20.12.2018 - UNESCO Venice Office

First stop for the UNESCO’s Ocean School teacher training in Latin America and the Caribbean

Ocean School/Whale

On 2-4 December 2018, the UNESCO Office in San José, Costa Rica, hosted the Latin America and the Caribbean Ocean School Teacher Training Workshop. Set in the context of UNESCO project titled ‘Regional and Global Actions in support of the Ocean Literacy for All initiative’ and of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, the training was organised by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission through its project office at the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe, thanks to the financial support of the Government of Sweden.

How inappropriate to call this planet Earth, when clearly it is Ocean” Arthur C. Clarke.

Nearly three-quarters of the Earth’s surface is ocean. The ocean connects us and impacts on our lives daily. It is essential that we understand how it influences weather and climate, it produces much of the oxygen we breathe, it feeds us and not only. An ocean Literate individual is given the tools to better protect the ocean.  As there can be no sustainable future without a healthy ocean, ocean literacy is essential for that purpose.

The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission has been approached by Ocean School, a joint initiative of Dalhousie University, the Ocean Frontier Institute and the National Film Board of Canada created to engage the public, in particular students, to foster ocean literacy. Ocean School focuses on ocean science, technology and innovation – giving an insight into marine careers and the social, economic and cultural dimensions of the human relationship with the ocean.

The Ocean School’s mission is to provide learners, the next generation of ocean citizens, with the knowledge and tools to understand the vital importance of the ocean for our future. It offers a ground-breaking learning experience with the use of powerful storytelling techniques, immersive technologies, interactive media, and an inquiry-based learning model to advance environmental awareness and ocean literacy - the understanding of our influence on the ocean and the ocean’s influence on us.

Ocean School embarks us on an unforgettable ocean adventure, to build critical thinking and problem-solving skills. It improves understanding of marine science and culture, provides exposure to diverse marine career paths and fosters a culture of ocean sustainability and environmental stewardship.

Using linear and immersive 360° videos, virtual and augmented reality and collaborative gaming, Ocean School delivers experiences that create an emotional and lasting connection with the environment, providing motivation and agency for learners to address critical challenges by taking action. Calling all curious minds to come aboard and explore, Ocean School allows us to learn about fascinating places and people.

It is a journey of discovery to the North Atlantic, racing to find out what we can do to keep our ocean - as well as our own lives - healthy and safe. It is also an open ocean adventure to Cocos Island, a hotspot of activity for marine life, an ideal location to study migration patterns of sharks. Setting out to the North Pacific, it is a discovery of the herring spawn on kelp and salmon harvests in the Heiltsuk Nation.

The Ocean School Teacher Training Workshop in San José prepared 20 teachers for implementing Ocean School in their classrooms. The possibility of adapting Ocean School to different educational systems and cultural contexts was discussed. The Ocean School’s ‘Open Ocean: Movement of species’ module was presented and participants were introduced to the interactive tools and active learning materials provided through the platform.

The geographical area and subject matter chosen for the module presented during the training were the movement of species from Cocos island. Accordingly, teachers from a number of Latin America and the Caribbean countries were selected to participate: Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Panama, Peru, Saint Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago.

The training of 2,5 days not only allowed for the discovery of the functionalities and the Ocean School tools but also for the discussion of ways to adapt and implement the tools and the approaches in their respective countries. The training also allowed to foster new collaborations among the teachers, the trainers of UNESCO and the National Film Board of Canada.

The idea of using augmented reality to teach about the ocean is simply amazing! We know for sure that it will captivate our students’ attention. Furthermore, the idea of ocean literacy is something new for our region. I will definitely share what I learnt with my colleagues”, observed with enthusiasm a teacher from St. Lucia.

A feasibility study about the challenges and opportunities in implementing ocean school and ocean literacy in several countries will be released as a follow-up to the training. Teachers will become ocean school and ocean literacy champions; they will start creating a regional community of educators, moving forward the dissemination of ocean knowledge.

Link : https://oceanschool.nfb.ca

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