The aim of this project was to connect pre-service teachers studying a subject by distance with sites of learning in the community. CSU worked with Bathurst Regional Council to use Chifley Home as an example of such a site. Students engaged with this site and developed artworks in response to the site and its themes, while co-teaching in a virtual classroom environment. This work culminated in a student exhibition titled Distant Connections. The exhibition was displayed at the Chifley Home and online. Benefits for Bathurst Regional Council included: a re-interpretation of the museum collection; engagement with new audiences within and beyond the region; connection with pre-service teachers who could use the site ( and other community sites) in their future teaching; profile raising; providing an exemplar for other museums and regions in making connections with education. Benefits for CSU included: high levels of student engagement and achievement; positive student experience; development of a collaboratively developed practice-based curriculum; development of a positive and generative relationship with Bathurst Regional Council and its stakeholders; and development of a model for online teaching and learning that can be extended and adapted. The project received a high level of media attention and has been nominated for an IMAGINE award- an award that recognizes exemplary work in museums and galleries in NSW. The project is occurring again in 2014, with funding from Bathurst Regional Council. Discussions are occurring in relation to extending the model to other sites.
School of Teacher Education