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Interactive and situated learning in education for sustainability

Sergio Altomonte (Department of Architecture and Built Environment, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK)
Brian Logan (School of Computer Science, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK)
Markus Feisst (School of Computer Science, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK)
Peter Rutherford (Department of Architecture and Built Environment, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK)
Robin Wilson (Department of Architecture and Built Environment, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK)

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education

ISSN: 1467-6370

Article publication date: 3 May 2016

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Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to explore the opportunities offered by interactive and situated learning (e-learning and m-learning) in support of education for sustainability in disciplines of the built environment.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper illustrates the development of an online portal and a mobile app aimed at promoting students’ motivation and engagement with sustainability in design, and discusses the outcomes of their testing, investigating users’ acceptance, comparing academic results and analysing feedback.

Findings

The findings add empirical evidence to the view that information and communication technology-enhanced pedagogies can substantially contribute to the agenda of sustainability in higher education, primarily due to their affordance of interactive communication and contextualisation of knowledge, while guaranteeing flexible time and pace of learning.

Research limitations/implications

The study solely focused on the development and testing of e-learning and m-learning tools to foster students’ competence of sustainability in design studio work. The tools trialled were mostly at their prototypical stage and their testing included a relatively short-term evaluation and a narrow, self-selected, user base. However, the approach and findings are felt to be applicable to a much wider range of educational contexts.

Originality/value

Interactive and situated pedagogical methods and tools have the potential to prompt a departure from transmissive educational models, encompassing at once theoretical, experiential and analytic learning processes. This is of value to education for sustainability in disciplines of the built environment due to the requirement to holistically consolidate multi-/inter-/trans-disciplinary knowledge into a coherent design whole.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors wish to acknowledge the contribution of Dr Neil Madden and Julian Zappala to the design and development of the EDUCATE Portal, and of Andrew Gibson and Rebecca Smith for their research on education for sustainability. The contribution of all EDUCATE partners, portal users and EDUCATE on SITE study participants is also thankfully recognized. EDUCATE was funded by the European Commission under the Intelligent Energy Europe Programme (Contract n. IEE/08/635/SI2.528419). EDUCATE on SITE was funded by HEA/JISC under the Open Educational Resources Case Studies Series (Reference n. CS 15).

Citation

Altomonte, S., Logan, B., Feisst, M., Rutherford, P. and Wilson, R. (2016), "Interactive and situated learning in education for sustainability", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 17 No. 3, pp. 417-443. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSHE-01-2015-0003

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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