Lived experience of climate change: interdisciplinary e-module development and virtual mobility
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Through collaboration between nine participating institutions, designing innovative teaching modules and a virtual learning space, this project (October 2009-April 2012) aims to create a European community of scholars, students and citizens who collectively make a major contribution to the United Nations decade on education for sustainable development.
The Lived experience of climate change: interdisciplinary e-module development and virtual mobility (LECH-e) project concerns education and lifelong learning in relation to climate change, to contribute to an informed and active European citizenry and to inform EU policy on this major challenge. Focusing on the lived experiences of climate change -- how individuals, communities and organisations conceive and respond to its perceived local impacts (e.g. extreme weather, biodiversity changes) – the project complements other work on climate change in higher education across Europe
The educational level of the project is postgraduate Masters. Key features are:
- It complements existing and proposed Masters programmes in the area, rather than creates a parallel programme.
- In addition to knowledge and understanding of the subject area, it develops through its virtual mobility component, the skill of transboundary competence – the ability to engage with others across a range of contexts and standpoints. This skill is considered to be essential for meeting the global challenge of climate change.
- The ultimate release of the educational materials as open educational resources (OER). This will allow, in addition to the consortium members, universities throughout the world to use or adapt the content (see below) within their own programmes, through their normal accreditation processes. The teaching modules can also be used flexibly by students: as available educational resources without assessment or accreditation to enhance their studies or as conventional modules with assessment and accreditation.
To achieve the project’s aims, a virtual learning space contains the educational resources and facilitates learning communities and virtual mobility across the institutions. The work focuses on four principal areas:
- A workpackage in which the consortium performed preliminary research on the detailed design plan of the content modules and their deployment. This work was completed during the first six months of the project.
- A workpackage on the collaborative content generation. Five postgraduate content deliverables have been developed:
- An introduction to climate change in the context of sustainable development (teaching module)
- Comparing the experience of climate change in the global South and North (teaching module)
- Interdisciplinary research methods for investigating the lived experience of climate change (teaching module)
- A Masters dissertation package based on the virtual learning space. This includes (i) a repository of suggested dissertation topics; (ii) hyperlinks to existing local, national and regional projects on climate change and their databases; (iii) a repository of Masters’ dissertations in the area.
- A virtual mobility package based on the virtual learning space. This comprises two forums: (i) a moderated virtual classroom for students and tutors/supervisors on any of the modules described above; (ii) a moderated stakeholders’ forum which expands access to citizens and organisations who might be the subject of dissertation projects and/or who are key policy makers/practitioners in relation to climate change. This second forum allows for a dialogue on climate change between citizens, policy makers and academia.
- A workpackage on content delivery and piloting virtual mobility. Students enrol in the virtual learning space and benefit from the educational resources, learning communities and virtual mobility offered. They are guided by institutional staff who also act as learning community moderators. This pilot started in May 2011 and currently comprises 30 students across 5 consortium members. A sixth consortium member is expected to join formally in September 2011. Most of the students are studying for credit, where each module is 4-5 ECTS.
- Dissemination and exploitation activities. Significant academic dissemination has taken place already through joint papers presented at two European conferences. In July 2011, a further joint paper will be presented at the European Distance and E-learning Network (EDEN) conference. These conference presentations have led to the publication of a joint paper in the International Journal of Technology-enhanced Learning, and an agreement to edit and produce seven papers for a special issue of the International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education. The EDEN conference paper is expected to contribute to a further special issue of The European Journal of Open, Distance and E-learning.
The pilot of the modules and virtual mobility components will end in November 2011. It will be followed by an evaluation by the students who participated and two external academic assessors which will lead to revision of the teaching modules before they are released as OER at the project end in April 2012. Collaborative research agendas and input into policy processes are planned also during the remaining life of the project. In particular, it is hoped to engage Regional Centres of Expertise, and these have been invited to the stakeholders’ forum which will start in early July 2011. This input of the project into policy is expected to contribute further to Europe’s role as a leading player in meeting the challenge of sustainable development and, in particular, climate change.
For more information visit the project website at: www.leche.open.ac.uk
Extracted from LECH-e