What do you see at the zoo?

This afternoon I had a conversation with a local media specialist regarding a teacher’s expectations for a videoconference with the zoo. I realizd that many teachers have unrealistic expectations for what they will see when they connect to the zoo. Their ideas are based on their own visits of the zoo – walking around and seeing all the animals. That is not usually what happens in a videoconference with the zoo. I think that the zoos fit into three types of categories.

I’ll list the zoos I’ve connected to. But please remember that content providers are often upgrading their equipment and updating programming, so this may not necessarily be true in a year or two.

Zoos that present from the classroom
Many of the zoos present their videoconference programs from a classroom (or sometimes a tiny room/closet) in the zoo. They will bring in live animals and show archived video footage of the animals in their zoo. These lessons are often highly focused on teaching a “concept” such as adaptations or conservation. (Which is much better instruction than just focusing on one animal – see Classroom Instruction That Works)

  • Bronx Zoo
  • Cincinnati Zoo was like this when they were offering programming.

Zoo that present from an exhibit
Then there are the zoos that have mobile equipment and can present from exhibits within the zoo. For these programs, you may be learning about a specific “concept” in the context of an exhibit (Columbus Zoo), or you might be learning about a specific animal at that exhibit (Indianapolis Zoo).

Zoos that have remote cameras
Some zoos present from a classroom but can jump to several wireless cameras located throughout the zoo. This setup is really the best of both worlds, but obviously expensive for the zoo to put in place.

There are other zoos that offer programming, but I haven’t seen their programs.

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