This year, a group of students from four countries visited Malta to participate in the international EduChange project, which focuses on the use of mobile and web tools, as well as other means of information and communication technologies, in the creation of their own teaching and awareness-raising activities on climate change. The EduChange 2.0 project for the years 2020–2023, which included annual field trips, was prepared by the Department of Development and Environmental Studies of the Faculty of Science for students of not only pedagogical fields.
According to Jiří Pánek from the Department of Development and Environmental Studies, students in pedagogical fields want to use mobile applications and web tools as well as geographic information systems to make teaching on this important topic as effective and attractive as possible. “Our EduChange 2.0 project is therefore primarily focused on working with tools that promote citizen science and active citizenship through innovative geo-participatory methods to address environmental issues,” he said.
The project also involved experts from the Universities of Malta, Utrecht, and Trondheim, and the Finnish start-up Seppo, which is creating a new generation of educational applications combining social learning and versatile ways of using mobile technology. “With this project, we aim to develop skills and abilities in creating geo-participatory mapping platforms and the use of mobile apps and games,” said Pánek.
This year, the international excursion took place in Malta, with students mainly in and around the capital city of Valletta. In addition to lectures and workshops (for example, on the GLOBE program and the Paper2GIS method), 32 students focused on developing their own games and educational activities. “As part of our busy schedule, we also managed to visit the Buskett Gardens, one of the few woodland areas in Malta, the history of which dates back to the founding of the Order of the Knights of Malta,” said Pánek.
“The excursion was beneficial mainly by connecting practical teaching and climate change. Everything fit together and had a reason to it. We already have a lot of ideas on how to incorporate, for example, virtual reality to show areas affected by climate change, how to create an educational game combining elements of education in the field, and how students can create their own research,” said Matěj Kašpar, a student of Geography and Regional Development, praising the field trip.
According to Pánek, climate change caused by man has become increasingly evident in recent years. Malta has long been struggling with water shortages during the summer months and with urban heat islands, which are caused by intensive urban development with minimal green space. “However, young people’s views on the severity of the impacts of climate change vary widely and many think that climate change is more of a problem for other places and in the distant future. This is why we chose Malta as the location for our field trip, so that we can use the elements of place-based learning combined with international experience and offer students the opportunity to experience research in an international team first-hand,” added Pánek.