Country Heritage Park
- A popular agro-tourism location couldn’t serve teachers and students because schools and businesses closed during a global pandemic
- An in-person experience was transformed into a dynamic online learning opportunity, accessible to parents, teachers, and students anywhere in the world
- Enable Education rallied its employees through this community engagement project
About Country Heritage Park
Country Heritage Park (CHP) is a tribute to the rich agricultural history of the Halton Region. A collection of restored historic buildings, like the farmhouses, blacksmith shop, general store, chapel, town hall, and one-room schoolhouse, weaves the stories of local innovators, entrepreneurs, and rural family life from the past two centuries. The 80-acre park is a popular tourist destination and hosts many events throughout the year but is largely dedicated to sharing the early settler experience with school groups. Park interpreters take students through the buildings and deliver interactive presentations that relate to their specific grade curricula.
School’s out for….how long?
When a provincial lockdown closed all schools in March 2020, it meant no more in-person tours at CHP—and a halt to sharing knowledge surrounding agriculture and history. The park asked Enable Education to help create curriculum-based learning experiences that would allow remote students to learn about rural life and “visit” the park online.
Enable Education founders Ben Zimmer and Amy Leask recognized the gap created by the lockdown as a detriment to both students and the park. While Enable’s focus is usually employee training for professional organizations, Ben and Amy saw this as a perfect opportunity for community engagement. They dedicated “Enable Time” to develop a learning experience that would call on the skills of all their staff, from educators to graphic designers to video producers to programmers.
First, Enable staff held virtual meetings with the park’s educational coordinator, Andria Barnstaple. Together, they decided on the focus and desired outcomes of the learning experience. Although the park had many great buildings to highlight, the team chose to begin with the one-room schoolhouse (a popular choice for tours). And to align the learning with the needs of students, the educators decided to develop content that fit curricula for grades three and five.
Some of the desired learning objectives included:
- Provide teachers with media-rich online experiences when in-person tours weren’t an option;
- Demonstrate that students and communities have come through major changes before and still thrive;
- Learn to tell analog time (grade 3);
- Make observations and comparisons;
- Make predictions;
- Interact with money to practice adding and subtracting decimals (grade 5);
- Study civic responsibilities and societal norms;
- Have fun!
Andria, who also performs the role of a schoolmarm, provided the Enable team with the information she’d normally share during her tours. From there, the Enable education experts aligned key messages with learning objectives and created a script. Then, an Enable video producer planned the various camera angles, b-roll, and sound effects needed to build a compelling story.
The schoolhouse was big enough for the video producer and Andria to maintain social distancing. Andria, dressed in the wool jacket and floor-length skirt typical of the early 1900s, performed her role as a no-nonsense teacher. She used a teleprompter for some parts and delivered ad-lib for others.
The producer then shot additional footage of artifacts from around the classroom. Extra footage and photos collected of the schoolhouse, and of the park’s General Store, would be used in creating two different videos, but also in digital interactive games designed to complement the learning.
Interactive Learning Experiences
Each specified grade would get a video and at least three interactive learning experiences that were tied to learning objectives.
Three designers worked together to craft a range of experiences. By using a style guide, all components had a coordinated “look” with Country Heritage Park branding. The designers used a gamified approach to help students engage with the material and bring history alive. This included drag and drop interactions, quizzes, hide and reveal interactions, positive reinforcement for correct and incorrect answers, and sound effects and narration to support different types of learners.Powered by elearningfreak.com
Offline Learning Support
While the content creators developed the media components, the education team prepared additional information to link all the media together. The extra content included short offline activities to help students recall prior knowledge, build personal connections to the lessons, and help relate history to modern times. All these resources were designed to help parents and teachers frame the learning and extend it beyond the online digital experience.
Thinkscape™: An Online Learning Platform
Country Heritage Park needed to host all the new learning content online and once again, Enable Education had the solution. Thinkscape™ is Enable’s own online learning platform. Everything the team created could be hosted on Thinkscape™.
Students from around the world can log into a CHP-branded Thinkscape™ portal to watch the videos, read the material, and play the games. Teachers can monitor their students’ participation and progress through the lessons.
Country Heritage Park will be able to share this content with any teacher who’s looking to engage their students with lessons on early settler life, social norms, and math-related concepts. The online experience also now gives classrooms access to the park no matter where they are, with materials they can revisit time and time again.
Because Enable Education has such a robust team of learning experts and designers, they were able to:
- build an enduring educational opportunity between Country Heritage Park and elementary school teachers;
- create media-rich and engaging interactions that help a student feel like they’re sitting in the CHP one-room schoolhouse;
- highlight historic features of the park in a safe and respectful manner;
- illustrate the educational value of the park’s resources and staff;
- expand the reach from those who visit the park to a broader global audience;
- make learning about history, math, and social norms fun!