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New multimedia web app launched

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Digital Explorer has just launched a new multimedia web app, the [de] Student Player. The web app hosts 100s of photos, videos and graphics from a variety of expeditions and projects around the world. The [de] Student Player is designed to be used on desktops, laptops and tablet computers.

It is designed both for front of classroom use by teachers and independent learning for students.

Media items are grouped around themes relating to the resources…

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And are labelled using common hashtags both for curriculum subjects and topics…

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Clicking on a media item shows additional information – great for that extra background on a new species or for student-led learning…

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When photos and videos are added to the lesson area, they can then be played full-screen for perfectly personalised lessons…

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Oh and did we say it’s free?

Create Share and Explore

Here at Digital Explorer we are always looking for new ways to encourage a more interactive learning experience.
Today we have been playing around with Thinglink.

Thinglink is a free website that helps you create and discover rich images. Every image can be linked to create a pathway for information. This way of tying together information in a creative and interactive way makes Thinglink a perfect tool to be used in education.
So we thought we would give it a go…

Thinglink is a simple tool that enables a fun and explorative way of learning.

Its free to sign up. All you need is an email address/ twitter account. There is also a section specifically designed for education which enables you to store an unlimited number of images. This means you can always save your creations for next year!

1) So the first step is to select an image that you want to create as your base. This can be a graph, a map, or a classroom display.

2) Once you’ve chosen your image you can upload it from your hard drive, facebook, flickr or a URL. Once your image is uploaded you can give it a title.

3) So you’ve got your picture and a title, now you can start editing. Click on the element of your image that you want to link. Then you can copy and paste a URL to link it to an online resource, article or another image. Bellow this box there is a description box, you can use this box to explain the link to the image, or include facts and information.

4) The top left hand corner of the image box shows a search bar where you can link in videos, photos and music on your image.

5) Once your finished editing remember to save and then you can share your image on many different social media websites. You can also email your image or copy and paste the link into a PowerPoint and use in conjunction with your lesson. Simple!

It’s definitely worth checking out the browse function in the top right hand of the screen. You can search for specific images that relate to your lesson if you don’t want to create your own or just need a few ideas.

Thinglink enables teachers to create imaginative and unique experiences. This can be done through the annotation of graphs, or embedding the images into student blogs. Alternatively Thinglink could be used in lessons or as homework for students to design and demonstrate their own personal understanding of a topic.

EMSEA Conference 2013 presentation

Here are the slides for the presentation given by Jamie B-D at the EMSEA conference in Plymouth…

Bringing London Zoo To You

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Skype in the Classroom- Bringing London Zoo to you

Digital Explorer has teamed up with Skype to provide a better educational experience. We can bring the world to your classroom.

One of our most recent Digital Explorer and Skype collaborations was broadcast from the Zoological Society London. In the depths of the rainforest enclosure at 7am there was one of Digital Explorers good friends Ollie Steeds, and the zoo keeper Lucy. Ollie was discussing the rainforest and his experiences as an explorer. Lucy told the class about her experiences with the animals and talked about adaption. This lesson was being held in a classroom 17000 Km’s away near Melbourne. The students at St Agatha’s primary were able to ask questions and engage with educators from across the world.

Skype has the ability to connect the world and therefore goes hand in hand with Digital Explorers mission to educate young people on global issues. St Agatha’s primary school near Melbourne had the opportunity to connect with experts that they may not have had the chance of meeting without the use of Skype.

Skype has the ability to create real world links.

If you would like to book a speaker for your school you can do it on the Skype in the classroom website, where there are many of Digital Explorer’s friends. There are accompanying resources available on our website.

We would like to say a big thank you to the Zoological Society London, St Agatha’s, Skype and Ollie.

Don’t forget to follow us on twitter: @de_updates
You can also catch us on our Facebook page

Polar Challenge Workshops: bringing the Arctic to your classroom

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Polar Challenge Workshops

Digital Explorer is challenging you! Can your students take on the Polar Challenge?

The polar challenge day engages students to learn more about the importance of this remote region. Create and train your pupils into teams of polar guides, expedition leaders, communications managers and scientists. Plan an itinerary collect data, share the findings and see how many teams survive!

This workshop is suited to ages 5-16, suitable for geography or science students. This activity day comes with accompanying lesson plans, activity sheets, photos and videos. You can download the most relevant resources for your class at the Digital Explorer website.

The Polar Challenge Workshop for primary is a cross curricular set of resources that involves guest speakers coming into the school to discuss life in the Arctic. The activities that take place for the primary polar challenge include making polar sandwiches and a food web mobile.

The polar Challenge workshop for secondary schools is best suited for geography or science students. The focus on this workshop is based around data exercises and expedition life. Guest speakers usually include scientists or people that have travelled to the Arctic.

The Polar challenge days are developed as an off-timetable model for half- or full-days. The polar challenge provides a hands on experimental learning adventure.

For more information on the Polar challenge workshop please visit Digital Explorer.

The full range of resources are available to download now.

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter: @de_updates
Or like our Facebook page.

London2London with Sarah Outen

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The Journey of a Lifetime

One of Digital Explorer’s good friends and British adventurer Sarah Outen has embarked on a journey of a life time. The expedition is from London to London via the world, a human powered loop of the planet. Sarah was appointed an MBE in 2011 and continues to support charities, inspiring young people to take on their own adventures and challenges.

124 days into the expedition and there have been some changes in course. The original plan was to head towards Vancouver before winter. However due to safety reasons Sarah has changed course and is heading north towards Adak, which is the nearest Aleutian Island. As autumn approaches Sarah would have had to face a great deal of adverse weather conditions that would have put her and her crew members at risk. The new plan for this expedition offers Sarah the chance to see a new part of the world and to continue her L2L journey next year. The safety of Sarah and the crew are of the utmost importance and here at Digital Explorer we are wishing Sarah the best of luck on the rest of her voyage. Keep up to date with the expedition by checking out her blog.

Digital Explorer has a whole collection of resources from Sarah, including lessons and activities for Science students, suitable for ages 8-11. These resources allow the world to be bought to your classroom and engage students with global issues. Topics include adaption and variation, biodiversity, ecosystems, environment, food, health and humans and the environment. You can download these resources from Digital Explorer.

Sarah has a small laptop with satellite link up so if you want to talk to her about the expedition or ask her a question you can book this through her website or via Sarah’s Skype in the Classroom lesson page.

London to London via the world is a 3.5 year expedition and here at Digital Explorer we are wishing Sarah the best of luck on her round the world trip. Get in touch with Sarah, ask her questions and send her some encouragement on Twitter @SarahOuten or Facebook.

Digital Explorer is also on Twitter follow us: @de_updates
Or like our Facebook page

Join Us for a Rhino Event on 18th September

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The Changing Face of the Rhino – Wednesday 18th September at 7:00pm

Mantis Foundation lecture auction

The Changing Face of the Rhino is a fundraising event that Digital Explorer is proud to support. The event is an inspiring account of the living trauma of rhino poaching. The event gives focus to how humanity can be inspired, and to reshape attitudes towards environmental crisis. You can book tickets online.

Here at Digital Explorer we have got 50 tickets available at half price (£10). This fundraising event is an excellent opportunity to get students actively engaged with conservation issues. The event has a number of relevant speakers including an opening by Bear Grylls, an introduction from William Travers OBE, and a lecture from Dr. William Fowlds, with closing words from Virginia McKenna OBE.

These tickets are for teachers and students only and are available on a first come first serve basis. If you are interested please contact Flora at Digital Explorer.

The Changing Face of the Rhino fundraising event would suit GCSE and A level geography students. There are accompanying resources available from Digital Explorer entitled the Voices of Conservation.

The Voices of Conservation Collection focuses on issues of rhino conservation in South Africa. The collection includes booklets, lesson plans, facts sheets and assembly resources. There is a fantastic competition courtesy of Voices of conservation that offers the opportunity to win a journey of a life time, and be part of a conservation mission. To be a part of this amazing opportunity download the voices of conservation poster available on the Digital Explorer website. These resources are based around the work of Dr. William Fowlds and others, and help to bring issues of conservation to the classroom. For full access to these resources go to Digital Explorer website.
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Climate change education debate

Below is the transcript of a conversation I had with my incredibly precocious seven year old nephew. We were gathered for Easter lunch and he asked me about the debate surrounding the proposals for a slimmed down mention of climate change in the curriculum.

Peter: So, Uncle Jamie, tell me what all the fuss about this climate change education thing is.

Uncle Jamie: Well, Peter, there are plans afoot to give schools more flexibility to teach climate change in a way that suits them, and to reduce the explicit mention of how carbon dioxide affects the Earth system.

P: Hold on. Tell me more about this climate change malarkey.

UJ: Well, there is overwhelming evidence from a lot of scientists who say that by burning fossil fuels and various other things, that we are altering the behaviour of the climate system and that these changes could have catastrophic impacts on all life on the planet including humans.

P: Sounds bad. So what steps are being taken?

UJ: At the moment, we have decided to make the problem worse through basing our exit from this recession (we’ll have to leave that topic for another conversation) on greater growth and further exploitation of natural resources.

P: Are you telling me that, you are going to teach me that the world is completely up the creek in a few years’ time and adults have decided to make the problem worse and you want to tell seven year olds about this? That’s a bit of a downer.

UJ: I know, I know. There are a lot of people who feel that the best way of dealing with this issue is to tell you how bad it is and do nothing about it. Makes complete sense, no?

P: But I read all these articles in the newspaper. It reminds me of the Christmas pantomime. “Humans are causing irreversible climate change.” “Oh no they’re not!” “Oh yes they are!” I thought you were supposed to be the adults in this situation.

UJ: Yes. I can see how this might be confusing. There is an issue of natural variability and various other trends to take into consideration, but seeing as you’re seven, we think that the best thing to do is to teach you the “Oh yes they are” bit, and leave out the reasoning and the reasons why the “Oh no they’re not!” people aren’t right.

P: Still, it’s a bit of a downer, putting all this responsibility for saving the world on the shoulders of a seven year old.

UJ: I see. You may have a point there. What would your ideas for this be?

P: I think you have to consider three areas: rigour, agency and stewardship [I did say he was precocious]. I think that the best place to start would be stewardship, then agency and finally rigour.

UJ: Can you go into these three areas in a bit more depth?

P: Certainly. By stewardship, I mean the values and skills needed to look after the natural environment. This could be anything from planting and caring for a tree in the school grounds; monitoring a rock pool and cleaning up litter; or being a junior warden for a local park or wild place. I imagine that you’ve read the 2009 ‘Report by the American Psychological Association’s Task Force on the Interface Between Psychology and Global Climate Change’, that shows a clear correlation between developing a local and personal relationship with nature and engaging in broader environmental and climate issues later in life.

UJ: Gotcha.

P: Love not loss, Uncle Jamie. Love not loss. You have read the IUCN work on this haven’t you? I know it relates more to the protection of charismatic megafauna and their supporting habitats, but the psychology’s the same.

UJ: And agency?

P: Agency is important. As it stands, you people are advocating teaching about something without the ability to take action on what we have learnt. If there is something that makes complete sense to change, because it would be better for people and planet, and especially for future generations, then maybe we should start with small steps. I would like to work on a project when I am about 9 years old, investigating the use of resources in school. Pupils should be able to learn about the consequences of their actions. I am undecided whether this should include impacts on the Earth system yet. Maybe we could look at the Greek root of the word economy, i.e. to manage one’s household. Fossil fuels are unsustainable, waste costs money. These things are fairly obvious to anyone who can get their head round the fact we live on a finite planet.

UJ: And rigour?

P: I need a bit more time on this, but I would want some intelligent people to come up with a way to introduce me to the difference between short-term variability and long-term trends, the interconnectedness of the Earth system, how scientists predict, model and test theories, gather data, and the moral imperative of acting on science.

UJ: Morality and science?

P: It’s odd, isn’t it? What we are really arguing about here is using education as a tool to show young people that in the midst of doing sweet nothing about climate change, that action needs to be taken to mitigate an unholy, global balls-up in fifty years’ time.

UJ: Oops. Any suggestions?

P: In terms of engagement with current changes, there are a few questions you’ll need to answer:

  1. Will the current proposals weaken or remove opportunities for young people to develop a personal relationship with nature?
  2. Will the current proposals remove or weaken the opportunity for schools to offer agency to young people to act on what they learn?
  3. Are there sufficient opportunities for schools to teach with appropriate rigour the science (including geographical science) I need to understand to grow my appreciation of my local environment to the Earth system?

UJ: You’ve put this to schools, does government not have a role to play?

P: To a degree, but I’ve found that governments come and go. As long as they don’t prevent the appropriate teaching of these issues, it is up to wider society (schools, teachers, education experts, academics, child psychologists, naturalists, environmentalist, industry and commerce) to work out how best to teach young people about climate change. Words in the curriculum are perhaps the least of our worries.

If you think nice things, write nice things…

Came back from lunch today, to find this lovely email waiting for me. After a fairly boring time dealing with problems with the website, it was back up just in time. It takes so little time to write a note like this and gave me a nice big smile. It’s easy to forget sometimes that there are actually people working hard to put so much wonderful and inspirational content on the web and this has reminded me to write to people when I see wonderful projects online!

Dear Sir,
I had the chance to visit your website and your project.
I have been amazed by the quality of the idea (exploration with edu purposes and free) as well as those of the resources.
I’m an italian science teachers working full time for a Science Centre in Italy called MUSE Museum of Sciences
www.muse.it

5 years old…

Digital Explorer was five last week and in the great tradition of 5 year plans, it’s time to reflect on what we have achieved and think to the future about the next five years.

When we started out, the aim was to provide young people with a different way of engaging in their world through a range of experiences whether it be going on one of our expeditions, linking live with teams in the field or being taught by someone who has enjoyed one of our training courses or used some of our resources.

The amount of opportunities and resources on the Digital Explorer online academy is testament to how far we’ve come in achieving this mission. So many different people have contributed to their creation from the amazing sponsors and partners to the expedition teams we’ve had the pleasure of working with, not to forget the great resource writers and designers who have brought it all to life.

We have some great projects at the moment for the classroom, learning about the Arctic or the Great Barrier Reef, something on sustainable fishing, a great archive on Pakistan and looking at the reporting of extremism in the media and several more to launch in the coming weeks.

At the heart of all we’ve tried to do is make learning about the world fun for students and easy for teachers.

We’ll be taking some time in the next months to plan the next five years. In the meantime, if you have any comments about what you’ve liked about our work over the past 5 years or even something you’d like to see more of in the next 5, please do comment below.

We’re here for young people, but more importantly we’re here for teachers, to support you in engaging the next generation in the big issues facing all of us.