Virtual Bronze Exploration (VBE) & Virtual Silver Exploration (VSE)
What is the Virtual Exploration?
The Virtual Exploration (VE) is an online resource for Participants to complete their Bronze and Silver Adventurous Journey (AJ) in a virtual, or semi-virtual space. The VE is currently available until 31 December 2022 as outlined in Temporary Changes and Further Guidance of Award Requirements in the context of COVID-19.
Who can use the Virtual Explorations?
The VE’s are designed as options for Bronze & Silver Level Participants who are part of an Award Centre and who are not able to participate in a traditional AJ conducted in the field/fully outdoors, for reasons beyond their control. The VE may be used for Bronze and Silver Practice and Qualifying Journey’s. Participants at the Gold Level may use the VE to complete the Preparation & Training component of the AJ.
What are the requirements of the Virtual Explorations?
The requirements of the VE have been approved by the International Award Foundation (IAF), following a proof of concept and pilot. These requirements are intended to as closely align to the published purpose, ethos and education outcomes for the AJ, as stipulated in the Australian Award Handbook (2020 Edition 2).
Award Centres and their Award Leaders may approve their Participants undertaking a VE that they have customised or tailored, subject to all of the following requirements being met.
The Virtual Explorations Requirements document has been developed for Award Centres to guide the implementation and use of the VE. It includes an overview of who can use the VE, essential requirements for Participants, guidance for accessing the VE for licensed Award Centres and how the VE can be delivered as part of a ‘traditional’ AJ.
You can download the Virtual Explorations Requirements HERE
What are the steps to be completed as part of the VBE and VSE?
The following VE Workflows are a useful guide that show the individual steps a Participant needs to take in the VBE and VSE:
Do I need Approval?
The VE can be approved by an Award Centre (Award Leader) as long as the requirements are being met.
How many stages are in the Virtual Explorations?
Stage 1: Preparation & Training (Part A & B)
Stage 2: Team Planning
Stage 3: Practice
Stage 4: Virtual Journey (Expedition)
Stage 5: Research Project (Exploration)
How can licensed Award Centres access the Virtual Explorations?
There are two ways of accessing the NAO pre-prepared VE material, either through an online service provider (such as the IAF approved / qualified Belouga), or through downloading our Activity Packs which can be shared with Participants.
(Alternatively, Award Leaders can provide VE content on another online platform, as long as all VE requirements are met).
1: Online Service Provider
The VE can be accessed online via VE service provider such as Belouga, a web-based educational platform that connects classrooms around the world.
For a small subscription fee, Participants can access the VE content on the easy-to-use interactive platform. Award Leaders can instantly track Participant progress, message Participants and are provided with assistance and training from Belouga staff if needed.
For information and instructions about how to access the VE via Belouga please go to: https://belouga.org/dukeofed
2: Activity Packs
The other way to access NAO pre-prepared VE material is through the VBE and VSE Activity Packs. Activity Packs have been developed by The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award – Australia (NAO), Australian Air Force Cadets (AAFC) and the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award – Canada.
The Activity Packs can be downloaded and shard Participants.
NAO Activity Pack
AAFC Activity Pack
Canadian VBE Activity Pack
Delivering a hybrid VBE and traditional AJ
Where a traditional AJ is permissible, the VE can be used as a hybrid tool with an outdoor/traditional AJ and used to replace the preparation, training and practice stages associated with the traditional AJ.
In this instance, it is recommended that Stages 1 – 3 are completed using the VE and then Stages 4 and 5 are delivered as per a traditional AJ.
Depending on the restrictions in a country and territory, Award Centres may not be able to deliver an AJ that is fully compliant with all the 13 Requirements in the Australian Award Handbook (2020 Edition 2). For instance, journeying with a group outside a household and taking part in activity with a family member might be required.
In reality, the blend of how much will be virtual and how much will be ‘traditional’ will come down to what is appropriate in the context of the Award Centre and this should be discussed with the relevant Award Operating Authority.
Frequently Asked Questions
FAQs for the VBE and VSE are available HERE