For almost 20 years, The Deep in Hull has been operating as an important worldwide contributor in the conservation of marine life. Their charity run education programme has been helping to spread crucial messages highlighting the importance of biodiversity and the environment. Their dedicated teams are diving deep into the global issue by educating children from a young age all there is to know about the planet and our responsibility to take care of it: focusing on small changes that can make a big impact – both locally and globally.
Typically, The Deep would provide educational visits to over 30,000 school children every year as well as 400,000 informal visits. But 2020 has been no ‘normal’ year – and the pandemic formed a colossal barrier that has not only impacted the short-term success of their programme, but potentially also the long-term awareness of ecology.
As a forward-thinking organisation, The Deep were quick to seek innovative ways to continue these vital activities of increasing ocean literacy. In a project supported by their close partner ARCO, The Deep called upon Visavvi as their long-standing AV partner to break down this barrier using cutting-edge technology.
Visavvi Account Manager, Steve Gore-Brown met with the Ben Jones, Curator at The Deep for a consultation that would ultimately lead to an innovative live streaming solution to address the challenge. “We realised we had to completely pivot to continue operating, moving down more of a digital route – particularly where school groups were concerned”, said Ben Jones. “We are always looking to engage different audiences and virtual makes it easy for people who couldn’t usually make a visit to access The Deep.”
Spotting an opportunity to find a silver lining amongst the lockdown restrictions, Steve Gore-Browne worked closely with our system architect team to design a highly mobile, professional and flexible solution. “Ben had initially looked into digital devices like phones which are great for portability, but you are also sacrificing the quality”, explained Steve. “So, we created the multimedia streaming hub which delivers a higher quality content that would engage with pupils on different platforms – from Microsoft Teams, to Google Meet , Zoom and traditional video conferencing.”
The flexibility of the hub allows The Deep to take multiple feeds from other devices to provide greater capabilities and reach a wider range of audiences. It can be easily moved from one exhibit to another, enabling The Deep’s education team to take viewers on a ‘digital tour’ to expand the education programme even further. The other major benefit here is because the quality is such high definition, it helps school children and other groups to really visualise often theoretic subjects.
“Sea-based topics are now having more coverage in the school syllabus – and we can now provide, in a digital format, the inspiration for what those children are learning about from their comfort of their own classroom. It makes it more ‘real’ and exciting for them – helping them to take on board the messages they are being taught at school”, said Ben.
Whilst the mobile hub was initially implemented as a short-team measure to counteract the restrictions, The Deep realised that this solution has many longer-term benefits that go far beyond COVID. Typical health and safety assessments and costs associated with taking children out of school to visit such locations can be restrictive to schools, so having the ability to deliver two-way interactive education sessions streamed directly into the classroom provides much greater reach for The Deep. What’s more is that it significantly improves access for children. Schools from further afield can now join the dedicated range of programmes offered by The Deep, and as the content can be recorded and reused – it provides ongoing education resources for both organisations.
“Nothing can ever replace the experiences and emotional connections of physically attending the venue, but this is most definitely the next best thing’’, said Ben Jones. “The quality of the kit is so good it creates a truly immersive (pardon the pun) experience which remote viewers love. We also use it to share a behind the scenes look into everything we do, which people really engage with.” The demand for online visits has never been higher, not just for schools but also corporate events and weddings, Ben continued, “We can now broadcast the ceremonies and celebrations to family members all over the world who perhaps would not be able to attend.”
Steve Gore Browne enthused, “The Deep have fully committed themselves to deliver digital content and interact with their visitors like never before. It has been a true privilege helping them to overcome a challenge that has resulted in a whole new method of delivery which enhances and expands their conservation work further.”
“When we initially started, we had a concept of what we wanted to achieve but didn’t know how to do it. Steve and the Visavvi team helped us to realise the endless possibilities, and here we are with the fantastic digital hub solution we have today. It’s allowed us to diversify and embrace new areas we otherwise might not have been able to, and we can’t thank the Visavvi team enough for all their incredible support and combined experience for making that happen. Our close partner ARCO where fully behind the project and provided the support we needed to drive this forward.” Ben Jones.
“The pandemic has impacted on school life like never before. Our school children and staff have responded remarkably to the challenges presented by the pandemic. Being able to access resources like this has been truly amazing. Recently the whole school attended a Microsoft Teams lesson with The Deep and it was a real inspiration to the children. It really brought our curriculum to life in a way that pictures and one way video couldn’t. The whole school loved meeting Humber the penguin and were able to ask questions of the keepers as if they were physically there.” Mr Butterworth, Head Teacher, South Kilvington School.
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