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E-learning for the environment: The Universidade Aberta (Portuguese Open Distance University) experience in the environmental sciences post-graduate courses.
Zeitschriftenausgabe (-> Ref.Nr):
International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education
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– In recent decades, there has been an increase of public awareness about environmental problems. A simultaneous effort to increase educational course offerings in this area has been made. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the first edition of the blended learning MSc in Environmental Citizenship and Participation that is offered by Universidade Aberta, Lisbon, Portugal. This is the first and only MSc offered in the distance learning mode in Portugal in this scientific area. The Master's programme includes environmental and social sciences contents. Also the programme includes tools and methodologies designed to help the students put into practice their expanded awareness, and knowledge within educational and public participation processes, within environment projects, programs or plans.

– Evaluation is performed with the students using three data sources: a questionnaire survey, personal interviews and assessment materials produced by the students. These data are designed to evaluate course performance in terms of: student motivation, student-content interaction, student-student interaction, student-teacher interaction, learning activities, type of evaluation, and student's environmental citizenship attitudes and behaviours.

– The qualitative analysis indicates a very high level of student motivation and satisfaction with the programme. The course contents, organisation and learning regime allow students to change their attitudes about environmental domains and to feel they will contribute to others change of attitudes and behaviours.

– E-learning brings new dimensions (to traditional education when it comes to adult learning) and increases the motivation to learn about environmental issues (if the e-learning for environment course allows for new ways of exploring and solving environmental problems in an interactive way). Moreover, it may increase the readiness to learn if the students are allowed to move into new social roles through the course.
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