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Article
Publication date: 19 June 2019

Rudi Wessel Pretorius, Ryan Anderson, Anisa Khotoo and Richelle Pienaar

This paper aims to reflect on approaches through which open, distance and e-learning (ODeL) students can use their local environments for assessments and explores how this shapes…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to reflect on approaches through which open, distance and e-learning (ODeL) students can use their local environments for assessments and explores how this shapes their conceptualisations of “university” and “campus”. Key issues and lessons learnt are covered, thus providing pointers for implementation of the type of assessment approaches that are presented.

Design/methodology/approach

Using three undergraduate sustainability-related modules in the Department of Geography, University of South Africa (Unisa), the lecturers’ reflections on the real-world sustainability learning experiences of students in these modules (2015-2018) have been cross-correlated and compared to present an integrated picture of emerging best practice.

Findings

The use of real-world, place-based applications, which form a central theme in the assessment strategy for all three modules, allows students to deal hands-on with sustainability issues, establishes a connection between ODeL students and the university and presents an opportunity to engage these students in real-world sustainability learning despite not being on campus.

Research limitations/implications

The case study format and qualitative, reflective methodology present limitations, while specifically focusing on ODeL and the final phase of undergraduate studies. Despite these limitations, the lessons learnt can be of value to universities currently transferring to online offerings, with possible impacts for sustainability learning.

Originality/value

This paper addresses misconceptions on the role of ODeL in transforming to sustainability. The criticism that ODeL is suitable for primarily theoretical training is countered by evidence that appropriately structured assessments requiring ODeL students to engage with real-world issues in their local environments, can provide valuable sustainability learning experiences.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 20 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 7 March 2016

Rudi Pretorius, Andrea Lombard and Anisa Khotoo

Inquiry-based approaches can potentially enrich sustainability learning in any educational context, more so in open and distance learning (ODL – perceived as theoretically…

3595

Abstract

Purpose

Inquiry-based approaches can potentially enrich sustainability learning in any educational context, more so in open and distance learning (ODL – perceived as theoretically inclined) and in regions of educational need (such as the Global South, of which Africa forms part). The purpose of this paper is to map the benefits and challenges of using inquiry-based learning (IBL), with reference to ODL and the value added by IBL in terms of education for sustainability (EfS) in Africa.

Design/methodology/approach

Evidence-based reflection is used to provide a narrative assessment of the experience gained with IBL in two undergraduate sustainability-focussed modules in the Department of Geography at the University of South Africa (Unisa), an ODL provider in Africa and the Global South.

Findings

Consideration of enabling and limiting factors indicates that although constraints are experienced, adoption of IBL approaches holds potential as pedagogic for EfS in Africa, due to grounding of learning in theory and applied to local places/contexts. This indicates a role for IBL to change perceptions regarding the lack of practical utility of ODL.

Originality/value

Implementing place-based and contextual IBL is innovative in ODL. It adds value to learning experiences and supports transformative learning, both important components of EfS and addressing a need in the African context. Practitioners will find the experience gained with implementation of IBL, coupled with possibilities associated with information and communication technologies, of value.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 17 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

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