Let me start by explaining what Ecoed actually is. Founded by Maria Soledad Riestra, Ecoed Game is an app game designed to educate and influence behaviour changes with a focus on four key environmental issues, energy, water, waste, health and wellbeing. It is one of the tools that consultancy Ecoed Life uses in their mission to bring an “Ecoed culture” alive; to open up the possibility for individuals, families and organisations to engage in taking action to tackle some of the biggest challenges of our times, by changing our own daily choices and habits.
Examples of behavioural change that could be incorporated into our daily routine more effectively include using reusable coffee mugs instead of disposable ones, cycling more, generally using less plastic and non-renewable energy sources. Most of us already know about these and many similar related environmental issues, but don’t necessarily change our habits; “old habits die hard”. The app is designed to remind people and improve environmentally sustainable behaviour. Sometimes the users will also learn new information, so the app is designed to both educate and reminding people of what they already know.
How the App works:
So the app is like a game, you can play against friends or people you don’t know, or play groups against other groups. The idea is to score the most points.
The questions are based on the four key categories, energy, water, waste, health and wellbeing with a time limit to each question. You can provide feedback into the app by suggesting your own questions!
You keep answering questions until you get it wrong and then play moves to your opponent, play carries on between you until the game is over and you get a winner.
You can also make a pledge of something good you are going to do, e.g. use less plastic bags or cycle more. If you are successful with your pledge you can get more points, the idea being that points generation makes you feel good.
I first got involved with Ecoed through Carolina Karlstrom (UK associate of Ecoed). Carolina and I first met via LinkedIn as we are both interested in reducing traffic through increasing cycling. She also posted about the Ecoed app on LinkedIn. I thought it would be interesting for our students at Cranfield, so suggested we get together and explore possibilities.
With the help of Carolina and Maria, we ran a workshop targeting the Environmental Engineering MSc, Environmental Management for Business MSc and Management and Corporate Sustainability MSc students during induction week The Ecoed workshop lasted one afternoon, with the intension of educating students while giving them a chance to interact and meet each other at an early stage in their course.
As course director for Environmental Engineering MSc our students looked at the app in terms of environmental protection. The course attract students interested in protecting the environment using engineering principles, such as reducing atmospheric pollution, emissions, reducing waste etc. The app tackles environmental protection from a slightly different angle as it’s approaching the person before environmental degradation occurs with the hope that we can reduce our impact on the environment.
The Management and Corporate Sustainability MSc students looked at the app from the point of view of changing people’s behaviour for marketing purposes, for example you can tweak someone’s behaviour in a supermarket, so you can get them to buy your product. In this case it’s changing people’s behaviour so they are more environmentally aware.
In regards to the Environmental Management for Business MScstudents, it was also about raising awareness and influencing behaviour, with the emphasis on the behaviour of people within organisations to achieve corporate sustainability goals. A successful environmental management system needs to have buy-in from all levels of an organisation.
All the students had the app loaded onto their phones and got a chance to play. Maria and Carolina offered prizes, the students had a time limit and the person with the highest score after the time limit won a prize. So they all engaged and some of the students achieved massively high scores, they must have been on it all day and night!
The students seemed to like this workshop and the app; having three courses thrown together allowed the students to interact with those outside of their course. Students gained an insight as to how app development may be used to affect people’s behaviour. The app also accumulates anonymous data about people’s behaviour so it can help look at different groups of people and their knowledge and can give insight into how to address sustainability for each individual group.
Having this workshop could lead to some of the students during their group or individual project collaborating with Ecoed, and all being well if Carolina and Maria are up for it we’ll run the workshop again next year.