31 August 2021

More than 300,000 students participate in a digital excursion to Canberra

| Karyn Starmer
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Exterior of Old Parliament House

The Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House will virtually stream its digital program to tens of thousands of students across the country. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

An excursion to Canberra and visiting our cultural monuments is a pilgrimage made by thousands of Australian school students each year. But with COVID-19 lockdown and border closures now preventing travel, nine cultural institutions are presenting curriculum-aligned programs to support students who are unable to visit the nation’s capital.

As part of a collaborative virtual week in Canberra, our cultural institutions have joined together to offer students a unique virtual tour of national museums and galleries.

Organised via DART Learning, an initiative of the NSW Department of Education, the free virtual sessions have already reached more than 300,000 student registrations.

As part of the program, the Museum of Australian Democracy (MoAD) at Old Parliament House is virtually streaming its digital program, ‘Democracy: Our House, Our Voices’ to tens of thousands of students across Australia this week.

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MoAD has developed a highly interactive experience for students exploring historical spaces and some of the trailblazing people who worked at Old Parliament House.

MoAD’s learning design producer, Karlee Baker, and learning manager, Dr Stephanie Smith, are excited to connect and share stories with the students.

“This is a great opportunity to connect with remote and regional areas, and support the many young people and teachers across the country,” said Dr Smith.

“We have been overwhelmed by the volume of students registering for the program and excited to share with them our passion for developing their understanding and knowledge of the important role they have in our democracy.”

Students visiting Old Parliament House

A filmed walk-through will give students an opportunity to see spaces they would not have access to in person. Photo: Museum of Australian Democracy.

Dr Smith said the MoAD learning team has been presenting digital excursions for a number of years, and is well prepared to deliver them live.

While Canberra has been in lockdown, MoAD has transitioned to delivering programs from home.

“Throughout August, our skilled museum educators have already been able to reach more than 400 students through connections to classrooms and those in remote learning,” said Dr Smith.

“MoAD’s suite of online programs has meant we are still able to support teachers and create rich learning experiences for students, and our amazing learning team has adapted these digital offerings so we could be a part of the program this week.

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The MoAD team has filmed walk-throughs that will give students access to areas they would not be able to see if they visited in person.

“We can take them into the spaces and then unpack each space,” said Dr Smith.

“Students will be able to see both chambers instead of just one, and will be able to see heritage sensitive spaces that would be impossible to bring a class into in real life, such as the Prime Minister’s office.”

If students are unable to join the live facilitated program connection, there are pre-recorded versions of the full excursion.

For more information and to explore the variety of excursions teachers can book, visit Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House.

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