New national partnership connects teachers and students to virtual excursions

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Virtual Excursions Australia launch by Senator Kate Lundy

A highlight of the Interactive Technology in Education Conference (ITEC 2013), co-hosted by AARNet and Sydney Operal House this week, was the launch today of Virtual Excursions Australia (VEA) by Senator, the Hon Kate Lundy, Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Minister Assisting for Innovation and Industry, Minister Assisting for the Digital Economy.

VEA is new web portal providing easy access to online education resources. It is an initiative developed by a network of video conferencing providers from across the country, including arts, cultural, science and other education organisations.

The aim of VEA is to provide educators across the lifelong learning spectrum with information about high-quality videoconferencing events and other educational content delivered via high speed broadband networks.

Karen Player, Museum Outreach Manager for the Australian Museum and Chair of VEA said, “Virtual Excursions Australia is the result of a grass roots collaborative effort by a group of national organisations who wanted to improve how teachers and learners find out about and access the wide array of innovative digital content available today.”

“A high speed broadband connection enables teachers to access a huge choice of interactive online content to engage students and bring the curriculum to life in meaningful ways, without the traditional barrier of the expense and inconvenience of travel. VEA aims to be a portal where educators around Australia can begin their search for local and international resources and connect with content providers,” she said.

VEA will also be organising videoconferencing events, such as an upcoming Teachers Professional Development Day (15 July 2013), ‘SciFest a’ National Science Week Video Conference Festival (5-9 August 2013), Dinosaur Day (4 November 2013), and Clickfest (4-29 November 2013).

Nick Cross, Education Outreach Manager for AARNet, a VEA partner, said, “The increased availability of high speed networks has provided a stimulus for content providers to invest in real-time interactive service design and delivery.  The VEA initiative plays a vital role by bringing together networks of educators and nationally significant content providers, broadening access and enabling meaningful learning experiences.”

The partnering organisations behind the initiative are: Australia’s Academic and Research Network (AARNet), Australian Museum, Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum, Australian National Maritime Museum, Bradman Foundation, Fizzics Education, Literature Live, Opera Australia, Museum of Human Disease, Powerhouse Museum, Questacon: The National Science and Technology Centre, State Library NSW, Sydney Living Museums, Sydney Olympic Park, Sydney Opera House, Australian Institute of Policy and Science (AIPS),  Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), CAASTRO All-sky Astrophysics University of Sydney, National Film & Sound Archive, Taronga Conservation Society Australia, Field of Mars Environmental Education Centre, Cisco, Distance and Rural Technologies – NSW Department of Education and Communities, Electroboard and Polycom.

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