April 3, 2020 – In response to an urgent need for online educational resources, The Royal Canadian Geographical Society (RCGS) has announced that it is launching Canadian Geographic Education‘s #OnlineClassroom, which will offer its free, bilingual learning tools to all Canadians to support teachers, parents and students isolating at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The #OnlineClassroom is starting off by launching ‘The Anthropocene Education Program’, which will take students on adventures through augmented and virtual reality. Geared toward grades 4 to 12, the initiative develops students’ understanding of some of the world’s most pressing environmental challenges, such as plastic waste issues, species extinction and climate change.
Can Geo Education partnered with The Anthropocene Project, a Canadian project created by photographer Edward Burtynsky and filmmakers Nicholas de Pencier and Jennifer Baichwal. Through a combination of photography, a documentary, 360-degree cinematography, and augmented-reality installations, the multimedia project explains the emergence of the Anthropocene epoch, distinguished by human-caused changes to the planet.
“As students begin to navigate a virtual learning environment in response to the COVID-19 crisis, we are excited by the possibilities for the Anthropocene Education program to enable a continuation of studies of important global topics,” said de Pencier. “We hope that the photographs, videos and new media included in the program will offer a window onto the world at a time when we need to catalyze awareness of our global village in ways that inspire positive change.”
Students only require a smartphone or tablet to explore a 3D model of Big Lonely Doug, a 1,000-year-old Douglas fir in a clear-cut forest in British Columbia, or to learn about issues such as urbanization in Lagos, Nigeria, or resource extraction in Italy’s marble quarries. Students can also watch 360-degree virtual reality films online or download them to a VR headset. All these resources, and many more, include lesson plans.
Paul VanZant, Chair of Can Geo Education and Governor of the RCGS, commented: “While we’re launching our new virtual classroom, we’ll also be hosting Google Hangouts, where participants can join explorers for video chats on a variety of topics, and other activities such as trivia challenges and mapping exercises. We want to keep students engaged by having them visit the website onlineclassroom.cangeoeducation.ca!”
The Anthropocene Education program was undertaken with financial support from the Government of Canada through Environment and Climate Change Canada and the RBC Foundation, and it was produced with the participation of the TELUS Fund. The #OnlineClassroom is supported through donations provided by The Royal Canadian Geographical Society’s College of Fellows and other supporters.
Video credit: RCGS/Mercury Films/Vimeo