OHIO Museum Complex Virtual Portal Provides Educational Opportunity Amid Stay-At-Home Order

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In a time of great anxiety and unease, Ohio University has unveiled a creative way in which to connect with its community, far and wide: the OHIO Museum Complex Virtual Portal. WOUB Culture conducted a Q&A with Professor Nancy Stevens, of the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, and co-lead of the OHIO Museum Complex, about the project. 

WOUB: What is the purpose of the OHIO Museum Complex Virtual Portal? What do you hope it can provide audiences with right now?

Nancy Stevens: The purpose of the OHIO Museum Complex Virtual Portal is to connect audiences of all ages with creative opportunities to explore and learn about the past, present and future of our fascinating planet. This portal bridges the gap between online educational activities and outdoor exploration, offering compelling ways to engage in exercise and education as we practice healthy distancing. At this unprecedented time, audiences across the campus and community alike are seeking inspiring educational opportunities and fun things to do at home, and experts have encouraged people to get outdoors and keep active in ways that maintain healthy distancing. Our goal is to connect learners with a broad range of at-home and outdoor experiences, to explore nature and engage with captivating content from around the world. Nature is a classroom, and technology provides stunning new opportunities to learn.

“Nature is a classroom, and technology provides stunning new opportunities to learn.” – Ohio University Professor Nancy Stevens of the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, and co-lead of the OHIO Museum Complex

WOUB: Is this a project that has been in the works for a while, or is it something that was put together pretty quickly with the Governor’s stay-at-home order in mind?

Nancy Stevens: Aspects of the OHIO Museum Complex Virtual Portal, like the mAppAthens tours, reflect dedication by dozens of campus and community experts…over the past couple of years these tours have steadily transformed the region into an outdoor museum for active, place-based learning experiences for learners of all ages. From art to architecture, birding to biofuels, history to wellness, biking, and poetry, these tours offer a broad range of topics to explore the region both outdoors and online.

The Governor’s stay-at-home order inspired us to develop additional offerings to serve our campus and community through a curated collection of Learn-At-Home activities. These include links to National Geographic’s Explorer Classrooms, Rural Action’s Virtual Field Trips, as well as quizzes, courses, and videos from the American Museum of Natural History. The portal also includes dynamic content and lesson plans from organizations like TedEd. There are many engaging topics to explore already, and we will continue to update the Virtual Portal from time to time with new and interesting educational content.

WOUB: What aspects of the project are you particularly proud of?

Nancy Stevens: Interdisciplinary teamwork spanning campus and community is the heart of what we do. The OHIO Museum Complex reflects long-term collaboration among creative, resourceful individuals to develop a platform that integrates art, environment, innovation and health with everyday life. We support exploring nature, and connecting learners with the world.

At a time when travel is limited, the OHIO Museum Complex Virtual Portal connects audiences with a collection of Explore the Planet virtual tours to bring the world into the living room. Quick links transport learners into spectacular experiences that include hikes through our national parks, a glimpse of the incredible architecture of Petra in Jordan, strolls through the Musée du Louvre in Paris, treks through the Amazon rainforest, breathtaking 360˚ views of The Great Barrier Reef in Australia, and tranquil vantage points around the Taj Mahal. And the portal’s Watch Animals Around the World tab links livestream nature cameras offers engaging windows into the daily lives of animals including wolves, raptors, elephants, jellyfish, and many more species from some of the planet’s most spectacular zoos and parks. Meaningful integrative learning experiences promote well-being and connection across our region and beyond, something that is ever-more important in our changing world.