Virtual field trips to hotels are already enhancing the student experience at Griffith University following the roll-out of a pilot project as part of the International Tourism and Hotel Management program. The successful pilot led to $273,000 in Commonwealth funding from the Office of Learning and Teaching, to extend the virtual initiative across Australia. The project has attracted strong interest from the hospitality sector in Asia and the United Kingdom, leading to international expansion.
Project leader, Dr Anoop Patiar, and his team at Griffith Business School, is collaborating with academics from the University of Queensland, Edith Cowan University, the Blue Mountains International Hotel Management School, and industry representatives. “Our aim is to enhance student skills and graduate employability through virtual field trips,” he says. “The Australian hospitality industry requires work-ready graduates who have the skills and knowledge to cope with the pressures of the job and deal with the daily challenges the industry throws up.”
Virtual field trips offer alternative and flexible ways for students to connect course content from the classroom with authentic activities and assessment via structured experiences in participating hotels and restaurants. Advances and access to technology enable students to examine each aspect of the food and beverage management of a particular hotel using the digital device of their choice. Students can experience locations, watch interviews with hotel department managers, and observe workplace demonstrations and industry practice.
Virtual field trips provide 360-degree panoramas of hotel entrances, lobbies, bars and restaurants, and food production areas, and afford students an appreciation of the physical aspects of architectural design, interior décor, lighting, furnishing, and equipment. As additional hotels in Australia and overseas are added to the virtual program, students will have greater scope to compare and contrast design elements, layout of food and beverage production and service areas, and presentation of menus and wines lists.
The instructional design of the features of virtual field trips will capture and hold student attention and ultimately result in improved student engagement with curriculum content. The result, enhanced quality of graduates with job-ready standard skills entering the hospitality industry.
Through ongoing consultation with industry, virtual field trips will become a teaching resource, valued by teachers and potential employers, that enables students to build job ready portfolios of work. To experience the VFT tool and its wide range of resources to support academics engaged in teaching hospitality management, click here.