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Hiker Spotlight: Sounding Board

by Amber Yoder

Sounding Board is an interactive online learning hub designed to educate users on the value of natural soundscapes and how to protect them. Recently recognized as a finalist in Fast Company’s 2020 World Changing Ideas Awards in Education, Sounding Board was created in collaboration with Penn State and the National Parks Service Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division. As users move through the interactive curriculum, they learn about emerging research from a multitude of disciplines that detail the profound impacts that sounds have on ecological and human well-being.

“Our research shows that the ability to experience natural sounds like wind, water and birdsongs are some of the most important motivations for visitors to national parks,” says Peter Newman, Professor and Head of the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Management at Penn State.  “Hiker helped us to tell the story behind the science in Sounding Board.”

In creating Sounding Board, we at Hiker learned a lot about interactive educational content. We had to consider things like accessibility, content comprehension, interactivity, narrative journey, and visual storytelling. These are powerful, creative tools for designing and improving educational content and programs.

Digital and online learning are essential tools for learners of all ages. Now more than ever, we need to innovate new ways to share information with a wide variety of audiences, says Gregor Clark, principal and founder of Hiker.

As the learning environment shifts more and more to include spaces outside of traditional classrooms, our approach to designing educational content must also continue to shift and evolve.

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