"Educational Travel" is changing. It used to spell something like:
Teacher picks a location that they like (or reaches out to a provider that makes a blanket suggestion)
Provider provides to them an itinerary that they've done with another school
Teacher rolls out itinerary to students and gets as many as possible to sign up
Group travels, and often is lumped with another school from xyz state with dissimilar values
Many schools around the country, especially ones that are intently focused on Global Education, started to look up a decade or so ago and question this process. As they reflected, below have been some of the most frequent observations:
This is becoming more focused on a free trip to somewhere new for the teacher
This doesn't take the curricular goals of the class or school in mind
There is no strategy
This is tourism, which is a discretionary expense, not educational
Students in private schools pay enough money already for tuition; we don't want to ask them for more for something they can do with their parents
The issue is that many schools in the country are already so entrenched in the old process, that it's hard to get out of it. Schools have 5-10 teachers that are all running in different directions, not only trying to fulfill their duties as teachers, but also diving into discussions with educational travel providers on trips to lead for the following year. In many schools, the educational travel process is still very decentralized. Here is what we suggest to stay on top of these trends:
#1 - Develop A Strategy
If you're a private school, it will behoove you at some point to centralize your educational travel proposal process to one person (Global Education Director/Coordinator) or a board of some sort. If you're a public school, it would be best to come up with a process alongside your principal to identify and vet new experiences for student travel. The criteria in which you develop to vet these experiences that come from your teachers, should align with the values of your school and student outcomes. Thinking backwards helps clarify whether one experience may make sense over another.
#2 - Find Peers that Share Your Journey
There are countless organizations out there where schools can seek guidance on trends for global educational travel. The Global Education Benchmark Group, a non-profit that's mission is to identify specific practices in global education by collecting, analyzing, and sharing data from GEBG members, is a great match for a school wanting to learn more from other schools that share their journey. We just recorded an amazing podcast with the Executive Director of the GEBG on Emerging Trends in Travel Program Development, and it's worth a listen!
#2 - Educational Expenses versus Discretionary Expenses
If you're a private school, students already pay tuition, which can be a huge expense for families. If you're a public school, parents also have to deal with sports, extra curricular activities for their students, traveling with family, etc. Parents fundamentally want to invest in their students' future. Education and sports are two areas in which parents seem to psychologically feel different about, than tourism, due to it being a potential investment for their future. It's worth it to do the extra legwork in identifying student outcomes strategically, to make sure those curricular interests are relayed to your provider of choice. Instead of saying to families, "We're going on a trip to Germany because there are so many cool sites to see!", you can say, "We're going on a language immersion experience in Bavaria, where we will engage with a partner high school to learn more about the cultural differences between our students".
#4 - Have Passion and Encourage Student Creation
You as a trip leader will be infinitely more successful in marketing an experience that you care about, and one that students have felt like they have some say in! If you're interested in learning more about this topic, definitely check out our podcast episode with Charlotte Country Day School on Engaging Students in the Trip Planning Process.
If you want to learn more about the process of adapting to new trends travel program development, or are perhaps interested in creating an experience for your group, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org!