I remember when it changed.

It was 1997 and I was having the time of life leading student field trips at the Jumpingpound Demonstration Forest. The 50 or 75 students I saw every day were distracted by a tiny little device. Do you rememberTamagotchi? They were the little key chain “pets” that kids had to “feed.” The kids were hooked. Even in our amazing location in Kananaskis Country, the excitement created by those little electronic wonders was incredible (okay, I’ll admit it – they were annoying as all get out!).

Over the past couple of months I have had the opportunity to spend time with educational leaders talking about and thinking about what it means to be a 21st century learner and what it means to help guide their learning.

At Inside Education, we strongly believe in helping young people connect with the natural world. We lead thousands of students through Alberta’s forests and wetlands every year. We also believe that learning about the science, issues, technology and careers surrounding our environment and natural resources can be achieved in all sorts of exciting ways.

We recognize that changing, adapting and diversifying the means through which we educate students and teachers is important to our audiences…and to us! We take great pride in being the “people people,” directlyconnecting with students and teachers through our youth learning summits, classroom presentations, field studies and professional development programs. This is not going to change – we will always be people people!

What you will see in the coming months is Inside Education building upon our multimedia presence. Hopefully you’ve had a chance to sample our video Field Trips, or taken some time to listen to the Voices of the Boreal in our suite of Learning Resources. We are also extremely proud of our newest multimedia, multi-perspective learning resource Energy Dialogues.

No question about it, the challenges of keeping up with technology are daunting for all of us adults. Imagine where we are today in the 15 years since those little cyberpets drove me crazy! Rather than running from the technology, by suggesting that the natural world and technology are mutually exclusive, I think we can and we should embrace the opportunities ahead.

Why not find out more about a certain species of waterfowl right as we’re looking at it?   Why not find ways to apply learning visually though capturing a video of your walk through the woods? Why not access information to find out more about the career path taken by an engineer or a forester you happen to meet?

The learning experiences are endless and unlike the OLD Steve, who demanded those damn Tamagotchis stay on the bus, Inside Education will be looking for ways to embrace the continual technological revolution WHILE learning about our environment and natural resources. We look forward to hearing from teachers and students about how we might better connect with them in reality and in virtual-ity!

Any thoughts or ideas, drop me a line!

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