Inspiring future leaders in world conservation

by | Feb 7, 2018 | Case Studies, Evidence for Change, Featured, General, Resources

This article explains the development of the United for Wildlife online learning platform, produced by ZSL and Avado, which inspires and engages global audiences to address practical conservation issues.

This project took gold at the 2017 Learning Technologies Awards for Best Learning Technologies Project International Public/ Non-Profit sector.

The Challenge

The world is in the midst of a biodiversity crisis termed the ‘sixth extinction’. Species extinctions, habitat loss and an ever-increasing human footprint mean that conservation issues regularly hit the media. Despite the existence of online conservation information, there is an absence of validated sources to help those who want to learn about this subject online.

There is a real and pressing need to train the next generation of conservation leaders in countries rich in biodiversity but with limited conservation capacity. There are many early-career conservationists who are eager to develop their conservation skills but lack the resources and knowledge to realise this aspiration.

The United for Wildlife partners believe that if biodiversity and conservation issues are to be tackled head-on, then they would have to take a strong lead and provide the tools to achieve this end.

Key Objectives

The United for Wildlife partners needed to find a solution that would provide:

  • Validated online information and training on conversation issues
  • Training that would be accessible to those with limited funds
  • A way forward for those with a passion and concern for local conservation needs but who have no existing knowledge or expertise

While there is plenty of conservation information online, surprisingly there is no structured guidance and too much of it comes from unvalidated sources of information. Furthermore, students often lack access to formal courses where logistics restrict attendance or are too costly.

There needed to be a system that harnesses the energy and passion of untrained people who want to take action on conservation issues in their locality. They saw the urgent need to provide online courses that would offer conservation concepts and learning that would equip and raise up a new generation of conservation leaders in the developing world.

What you’ll learn in this case study

  • How ZSL and Avado developed a series of MOOCs that provide educational, vocational and funding initiatives to inspire, train and support the next generation of conservationists across the world.
  • How online forums embedded into the learning engineer a feeling of a shared learning journey and a sense of community
  • How stimulating infographics and attractive imagery help to inspire learner engagement
  • How use of Mozilla badges for a variety of achievements help learners celebrate success
  • How video with a downloadable transcript and audio podcast, are effective ways to reach those with limited internet.

Download this case study (PDF)


By Laura Overton, Towards Maturity
Follow on Twitter: @LauraOverton @TowardsMaturity

The case study has been created as part of the Towards Maturity and Learning Technologies Awards Good Practice Partnership, established in 2011.

About United for Wildlife

United for Wildlife (UFW) is an unprecedented alliance between seven of the world’s most influential conservation organisations, led by The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry. Established in 2013, the collaboration between Conservation International (CI), Fauna & Flora International (FFI), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), WWF-UK, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and The Royal Foundation (TRF) aims to lead the way to substantially increase the global response to major conservation crises.

For more information visit

About Avado

Avado began delivering effective and engaging learning programmes in 1990 and offers both online and face-to-face learning programmes allowing anyone, anywhere to become professionally qualified and further their career

About the Zoological Society of London

Founded in 1826, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is an international scientific, conservation and educational charity whose mission is to promote and achieve the worldwide conservation of animals and their habitats. Their mission is achieved through ground-breaking science, active conservation projects in more than 50 countries and their two Zoos; ZSL London Zoo and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo.

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