WERA SES 01 D, The Global Knowledge Market and Education
The Young Masters Program (YMP) online about sustainable development and preventive environmental management strategies has reached out to more than 10 000 students in 120 countries since 1999, when the International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics (IIIEE) atLundUniversitystarted the education for young students between 14 and 18 years (Nordén, 2005a; Nordén, 2005b). Youth from different countries and cultures are working with a common content interactively and problem-oriented in an extended classroom (Hansson and Nordén, 2005). The YMP course is free of charge and supervised by the IIIEE.
The teenagers work in interactions across the globe to learn about sustainable development through exploring a learning environment with new ICT-mediated ways of communication including global interaction with ideas and descriptions, and a transdisciplinary approach focusing on social, economic and ecological dimensions of the students’ daily lives (Laurillard, 2002; Nordén, 2006).
Focus is in particular on the ways in which the meeting between the course content, the intercultural discussions and the students’ own life-experiences constitute a context for knowledge formation, with emphasis on the extended classroom that is supported by the course. The context of learning is particularly interesting in the diverse situations that distance learners are in and the diversity that the course itself incorporates.
The purpose of this research, using a phenomenographic approach (Marton, 1981; Marton & Booth, 1997), is to analyze and describe the ways in which these students have experienced their learning process in the field of sustainable development within the YMP. The data are collected from the students’ assignments and follow-up discussions where they reflect on the assignments in the course’s online meeting place. There are also data collected from the questionnaire about the students’ learning process. This material from the first part of the YMP online autumn of 2005 was analyzed (Marton and Booth, 1997; Booth and Hultén, 2003).
Different conceptions and differentmeanings of what are apparently similar concepts have to become the object of reflection, and this gives rise to knowledge formation (Pierce, 1934; Bateson, 1972; Hansson, 2000; Hansson, 2004).
In the YMP its value in linking distant partners internationally for information sharing, awareness raising and knowledge formation activities is shown. The varying meetings encourage the youth to reflect more on attitudes, to realize how their own actions and the actions of other people affect the environment. In front of all the students are young people meeting one another as young people do, living in a single world of youth with environmental, social and economic challenges; besides that they are meeting in the course, around the common issues concerning sustainable development as it is problemized in the course; and finally they are meeting as representatives of different cultures with different assumptions and values (Hansson & Nordén, 2005).
Ally, M. (2004). Foundations of educational theory for online learning. In: Theory and Practice of Online Learning. Athabasca University. Retrieved September 10, 2006, from http://cde.athabascau.ca/online_book/ch1.html Bateson, G. (1972) Steps to an ecology of mind. St Albans: Paladin Fromore Booth, S. & Hultén, M. (2003). Opening dimensions of variation: An empirical study of learning. Instructional Science 31:65 -86. Gough, N. (1987). Learning with environments: Towards an ecological paradigm for education. In Robottom, I. (ed) Environmental Education: Practice and possibility. Deakin: Deakin University Hansson, B. (2000). Förutsättningar för gymnasielevers kunskapsbildning och för undervisning inom miljöområdet. Dissertation. Lund: Department of Education, University of Lund Hansson, B. (2004). Formation of environmental knowledge. In Wickenberg, P. et al (eds)(2004) Learning to change our world. Lund: Studentlitteratur Hansson, B. & Nordén, B. (2005). Building an extended community for sustainable development. Paper at 3rd World Environmental Educator Congress, Turin, Italy, October 2-6, 2005 Laurillard, D. (2002). Rethinking University Teaching : a framework for the effective use of educational technology. London: Routledge Marton , F.(1981). Phenomenography - describing conceptions of the world around us. Instructional Science 10: 177-200. Marton, F., Hounsell, D. & Entwistle, N. (1997) The Experience of Learning (2nd edn.). Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press. Marton, F. & Booth, S. (1997). Learning and awareness. Mahwah, NJ: LEA Moore, J. (2005). Barriers and pathways to creating sustainability education programs: policy, rhetoric and reality. Environmental Education Research. Vol 11, No 5, 537-555. Nordén, B. (2005a). Young Masters Program - Learning in the ICT-extended University. Paper at Committing Universities to Sustainable Development Conference on the International Launch in Higher Education, Graz, Austria, April 20-23, 2005 Nordén, B. (2006). Online learning: Analysis of experiences of youth education for Sustainable Development. Paper at International Conference on Distance Education 2006, Sultan Qaboos University, Sultanate of Oman, March 27–29, 2006 Nordén, B. & Hansson, B. (2006a). Meeting over cultural boundaries: networked learning for sustainable development. Paper at Networked learning 2006 – Fifth International Conference, Lancaster University, UK, April 10–12, 2006 Peirce, C. S. (1934). Collected Papers V of Charles Sanders Peirce . Vol 5 Pragmatism and Pragmaticism, edited by Charles Hartshorne and Paul Weiss. Cambridge: Harward University Press Wals, A.E.J. & Jickling, B. (2002). “Sustainability” in higher education: from doublethink and newspeak to critical thinking and meaningful learning. Higher Education Policy 15 (2002) 121 - 131.
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