Sharing environmental message

A teacher presents at the Field of Mars Environmental Education Centre.

Whether it was creating insect-themed art, highlighting efforts to reduce waste or following the journey of an unpolluted stream, students and teachers around NSW shared their stories about the environmental and sustainability.

The 2012 Learning for Sustainability Video Conference Festival, which ran for two weeks in May and June, had more than 11,000 participants taking part in more than 80 interactive video conferences.

The Field of Mars Environmental Education Centre in Sydney's East Ryde was the host hub for the statewide.

Now in its third year, the festival has won several awards and is well regarded in the virtual education industry as the largest video-conference event in Australia.

Field of Mars principal Steve Papp said school and community sustainability was an ideal subject for this sort of technology.

"Students are very confident in talking about places that matter to them, why they are important and how they should be cared for," Mr Papp said.

"Their pride in their locality comes across very clearly, and they love discussing it with students from different places and cultural backgrounds."

Field of Mars teacher Patrick Spiers said the festival was about digital collaboration - student to student and teacher to teacher.

"It is not uncommon for a festival video conference to begin with one focus and then segue into another. You can't always tell where the students' constructive energy will lead them," Mr Spiers said.

He said Paddington Public School students constructed a series of games they ran on their interactive whiteboard (IWB).

"They were able to share their game with other participating schools all around the state using Bridgit data collaboration software, so it came up on everyone's IWBs - even to the point where the audience students could take control of the game from their end," Mr Spiers said.

Waitara Public School teacher Brad Crossman, whose students presented a VC titled 'Bush tucker on the menu', said it was an opportunity to engage in authentic learning.

Photo supplied by the Field of Mars Environmental Education Centre.


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