Virtual visits are all about harnessing the power of digital communications to inspire, engage and educate young people about the journey of food from farm to fork. At Washingborough Academy, pupils chat live via video call to their matched farmer – Farmer Jake every two weeks. They can do this from the classroom and the call is broadcast on the interactive whiteboard. Pupils get to know the farmer, his farm, animals and even the sheepdog – they can discuss ideas, ask questions, share knowledge and gain a ‘real-time’ understanding of the issues farmers face every day.They have even partnered with a Czech school to take their virtual learning experience international.
Virtual visits enable pupils to ‘visit a farm’ anywhere in the country (or world for that matter) using online video calls. Physical farm visits are costly and time-consuming, and although a video call can’t replace the real thing, it does enable schools to engage with farm life on a regular basis. Here are some of the benefits:
- Pupils gain an important insight into daily life on the farm, and where their food comes from
- Online farm visits can take place throughout the year, no matter what the weather is like
- Pupils will see the annual cycles of life on the farm, and seasonality of produce
- Virtual visits can provide a good platform for topic work, discussion and learning in the classroom on a regular basis
- Discuss the topic of the call with the farmer before the event and set the time and date
- Ensure the farm has good wifi or 4G on location
- Talk with the children before the call to introduce the theme, and think about any questions they want to be answered
- Keep the children engaged with opportunities to ask questions and make comments throughout the call
- Make sure that you explain or ask about any technical terms that the farmer may be discussing
- Follow up with some topic work or discussion in the classroom
- This digital approach can be enhanced further by organising a real farm visit with the pupils.