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Auburn Students Take Virtual Field Trip to Semana Santa

Cayuga-Onondaga BOCES’ Instructional Support Services (ISS) provides both synchronous and asynchronous learning opportunities to its nine component districts. ISS’ Distance Learning service is one example of synchronous, “real-time” learning, whereby instructors can provide lessons to multiple remote sites using videoconferencing.

One example of this technology can be seen in the Virtual Field Trip, which allows students to interact with educators who serve as equal parts instructor and interactive tour guide, but from a remote location. Such was the case for some Auburn High School Spanish students, who recently took a virtual field trip to Antigua, Guatemala for Semana Santa (Holy Week). This year, Semana Santa ran from Mar. 25-31.

This virtual field trip - hosted by Learn Around the World - saw students interact with Brandon, who spoke at length about Semana Santa; detailing the street festival from its planning stages to the eventual cleanup. He discussed the great pains taken in setting up the festival route, and helped illustrate this point by focusing on “alfombra,” which is decorative street carpet created from colored sawdust, sand, and/or pine needles (and adorned with and fresh produce). The finished artwork must be sprayed with water to keep it from scattering in the wind, and is then immediately swept up following the parade’s progression along the route.

As Brandon spoke about the intricacies of the festival, his audience took advantage of multiple interactive opportunities. The Spanish students were able to answer his quiz questions in real time using Kahoot!, receiving points based upon correct answers (and the time needed to reach the said answers). They were also encouraged to ask Brandon questions throughout the presentation, often interjecting queries ranging from the religious differences inherent to Holy Week in Mexico versus the United States, to the logistics involved in creating (and transporting) parade floats.
Students videoconferencing with Brandon

The presentation itself provided more than text on a screen; multiple videos were embedded throughout the tour, providing street-level views of Semana Santa highlights as Brandon narrated over them. The videos (often taken by the instructors themselves) evoked a sense of authenticity, as those viewing them knew they were being educated by a traveler who actually witnessed the events being discussed.

By the conclusion of the virtual field trip, students had received a literal street-level view of Semana Santa, offering more insight to the festival (and the Holy Week proper) than they were likely to glean from still images or lavishly-produced travel videos.






Brian K. Hartwell, Ed.D.
District Superintendent of Schools

1879 West Genesee Street Rd.
Auburn, NY 13021
Phone: (315) 253-0361

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