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Te Papa partners with Khan Academy

Mel Thompson, Online learning with Te Papa and Khan Academy, Te Papa Blog,  2 July 2024

Te Taiao | Nature public opening, 2019. Photo by Jo Moore. Te Papa (137063).

Te Papa is excited to announce a new partnership with Khan Academy, a not-for-profit educational organisation with a mission to provide a free, world-class education to anyone, anywhere. Online Course Content and Facilitation Lead Mel Thompson explores what courses are available.

Through Khan Academy, the Learning Team at Te Papa are thrilled to launch the first of a series of short online courses, exploring the museum’s vast collections (we recently reached the massive milestone of one million collection items uploaded for all to enjoy) and offering an accessible introduction to some of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most important – and most fascinating – topics.

Museums as a place for learning

Museums aren’t just filled with ‘things’, they’re full of history, knowledge, research, and art. They’re overseen by expert curators and kaitiaki – knowledge holders passionate about the taonga they care for, and their connections to larger stories.

Whenever you visit a museum, you get a window into these stories through the objects and art on display. But have you ever wondered what else might be hiding in the collections? Or what larger stories they might be a part of?

The Learning Team at Te Papa has been exploring ways to extend and deepen the learning opportunities the museum can provide, and are thrilled to present the first of a series of short online courses. Produced with the help of the museum’s experts, they offer a deeper dive into Aotearoa New Zealand history, nature, and culture.

Why online courses?

Online courses can remove barriers to education, and offer accessible and trustworthy introductions to big topics in a time when misinformation is rife. They allow us to take you on a deeper journey into our collections than is possible in an exhibition format. They offer structured and supported learning, with the freedom to skip parts that don’t interest you, or use the additional resources to chase your curiosity down learning rabbit holes.

Te Papa is committed to ensuring our courses are free, and accessible to anyone with any level of knowledge. You can complete them at your own pace, dip in and out, connect and discuss your learning with a community of learners from Aotearoa New Zealand and beyond, and be supported in your learning with active facilitation. Ask questions, share resources, and share your reflections with others on the same learning journey!

Our new courses!

Our first two courses are short and relatively light, offering you a guided entry point into some of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most important history.

Natural history and biodiversity

The Kea (Nestor notabilis), the world’s only alpine parrot. Bernard Spragg.

We often hear about how unique and precious our native biodiversity and natural heritage is in Aotearoa New Zealand, but how special really is it on a global scale, and how did it become that way?

In this course (approximately four hours long) we rewind all the way back to 85 million years ago, tracing the creation of a land that sank, rose, collided, and erupted into existence – considering both Western science and mātauranga Māori perspectives on this turbulent land.

Then we look at how this wild land nurtured the evolution of animals like none other on Earth; giants, creatures of the night, and living fossils. Creatures so weird they’ve been described by experts as like ‘life in a parallel universe’ or an ‘alien world’.

Come and learn about the story of these wild islands, the weird and wonderful creatures that call them home, and why so many people are fighting to protect them.

New Zealand culture and conflict

Source: Te Papa. Photo by Mark Coote.

More and more, Aotearoa New Zealand history is a part of our national conversation, but many New Zealanders aren’t actually very familiar with this history.

This course (approximately six hours) offers a basic introduction to the timeline of people in Aotearoa New Zealand. We start with the epic journey of the Pacific Navigators who discovered these islands, and the development of a uniquely Māori culture in this strange new land.

Then we learn about the journey of Captain James Cook, the misunderstandings and violence that marred his arrival to these shores, and the huge impact of Tupaia, his Tahitian guide, in facilitating those early interactions. Then we track the uneasy development of a bicultural nation, including the conflicts and agreements whose impacts echo so loudly today.

Finally, we explore what all of this history means for the museums of today, and the way our shared heritage is visible in the spaces and stories of Te Papa.

Come join us!

If any of this sparks your curiosity, come join us at Khan Academy for a free, social, stress-free way to expand your knowledge and understanding of our rich and fascinating country.