Digital environmental education way of the future
The Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) has opted for a combination of audio and video channels to continue its educational work on conservation to Namibia’s youth.
Before the lockdown, the CCF Education Team ran a comprehensive environmental education programme at the CCF Centre near Otjiwarongo where school groups visited almost daily. This way, the fund has reached approximately 650,000 learners over the 20-year period that it carried on this work. A large number of learners was also reached through the fund’s outreach programmes, visiting schools across Namibia.
CCF Executive Director, Dr Laurie Marker said “In March, when the COVID-19 lockdowns started, we were not sure how long the situation would continue. But after two weeks, it became apparent we would need to adapt to move forward. While CCF has always endeavoured to make our material available online, we decided to concentrate our attention on expanding this area since it appears to be the way of the future.”
This resulted in a deliberate shift to Distance Learning, utilising electronic channels such as email, instant messaging, video conferencing and pre-recorded video lessons. As the platform to run this from, CCF chose Google VoiceThreads. A multi-media slide show was developed for the first series of online lessons because of convenience. Any person with an internet connection or smart phone can access the lessons provided they have a basic Google account.
The CCF Education Team also shared its 4th Annual CCF Teacher’s Resource Guide, which includes a comprehensive cheetah curriculum directed to learners aged 11 to 14 years. Both the VoiceThreads and the PDF are available for free download on the CCF website.
CCF said it is developing additional resources for teachers to deliver key concepts in conservation through coursework in biology, ecology, and animal physiology, behaviour and distribution. In addition to young learners and teachers, CCF is designing Distance Learning programmes for regional youth groups, youth officials, health officials and farmers. These resources will be posted online with CCF’s other material as they become available.