Video as replacement of fieldtrip

This article will show an example of using videos as a field trip replacement.

an aerial photo of the Iceland island with the course route painted

Course: HWM32806 Catchment and Climate Hydrology
Period: Period 5

Short Introduction and background

Introduction and story behind the emergence of this learning activity. What was the need, what issue/problem was the teacher facing and wanted to resolve? 

The course includes a ten-day field trip to Iceland which normally takes place in August. This is the only field experience that the master students of the master Earth and Environment (with the Hydrology specialisation in particular) will get. Students of other specialisations within the master Earth and Environment and Climate Studies can also join the field trip.

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Hydrological processes are shown for different conditions (climate, physical catchment structure). Impacts of floods and drought are elaborated. The excursion as such already exists since 2008 and covers a large part of the learning objectives of the course. In 2020, it was not possible to travel with a group of 50-60 students to Iceland, due to the restrictions that were present because of COVID-19. Therefore, the lecturers who were normally involved in the excursion came up with an innovative way to share the contents of the excursion with their students. Note that the solution that is presented in this showcase also applies to smaller-scale excursions and field trips.  

Relevant tools / apps (software) or hardware used

  • Brightspace Group tool
  • Google My Maps 
  • Cameras - brought by the videographer and the photographer. The lecturers use a Canon EOS 250D for video’s that they record themselves.
  • Microphone with noise cancellation - brought by lecturers

Learning outcome(s)

What has been learned after this lesson/activity has been executed ?

  • Analyse field observations to conceptualize hydro(geo)logically and climatologically complex catchments
  • Analyse hydrological systems (processes and medium) of catchments in various climatological and hydrogeological settings
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  • Evaluate precipitation-runoff relationships at various temporal and spatial scales;
  • Assess the use of models to explore catchment management options, incl. prediction of hydrological extremes (floods and droughts) and assessing effects of global change.

These learning outcomes apply not only to the field trip, but to the whole course as well. These learning outcomes are assessed in a final written exam. Also, students gave presentations on papers that they have read, that they would normally give during the excursion.

Lesson idea / Learning activity

Specific description and demonstration of the lesson idea/learning activity.

For this learning activity, three lecturers, a photographer and a videographer travelled to Iceland to do the same field trip as they normally would, but with a camera instead of an audience of 60 students. Even though not every lecturer will have the possibility to go with a photographer and/or videographer, the learning activity would also work with just you as a lecturer and a camera or cell phone to record within your backpack.

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Here, the lecturers chose to go with a videographer, because it was really important to not only get a clip of what was normally told by the lecturers but to also grasp a bit of the vastness of the surroundings. For that reason, a photographer also joined the excursion.

Normally it is a ten-day excursion with students. For this excursion, the same locations (even more) were visited and the stories that would normally be told to the students on location were now shared with the videographer. The surroundings were recorded by both video and photo’s to give the students the feeling that they were present.

All of the video’s and photos were shared with the students in Google My Maps. This is an application in which you can add content to a map. In this case to the map of Iceland. The content was added at the precise locations that the students would normally visit. For this field trip, the students would also have an excursion guide with relative background information about the locations that were visited each day.

Lessons learned / Tips

Mentions tips lecturer has for colleagues based on their experience.

  • The most important thing that you miss if you are having an excursion without students is interaction. It is therefore good practice to imagine that you do have interaction with the students; talk to the camera as if you are talking to the group. Ask questions, pause, and be authentic. If something goes ‘wrong’ during recording, e.g. the lecturer gets disturbed by the mosquitos, consider keeping that in the video, it will make it more ‘real’.
  • Students normally really value the excursion. They did that as well this year; having the online version of the excursion made students ask whether they could go on the same excursion later in their studies, once it would be possible to travel again.
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  • If you keep the recording process as close to the process that you would normally go through, it doesn’t take a lot of extra time. You don’t have to edit video’s extensively and you don’t need to write scripts for the recordings. For field trips, you can just keep the same story and structure that you normally have.  As long as you are ‘yourself’ and mimicking the normal excursion as much as possible, students will be engaged, also if video’s take longer than 15 minutes.
  • All the material will be reusable for the next years. The time and effort that you invest will not be lost. Once you will be able to do the excursion again, students can use the videos and the MyMaps environment as a reference or study for their exam.
  • Try to imagine what the students see. Normally they would look around and wander off while you explain things. You have to think of ways to also convey that information to the students.
  • Take some time to feel comfortable in front of the camera. Test a few things out. But at a certain point you have to say: Ok, this is how I am going to do it.
  • Make sure that there is a clear storyline or thread for the whole excursion. Here, we used Google My Maps and an excursion guide to actually guide the students through the excursion. This is important to keep the students on board and engaged.
  • When you are not with a large group on an excursion, you can travel faster and you can come closer to some locations. This opens up opportunities for places to visit, that you normally would not visit.
  • A suggestion for the next trip would be to also include 360-degree photos of the environment so that students can actually look around in the environment, as was done in this showcase.
  • Another suggestion to even expand the experience for the students is to include information on top of the video; i.e. information on which learning objectives are covered in the video or questions so that students can self-assess their knowledge of what was said and shown in the video.


Teacher(s): Roel Dijksma, Martine van der Ploeg, Ryan Teuling, Lieke Melsen
TLC contact (on MS Teams):
Berber Hania from CS
Author (interviewer): Karly van Gorp


  • An example of a student video for the course activity: (video below)


Interested in learning more about Showcases of learning activities?

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