It is getting to the height of the summer here in
All of this accords with the theme of what I wanted to comment on in this contribution to the blog, namely the issue of our responsibilities in distance and e-learning towards sustainability.
I was very stimulated in this by a workshop we held at the Open University on sustainability and the curriculum. We had excellent contributions from Stephen Gough of the
We learned from our speakers that there are two strands to the consideration of sustainability in education: firstly there is the strand that is concerned with process, and with which we are more familiar. That is to say, the consumption of non-sustainable resources that we use to maintain our systems. For example, can we say that in distance and e-learning we use less non-sustainable resources because our students do not need a campus, do not have ‘two homes’ such as residential accommodation as well as a domestic home, do not travel to the campus etc. How would all this stack up against the use of computers on which we major in our field? And however it stacks up, how do we reduce the use of such resources in our field, and what targets should we set?
Over and above this, we need to consider the curriculum dimension. First of all, what elements of explicit curriculum can we create and maintain to ensure that graduates from universities and colleges in the field of sustainability will be able to help advise and manage for the future. More challengingly, what areas of curriculum outside the obvious ones such as environmental studies should reflect sustainability issues? The answers were much wider than many of us had considered. It must include all the applied sciences and technologies, management, many of the professions such as teaching, social work, and nursing. It is easier in fact to ask the question as to which areas of curriculum should not embrace issues of sustainability. And last of course how do we ensure that our students leave our institutions equipped to manage these issues in the range of places that they are going to live and work in.
So all in all a fascinating introduction to these issues for us, and which left many colleagues across the faculties who were not familiar with them with a lot to think about.
The campus at the OU is emptying now for the summer holidays, which means that the volume of email is declining. Very welcome! I have started to use Twitter, really to see what happens when you do. You can follow me, if you want, @AlanTait on http://twitter.com/ I am following a number of interesting individuals in our field, who also tweet, as the verb has become. I think learners could develop communities, for quite short periods which might be very supportive to them. See what you think. In the meantime, here I am ready for a summer holiday. All best wishes.