With schools’ October half term fast approaching, the British Museum has seen an incredible surge in demand for its Samsung Virtual Visits programme, expanding the offering so students can experience the unique historic, arts and cultural offerings the institution has to offer despite social distancing and lockdown restrictions.
With pandemic prevention measures meaning school trips remain firmly off the cards, the innovative virtual learning programme has been expanded by 150% ahead of the upcoming school break. Pre-pandemic, the programme welcomed around 163 school students each week, but 900 pupils will now be able to take part in a virtual visit throughout October half term and beyond.
In November and December this year, the British Museum will virtually welcome 33 school classes per week, compared to just six that were able to participate prior to the lockdown. The expanded sessions are now open for bookings, along with Virtual Visits bookings for 2021.
“If schools can’t come and visit us, then we’ll beam ourselves directly into their classrooms from our Samsung Digital Discovery Centre, wherever they are, for free” – Sarah Saunders, head of learning and national programmes, British Museum
As part of the Museum’s Samsung Digital Discovery Centre (SDDC), Virtual Visits offered the largest collection of digital learning activities for families and schools in any UK museum before the COVID-19 outbreak. Now adopting a virtual form, the programme offers interactive workshops delivered by an SDDC staff member directly to the school classroom via video conferencing software. Each class is tailored to student needs and includes live activities, interactive quizzes and thought-provoking questions. Schools from all over the country are welcome to take part in the event – which is completely free of charge.
Designed for Key Stage 2 students (age 7–11), topics are aligned with the national curriculum – including explorations of the Indus Valley and Roman Britain. For the 2020/21 academic year, students can enjoy a brand-new session all about ancient Egypt.
Jessie Soohyun, head of corporate social responsibility at Samsung UK, commented: “We believe in using technology to help defy barriers and, as the pandemic continues to change the way schools operate, we remain committed and passionate about opening up access to exciting and engaging learning opportunities for young people across the country.”