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Education for sustainability: opportunities and challenges for online and distance education Presenters: Rick Fisher & Allan Smee Open Polytechnic of New.

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Presentation on theme: "Education for sustainability: opportunities and challenges for online and distance education Presenters: Rick Fisher & Allan Smee Open Polytechnic of New."— Presentation transcript:

1 Education for sustainability: opportunities and challenges for online and distance education Presenters: Rick Fisher & Allan Smee Open Polytechnic of New Zealand

2 About the presenters Rick - environmental sciences (teaching, research, practice) - environmental lawyer - recent graduate: Open Polytechnic Certificate in Designing & Facilitating E-Learning Allan - E-learning advisor

3 Objectives To provide a context for online education in a “cleaner, greener” teaching environment To point out the special nexus that exists between EfS and traditional distance education To provide an opportunity to explore new e-learning technologies which may be helpful to EfS at various teaching levels


5 About The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand 30,000 full/part-time students 130 programmes/1500 courses offered by three schools – certificate to degree Delivery primarily via distance education Some blended delivery Growing role for e-learning

6 Key definitions: Education for sustainability: “A multidisciplinary approach to learning that develops the knowledge, awareness, attitudes, values and skills that will enable individuals and the community towards maintaining and improving the quality of the environment” (MfEnvt 1996) Traditional distance education: “Geographical separation of teacher and learner, where the gap is bridged by posted course materials, and some form of communication, whether by letter or telephone” (Peters, 2009) E-learning: Learning that is facilitated by the use of digital tools and content, typically involving some kind of interactivity between learners and their teacher or peers (MoEd 2004)

7 Out with the old….

8 In with the new…

9 Is distance education greener? Open University (UK) carbon calculation study: Travel and classrooms are the biggest sources of carbon consumption Distance learning courses led to a whopping 87% less energy and 85% lower CO2 emissions than full-time, face- to-face, campus-based courses Within that overall saving, on-line courses showed a fairly minor 20% reduction in energy and 12% reduction in CO2 emissions when compared to print-based courses FOR MORE INFO... Roy, R. & Potter, S. (2008). Int J Sust Higher Ed 9:116-130


11 Key steps before claiming green legitimacy in education delivery An environmental policy Support for the policy by senior management An environmental audit Consultation with stakeholders Action Modelling sustainability in operations and curriculum Result: a framework for legitimacy

12 Anywhere, anytime



15 ….and anyone

16 The goals of EfS To inform across age/culture/geography To reach out/gain critical mass To empower To facilitate transformative learning Isn’t this what DE already does?

17 Shared characteristics: EfS and DE Neither require a computer Both attempt to reach geographically isolated students & disadvantaged/marginalised students Underlying learning pedagogies are similar: -both emphasise vocational education outcomes -both cater to the needs of adult learners -both promote transformative learning -both promote learning that is internally motivated -both promote learning that is self-directed, with enhanced personal meaning FOR MORE INFO... Fisher, R.M. (2008). New Zealand Ann. Rev. Ed. 18:31-46.

18 Where does e-learning fit? Key e-learning teaching pedagogies: Acknowledge different learning styles Develop online programs to enable any-time and any-place learning Encourage active learning Develop online content within a relevant context Allow for repeated (formative) self-assessment

19 Good things about e-learning and EfS Delivery: anything that cuts down transportation costs is good Delivery: communities of (local) learners are possible, with local wisdom Niche education is possible Pedagogy: e-learning promotes many of the same attributes as DE

20 A few problems… E-learning isn’t primarily for distance education E-learning requires a computer or similar device(and usually online access) There is no national e-learning strategy E-learning (in the context of EfS) gets little attention in tertiary education strategy E-technologies may not be overly green

21 Nonetheless…. E-learning has an important role to play in education.

22 E-learning Advantages over Traditional Distance Education Collaboration “Digital communications technologies have fractured the tyranny of distance beyond repair” Wheeler S.(2009) – Increases the ability of the learning to communicate with their peers, lecturer/s and wider community Students are able to contributed ideas, concepts and examples from their on experiences via –Blogs – online journals –Wikis – online collaborative knowledge bases –Podcasting- online audio presentations and receive timely feedback from peers and lecturer/s Use of real-time /online data –Data sharing Google Maps and Google Earth - which allow organisation map environmental impacts etc –Simulations View the cause and effective of different choices –Problem Based Learning Developed potentials solutions to problem and review the impact of there choices. FOR MORE INFO... Wheeler, S. (2009) Digital Tribes and Virtual Clans in Wheeler (Ed) Connected Minds and Emerging Cultures pp65-79 Charlotte :USA Information Age Publishing

23 Flexibility of Delivery Delivery of content isn’t restricted to one media –Web based –CD ROM or USB Drive –Mobile Phones, Smart Phones, PDA –Gaming Platforms i.e. Play station, X Box and Wii’s –and even printed based Content can developed to be delivery format free. –Delivery method is up to the end user.

24 Reducing the impact Reuse content –Content developed as Reusable Learning Objects (RLOs ) can be share across the Learning community Why reinvent the wheel FOR MORE INFO... See Merlot ( a collection of online learning materials that can incorporated in

25 Developed and use Green IT practices in your E-Learning. –Promote “Green IT” practices to learners Turn off computers when not in use –Use Green Data Centres Google - Reducing the impact

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