursing students use VoiceThread for our Virtual Field Trip in which we explored cardiac Screenshot of DIrections for Virtual Field Trip in VoiceThread Mobilehealth education and resources in the community. Students were asked to go to a public arena or space they may frequent, or somewhere new. Students were given three options:

  1. Find an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED)
  2. Find Cardiac Health Education resources
  3. Find public signs, notifications, or information intended for health education

Since this was a new new activity, I was unsure how responsive students would be or how it would go. We were venturing out to try something new, using the mobile app without any practice runs. We took a chance to virtually share during a Field Trip that traditionally involves a group of people visiting one location. Instead we had individuals sharing about unique experiences from their own perspective from multiple locations, using technology.

I had a great response and great success from the perspective of teaching and learning. Students shared what they found about cardiac resources in the community, including library resources, location-related apps for AED finding, and information about public places that have and do not have resources. From the student’s discussions, I learned additional information about the limitations of AEDs to the general.

Students reported that the mobile app was easy to use and accessible. About 10-15% of the student users had difficulty getting the app to function, I gave the students the option to record after the activity if there were challenges. It was very beneficial to have students capable of recording and narrating what they found, while offering visual and auditory learning for peers based on their discovery.

There are many other opportunities for students to use VoiceThread to learn in a mobile way like this, including documenting their process of learning through a project, virtual field trips, scavenger hunts, or any activity that allows for students to be encouraged to connect learning back to everyday life.


Lei, S. A. (2015). Revisiting Virtual Field Trips: Perspectives of College Science Instructors. Education135(3), 323-327.

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