Reef education technology answers calls for latest virtual teaching and learning in Australia and around the world during COVID-19

COVID-19 has changed the nature of teaching and learning programs both in Australia and around the world, perhaps forever.

Answering the world-wide callout for virtual teaching and learning delivery to assist schools and universities deliver their programs, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has adapted the latest technology to break geographical barriers and create new program delivery options for hundreds of students at the one time.

Schools in Dubai ( United Arab Emirates), New York, Los Angeles and New Jersey have joined schools in Victoria and remote Queensland in booking in for tailored video conferences and other online programs developed by the Authority.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Reef Education and Stewardship Director Fred Nucifora said the outreach education programs delivered enriching education opportunities for students of all ages, enabling more students and their families to discover the beauty and wonder of the Reef and the need for its protection.

“The Authority plays an important role in educating students of all ages and Australians more broadly about the Great Barrier Reef,” Mr Nucifora said.

“To continue this critical function during COVID-19 we have up-scaled our internationally renowned Outreach Reef Education programs facilitated through our National Education Centre for the Great Barrier Reef, Reef HQ Aquarium.

“Delivered through online and social media platforms, these education programs are designed to support the Australian government’s efforts to ensure Australian students have access to quality teaching and learning opportunities.”

Mr Nucifora says the Authority’s outreach programs are more important now than ever, offering its knowledge to a much wider audience at any given time.

So rather than schools dialling in with students in a classroom, potentially up to 1000 families facilitating learning from home, can dial in directly and engage with our team personally.

“This far more convenient for the families and teachers having to juggle work commitments and after-school hours commitments, and enables us to meet a much broader national and international audience,” he said.

“This demand for our video conferencing has enabled us to further our goal of raising awareness for environmental issues for reefs around the world, making it real and relevant for our national and international audiences, no matter how far from the ocean they live we can connect them to the Reef.”

Reef Education Outreach Project Officer Craig McGrogan said the education team were experimenting with their video platforms to explore ways to offer multipoint broadcasting in a safe, tailored and interactive learning experience for school students, their families and communities.

“The Reef Virtual Connections program has long been a popular resource for schools and universities in Australia and globally, but now we are able to deliver these programs in a home learning environment with parents and their school-age children dialling in direct for tailored workshops requested by the schools they attend,” Mr McGrogan said.

“Many schools and universities in the United States are not returning to the physical classroom soon and may have had to postpone trips to visit the Great Barrier Reef, so participating in our program is a way they can experience the Reef through remote and online learning.”

Schools, universities or groups wishing to use the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park’s virtual reef connection programs and other online learning facilities can visit www.reefhq.com.au/education for more information and how to book.

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  • Video one - Reef videoconferencing vision at Reef HQ Aquarium © Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.
  • Video two - coral close up during a Reef videoconference at Reef HQ Aquarium © Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.
  • Video three - seastar feeding during a Reef videoconference at Reef HQ Aquarium © Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

Contact:
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority
Media team: (07) 4750 0846 | media@gbrmpa.gov.au