Staff from Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) Visits the Digital Classroom

Left – Right: Suzanne Scott (RZSS, Head of Discovery & Learning). Amy Cox (RZSS, Schools and Youth Prgramme Manager), Jackie Irving (SRUC, Barony Campus Animal Care Programme Team Leader), Ali Hastie (SRUC, e-Learning Developer), Andrew Treadaway (SRUC, Barony Campus Forestry Lecturer), Jonathan Prior (RZSS, Tertiary Education Officer), Cathy Macdonald (SRUC, e-Learning Developer)

Students at Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) are set to take a walk on the wild side following a collaboration with Edinburgh Zoo, which could see classes using immersive technology and undertaking virtual field trips.

Staff from the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) visited the new digital classroom at SRUC’s Barony Campus in Dumfries to learn more about the opportunities offered by the state-of-the-art technology.

They also met with staff from the Animal Care, Forestry and e-Learning departments to discuss the possibility of collaborating on future projects which would benefit both staff and students at SRUC and the youth programmes delivered through Edinburgh Zoo.

Suzanne Scott, head of Discovery and Learning at RZSS, said:

Having previously worked in learning technology in a tertiary environment, I was keen to bring those skills to the conservation education sector in my new role at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland as Head of Discovery and Learning.

One of my first ports of call was SRUC’s Barony Campus, as I have long been aware of their innovative approach to learning technology.  Working in similar fields, there are a number of common challenges for both Edinburgh Zoo and the staff at SRUC, particularly in terms of teaching subjects based in nature, but still ensuring the students develop their digital literacy skills to ensure their relevance in a 21st century workplace.

Barony successfully balances this and continues to push the boundaries of learning technology. Their new digital classroom is a triumph, showcasing not only the most up to date approaches to learning technology but by promoting independent and collaborative learning amongst students and supporting staff in changing their approach to delivery.

Overall Barony’s passion for learning technology is an inspiration and we look forward to establishing a partnership with staff across various departments to further establish this relationship, with both parties contributing to the long term benefits of combining outdoor based learning with appropriate digital technology.”

Jackie Irving, Animal Care Programme Team Leader at Barony, said: “The common interest in conservation and education will make this a very valuable partnership. It will also greatly benefit students and staff across all SRUC faculties, including Forestry, Horticulture, Animal Care and Veterinary Nursing.

“The collaboration will expose SRUC students to a wider range of experiences relevant to their industries and develop independent learning and reflection.

“This is an exciting venture that will enhance the learning of many students, provide specialist skills to obtain employment and embed lifelong learning.”

Staff from SRUC are meeting the RZSS team at Edinburgh Zoo in May to identify projects, including the use of immersive technologies, virtual field trips and other learning and teaching opportunities.

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