How Technology in Education Can Help Tackle Environmental Challenges

Climate change is undoubtedly one the most pressing global issues of our time; the far-reaching effects of which will be felt by future generations, unless there is a concerted, forward-thinking effort from all sectors of society. 

Encouragingly, while it will be the students of today who will inevitably feel the impact of ongoing environmental challenges, recent studies have revealed that young minds are already actively engaged with the critical issue of climate change. 

In a survey conducted as part of a partnership between the University of Plymouth and the British Science Association's Future Forum, 72% of the students questioned said they would welcome the opportunity for broader lessons about climate change in school. 

With attitudes, culture and engagement levels shifting, then, how can technology be used in the classroom to help tackle immediate environmental concerns and ensure a sustainable, carbon-neutral future? Let’s find out.

children learning about climate change in classroom with laptops

Giving students the agency for change

One of the core messages from the University of Plymouth University survey was that students believed traditional approaches to climate change education did little to alleviate the sense of anxiety associated with current environmental issues. Instead, they expressed a desire to be taught in more detail about how they can help address some of these ecological challenges, coupled with learning more about the social, economic and political factors at play. Similarly, 68% of the students surveyed believe climate change education should be included across all subjects, rather than limited to just science and geography.

The survey offers critical intelligence to those responsible for providing students with the knowledge and skills needed to face the climate crisis. By tapping into the mindset of students, education leads and administrators can hope to develop an effective climate education strategy, giving young people the agency to take meaningful and informed action. “We hope these findings help the Department for Education in planning ways to support carbon literacy and improve climate change education,” said Clio Heslop, head of policy, partnerships and impact at the British Science Association.

technology and the environment

How can digital technology in education help the climate crisis?

In line with the UK government’s 2050 carbon net zero objectives, businesses and institutions across the country are being forced to drastically rethink their practices to mitigate their carbon footprint. Here at Computeam, we’ve enacted a range of environmental initiatives to lessen the impact our day-to-day operations have on the planet. Meanwhile, our Trade2Train recycling and collection service has proved a hugely successful enterprise—helping schools dispose of their unwanted technology in an ecologically responsible way. 

For schools, investing in digital technology can drastically reduce the need for physical textbooks and printed materials, both of which are a drain on resources through production and transport processes. Indeed, by transitioning to e-books and online platforms, schools can minimise paper consumption and lower the carbon emissions associated with printing and distribution. Meanwhile, the virtual classrooms and web conferencing tools used in blended learning models can help schools reduce the need for students and educators to commute to physical locations, saving time and precious resources while decreasing the carbon emissions generated by daily commutes. 

students learning about wind energy through technology

The importance of early childhood education

Early childhood education can be a valuable starting point on the road to imparting a sense of environmental awareness in young minds. Using online education software, there exists an opportunity to introduce children to the fundamental principles of sustainability and environmental conservation; from recycling to the vital role biodiversity plays in our planet.

At this early stage of educational development, ensuring content and learning environments are fun and engaging is crucial, something which can be achieved through digital course materials and interactive software. When students actively engage with these tools, their journey is one characterised by exploration, collaboration, and knowledge sharing, allowing students to embrace core environmental concepts that will make them future-ready citizens.

In primary and secondary schools, by incorporating sustainability into the core curriculum, students can learn about pressing environmental issues and potential solutions. Meanwhile, by minimising paper usage through consistent use of digital teaching methods, teachers can have a substantial impact on shaping students' behaviour, encouraging them to adopt eco-friendly practices both within and outside of the classroom.

In a broader sense, digital literacy frameworks should look to provide a consistent and comprehensive understanding of technology and its environmental impact, heightening students' awareness of the true 'cost' of technology and encourage a more critical approach to the tools and services they engage with in their daily routines.

How can Computeam help?

The Rebooting of Education Report 2023 highlighted the significance of the climate change crisis in the minds of educators, as 79% of those surveyed identified the ecological emergency as the most significant global issue for today's children and young people—and it’s reassuring to know that students themselves are widely receptive to the challenges ahead. 

Any positive steps rely on a collective shift in perspective, to gain a deeper understanding of how our actions impact the environment, and take the necessary steps to realign our outlook. And that can certainly start in the classroom. While it's essential to acknowledge that a renewed focus on digital literacy and technology alone won't solve the issue, it represents a step in the right direction. 

If you are interested in discovering more about how technology can contribute to enhancing environmental awareness in your school, please do get in touch.

girl using a laptop in the classroom

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Posted on December 19th 2023

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