In all European countries, the challenge of educating citizens about the ecological transition is significant. It is necessary to teach the fundamentals of understanding so that societies can implement the Sustainable Development Goals defined by the United Nations. The challenges are significant and yet are still not fully taken into account by higher education. (https://labos1point5.org/l-enseignement)
In June 2022, the European Union has defined a European sustainability competence framwork untitled : “GreenComp “. “GreenComp identifies a set of sustainability competences to feed into education programmes to help learners develop knowledge, skills and attitudes that promote ways to think, plan and act with empathy, responsibility, and care for our planet and for public health.” (UE, 2019 : 2).
“The framework defines the four competence groups related to sustainability that should be acquired by learners of all ages. Each competence has three sub-parts.
Embodying sustainability values
- valuing sustainability
- supporting fairness
- promoting nature
Embracing complexity in sustainability
- systems thinking
- critical thinking
- problem framing
Acting for sustainability
- political agency
- collective action
- individual initiative
Envisioning sustainable futures
- futures literacy
- exploratory thinking » (source : https://education.ec.europa.eu/focus-topics/green-education/learning-for-the-green-transition)
Change is happening, but it is slow and requires curriculum changes, especially in Higher Education. The prescribed curriculum in higher education refers to both course syllabi and national or regional reference materials. For example, in France, the Law on Research Programming has given the public service of higher education the mission of “contributing to awareness and training on the challenges of ecological transition and sustainable development.”
V-Global targets aim to raise awareness among all higher education students about these issues, optimize and coordinate the training of students who need to acquire proven competence in these areas, and promote the emergence of specific lifelong learning opportunities. This requires the implementation of engaging curricula in which teachers and students are involved in the ideas. Teaching situations must allow for the use of specialized concepts and Geo-Capabilities such as place, space, scale, environment, diversity, and interdependence.
The concept of global change is a systemic concept that can enable students to identify and reflect on environmental and sustainability issues.
What about Global Changes in higher education ?
The V-Global project team conducted a survey of 25 European academics (Spain, France, Germany, UK, Slovenia, Portugal, Greece) and analyzed the curricula of the 4 university partners in the project: the Spanish National University of Distance Education, the University of Hamburg, the National Technical University of Athens, and the University Paris Cité.
The three key findings are that environmental and sustainability issues are primarily addressed through the prism of the concept of environment, with very little discussion of transition and global change.
Three profiles of teaching practices are identifiable: • Content-focused courses with transmissive, top-down teaching approaches • Courses focused on education for sustainable development that are generally part of teacher training • Courses with an interdisciplinary and cross-curricular approach that develop skills and content related to sustainability without explicit ESD learning objectives. The PR1 V-Global report will be published soon.
Promoting environmental and development education involves creating curricular structures, and blended learning can be a lever for curricular change. Blended learning allows for interdisciplinary and cross-curricular structures to be put in place at the undergraduate level. Furthermore, in a context of redefining teaching methods with digital advances, the possibilities of blended learning can be explored.
Blended learning : a changer lever
Several elements allow us to affirm that blended learning opens the door to an curriculum leardership in ESD. Firstly, in its definition, blended learning corresponds to a student-centered organization where courses are designed to meet the needs of the learners. As a result, the teacher experiments with different pedagogical approaches and individualizes learning. Secondly, blended learning, in its structure, between moments of online work and face-to-face work, favors student engagement and the learning of autonomy and the development of skills linked to digital technology (searching for information, comparing sources, mastering different communication tools) (Graham, 2018). These latter skills are far from being acquired by all students (Kirschner & De Bruyckere, 2017). Depending on the strategies deployed by teachers, student engagement will be more or less strong. The characteristics of the most successful courses are a rhythm (balance between synchronous and asynchronous activities) and the relationship with the teacher: through a clear statement of objectives, individualized feedback on the activities accomplished, encouragement, and support during the online course sessions (Heilporn et al., 2021, p. 19).
Our investigation revealed a significant barrier to blended learning due to the emergency implementation of distance learning courses during the COVID-19 epidemic. The V-Global project aims to enable academics to take advantage of blended learning to develop a curriculum on global change.
Credits : Photo de Van Tay Media sur Unsplash
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