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Getting ready for the LEARNZ field trip


The LEARNZ team is making an online field trip for Rail Safety Week. We hear from Andrew Penny about what’s in store.

Student tries virtual reality with help from KiwiRail staff member.

A Rāroa Normal Intermediate School student tries virtual reality with help from Jaimee Spray, KiwiRail senior learning designer. Photo: Andrew Penny.

Schools can access the latest field trip on the LEARNZ website from Monday 8 August, which is the start of Rail Safety Week.

Called Digital innovation: Transforming rail safety, this online field trip shows how people running our rail network use virtual reality and other tech to enhance safety. You’ll also meet students raising awareness among their own generation.

We put a few questions to Andrew Penny, the LEARNZ teacher presenting the trip.

What's something new you've learned about how virtual reality and other digital tools are helping the rail sector work on safety?

Real world risk is real. The use of virtual reality and other digital tools is providing a greater opportunity for people to grow skills and confidence when learning about a new industry. This will have better outcomes for everyone.

What is something that might surprise learners?

There is so much more to rail safety than you might at first think, and the use of digital technology is an example of this.

I'm not much of a gamer myself but I'm blown away with the opportunities that exist today for young people to transfer their interest or skills in the gaming realm into areas such as transport that can benefit both workers and the public using these services.

We hear you visited Rāroa Normal Intermediate School, which is near the Johnsonville rail line in Wellington. How was your time with the students?

Lots of fun! I used to teach in a classroom, and I always welcome opportunities to spend time with groups of students. This particular bunch were very open-minded and willing to help create something for others to learn from. Watch out for it.

Any suggestions on how teachers can work with the field trip?

I always encourage teachers to utilise an online field trip to the fullest.

Prep students with the background 'discover more' pages and related quizzes first - this equips them with a base of prior knowledge.

Then have them engage with the field trip via the Google Earth tour. Through this online mapping tool students experience where we went – the videos, images, and commentary show who we met along the way and the discoveries and experiences we had.

The ultimate follow-up to all this is an online web conference where students put their questions to field trip experts in a live setting. Teachers who sign a class up for the field trip will be sent details about how they can get their ākonga involved in a web conference.

Digital innovation: Transforming rail safety (LEARNZ)(external link)

Rail Safety Week

The focus this year is to encourage positive behaviour at level crossings for pedestrians and motorists.

TrackSafe Foundation manager Megan Drayton says in a similar way to road safety, schools near urban and rural railway lines need to talk about rail safety too.

“There are important differences with trains. They’re bigger and faster. Trains are heavy and can’t stop quickly so the risk of harm is high. Kids are smart and get this. We need to get them thinking from an early age about the specific places near their homes and schools that are close to railway lines and where extra care is needed. This new generation can take those ideas home and get the whole family on the same page.”

Megan suggests keeping an eye on social media as the conversation around rail safety unfolds during the week.

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