“What began with dozens of students has now morphed into 4000 students across 47 schools and 290 classes taking part in physical activity and engaging with Australian history geography in culture.”
Client: NSW Dept of Education School Sports Unit
From increased concentration to developing positive lifelong habits, the benefits of physical activity in young people is widely recognised. What NSW high school teacher Emily McLachlan didn’t anticipate, however, was the immediate success of her ‘Race Around Australia’ challenge – a virtual tour of the nation as student’s runs were plotted on an interactive map. Digital Village created a web application to help thousands of NSW students race around Australia and sprint towards their academic goals.
Concerned by falling levels of activity amongst young people, Emily McLachlan wanted to design a physical challenge that would engage students. The premise was simple: ‘Race Around Australia’ (albeit virtually). Student’s runs were plotted on a virtual map so they could see their progress around the country. The innovative challenge garnered interest from students, teachers and education departments but was quickly overwhelmed by the need to manually update the map each day. In order to achieve her goal – creating a challenge that every student in every school could participate in – Digital Village was approached to develop a tech solution.
We hosted a workshop in order to fully understand the specific needs and requirements of our client. The outcome was to, firstly, create a web application that allowed students of all ages to sign up, enter their run distance and see their progress across Australia. As they raced across the country, however, content relevant to their studies would be displayed as they passed points of interest. A competitive element was also added to keep students engaged. Classes and even schools could race against each other, seeing their cumulative totals nudge their school crest around Australia.
The web application we developed has allowed our client’s vision to become a viral success. What began with dozens of students has now morphed into 4000 students across 47 schools and 290 classes taking part in physical activity and engaging with Australian history geography in culture. ‘Race Around Australia’ has been covered in national media and its creator, Emily McLachlan, proudly recognised in the Learning Edge search for NSW’s most innovative educator. Most importantly, however, teachers have reported students being happier and more focussed after their runs alongside the social benefits of students working a cohesive team goal, to ‘Race Around Australia.’
NSW students have now run a combined 166,000KM with Race Around Australia, which is 6.5 times around Australia.