IKEducation’s spring calendar was filled with a record number of field trips when COVID-19 hit the United States, shutting down schools, museums, and government institutions. While we are disappointed that we are not able to host all those students on our campus, virtual education was already in IKEducation’s crosshairs. What is virtual education? There are many branches of virtual education, but at its most basic, it means instruction in a learning environment where teacher and students are separated by time and/or space and the teacher provides content through technological methods such as internet, multimedia resources, and video-conferencing. The teacher can interact with students on a live video feed, can post assignments online that the students complete and submit digitally, or a wide variety of combinations of these options. It is a platform that has slowly been growing over the past decade, but has now exploded as our country adapts to the new requirements of social distancing in an attempt to keep everyone healthy.
This past winter, IKEducation started preparing to launch a new virtual classroom in time for the school year starting in August 2020. Sneak previews on our current site include the virtual tour of Ike’s boyhood home, and In Conclusion: A Research and Informative Speech Project. We are working towards a digital library of primary sources, videos, and lesson plans that students and teachers can utilize from home, in the classroom, or wherever they may be.
IKEducation recently piloted its first virtual field trip for a class at Eisenhower Elementary School in Enid, Oklahoma. The teacher asked if there were any educational materials we could provide for her K-5 students to help celebrate President’s Day on February 16th. This proved to be the perfect opportunity to reach students hundreds of miles away with a virtual field trip. IKEducation worked with the teacher to create a personalized lesson that helped them celebrate President’s Day and learn more about our favorite president — Ike!
On this field trip, students first engaged with our new virtual tour of Eisenhower’s boyhood home. They were able to “walk through” Ike’s home, look more closely at significant artifacts, and listen to information as they moved from room to room. Then, we used an online video-conferencing platform to interact from our classroom in the Eisenhower Presidential Museum in Abilene, Kansas, to 120 students in the auditorium at Eisenhower Elementary School in Enid, Oklahoma! IKEducator, Donna Reynolds, provided an engaging lesson over Ike’s boyhood years, including many of his hobbies and chores. The lesson ended with questions from the students. Prior to the field trip, IKEducation sent Eisenhower Elementary several authentic games and toys just like those that Ike would have played with. This provided students with another level of engagement and learning. The feedback we received from the teacher was very positive: “Oh my goodness, the kids loved, loved the lesson! We cannot thank you enough for partnering with us on this endeavor. Lots of teachers are excited to come up and visit in person now!”
IKEducation is working hard to build our virtual classroom in time for the next school year. Whether kids are coming to us on a school bus, from a classroom across the country, or from their homes, we can’t wait to pass on the legacy of Dwight D. Eisenhower!