Many scientists are now theorising that Earth may be going through a “Sixth Mass Extinction” (the Fifth was the dinosaurs dying out). We are currently experiencing our highest ever rate of biodiversity loss, with approximately 1000 species extinct in the past 500 years. That might seem like a long time, but for the planet it isn’t: the “Fifth Mass Extinction” was the death of the dinosaurs 65.5 million years ago. In the face of this crisis it’s more important than ever to train and educate more conservationists to protect our wildlife. However, traditional professional education delivered face-to-face has not only been expensive but inaccessible to many living and working in developing nations whose animals are among the most at risk.
Last year AVADO partnered with ZSL and United for Wildlife to try and address this issue by launching the first ever online introductory conservation course available completely free to anyone with an interest in conservation. The United for Wildlife Online Courses are available on a mobile optimised platform built on our existing projects, and feature subtitles and transcripts in languages including Spanish, Hindi, and Mandarin.
The courses follow AVADO’s learning philosophy of breaking down topics into manageable chunks, with the full certificate being divided into short courses that award badges, and each of those being split into lessons with videos and other activities.The results have been remarkable. The courses now have 2770 completers from 210 countries across the world, with completion rates far higher than the average for similar MOOCs. 97.4% of surveyed learners said the courses met, were above, or exceeded their expectations, while 96.5% said they would likely or definitely recommend the courses. Most importantly 97% currently undertaking conservation action as a result of the courses, meaning this online learning partnership is making a real positive impact to the environment.