One of the challenges of online learning is keeping things local and community-focused. Schools and parents have been overwhelmed with the huge variety of opportunities presented, from videos to online courses to activities. But for REAP Marlborough, what was missing was the local flavour.

That’s why they decided to start a YouTube channel specifically for their community, featuring videos by local identities that students could identify as being part of their community. It’s a way to boost engagement and participation, support the wellbeing of the community, and support progress and achievement for students.

Schools in the Marlborough/Kaikoura region have very strong connections with each other. The three Kahui Ako in the area, along with the Pelorus Cluster and the Marlborough Principals Association, are all supportive of each other, and all prioritise connections and wellbeing.

With such a strong base to start from, REAP Marlborough’s job was to find ways to supplement and augment what is already in place. While schools wade through content provided by each other, as well as national and international experts, REAP identified the need for locally-made, locally-relevant materials specific to their community.

The aim of the YouTube channel is to create and share local online learning and fun for early childhood and primary students. Dozens of Marlborough residents have been invited to video a curriculum-based lesson, activity, or clip of themselves reading a story or poem, or singing a song.

Teachers, RTLBs, Life Education Trust staff, Marlborough District Council staff, Enviroschools staff, REAP staff and board members, and even prefects from secondary schools will be making videos, and the channel received nearly 100 visitors in the first 24 hours.

It’s a strong start, and set to grow over the next few weeks. Check out an example of the content here, and follow the YouTube channel and the REAP Marlborough Facebook pages to stay up to date.