Archived project

useITsmartly

Goal: ‘useITsmartly’ was a project funded by IEE (‘Intelligent Energy - Europe’) aiming at capacity building towards behavioural changes in the way youths use technology. The project wanted to close this gap by developing innovative solutions for capacity building in young people towards smart IT use and ideas on how to reach them with this topic.

Methods: Peer Education, Focus Group, Creativity Workshops, Process Evaluation

Date: 3 April 2013 - 2 April 2016

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Project log

Sara Heidenreich
added a research item
Peer-to-peer approaches refer to a participatory style of teaching and learning, which increasingly gain popularity as inclusive and participatory interventions to encourage changes towards more sustainable energy practices. However, this prominence has not been matched by evidence on the effectiveness of such approaches. By investigating the design and implementation of the peer-to-peer project useITsmartly, which centred on the topic of energy efficient and sustainable ICT use, this paper focuses on the effectiveness of this peer-to-peer approach as inclusive participatory intervention. Drawing on the environmental justice literature, it addresses particularly the second-level effectiveness, that is the impact peer-to-peer exercises have on the peer educators themselves in terms of capacity building and empowerment. The paper evaluates the preparation, recruitment, training and multiplication phases of the approach and concludes that it is essential to invest enough time and resources to truly recognize the peer educators and their lifestyles and practices, and enable them to participate in the peer education on their own terms. If not, lack of motivation and skills of the peer educators as well as too much focus on quantitative targets may compromise the actual purpose of the peer-to-peer approach and turn it into a top-down exercise.
Jennifer Dahmen-Adkins
added a research item
Ein breiteres Spektrum wissenschaftlicher und technologischer Kompetenzen bei jungen Menschen zu erreichen, ist eine der Herausforderungen für Europa. Im Beitrag zeigen wir anhand eines Praxisbeispiels, wie sich Schülerinnen und Schüler in fünf Ländern (Dänemark, Deutschland, Niederlande, Norwegen und Österreich) durch die Anwendung eines je länderspezifisch angepassten didaktischen Konzepts, kreativ und partizipativ mit dem Thema der energiesparenden und nachhaltigen Nutzung von Informations- und Kommunikationstechnologien auseinandergesetzt und so technologische Kompetenz erworben haben. Der Ansatz verknüpft Elemente des Peer-Trainings mit der Vehikel-Theorie, die davon ausgeht, dass das Interesse von Jugendlichen an Technik und Naturwissenschaften gesteigert werden kann, wenn die curricularen Lehrinhalte an vorhandene bestehende Interessen anknüpfen. Die Implementierung des didaktischen Konzeptes wurde auch hinsichtlich Gender- und Diversityaspekten evaluiert.
Anita Thaler
added a research item
This report provides an elaborate insight and evaluation of three years of useITsmartly activi- ties. The project’s overall aim is to engage the current energy consumption behaviours of Eu- ropean youths in five countries and to generate impact (saving of energy and greenhouse gas emissions) through an educational peer-to-peer approach. The first part analysis supporting and hindering factors of the implementation phase of the project. The evaluation team developed a tool called “country reports” to provide all participating partners with a standardized way to report and reflect on their pedagogical activities that engaged with adolescents. The five country reports for Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway will be compared and discussed. The second part then describes the estimated impact of useITsmartly and provides a quantitative assessment of the achieved energy and CO2 emission savings. Two quantitative surveys (one on user behaviour and one on the willingness to change ICT usage) and their outcomes will be combined and allow an estimated impact of the useITsmartly process. The concluding final part closes with a reflection on what activities worked well during the impact phase, how many young Europeans were reached through all the various activities and how the estimated impact of the project can be interpreted.
Jennifer Dahmen-Adkins
added 2 research items
With a social media- and peer education-approach the European project „useITsmartly“ aims at building a community of young people to not only share knowledge about energy saving, but moreover change behaviour and adopt a sustainable lifestyle. For achieving this aim, the transdiciplinary project unites educators, researchers and young people developing together innovative and target group specific communication strategies on pro-environmental behaviour exemplified by green use of ICT. Facebook and Twitter are social media which can be used classically to enhance a public understanding of science. But besides communicating ideas about energy saving behaviour and promoting a “green lifestyle” the unique possibility of social media is the connection to others. Other projects, initiatives, interest groups can be used as multiplicators, like young people, who spread posts and pictures which are relevant to them. These two media channels can use videos and pictures, and have also the possibility of adding text and explain further details or include a link to another source of information. However, knowledge is not everything. To know what is right, does not mean to act right. That is why beside Facebook and Twitter also an Instagram account has been set up for the project. This is a social media platform, where people only share, like and comment on pictures. With a hashtag (#) system like on Twitter metadata can be created on each and every photo very easily (like key words). By using hashtags the respective photo belongs to a sub-community of pictures from all over the world, which have one thing in common: the same topic (for instance #recycling). In our presentation we will present findings from our on-going project evaluation, comprising statistics from the social media channels as well discussing possibilities and limits of social media in the scope of a project like useITsmartly.
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.
Jennifer Dahmen-Adkins
added 2 research items
Teaching young people about sustainable and environmentally friendly aspects of living is one of the many important challenges in the 21st Century. The title question “Google it?! But at what price?” should not be understood solely in terms of economics, but also with regard to the costs the environment ‘pays’ for the extensive use of information and communication technologies (ICT). ICT, and especially social media, play an important role in adolescents’ lives. To ‘google’ something, or ‘youtubing’, for instance, have become a common leisure activity of young people, but how a search engine processes requests, and how much power is consumed by the data’s travel through the net, are operations that remain hidden to the person in front of the monitor. The transdisciplinary EU-funded project ‘useITsmartly’ addresses the issue of energy efficient ICT consumption via peer education. Adopting a participatory approach, its aims are capacity building and subsequent behavioural change. The paper will outline the background of the project, as well as present the results of focus group discussions and creativity workshops with young people, which have formed the methodological base for the development of a special didactical concept for ‘Green IT Peers’. This concept will be implemented in five European countries during spring and summer 2015.
In order to contribute to addressing complex real-world problems, such as widespread unemployment, global climate change, and escalating health care costs policy makers have identified forms of engaged scientific research and disciplines to be motivators of change (Gibbons et al. 2001; Bammer 2013). Scientists have more and more taken on the task of not merely researching data but additionally to apply methods of knowledge dissemination, transfer, exchange and production in order to generate a practice change and accordingly have an impact on those real-world problems. Here the EU-Project " useITsmartly " 1 connects. It aims at communicating energy efficient use of information and communication technology (ICT 2) to and with youths of 16–20 years. The project is currently funded in the Intelligent Energy Europe-Program (IEE) and its outcomes support EU energy efficiency and renewable energy policies aiming on achieving EU's 2020 targets 3 (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 underlying idea of the project is aiming at capacity building and subsequent behavioral change of young people via peer education. This paper focuses on creativity workshops with youths, which were realized in all 5 participating project countries during winter/spring 2014. For a better comprehensibility of the workshop set up and framing, first some general information on the project idea and background will be presented. The paper closes with an outlook on the next project steps and some concluding remarks. 2 Main objectives and approach of useITsmartly
Jennifer Dahmen-Adkins
added a project reference
Jennifer Dahmen-Adkins
added a project goal
‘useITsmartly’ was a project funded by IEE (‘Intelligent Energy - Europe’) aiming at capacity building towards behavioural changes in the way youths use technology. The project wanted to close this gap by developing innovative solutions for capacity building in young people towards smart IT use and ideas on how to reach them with this topic.