National Extension Tourism (NET): 2021 Conf. Proceedings

paced work and live teleconference sessions. Research into online learning resources available through the University of Georgia (UGA) revealed several possible software platforms. After weighing the complexity of building content, ease of use, and accessibility to users from the general public, we decided to use the Learn Dash platform, a Word Press-based program, hosted by a server at the UGA Griffin campus and licensed to the Center for Urban Agriculture and Cooperative Extension. Colleagues from the Center helped to establish a subdomain for Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant to use and gave support for learning the basics of the Learn Dash program. Once the subdomain was established, co-PIs for the project were then responsible for design, content creation, and end-user technical support for the certification course. A branding process was completed by a Brunswick, GA-based creative company and guided by the steering committee. A logo and name for the certification were established in May 2020 in time for the first webinar-style public program. The logo was added to a landing site for the certification ( and printed on buffs and decals for certified guides to use as promotional materials. The newly branded Coastal Awareness and Responsible Ecotourism (CARE) initiative was then presented to the larger database of ecotour providers, and a survey tool was distributed to over 50 contacts. Using the online Qualtrics software, a survey link was sent to contacts, follow up phone calls were made to key providers (defined as those who were well known or employ multiple guides) and reminder emails were sent (two-weeks after the initial contact) to all contacts to complete the survey. The objectives of the survey was to collect data on overall interest, course format, content and the best time (seasonality, time of day, day of week) for holding the course. Stakeholders were also asked to indicate what benefits they would hope to gain from a certificate program in ecotourism and what resources may be most useful to them as guides. Survey results were reviewed by the steering committee and used as a guide to design the course. Online content was then designed to meet the needs identified by stakeholders. The course was divided into four lessons: Coastal Ecology, Shorebird Conservation, Human Connections to the Coast, and Responsible Ecotourism. Each Lesson was composed of 4 work-at- your-own-pace Topics and a weekly Live Zoom Discussion session. Each Topic was written by a CoPI and reviewed by topic experts. Each Live Zoom Discussion featured two content expert presenters and included a question-and-answer session. Registration was opened in January 2021 and invitations to participate were sent out via email to over 50 contacts on our ecotour guide database. As participants registered, they were added to the online Learn Dash platform

2021 NET Conference Proceedings


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