How Tech is Building Student Interest in the Environment

It may seem strange to think that technology, which at its very basis ties us indoors, is actually playing a pivotal role in building interest in the natural world for many students. For educators, it provides a unique opportunity to get students interested in the environment early on.

Technological developments have enabled students to model and understand complex ecosystem processes. Online mapping has allowed for visualization of concepts and problems. And online games have helped students fully comprehend the long-term effects of our day to day actions upon our natural area and the world in general.

Visualizing Concepts

One of the most impressive ways in which technology has helped educators teach environmental concepts is through advanced computer based mapping. Many of these colorful maps help students visualize concepts and put context behind ideas that tend to be abstract otherwise. Advancements in the mapping technology have even made it possible to monitor changes visually over time.

Outside of learning about the natural world through computer based mapping, there are tons of opportunities to make mapping a career. The geographic mapping field is growing profoundly, which offers many differing career avenues for students interested both in technology and the natural world. Designing interactive maps is just the beginning.

Understanding Long-Term Impacts

Perhaps one of the most fun ways to teach students about the natural world is through online games that are designed to cover the topic. Some of the most impressive of these types of games are those that put students into a leadership role as they work through a number of different life-like scenarios. Students have the opportunity to make the choices based on what they think is best and then watch them play out.

Additionally, teachers are able to watch the progress of each different student as they move through scenarios. This can provide a fantastic way in which to understand where large groups of students are struggling and make that the focus of a class discussion. It can also help identify where individual students might need more of an explanation.

Modeling Complex Ecosystems

Similar to online educational games that teach about the environment, technological models can also be a fun and interactive way in which to educate students. And they can help drive home the more complex aspects that are difficult to understand without actually seeing them. For instance, watching soil erosion happen over time through a model is much more effective than simply talking about it.

In many classrooms across the country, going outdoors to teach a lesson is unfeasible and frequently not the educational experience desired by teachers in the first place. Models and other technology can make it possible for those concepts to still be a part of the classroom. For some students, these models may be their first exposure to the natural world at all.


Although many don’t make a strong connection between technology and the environment, the two go hand in hand. Technology has made it possible for many students that wouldn’t otherwise experience the natural world to do so. It has also made it easier for educators to explain complex topics in a way that students understand and internalize more efficiently. Visual maps, online games, and tech-based models are great classroom tools for building interest in the environment.


About the author

Fractus guest post by Brittni Brown. Brittni is a recent graduate of The College of Idaho. In her free time she enjoys reading, trivia, and a variety of outdoor activities.


Feature image courtesy of Flickr, eflon.

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