Citytrees Schoolyard: A marriage of information communication technologies and urban forestry to satisfy environmental education curriculum requirements in the Province of Ontario, Canada

Authors: Courtney Carrier*, Urban Forest Research & Ecological Disturbance (UFRED) Group, Ryerson University, Andrew A Millward, Urban Forest Research & Ecological Disturbance (UFRED) Group, Ryerson University, Nikesh Bhagat, Urban Forest Research & Ecological Disturbance (UFRED) Group, Ryerson University | Codetuitive
Topics: Geography Education, Environment, Human-Environment Geography
Keywords: urban forestry, Citytrees Schoolyard, environmental education, place-based education
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Marshall South, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

The Province of Ontario, in 2009, instituted an education policy framework entitled Acting Today, Shaping Tomorrow, which recommended embedding environmental curriculum in all subjects from K-12. While forward looking, secondary research and findings from semi-structured focus groups has revealed a gap exists between the intention and implementation of these recommendations. In response, we have developed Citytrees Schoolyard (CS), which is a learning management system designed to connect teachers and students with cross-curricular resources to: (1) document and map information about individual schoolyard trees, which can be added to the overall data concerning the municipal urban forest, and across many years; (2) assess characteristics of a tree's vitality and its potential care and maintenance needs; (3) calculate ecosystem benefits, such as storm water mitigation, stored carbon, and others; and, (4) participate in interactive games and quizzes designed to foster a deeper appreciation for nature in cities. In this study we report on the educational pathways to achieving each of these outcomes, which were co-designed with Ontario educators to deliver Grade 9 learning in the areas of science, math and geography. Moreover, the efficacy of CS to embrace technology, fuse it with environmental curriculum, and engage students in place-based and experiential learning is evaluated. Using surveys, structured interviews with teachers and learners, and anonymized pre- and post-classroom evaluation tools, we investigate the feasibility of CS to deliver Grade 9 curriculum learning objectives, receptiveness of teachers and students to CS as a learning tool, and information retention and contextualization by students.

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