5 Tips for Sustainable Technology Use in the Classroom
Schools worldwide can shift their habits and relationships with technology to adjust to the sustainability revolution. These are some of the best practices to incorporate into classrooms to increase awareness about education’s climate footprint. Technology will alter teaching forever, but it also impacts the planet. How can educators do their best to protect nature while leveraging electronics?
1. Make Do With Less
There are a few ways to use less power and tech in the classroom. Every item pulls power when it does anything, and reducing usage and strain on devices is better for the planet in several ways.
First, manufacturers are designing computers, tablets, and laptops with planned obsolescence in mind. This means battery lives are intentionally shorter and the hardware is purposefully less durable. Therefore, schools must buy tech more regularly as their life spans quickly reach their ends.
Mountains of Chromebooks meant to ease students into the technological age are heading to landfills with no end in sight. Schools must find ways to extend their technology’s usefulness.
There are a few ways to do this. Simple, plain text file formats help use fewer computational resources. Improving classroom websites to have compressed images and remove unnecessary pages is ideal. Finally, updating software to the more recent versions provides the most optimized variant of the program to use hardware more efficiently.
Though seemingly counterintuitive, another way of using fewer technological resources is implementing another type of tech: artificial intelligence. AI is perfect for processing large amounts of data to determine how to delegate resources.
For example, one university reduced water usage in its sprinkler system by 141 million gallons in one year just by implementing AI automation. In the same way, AI can help optimize power usage and reduce the energy consumption of classroom devices.
2. Reconsider Paper Products
Not all technology is revolutionary — education systems have countless machines representing a tech age from decades ago. This includes equipment like bulky fax machines, printers, laminators, and scanners. Instead of using them to produce paper waste, teachers should experiment with digital techniques to make classrooms more sustainable.
Sustainable tech engagement uses printers and scanners less frequently to avoid environmentally toxic ink and paper waste. The devices also pull a lot of power, even if plugged into outlets with smart plugs, which could monitor or regulate energy use. Instead, teachers should opt for completely online resources if students have equal access to them.
3. Look Into Open-Source Software
The number of tools and tech assets schools have is wildly diverse. Climate scientists want to streamline how data moves in sophisticated situations, so open-source solutions are a current contender for carbon-aware tech. If people ignore modern programs’ growing demands, then the energy they use will rise without ceasing.
One school could have 10 software programs they use compared to a unique 10 from another organization. Homogenizing and sharing open content would prevent wasting energy. Teachers wouldn’t have to go through the trouble of recreating online courses, tests, and curricula if they all existed on collaborative platforms.
4. Embrace Nontraditional Classrooms
Sustainable technology is not limited to indoor spaces. Implementing comprehensive eco-conscious tech takes a close look at biodiversity and gets students engaged in the outdoors. Around 33% of schools determined tech increases a student’s agency and pacing in the classroom by becoming more active learners no matter where they are.
Using augmented reality or identification apps are a few examples of how technology could make students more familiar with and appreciative of outdoor spaces. The more they interact and learn to care for nature, the more likely they are to be eco-aware students and citizens.
Additionally, using digital classrooms is a way to be more sustainable, so long as schools use green servers. How could this be eco-friendly if it uses more energy? Online classrooms eliminate the need for transportation. Teachers must attempt hybrid or digital-only options for teaching if permitted by administrators.
5. Start Collaborative Projects
Schools are the perfect place to connect with like-minded people to achieve a common goal for the greater good. The best way to employ technology for green purposes is to use it in a way that advocates long-term change.
Here’s how students can use technology to engage more with climate crisis discourse and participate in their community to shift education to a more conscious model:
- Contribute to research
- Start a club
- Begin a sustainability campaign
- Send email newsletters for eco-friendly tech tips
- Advocate for e-waste recycling
Making Classrooms Greener
After the COVID-19 pandemic, countless classrooms began using more digital spaces and tech assets. Despite their benefits, they have a massive environmental impact. Everyone in education and sustainability advocates must spread knowledge about balancing technology use with prioritizing the planet’s health.