What is Ocean School?

Dalhousie University and the Ocean Frontier Institute have teamed up with the National Film Board of Canada to create Ocean School. Ocean School is a free, innovative inquiry-based learning experience.

At Ocean School, learners explore habitats at the bottom of the Gulf of St. Lawrence with virtual reality. They strike a pose with a life-sized augmented reality whale, and dissect virtual cod! Through stunning original animation, they learn about the history of the cod through the eyes of an Indigenous artist. 360° videos transport them to places they could never go—diving in a kelp forest, or hiking on a tropical island 300 miles off the coast of Costa Rica.

The Ocean School experience begins by presenting learners with a big question — a challenge that guides their inquiry. Each piece of media comes with a customizable activity that educators can assign via Google Classroom or download to use in class. At the end of a module, learners develop a “Take Action” plan to address the critical social and environmental problems they’ve been learning about.

Ocean School empowers the next generation of ocean citizens, researchers, and innovators, with the knowledge and tools to investigate and design innovative solutions for the accelerating challenges that face the world’s ocean.

Who is Ocean School for?

Ocean School is for everyone. We invite all lifelong learners to register and explore our immersive experiences. You will see the ocean in a new way. Ocean school is also designed for students and educators. Are you an educator? Sign up and peruse the educator space, which includes many additional resources to support using Ocean School in the classroom.

Is Ocean School bilingual?

Yes! Ocean School is available in both English and French.

What is the educational approach?

Inquiry-based learning

Ocean School aims to build an ocean-literate society by challenging learners to think critically, ask questions, explore multiple perspectives and take positive actions to improve Canadian oceans and their interconnected ecosystems. Our goal is “empowerment” through action-driven inquiry-based learning, in order to bring about environmental and social change.

Inquiry-based learning (IBL) encourages students to take the lead in their learning experience. Posing their own questions and gathering evidence, learners practice the skills they need to participate in knowledge creation. In the Ocean School program, the media experiences are designed to support open-ended investigations into a question or a problem. Students and educators share responsibility for identifying problems that students can investigate further. Together, they engage in critical thinking, collection and analysis of evidence, logical reasoning, and creative problem-solving.

Click here to read more about inquiry-based learning with Ocean School.

How does Ocean School link with my curriculum?

Ocean School offers concept-based, competency-driven content. It targets Grades 6 to 9 and is highly interdisciplinary, aiming to provide content for all subjects through an ocean lens.

To help national and international educators make links to their curriculum, each module guide describes big ideas and potential topic and curriculum links, along with the module-specific content and activities.

All Ocean School’s assignments and reflections can be modified by you to better suit your curriculum needs.

For more on how to modify assignments and reflections, read Customizing Ocean School Activities.

What kinds of media are in Ocean School?

On the Ocean School platform, each line of inquiry includes pieces of media that all address a common theme. We combine each piece of media with a reflection or activity to create a learning experience.

When you click on a piece of media, a very short introduction appears with something for the learner to think about. For example: “What is a quadrant frisbee, a mummichog or a stickleback? Find out, when Isabelle joins a Shore Survey!”

This is followed by a bit of media, such as a video, a 360° video, a VR/AR app, or a newsreel.

Once the learner finishes consuming the media, the platform directs them to an activity to reflect on and deepen their learning.

If you create a class with Google Classroom integration, that activity will open in Google Drive. You will be able to customize the documents that your students will receive.

You and your students can still access all of the media and activities in Ocean School without Google Classroom. However, the activity documents will open in the browser as view-only files which students can download or print.

In the module guides, you will find detailed descriptions of the media and activities in each line of inquiry.

Types of Media

Do I need to use Google classroom?

Ocean School is optimized for use in Google Classroom, but can be absolutely be experienced without it. Certain collaborative features (shared documents and integrated assignment creation and submission) will not be available, but all of Ocean School's multimedia content and supporting activities remain available.

For more information, read the Google Classroom FAQ.

Does Ocean School have a community of practice for educators?

Yes! You can join the Ocean School Educators group on Facebook. This group is a space where you can connect with other educators who are using Ocean School to share ideas, resources, and good practices!