Internet-mediated sustainability education

Among researchers, policy-makers, and educators there is significant interest in the educative implications of internet-mediated learning. The Young Masterís Program (YMP) is a two-year, internationally based, online sustainability education course for high school students, which has been developed to meet objectives of Education for Sustainable Development. There is, however, a lack of qualitative data on the success of the program, and a general uncertainty of the educative possibilities in internet-mediated learning. Through a qualitative research study on this program, I will investigate how the students reflect on the online learning modules; their understanding of sustainability concepts; and how the internet-mediated lessons have shaped their understanding of environment, society, and economy.

I will investigate the educative implications of the Young Masterís Program by conducting three student focus group interviews of six student participants, who have completed the program. The group interviews will be analyzed qualitatively in a conceptual framework developed from literature on the educative implications of distance education and virtual classrooms (Bowers, Bray, Harris & Major,Burbules, Henwood et al.), taking into consideration critiques of Education for Sustainable Development (Bonnet, Jickling, Sauve, Stevenson).

At the conference, I will review the findings from my focus group student interviews and provide background on the conceptual framework which supports this qualitative study. Recommendations for augmenting internet-mediated learning with place-based and action-oriented learning will be offered.