University of Wuppertal (GERMANY)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2016 Proceedings
Publication year: 2016
Pages: 8500-8508
ISBN: 978-84-608-5617-7
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2016.0980
Conference name: 10th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 7-9 March, 2016
Location: Valencia, Spain
Over the last three years the EU-funded project ‘useITsmartly’ focused on developing a didactical concept for communicating the energy efficient use of information and communication technology (ICT) to and with youths of 16–20 years old. The underlying idea of the project aims at capacity building and subsequent behavioral change of young people via peer education.

The project is currently funded in the Intelligent Energy Europe-Program (IEE) and its outcomes support EU energy efficiency and renewable energy policies aiming at achieving EU’s 2020 targets (20 % cut in greenhouse gas emissions, 20 % improvement in energy efficiency and 20 % of renewables in EU energy consumption). Participating project countries are Austria, Denmark, Germany, Norway, and The Netherlands, the University of Wuppertal in Germany being the leading institution.

The paper will give a short overview about the general approach of the action as introduction before it focuses on the presentation of a didactical concept developed for environmental peer to peer education.

useITsmartly started off in April 2013 and because the basic approach is a participatory one the members of the consortium sought to find out about the real IT usage among youths (beyond the common parental complaints about children who have no interests besides digital ones) and about their readiness for change for environmental reasons. That was realized in two steps – a questionnaire covering the times and kinds of IT consumption was given to approximately 100 participants per country and focus group interviews tried to cover the youth’s perspective on IT and environmental issues.

The second phase of the project from spring 2014 on focused on finding out about youths notions how they could imagine to come to a more efficient energy usage via IT and not simply using it less. For that reason creativity workshops were held in schools and the resulting ideas were gathered and put together in an online toolbox.

The project’s centerpiece then, from spring 2015 to the end of the project in spring 2016 formed the peer trainings in which volunteering youths got input on IT and energy consumption facts and developed concepts how they would reach their peer’s interest for the topic und thus initiate a change.

The paper will explain the didactical concept and critically reflect its possibilities and boundaries and take a look at the difficulty of designing overall concepts for countries that seemingly have very similar educational structures and show how small differences can become hindering factors. With examples from all workshops and trainings the authors can give first-hand information on attempting to participatorily work with youths on a relatively unpopular topic and which obstacles had to circumnavigated.
Peer education, environmental education, education research.