KidsRgreen - A web resource for children
Mamata Pandya, Centre for Environment Education, Ahmedabad

We live in the information age. The new media has revolutionized the way information is available and accessed. Increasingly, CD ROMs and the World Wide Web are becoming an important and indispensable reference resource for students and teachers. More so, they provide the opportunity to enrich textbook learning and open up windows to a larger canvas of environment.

Todey, in some parts of the world, even the definition of literacy has expanded from traditional notions of reading and writing to include ability to learn, comprelend, and interact with technology in a meaningful way. A lot of schools now have computers. Often these are seen almost as an end in themselves. They are viewed as valuable assets and are guarded as such rather than as tools to support and enable the teaching learning process. Students, and even teachers, are not allowed free access to explore and discover the potential of the tool, and resources it offers.

Teachers and schools have an important role to play in introducing students to use such technologies which offer self learning resources.

Where there is internet accessibility, the skills required go beyond that of handling the hardware, to one of managing information. There is an overload of information on the web. Teachers need to intelligently complement and supplement these new resources in transacting the curriculum. It is often difficult to identify information that is correct, relevant, current, and presented without any bias. It is important for the teacher to choose and sieve relevant information on the web and use it effectively. Utmost care is required while introducing children to resources on the web.

KidsRgreen (kRg) is an innovative and interactive environmental education web-based as well as outreach programme that harnesses new media to motivate, facilitate and support learning. It uses the strength of the World Wide Web to take children beyond classroom and textbooks and encourage independent learning, while also providing teachers and parents with a structured yet flexible educational resource.

kidsRgreen envisions the optimum use of the internet medium for disseminating information and knowledge, enhancing skills, fostering appropriate attitudes and values, and sharing action ideas and initiatives—all of which are critical and integral to Environmental Education (EE) and teaching and learning for Sustainable Development.

The programme currently consists of the website The programme is strengthened through face-to-face interactions with students and teachers, and by promoting the use of this children’s website through linkages with the print media. For example for over the past one year, there has been a monthly column in the Young World supplement of the newspaper Hindu, which links to the theme for the month on the website.

The website is a web-magazine for children of 8 years and above. It is equally a resource for teachers and parents to facilitate teaching and learning about the environment. The site is designed as an interactive e-magazine with a new issue every month. The content for the monthly issues focuses on issues of current significance and importance. Games and activities are planned so as to harness the potential of interactivity that the web medium offers, and thereby pass on messages of environmental significance.

Through its in-depth lead feature, games that are entwined with environmental messages, hands-on activity ideas that can be carried out individually or in a cooperative situation, and an environmental calendar which gives ideas to observe days of environmental significance the site encourages and fosters the spirit of enquiry and active learning.

The relevance and usefulness of such a website is reinforced in the light of India’s New Curriculum Framework and the national imperative to infuse environmental perspective to all syllabi, as well as the demand for “green” activity and project ideas. Monthly Menu
Each issue has a variety of regular features.
Spaceship Earth is the lead feature of the magazine. Each issue talks about an interesting aspect of our planet earth. Key points supported by illustrations help to explore different environments, plant and animal life, and learn about systems that support the rich life on earth.

The theme for 2008 is Climate Change. Every month introduces a different facet of the impact of Climate Change on planet Earth.

Let's Do It! gives simple do-it yourself activity ideas. Children can do them on their own, or with friends. The hands on activities can help in developing skills, as well as support and strengthen conceptual understanding.

For many children ‘games’ are a major attraction of computers. In Green Games, children can "logon" and play games that not just challenge skills and abilities but set one thinking, and convey an environmental message too.

Celebrate a Day has a calendar of environmentally significant days, giving a brief background of why the day is observed, the theme for the day, and ideas to mark the day at school, in the neighbourhood and with family and friends.

Terrific Resources for Environmental Education (TREE) reviews and suggests interesting books in Bookworm and websites in Green Links.

kRg Club is a forum where children can share poems, paintings and thoughts on environment. It is a place for children to know what others are to improve the thinking and doing environment.

Green Gifts has attractive downloadable offers. Users can select designs for Screensavers, personalized stationery like letterheads, visiting cards, and bookmarks.

kRg Goes to School
The kidsrgreen initiative includes an outreach component in the form of workshops with schools—for children and teachers. The objective of the workshops is to orient teachers to effectively using websites as resources to support curricular, co-curricular and extra curricular activities, as well as to encourage students to see how ICT can help in adding value to learning (providing easy to understand facts and information, project and activity ideas etc.), and getting their feedback on the website.

Websites are a rich educational resource. The key to using them effectively is to understand their potential as a pedagogical tool.
Developed by Rajeswari Namagiri
In early 2008 the website, was selected to be a finalist for the Stockholm Challenge Award 2008 in the category of Environment. The Stockholm Challenge is an ICT for development programme of the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Sweden. It is a pioneer among ICT awards and networking organisations showcasing best ICT examples for people and society. The Challenge is announced every two years. Great efforts are put into the search for excellent examples of information and communication technologies that show convincing benefits to people and communities, wide impact and proofs of future sustainability.

Those who entered their projects for the award had to furnish elaborate details like role of ICT in achieving organizational objectives, empowerment of target groups and identifying user needs. The project had to clearly demonstrate social impacts and sustainability. Three mandatory referees had to be nominated by each entry. The referees had to independently review the entry and confirm its accuracy and fairness.

This year the award jury studied 400 projects and selected 145 finalists, spread over the six Award categories; Culture, Economic Development, Education, Environment, Health and Public Administration. The Environment category had 22 entries, and 10 of them including kRg made it to the finals.

All the 145 finalists came together for a series of events at the Stockholm Challenge Week in May 2008, in Kista north of Stockholm city. The Event included six parallel workshops spread over the six Stockholm Challenge Award categories: Culture, Economic Development, Education, Environment, Health and Public Administration. Each workshop discussed the challenges faced, the impacts, and partnerships across disciplines in their content areas. Each workshop was facilitated by one of the internationally renowned members of the jury that had selected the finalists. The key observations and recommendations from the workshops were shared with all the participants through panel discussions on the next day.

While the existence of the ‘digital divide’ is a reality in many parts of the world, the Stockholm Event provided an opportunity to learn and share about the many innovative applications of ICT for Development in areas ranging from Health to Public Administration.

Looking ahead
The first issue of kRg was launched on 22 April 2000. The e-magazine has been regularly updated since then. Over the years new ideas, formats and updated and current contents have kept the website live and relevant.

The website is developed and maintained by the Children’s Media Unit of CEE. Feedback on the site, (especially sharing of experiences in using the site as an educational resource) as well as enquiries for kRg workshops are welcome.

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