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Promoting Sustainability Through Immersive Learning with ThingLink

Andreas Fischer

The world faces numerous sustainability-related challenges, threatening the future of our planet. Those issues are often hard to grasp without direct exposure to their consequences or impacts. How can students most effectively comprehend the ramifications of these matters in locations beyond their own? ThingLink offers an opportunity to educators to promote sustainability through immersive learning in digital environments that represent experiences and challenges people confront on a global scale.

Andreas Fischer pursued his Master’s in Pedagogy and Teaching for Sustainability at the University of Eastern Finland, where he first learned about ThingLink. The platform was used to conclude a research module in an interactive format. Captivated by the engaging interface, he quickly began creating pedagogical content and course assignments with his classmates to discuss various sustainability-related topics, such as the environmental impacts of EV-vehicle production.

Meet Andreas, ThingLink Success Manager for Germany

Andreas excels in fostering customer relationships and guiding them towards success. Located in both Finland and Germany.

As part of a traineeship at the university’s escape room facilities (Sm4rt LOC), Andreas further expanded his skillset with the platform by enhancing course infographics designed on Canva through the integration of vibrant icons and pop-up windows using ThingLink. Together with his supervisor, he also held a workshop about escape room pedagogy and the value this technique entails to education at the Sustainable Science Days (SSD) conference in Helsinki last year. ThingLink was the ideal platform to transfer the physically introduced escape room version into a digital use case while enhancing the learning experience and interface as well as storing the activity for future sessions.

Context Immersion

Digital tools have distinguished potential to support students in growing a profound understanding of different contexts through immersive experiences that represent real-world scenarios. One key objective of sustainability education is to promote a vast set of competences touching upon aspects, such as global understanding, systems thinking and collaborative action. With ThingLink, educators can facilitate the growth of numerous competences in learners and widen their worldview by generating virtual 360° environments using panorama images designed to illustrate sustainability challenges people face around the globe. Within those digital worlds, students have the possibility to freely explore and discuss impressions.

Widen Perspectives

One glove doesn’t fit everyone! With teaching experience at multiple international schools, Andreas realized the need for educational tools to globally connect learners on accessible platforms and allow them to share their immediate knowledge from local settings. ThingLink helps to transfer real-world impressions into digital environments where learners and educators can effortlessly embed information to articulate experiences. This makes different sustainability challenges more graspable and facilitates a profound understanding of individual needs. Students build concrete knowledge around challenges to weigh feasible solutions and sympathize with locals through the immersion into digital environments simulating real-world examples. ThingLink, as a digital space, bridges the gap between learners on a global scale and helps showcase the complexity of sustainability matters and their root causes.

Systematic Thinking

Sustainability education encourages growing an understanding of factors that drive and impact the global system. In other words, knowing the extent of primary pillars, like the economy, and how these interact with each other positively or negatively. With Thinglink, educators can create digital scenarios to allow learners to enter various worlds (environment) and learn about local contexts (economy) while working with others (society) and benefiting from the exchange of perspectives (culture and heritage). This advances global consciousness and builds a comprehension of different circumstances which define sustainability matters. Additional applications, such as the AR-function, amplifies experiences further, merging digital and physical worlds.

Promote Sustainability Education Using Gamification 

Gamification is a pedagogical method that shows strong evidence in supporting learning holistically through engaging and vibrant material in fun-packed individual or social experiences. Learning processes are often not directly perceived by the students but become most evident in the reflection phase. A popular application of gamification in education is through escape rooms, with ThingLink being an excellent platform to create virtual versions and provide access to implement a broad range of riddles and digital tools. A gamified approach to complex topics, such as embodied in the sustainability concept, supports students’ process impressions suitable to their age and learning stage as well as fosters a seamless development of competences.

Valuable Opportunities Andreas Found with ThingLink

  • Immersive and captivating learning experiences.
  • Generate subject-oriented digital environments while accommodating learner specifics.
  • Transfer and storage of physical activities (e.g., escape rooms) into digital versions.
  • Create global connections and exchange perspectives.
  • Project/material longevity and ease to modify.
  • Embed multiple websites and online tools in one engaging environment.
  • Amplify user experience through VR, XR and AR applications

Closing Thoughts

Sustainability comprises multiple aspects which challenge educators to tangibly compact and deliver the concept into a learning environment. In Andreas’s opinion, ThingLink offers a unique escape route to support this process with its versatile interface and possibility for context immersion. The platform provides worlds for students to connect, collaborate and sympathize to fight for a better future.

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