Newsletter - October 2003Welcome to the final edition for 2003. As we prepare for the conference in Adelaide it is timely to hear from the winners of last year's ascilite award, Teaching and Learning for a Sustainable Future. The multimedia teacher education program was commissioned by UNESCO and developed by a team from the Australian School of Environmental Studies and Flexible Learning && Access Services at Griffith University.
The ascilite newsletter is produced three times a year and we welcome suggestions for themes and lead articles from our readers. Please send these to any of the editors.
Editor for this edition: Gerry Lefoe
Editorial team: Cathy Gunn, Gerry Lefoe, Meg O'Reilly, Russ Pennell
Web Editor: NetSpot
Teaching and Learning for a Sustainable Future
What's interesting on the ascilite website?
What's interesting elsewhere?
Teaching and Learning for a Sustainable FutureRegina Obexer
Flexible Learning && Access Services, Griffith University
University of Cape Town
There are over 60 million teachers in the world. Each one is a key agent for bringing about the changes in values and lifestyles we need for a sustainable future. For this reason, innovative teacher education is an important part of educating for a sustainable future. (Introduction to Teaching and Learning for a Sustainable Future)
Teaching and Learning for a Sustainable Future is a multimedia teacher education program commissioned by UNESCO and developed by a team from the Australian School of Environmental Studies and Flexible Learning && Access Services at Griffith University. It contains more than 100 hours of professional development activities and content, and can be used in pre-service teacher training as well as in in-service training for teachers, curriculum developers, education policy makers, and authors of educational resources.
The main objective of the program is to develop an understanding and awareness of sustainable futures and the need to integrate this into the school curriculum. The program conveys a new vision of education that enables students to think differently about topics like poverty, wasteful consumption, environmental degradation, population, health, conflict, human rights and others, and helps them understand these as complex and interrelated issues that influence our future.
Teaching and Learning for a Sustainable Future contains a variety of teaching and learning resources to help teachers design and develop learning activities to empower their students to create their own vision of a sustainable future. In 25 modules, teachers can learn about the rationale behind the vision proposed, different ways of integrating this vision across all areas of the curriculum, examples of teaching interdisciplinary themes, learner-centred teaching and learning strategies that can be used in the classroom, and outcomes based assessment.
Figure 1: Example of a topic in Teaching and Learning for a Sustainable Future
Based on the three principles of academic rigour, experiential learning and reflection, the multimedia program offers numerous Internet sites to provide multiple perspectives, opportunities to analyse and process information in a variety of forms, and a Learning journal for every module, encouraging professional reflection.
A very important secondary focus of Teaching and Learning for a Sustainable Future is to enhance skills in computer literacy and multimedia education and to encourage wider awareness of the potential of multimedia-based approaches to education and professional development.
Design principles for the program
Some of the challenges in developing this program were the need for it to be flexible in its delivery and for it to be relevant for diverse audiences with differing cultural backgrounds, levels of computer literacy and English capacity. To facilitate these things key design features of the program include
- simplicity of design and ease of use
- a range of activities and learning styles
- a choice of topics
- simple and jargon-free instructions on how to use the program
- advice on how to adapt the program to specific needs.
For the program to be successful, it is imperative that it is fully accessible with minimal technical requirements, and that using the program requires little prior knowledge or computer skills. Both aspects were taken into consideration during the design of the program. In addition to that, the program can also be adapted to different cultural contexts and can be translated into different languages. A toolbox with guidelines on how to go about an adaptation facilitates the wider use of the program.
Since the launch of Teaching and Learning for a Sustainable Future, it has been adapted for several regions, including South Africa and Kyrgyzstan (see figure 2)
Figure 2: Website adapted for Kyrgyzstan
Teaching and Learning for a Sustainable Future can be used by teachers independently, by small study groups, or as part of larger programs.
Feedback from users includes the following comments:
Very timely. It is highly informative and richly referenced. It is also user-friendly and instructions are clear. Hence, there was no difficulty in using and learning from the package. It combines graphics, sound and text, with good web connections. A good learning experience. India.
The programme developed innovative educational approaches in support of sustainable development by enabling teachers to learn more about holistic, interdisciplinary approaches and acquire new professional skills, especially in using multimedia resources. As schoolteachers we can say that this programme is very valuable and complete. We discovered a lot of innovations, new teaching methods and new methods of presenting information that were not known to us before. Uzbekistan.
Teaching and Learning for a Sustainable Future won the Ascilite Award 2003 for best software project and is also the recipient of the prestigious 2002 Allen Strom Eureka Prize for Environmental Education from the Australian Museum.
The program is available as both a multimedia CDROM and website at http://www.unesco.org/education/tlsf.
What's interesting on the ascilite website?Ascilite awards are designed to reward leaders in the use of electronic technologies in teaching and learning in tertiary education. Each year at the ascilite conference these awards recognise exemplary product design and development in this area. The awards site provides an overview of past winners and entries.
What's interesting elsewhere?From the Internet Resources Newsletter, Pinakes is a subject gateway site hosted by Heriot-Watt University that provides access to over 50 subject gateways, including those with a disciplinary and an interdisciplinary focus. http://www.hw.ac.uk/libwww/irn/pinakes/pinakes.html
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