The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), ran a wonderful and informative piece how virtual school programs have broken down the barriers that have historically prevented students from accessing great art, and music and seeing zoo animals.
The piece begins by taking a look at the work of spoken word and music tandem, I.M.F. (In My Feelings) and Raffiki, who took part in the Art Gallery of Ontario’s (AGO) Black History Month commemorations.
According to I.M.F., being able to watch spoken word artists and musicians gave her the confidence she needed to believe that she could make a career out of her passion.
The duo commemorated Black History Month by creating and performing works inspired by the gallery’s extensive art connection. Each recording session was live-streamed and lasted half an hour. The sessions were interspersed with chats with students who were streaming the sessions.
Through sessions such as these, AGO is able to reach a bigger audience than before, and perhaps even inspire some of them to take up the creative mantle and become artists and musicians. Artists and musicians have been able to engage with students to discuss vital artistic questions and the importance of Black artists and musicians.
Events such as these are important given that the coronavirus pandemic has prevented schools from sending or their students on field trips, as well as prevented guests from visiting schools. Virtual events of this kind have been held by various cultural institutions so that students don’t miss out on cultural experiences.
Participants have widely applauded the use of virtual field trips. They have been hailed for the connections they have created, the possibilities of reaching out beyond a traditional audience and the exciting way that events unfold in virtual space.
AGO worked to create the magic of in-person visits when they designed their Virtual Schools Program. They wanted to have that same spontaneity and energy that students have when they are learning something new about a work of art, from an educator. AGO also worked to include a wellness component to their digital experiences. At the end of each 30-minute live-streamed virtual field trip, students are asked to participate in an art activity. This adds to the connectivity of the program and bridges the divide that working online sometimes creates.
Being live-streamed is a huge part of the energy of a virtual field trip. It allows for conversations, and spontaneity that makes each virtual field trip as close to an in-person visit as possible. This is important because virtual field trips soon to democratise access to art and institutions like zoos.
Calgary Zoo is an example of a zoo that has gone digital. The zoo offers virtual visits that go a long way towards recreating the experience of an in-person visit to the zoo. Indeed, going virtual offers advantages that an in-person visit can’t match: a single person with a camera can get very close to a penguin’s chicks, or a Komodo dragon, something which a group wouldn’t be able to do without frightening three animals. As with AGO, the Calgary Zoo has a robust chat room experience to help bridge the physical divide. This keeps visitors more engaged, instead of having them watch passively.
Before embarking on a virtual field trip, it’s important to make sure you look good. How facial appearance has stories been more important than during this era when we spend so much of our time in virtual space. Visiting a spa like dermani Medspa, will ensure that you head off into your virtual field trip looking like your best self.