Experiential Learning for Sustainable Development
How Virtual Travel can Engage Students and Co-Workers Worldwide
September 9, 2023
In a world where experiences often define us, travel has consistently held a place of prominence. It's the captivating landscapes, the inspiring encounters with locals, and the chance to make a difference that makes travel a transformative endeavour. However, the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic abruptly reshaped the way we connect and experience the world. As a travel company based in the Philippines, we found ourselves facing a challenge: how could we sustain the essence of travel, the very thing that brings people together, without the ability to physically journey?
At the heart of our mission lies the desire to recreate the profound encounters one might have while exploring far-flung destinations, but with a technological twist. Our response to the pandemic-induced travel restrictions has been to harness the power of interactive video technology. This innovation allows participants to curate their virtual journey, offering the freedom to choose destinations, interact with individuals, and pose thought-provoking questions - all from the comfort of their own screens.
We recently ran a program for Canva, a creative technology company, which showcased the transformative potential of this approach. Canva's employees embarked on a virtual adventure to the coastal community of Lobo, located south of Manila. The excitement of this digital journey was met with enthusiasm by employees at Canva, illustrating that the allure of travel - and the opportunity to make a difference - can still be captured even when physical travel is off the table.
We asked Camille Armas, Social Impact Program Manager for Canva Foundation - Philippines for her thoughts.
“During our recent volunteering week at Canva Philippines, we were really pleased with MAD Courses’ Lobo Interactive Tour experience at it was a unique, fun, and new way for our employees to interact and learn about different issues that affect the Lobo community while also contributing to the community in a small way.”
Camille added that particular highlights of the experience were the ‘story flow, narrative, and the overall quality of the interactive adventure’: “We’re excited for the potential future local stories that can be shared to a broader audience in a similar way.”
Indeed, this experience highlighted a new era of possibilities. Imagine hundreds of employees from various corporations across the Philippines accessing immersive, 'transformative' learning experiences through virtual travel. The boundaries of traditional travel melt away as technology steps in to provide a carbon-neutral, cost-effective, and accessible alternative. Not only could employees partake in these experiences, but students too could venture into the world, gaining insights into global challenges, especially those concerning sustainability.
While nothing can replace the authenticity of in-person interactions, this blend of technology and wanderlust opens doors to deeper appreciation and empathy for the diverse world we inhabit. It's about fostering a connection with our planet and its inhabitants, regardless of physical presence. As we strive to minimize our carbon footprint and reduce the strain on our environment, interactive video technology emerges as a valuable tool in expanding horizons.
The virtual journey isn't simply about virtually 'going' places. It's about uncovering shared stories, witnessing pressing challenges, and recognizing the interconnectedness of our world. It's about cultivating an understanding that transcends borders, promoting empathy for fellow citizens and fostering a sense of global community. This journey through screens has the power to plant seeds of change, sparking a newfound commitment to sustainable practices and positive action.
In conclusion, the allure of travel isn't solely confined to physical exploration. Through the convergence of technology and wanderlust, we can embark on transformative journeys that transcend limitations, foster connections, and nurture empathy. While physical travel will always hold its special place, the evolution of interactive video technology presents an exciting pathway to broadening our appreciation for the world we share: not just for corporations, but for students around the world who - regardless of their background - might now have the opportunity to explore important global issues through the lens of local communities.
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