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Content archived on 2024-05-24

Social Learning on Environmental issues with the Interactive Information and Communication Technologies


Good communications between public authorities, private sector firms and citizens can enhance understanding and trust, which are essential ingredients for mobilising citizens' efforts in situations of emergency (e.g. contamination crises) and wider environmental governance. ViRTU@LiS aims to create learning tools for improving citizens' awareness of environmental management and risks. The project will develop computer-based learning tools, exploiting state-of-the-art ICT that organise current scientific knowledge about selected environmental domains for non-scientific audiences.

With interactive virtual/augmented realities it is hoped that users can:
1) gauge how their personal way of living impacts on the environmental feature or resource in question;
2) explore alternative possibilities for social and economic changes towards sustainability.

ViRTU@LiS will develop computer-based learning tools, exploiting state-of-the-art ICT, that organise current scientific knowledge about environmental management challenges and risks to non-scientific audiences. The tools will show the links between individual lifestyles, governance and larger-scale sustainable futures. The four domains selected are agricultural pollution, climate change, aquifer water resources and marine capture fisheries.

These goals will be achieved for the selected domains by developing four types of ICT tools, namely:
1) Personal Barometers, allowing quantification of environmental impacts of individual lifestyles;
2) Scenario Generators, exploring changes in patterns of economic activity towards sustainable resource use;
3) Virtual Visits including Virtual Libraries within larger Virtual/Augmented Reality;
4) Multi-player Games about problems of governance and resource access.

The prototypes will support free-access citizens learning and commercialisation perspectives, tested for scientific quality and user effectiveness.

Work description:
The ViRTU@LiS project brings together a consortium of specialists in information technology, sustainable development, environmental modelling, public policy and governance, learning psychology and open learning, to develop computer-based learning tools on ecosystems and natural resources. The four domains are agricultural pollution, climate change, aquifer water resources and marine capture fisheries. Four types of ICT tool (listed above) will be developed using emerging ICT capacities, user-friendly interfaces and virtual worlds will allow structured learning about personal and aggregate societal impacts on environmental resources, and will link the user to simulation models, videos, on-line data bases. The suite of ICT tools will be validated scientifically by Knowledge Quality Assessments, tuned for use in a variety of classroom and open learning modes and the context of participatory policy processes, and delivered in formats that can rapidly be diffused as public good or commercialised products.

A further outcome will be guidelines and demonstrations concerning new prospects of ICT to enhance researchers' own enquiry capacities and to enhance the effectiveness of communication to non-specialist audiences of scientific modelling results, and uncertainties, on complex high stakes environmental issues.

Month 12: Completion of prototypes (barometer, scenario generator, virtual visit, multi-player game) in four domains (agriculture, climate, fisheries, water);
Month 24: Completion of testing and "tuning" of prototypes for learning and policy contexts;
Month 30: Diffusion of "tuned" products via internet, CD ROMs, reports & workshops. Definition of commercialisation prospects.

Call for proposal

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EU contribution
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Participants (10)