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Bring Environmental Learning to Classrooms Through Tech!

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In the year 2019, distance learning has come a long way! I like to think back to the days when the only way to communicate with someone far away was by phone or a letter that actually had to be sealed and stamped, then physically journey to the destination. Who knows when the individual would receive it! Now we can send a message immediately and expect a response before the end of the day. On the Green Schools NS program, we can share relevant and important information through a video class we call a “Virtual Engagement”.

So, what is a Virtual Engagement? It is a new way of learning using the internet. An Engagement Officer sends a teacher a link to a video call through Google Hangouts or Google Meet. The best part of all this is that the teacher does not even need to have a Google account to access the call. Once the teacher clicks the link, the students get to see their Engagement Officer live from wherever they are working, whether it is their remote office in Cape Breton or in downtown Halifax! It is so cool and reduces consumption and here is how: Driving to schools for in-person engagements means that we use vehicles and this lets creates carbon emissions which increase our impact on the Earth. We absolutely love visiting students in person, but we also enjoy walking the talk of environmental education! Virtuals visits engage youth and increase energy literacy and reduce the impact of environmental education programs. I believe this is absolutely fantastic! Another reason Virtuals are such a great way for students to learn is that it is an exciting and different way to participate and interact with a variety of curriculum-linked topics for teachers to choose from.

Popular topics include Green Valentine’s or Gift of Time. Right now is a great time to learn about how we can express love and give gifts while being conscious of waste. History Before Electricity is also a really fun virtual topic when we look at what life was like for our ancestors, and how they survived without many of the conveniences we depend on today, like email and YouTube! These are just a few of the examples of topics that open the minds of the students to the positive ways we can impact the Earth through our everyday choices.

Many schools are already benefiting from our Virtual Engagements. A good example of how the Virtual Engagements have been successful is with the launch of the ‘Watts Off Energy Challenge’ which happened on Thursday, January 24th 2019. This Energy Challenge is a pilot program involving five schools from all over Nova Scotia. The schools were able to participate in the online launch of the six-week competition via Google Hangouts! It was so great that the students were so excited to compete and share their team names and cheers, all through the internet! It was superb, and so much fun! The most interesting thing is that the call had over six participants, and the quality of the call was still top-notch! Imagine what the Virtual Engagement is like between two participants, (teacher & Engagement Officer)! Why not give a Virtual a try? We never really know what something is like until we give it a shot! Here is a video to learn more!

Check out Week One standings for the Watts Off Energy Challenge as of Monday, Feb 4, 2019:

École Grosvenor Wentworth Park School 57
Pictou Landing First Nation School 46
Whycocomagh Education Centre 45
Petite Riviere Elementary School 40
École Grand-Portage 37

~Ruvi Mugara
Engagement Officer

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