Thursday, July 29, 2010

Teaching Sustainability with Web 2.0 Technology

Today's workshop will look specifically at Web 2.0 technology and how this could be used effectively to teach sustainability.

Overview of the Workshop

  • What is Web 2.0 Technology?
  • Web 2.0 Technology to Brainstorm, Create Maps and Share Images
  • Specific Sustainability Sites (Sketchup)
  • Web 2.0 Tools to Collaborate (Blogs and Nings)

So, what is Web 2.0 and why should I want to use it in my classroom?

There needs to be a move towards the use of Web 2.0 technology in the classroom. Studies have shown that students can spend, on average, 31 hours online each week. With current trends, this is set to increase. From my own experience at Coburg Senior High School, benefits of increased student engagement, as well as well developed thinking and questioning due to collaboration online have been obvious amongst the students.

An overview of Web2.0 Technology - What Do You Know?

The you tube link below is quite long but provides a great overview of what this Web 2.0 technology actually is. It has been put together by Michael Wesch, lecturer in Digital Ethnography from Kansas University. This particular video focuses on the development of you tube as a way in which people can collaborate and share ideas online.

The Machine is Using Us - An Explanation of Web 2.0 Technology

Finding Web 2.0 tools to use in education can be quite daunting, simply because there are so many. The following site - Go2Web20 (use the e-learning tag) is one example of a site that provides access to various programs and tools that you can use to collaborate online.

Tools to Brainstorm

Wordle - One of my favourite tools to brainstorm or show knowledge of a concept. Students can change the colour and style, as well as categorise the importance of words according to a concept.

Tools to Look at and Share Images or Video

Rivers of Ice - Images of the Vanishing Glaciers

You Tube
Geography Teachers TV

Tools to Create Maps

Scribble Maps - A great tool to create your own maps and then save them....

Google Maps

The following sites provide access to ideas, tools and resources on how to use Google Maps and Google Earth in the classroom.

Google For Educators - The official Google Educators site with information on Google Maps, Google Earth, Google Sky and Google Sketchup

Free Geography Tools - This site is a little more high tech and complicated - for advanced users.

Web 2.0 Sites for Sustainability

Australian Renewable Energy Atlas - A GIS interactive map with differing layers and particularly renewable energy sources and locations in Australia.

Show/World - A mapping site showing the quantity and consumption of resource. Great animations!

Electrocity - A great game comparing the positives and negatives of renewable energy vs fossil fuels.

Footprint Calculator - The best footprint calculator I have found.

Gapminder - A great site for social sustainability. So much information is available in terms of development indicators and explanations of these. A great geography source in general.

Google Sketchup
- This is a program that allows students to design their own buildings and then locate these on Google Maps or Google Earth. A great tool to use if you are considering a task that involves designing a 'Sustainable' building.

Collaborating Online


A blog allows you to have your own internet site of information, links, videos and images. You can embed videos from you tube or other online movies sources, or you can make your own. A great description of how a blog works is below.

I use blogs everyday in the classroom. They allow me to provide an overview of the work covered, videos, links to great resources and the tasks to be completed. They are easy to make and maintain, however you do need to consider that all information is available to the public. My class blogs are below:

Bec's Classes 2010
Race Around the World 2010

One of the better blogging platforms for education is Edublogs.

Other Resources

Global Teacher
- This site provides access to teacher and student blogs across Australia. Great for ideas on how to present your blog, or how to use it in the classroom.


The world's most famous wiki is Wikipedia. Wiki's allow users to collaborate and create pages by uploading, adding and editing information. In terms of education, wikis provide the ability for a teacher to allow students to create the content and discuss ideas. Teachers can control the levels of privacy and the levels in which students can add or change information.

Wiki Platforms include Wikispaces and PBWiki.

Other Resources

Wikis in Education

Educational Wikis


A ning is very similar to social networking sites like facebook, but allow you to control access from the public, and how each student contributes. I have used a Ning in the classroom, and the students found it to be very effective in discussing or commenting on information, movies or pictures.

Bec's Race Class - Leaders

To create a Ning, go to and follow the prompts...

A ning for geography teachers - Australian Geography Teachers

Some Other Resources

Schoology - Similar to facebook but something you can use with all of your classes. Watch the introductory video to get an idea.

Twiducate - Twitter, but in a more controlled environment for education.

SurveyMonkey - Survey Monkey is a great tool to create online surveys with your classes. If you want to have more than ten questions, you will have to pay but the survey links, as well as data collection is well worth the costs. Great for Geography data collection.

To Finish.....

You can always find something great on youtube. A great way to start a Geography class on Sustainability, even if it is just for a laugh.....