I'm a Conservationist, get me out of here!
Conservation educators are continually trying to find new and exciting ways to bridge the distance between their audience and in-situ conservation issues and field projects.
The burgeoning range of possibilities provided by online media can help reduce that distance and provide students with direct contact with field staff based on a different continent.
“I’m a conservationist” was a learning experience which aimed to engage keystage three students with wildlife conservation by allowing them to interact directly with field conservationists online. This was done through blogs and Skype conversations for a week before the students voted for their favourite conservationist to win £500 for their species. The students completed questionnaires before and after the project. Analysis by chi-square tests revealed significant differences in the students’ knowledge of where Durrell has field projects and also in their level of concern for the study species. Further study will reveal how long this effect lasts, but online media is able to make a different in students’ knowledge and attitude by bringing the passion and first-hand knowledge of field conservationists directly into the classroom. The novelty of communicating directly with Madagascar over skype was very popular with 53% of the students, but empowering them to genuinely vote for where the money should go also made an impact on some of the students.