Where am I? A Virtual Field Trip-based activity

In the working world, soft skills are often just as important to employers as the technical ones needed for a position. That’s why this Virtual Field Trip (VFT) activity gives your students an opportunity to work on their active listening, communication, deductive reasoning and presentation skills, all while learning more about the career options that exist in the wide world of accounting. 

Start by cutting scraps of paper and numbering them on one side (1,2,3 and so on) until you have one for every student in your class. On the back of each, write down a code representing the various past destinations (we recommend the first letter of the month followed by the year the VFT took place). For example, Kimberly Ellison-Taylor’s “code” would be A15, since her VFT was in August of 2015. 

Once you’ve worked your way through all the past destinations, start back up at the top of the list and go through them again until every scrap of paper has a code on the back. Or, if you’d like to use this lesson plan more than once or have a small number of students, you can also narrow down and choose a select number of past destinations to assign. Then shuffle the scraps of paper and have each student draw just one—keeping its code secret from the rest of the class. 

Students will then watch the VFT that matches up with the code on their scrap of paper (either in class or as homework), taking notes on the most interesting things they learned on their virtual travels. It’s up to you as to how many interesting things your students should include in their notes, but three to five is a good range depending on class size and the number of students assigned to each VFT. Be sure to tell you students not to include any identifying information in their notes, such as the CPAs name, the city where they live, their organization’s name, etc., as this is critical for the second half of the activity.

The next day in class, using their notes as talking points, students will mingle around the room in search of the other students who traveled to the same destination and met the same CPA as they did. By only including non-identifying information in their points of interest, students will have to really listen and communicate well with each other to find their correct matches. Once they have deduced who is on their “team,” students will then work together to make a combined list of the most interesting information they learned, in some order of their choosing—possibly in order of importance, from most-surprising to least, etc. After the lists have been compiled and the groups have agreed on their order and how to divide the speaking roles, each group will get up in front of the class and share some basic information about their destination’s CPA and career, in addition to their collective points of interest.

This activity is not only a great way to further develop some important soft skills that they’ll need in their careers, but also allows your students to absorb information contained in multiple VFTs in a relatively short amount of time. It can also help pique students’ interest in checking out other VFTs. If so, you might consider offering extra credit or a lowest-grade replacement to students who would watch another VFT and provide a write up covering the Top 10 most interesting things they learned from that one.