Starting with Access- Expert Panel on OER, Climate Education, and Student Action

Starting with Access: Expert Panel on OER, Climate Education, and Student Action

In an era where climate change is a pressing global issue, integrating climate education into curricula at all educational levels is not just an option—it’s a necessity. Our recent panel, “Starting with Access: Expert Panel on OER, Climate Education, and Student Action,” explored the pivotal role of Open Educational Resources (OER) in promoting climate literacy and action. We discussed innovative approaches to climate education, the importance of accessibility, and the role of technology in engaging students and communities.

The Earth Project App

One of the highlights of our session was the introduction of the Earth Project app, a powerful tool designed to facilitate climate education and action. The app connects students, educators, and communities, providing a platform for sharing resources, tracking environmental initiatives, and promoting sustainable practices. By leveraging technology, the Earth Project app empowers users to engage in climate action, making it an invaluable resource in the fight against climate change.

Designing with Hope and Optimism

Our panelists emphasized the importance of designing climate education initiatives with a sense of hope and optimism. In the face of daunting climate challenges, it’s crucial to inspire students and communities to believe in their capacity to effect change. By focusing on positive outcomes and celebrating success stories, we can foster a more engaged and motivated generation of climate activists.

Leveraging an Asset-Based Community Development Approach

A recurring theme in our discussion was the value of an asset-based community development approach. This method focuses on identifying and leveraging the existing strengths and resources within a community to drive climate action and education. By empowering communities to take ownership of climate initiatives, we can create more sustainable and impactful solutions that resonate at the local level.

Panel Highlights

Our panel featured insightful discussions from experts in the field of climate education and OER. Below are some of the key points and questions addressed during the session:

Question 1: Sustainable Development and Climate Action Education

Jeff Glade, of Heartland Area Education Center, discussed the critical importance of integrating climate education into curricula at all educational levels. He explained that sustainable development involves meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Climate action education is essential because it equips students with the knowledge and skills to address climate challenges, fostering a sense of responsibility and urgency to take action.

Question 2: Global Issues of Access

Lindsay Zilly, Senior Program Strategist with Take Action Global, highlighted the disparities in access to climate education globally. Lindsay pointed out that while some regions have robust climate education programs, others lack the necessary resources and infrastructure. Addressing these disparities is crucial for ensuring that all students, regardless of their location or socio-economic status, have access to high-quality climate education.

Question 3: Access and OER in the US

Margaret Wang, of Subject to Climate, discussed issues of access to climate education in the US and explained that Open Educational Resources (OER) play a vital role in making climate education more accessible. OER are freely available teaching and learning materials that can be adapted and shared, making them an effective tool for disseminating climate knowledge and resources to a wider audience.

Question 4: OER for Diverse Backgrounds

Jennryn Wetzler, of Creative Commons, emphasized that OER can help ensure that climate education is accessible to students from diverse backgrounds, including those in underserved communities. OER can be customized to meet the specific needs of different communities, providing a more inclusive approach to climate education.

Question 5: Challenges in Implementing OER

Margaret identified several challenges in implementing OER for climate education, including lack of awareness, limited resources, and resistance to change. To address these challenges, she suggested providing training and support for educators, fostering collaboration among stakeholders, and promoting the benefits of OER.

Question 6: Successful OER Initiatives

Lindsay shared examples of successful OER initiatives that have promoted climate education and student action. Lindsay highlighted a lesson within our Climate Action Schools program called the Keystone Species Activity. This activity allows students the opportunity to identify their keystone species, create an avatar to represent it and then connect with the world.  This sort of activity encourages students to participate in climate action, such as digital storytelling, gamified learning, and community-based projects.

Question 7: Innovative Pedagogical Approaches

Jeff discussed innovative pedagogical approaches using OER that have motivated students to take climate action. He mentioned approaches like project-based learning, where students work on real-world climate issues, and experiential learning, which involves hands-on activities and fieldwork.

Question 8: Leveraging Technology

In a rapid-fire round, our panelists discussed the role of technology in enhancing the effectiveness of OER in climate education. They recommended resources and tools such as the Earth Project app, Creative Commons, and the Subject to Climate Hubs that can help make climate education more engaging and impactful.

Question 9: Emerging Trends in OER

Jennryn highlighted emerging trends in OER and climate education, including the growing use of artificial intelligence to personalize learning experiences, the development of open-source tools for climate modeling, and the increasing emphasis on interdisciplinary approaches.

Question 10: Long-Term Vision for OER

Margaret shared her vision for the future of OER in climate education, envisioning a world where OER are widely adopted and integrated into all levels of education. She hopes to see a global network of educators and students working together to address climate challenges through open and accessible resources.

Question 11: Lessons Learned

Lindsay and Jeff shared lessons learned from implementing OER in climate education. They emphasized the importance of collaboration, the need for continuous improvement, and the value of sharing success stories and best practices to inspire others.

Every Teacher is a Climate Education Teacher

A key takeaway from our session was the idea that every teacher, regardless of their subject area, has a role to play in climate education. Integrating climate literacy across disciplines ensures that students receive a holistic understanding of the issue and its impact on various aspects of life. By embedding climate education in all subjects, we can cultivate a generation of informed and proactive citizens.

The Role of Communities

Our panel session underscored the critical role of OER in making climate education accessible and effective. By leveraging technology, fostering community involvement, and promoting collaboration, we can equip students and communities with the knowledge and tools they need to take meaningful climate action. As we move forward, it is essential to continue advocating for inclusive and innovative approaches to climate education, ensuring that every student has the opportunity to become an informed and active participant in creating a sustainable future.