Switched on Schools
- Australian Youth Climate Coalition
The Australian Youth Climate Coalition engages high school students with climate change through in-school presentations and youth climate summits. While the program was effective, the question remained – how do you keep students engaged with advocacy issue outside of school hours? Identifying this gap, we created www.switchedonschools.org.au – an online space allowing students to build and manage their own advocacy campaigns. Students can create petitions, collect signatures, find resources and learn from other successful projects.
Having both a high level of functionality and a clear design aesthetic has been integral to the success of the site. The content needs to be appealing to both teachers and students without being patronising or dull. Using a clear colour pallet and identity has helped to define which resources are
developed for students and which are intended for teachers. Accessibility has also been a key consideration when developing the project – the site is designed to be highly functional on as many different devices as possible.
Since launching the site, students from over 50 different schools across Australia have started campaigns using switched on schools, and over 8,000 people have visited the site. While meeting these metrics is important, the project has also benefitted the program in unexpected ways. For example,
collecting data through the has also helped influence the offline program content – giving school presenters a better idea of the type of advocacy students are responding to. The site has also aided in communicating the passion and enthusiasm young people have in tackling climate change, challenging preconceptions that students are apathetic to environmental issues.
Since launching in late July, hundreds of students have created and engaged in campaigns using switched on schools, collecting thousands of signatures. While many of the campaign goals are small (such as starting a recycling program at your high school) the true value comes from the ownership and autonomy each student has over their campaign. The site allows students to post updates about their campaign, sharing their successes with the broader community.
Switched on Schools is unique in that it combines traditional face-to-face teaching directly with an online platform. While other petition sites exist, Switched on Schools is the first to focus on environmental advocacy by young Australians. One of the main challenges in creating the Switched
on Schools site has been staying relevant in an already saturated digital space. We’ve addressed this by providing different pathways for different students – Highly engaged students can create and promote their own campaigns while less experienced students could choose to use petition templates with resources outlining the theory of change behind them.