ALBERTA TOMORROW EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMMINGCategory: 2015, Completed, Grant, Land Use, Major Project
Unprecedented growth in Alberta over the past several decades has created a vibrant economy while at the same time placed a strain on our natural environment. Alberta Tomorrow (AT) is an innovative educational resource that helps our organization fulfill its mandate by providing an understanding of the benefits and liabilities of land-use, allowing users to travel back in time and forward into the future, to visualize how our actions affect the land, air, water and economy. AT currently have over 5000 registered users, and have seen an 49% increase in users in 2014 and a 20% increase this year.
A recent survey by MediaSmarts found that 85% of grade 11’s and close to 49% of grade 4’s own or have daily access to a mobile device and that the most common activity the devise was used for was playing App games. Although an already successful tool, with support from Alberta Ecotrust, AT updated and increased their capacity to handle more users by creating an App for iPhone and an App for Android. This allows them to effectively accommodate the increase in interest from schools and watershed groups. As part of this new phase, they will create and deliver expanded lesson plans that align with the province’s new “Inspiring Education” curriculum.
The development of the App and increase in server capabilities makes AT accessible to more users in more places. It allows students to connect with AT on their walk home, school field trip, or while driving to sports events. It entices more citizen scientists to become involved in monitoring and data collection. (AT stores and enables sharing of water quality and land-use observation data) By increasing the ease of use and mobility of the tool, they are able to reach more users in a more engaging way, fostering repeat usage and a stronger connection to the land. Engaging lesson plans that align with the new curriculum will make it easier for teachers to use AT in their classroom. Alberta Tomorrow will have an impact on our future as it helps Albertans, and especially our young people, visualize the future they wish to see and understand the changes and tradeoffs that may need to be made in order to have that future become a reality. Behaviours will change as a result of this greater understanding, and over time there will be a shift in expectations of Albertans, translating into better environmental stewardship.