Environmental education is often a complex topic, being complicated for people with learning problems, language barriers, usually people facing socio-economic difficulties to follow. Serious games are great tools to engage those groups. Edutainment can be non-verbal, learning outcomes can be presented in entertaining micro-lessons, which help people to stay interested in the topic. Through the game we want to create an inclusive environment that fosters learning on green topics in equity, responsive to the needs of the wider community.
Regarding Eurostats, Europeans spend most of their available income on Food and restaurants (21,8%), furnishing (5,5%) and clothing (4,8%). Instead of abstract science, CoCo will focus on creating game micro-exercises, addressing the everyday activities of the learners and providing them with alternatives (e.g. cloth swapping, urban gardening, re-use, upcycling), which are easy and creative to be replicated, save costs and help to create a more sustainable, circular Europe. In this way CoCowants to promote social inclusion and is aiming to create outreach to people with fewer opportunities, but at the same time being open to all citizens.
The CoCo partnership is based on an initial need-assessment, which explored the needs to teach concepts of more conscious consumption. The needs assessment was focused on our two main target groups: Adult educators, working in formal and informal training, especially in socio-economic disadvantaged areas. Adult citizens from this areas, who are mostly not yet involved in regular education Additionally the partners talked to stakeholders and researched EU and national documents. There are two sets of need groups CoCo wants to address: Needs on digitalisation Need on information on consumption patterns Both sets also address needs connected to lowering barriers towards access of education and information, enabling critical thinking and active citizenship and addressing the validation of new skills. A 2018 OECD study found less than 40% of educators felt ready to use digital technologies in teaching. In our own assessment this was reflected among facilitators working with migrants and low-income adults. A blended serious game is an easy and comfortable tool, to create a meaningful digital lesson around. Thus, accompany the game with a facilitators guide, helping to create content. The knowledge vault serves as an additional source of inspiration. Learning on Consumption Over the last decades, rising has increased pressure on the environment.
The DG Justice and Consumers commissioned an EU wide behavioural study to look into the consumer angle. All strands of research found that consumers were generally willing to engage in green practices. But actual engagement was rather low. While a majority repair products (64%), a substantial share have no experience renting/leasing or buying second hand products (~90%). A reason is the consumers lack of information, awareness and experience. Depending on the partner country, the knowledge of educators on the topics varies. In Finland XAMK reported that green approaches are part of the everyday work, Otwarty Plan and ELA draw an opposite picture from Poland and Italy. The adult learners are not aware of the financial, ecological and quality benefits of sustainable consumption. In many cases social status is defined by having the newest products and sustainable consumption is linked to poverty or as complicated, academic enforced measures. Presenting ideas which are easy to implement in everyday life, without changing overall life patterns are appealing.
Information like the optimal lifetime and durability, the easy repair, and recycling of products and understanding to share will help to change this perspective. Raising awareness that consumption can connect economic, personal and environmental gains will enforce behavioral change.
CoCo is seeking to create behavioral change of European citizens towards more conscious and green consumption patterns. This line with EU consumer policy revision by the Commission, which is working to strengthen the role of consumers in the green transition. The initiative will aim to ensure trustworthy information on products, and to strengthen consumer protection against commercial practices as greenwashing and premature obsolescence. The game CoCo will prepare and the learning tools will relate to these aims by integrating information on three of the most consumed product groups and raising awareness of what those malpractices mean for citizens. By teaching a more circular and resource efficient consumption, we tend as well to contribute to the EU Circular Economy Action Plan, providing transparent information, helping especially socio-economic disadvantaged learners to easily access ideas, tools and practices and help them to make informed decisions as active citizens. CoCo will seek to become upon compilation a part of the Education for Climate Coalition and will integrate the pledges on green skills development, teacher training, promoting behaviour change, linking education and science and collective awareness raising into its work plan. This will be in line not just with the Education Area 2025, but as well with the European Green Deal and the European Climate Pact.
Working on the topic on conscious consumption, will advance the learners in competences such as environmental, financial and critical thinking skills. This is supporting the ECs Skills Agenda and the recommendation on key competences for lifelong learning. The game but as well the online platform aims to increase the digital capacity and readiness of adult education institutions and learners to shift towards digital education on green topics. We seek to increase the digital skills and expertise to use gamification for teachers and learners, by creating genuine innovative digital education content and improving the competences of adult educators, providers and learners. This will be supported by the knowledge vaults, which will collect digital tools, methods and exercises to teach in an creative way on the topic but as well the facilitators guide, which will help to embed the game in learning context. The role of game will be enhanced by co-creation and peer-review processes during the project cycle, helping to suit the game to the needs of the educators but even more to respond to the needs of socio-economic disadvantaged communities in the participating countries, across Europe.