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    Harpers Ferry Center

Education Technology at NPS

Education professionals within the National Park Service are working with our partners in schools, districts and government to embrace and apply new and social media to the work we do.

Every new application of education technology is designed to intensify formal and informal educational experiences, and to expand the audience for park educational programming. The National Park Service and its partners have developed a growing range of new and social media resources to support park education programs. The most prevalent of these are distance learning opportunities and the WebRangers program.

More than 100 park distance learning programs (often called electronic field trips) use new and traditional broadcast media to bring students to the parks for curriculum-based exploration and discovery. Most field trips include a live or recorded video-based experience accompanied by a suite of new and social media (on-line activities, chat rooms, blogs, Facebook pages, podcasts or Flicker libraries). These expanding opportunities give teachers and students a chance to explore the story in depth, follow their own leads and extend the experience. Like actual field trips, distance learning opportunities such as Electronic Field Trips are park-based and aligned with state or national core curriculum standards and include pre and post-visit activities. Unlike actual field trips, these tours often take students “behind the velvet ropes” to see and experience the park.

WebRangers (www.nps.gov/webrangers) is the national on-line Junior Ranger program. The overall goal of the WebRangers program is to expand the community of young people and their parents who understand the values and meanings inherent in the National Park System, and who act locally to conserve them. WebRangers engages young people in learn­ing through fun interactivities that bring the national parks to life in their homes. WebRangers is not an attempt to keep children glued to a computer screen, but rather, serves as an invitation to children who are already on-line to come out and explore their national parks.

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