Event Title

Engaging Students in Sustainability Using Web 2.0

Location

Assembly Hall

Event Website

http://www.cpe.vt.edu/cuenr/index.html

Start Date

26-3-2010 2:30 PM

End Date

26-3-2010 3:00 PM

Description

The challenges of the 21st century require an engaged citizenry. Universities must equip students to engage diverse points of view, engage mounting sources of information, engage pressure points and decision makers, and, perhaps most importantly, engage themselves through introspection and reflection to develop their own positions. We developed a class to help students engage sustainability. Sustainability is both engaging and polarizing. It invites people to participate in constructing a future in which they want to live. It also exposes explosive fault lines that drive people into combative positions defending cherished and unquestioned beliefs about God, what it means to be human, what are just rewards for a life well lived, and who deserves access to those rewards. Questioning sustainability requires questioning our lifestyles, our relationships to others now and in the future, our relationship to nature, and the role of science and professional advice in making decisions. Resolving these wicked problems requires engaging in tense and conflict‐filled situations that most people, especially natural resource professionals, avoid. It is easier to focus on simpler, solvable, technical tasks, such as the measurement of resource conditions, the control of ecological systems, and the optimization of harvest schedules. But engaged citizens and professionals need to do more than memorize sanctioned facts, apply tested techniques, and parrot popular sound bites. They need to engage in a learning process and engage in efforts to define and solve natural resource challenges. We developed a class designed to help students engage in solving controversial environmental dilemmas. It is a large‐enrolment course (140 students) taught every semester servicing most majors at Virginia Tech, not just natural resource students. The course requires students to develop, present, and defend positions on controversial topics ranging from climate change and mountain top removal to clear‐cutting, hunting and restricting property rights with land use controls. Engagement is facilitated through reflective essays, teamwork, research writing, oral presentations, and “town hall” sessions. The course was recently revised using Web 2.0 technologies that encourage digital interaction so that class size could be increased while maintaining opportunities for students to present, test, defend, and develop positions. These technologies include blogs, student‐produced videos, wikis, twitter, etc. The conference presentation will provide an overview of the course content, mechanisms of facilitating engagement, an assessment of the role of Web 2.0 technology in the class, and a summary of student knowledge gains and views of technology in the classroom. Additionally, we will discuss the challenges that arose with the integration of these Web 2.0 tools and share concrete examples of course materials and final student projects.

Comments

Citation: Hull, R.B., J. Sparrow, C. Kimmell. 2010. Engaging students in sustainability using Web 2.0. UENR Biennial Conference, Session Innovations in Pedagogy, Use of Technology, Paper Number 3. http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/cuenr/Sessions/Technology/3/.

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Mar 26th, 2:30 PM Mar 26th, 3:00 PM

Engaging Students in Sustainability Using Web 2.0

Assembly Hall

The challenges of the 21st century require an engaged citizenry. Universities must equip students to engage diverse points of view, engage mounting sources of information, engage pressure points and decision makers, and, perhaps most importantly, engage themselves through introspection and reflection to develop their own positions. We developed a class to help students engage sustainability. Sustainability is both engaging and polarizing. It invites people to participate in constructing a future in which they want to live. It also exposes explosive fault lines that drive people into combative positions defending cherished and unquestioned beliefs about God, what it means to be human, what are just rewards for a life well lived, and who deserves access to those rewards. Questioning sustainability requires questioning our lifestyles, our relationships to others now and in the future, our relationship to nature, and the role of science and professional advice in making decisions. Resolving these wicked problems requires engaging in tense and conflict‐filled situations that most people, especially natural resource professionals, avoid. It is easier to focus on simpler, solvable, technical tasks, such as the measurement of resource conditions, the control of ecological systems, and the optimization of harvest schedules. But engaged citizens and professionals need to do more than memorize sanctioned facts, apply tested techniques, and parrot popular sound bites. They need to engage in a learning process and engage in efforts to define and solve natural resource challenges. We developed a class designed to help students engage in solving controversial environmental dilemmas. It is a large‐enrolment course (140 students) taught every semester servicing most majors at Virginia Tech, not just natural resource students. The course requires students to develop, present, and defend positions on controversial topics ranging from climate change and mountain top removal to clear‐cutting, hunting and restricting property rights with land use controls. Engagement is facilitated through reflective essays, teamwork, research writing, oral presentations, and “town hall” sessions. The course was recently revised using Web 2.0 technologies that encourage digital interaction so that class size could be increased while maintaining opportunities for students to present, test, defend, and develop positions. These technologies include blogs, student‐produced videos, wikis, twitter, etc. The conference presentation will provide an overview of the course content, mechanisms of facilitating engagement, an assessment of the role of Web 2.0 technology in the class, and a summary of student knowledge gains and views of technology in the classroom. Additionally, we will discuss the challenges that arose with the integration of these Web 2.0 tools and share concrete examples of course materials and final student projects.

http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/cuenr/Sessions/Technology/3