A valuable resource for struggling parents and teachers, Crackerjack Education is making First Nations culture more accessible during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Principal Director and Founder, Nola Turner-Jensen, said Crackerjack Education was the first online Aboriginal education website to align with national curriculum objectives.

With a background in social work, the proud Wiradjuri woman came up with the idea for Crackerjack Education when she saw there was a lack of education about First Nations Peoples and cultures in the Australian curriculum.

“When we found out about the national curriculum [being rolled out] … I could see education was going digital,” Turner-Jensen said.

“I had this dream [of] … an Aboriginal designed and developed education website matched to that curriculum … at the forefront of this new digital education space.

“We sat down and we had no experience and no money, but we learnt and a lot of people put in. It’s really a community developed Aboriginal education site, with a lot of people giving their time and energy and knowledge.

“We’re really proud of the fact that it’s been community-led.”

In 2012, from the hard work of Turner-Jensen and her founding partner, Janelle Latcham, Crackerjack Education was born.

Every resource on the website carries the corresponding national curriculum code, making teachers’ jobs that little bit easier.

“It’s a one-stop shop … all the activities are there, the printouts are there, the codes are there, and all the cultural information is there.”

“Our aim has always been to make teaching Aboriginal culture easy. And I think we’ve achieved that.”

Crackerjack Education went on to become the first Aboriginal online company to be accredited with the New South Wales Education Standards Authority (NESA) and the ACT Teacher Quality Institute.

Now that COVID-19 has taken its toll on the schooling environment in Australia, Turner-Jensen said they’ve had to step up and change gears.

“We could see that people were going to need as much online access as possible,” she said.

“I wanted to make sure Aboriginal knowledge and culture was included in this library of online education sites that [schools and organisations] might consider.”

Reducing their subscription costs for individuals and schools, Crackerjack Education is ensuring online cultural education is more accessible for all.

To boost their reach further as teachers and parents broaden their search for educational tools during COVID-19, Turner-Jensen has also bolstered the company’s marketing efforts to promote the online resource.

“[We’re] trying to get a bit more presence with different groups, particularly … home schooling, reminding schools that we’re here and we’re happy to work with them … looking at national libraries,” Turner-Jensen said.

The concerted efforts of Turner-Jensen have boosted her company’s profile, resulting in an increase in subscription sales. She estimates at least a 30 percent increase in the past two months alone.

“We’ve just had the Home Education Association of Australia purchase 50 licences for their home education users,” Turner-Jensen said.

“We have subscribers from all over Australia, we’ve [even] had teachers overseas.”

Turner-Jensen and her team have also developed a range of professional development tools to assist teachers in the delivery of cultural education.

“Teachers can go on there and get professional learning hours and actually learn about Aboriginal learning styles,” Turner-Jensen said.

One of these modules includes the ‘Teaching with Aunty’ study guides. These guides help teachers understand the traditional knowledge they’ll be teaching and align it with national curriculum codes.

“[The guides] pull out all the cultural information and they explain it—and that’s what ‘Aunty’ does.”

As Turner-Jensen navigates Crackerjack Education’s newfound popularity, she and her team are developing more resources for teachers and parents to use with ease in their teaching.

“Now we’re … looking at ways that we can expand the business and do a lot more,” she said.

“[Our priority] is to keep making sure our name is getting out there so that we can build up this reputation.”

To learn more about Crackerjack Education resources and subscriptions, visit: https://www.crackerjackeducation.com.au/.

By Hannah Cross