Edited By Walter Leal Filho
Understanding Communities of Practice in Online Education for Sustainability
Kristin McIlhenney, Meg Holden Abstract Purpose: This paper evaluates the experience of designing and offering a new, fully-online, graduate-level course in the multidisciplinary field of Sustainability Assessment for Cities. Additionally, research was conducted to investigate stu- dents’ comfort, confidence and competency in online learning and subsequent impact on the development of a sense of professional community. Design/Methods/Approach: The authors conducted an overview of recent re- search trends regarding the concept of sense of community, social ability, in- structor presence and technology acceptance in the online learning environment. The study utilized a mixed-method design using both quantitative (scale-based questionnaires) and qualitative (interviews, participant observation and field notes) data collection methods. Findings: The potential for progress toward improved sustainability education in higher education exists in an online environment and could be enhanced by using social networking tools and Web 2.0. Research Limitations: Our small sample size made it impossible to statistically verify the validity and reliability of the two quantitative tools employed, Class- room Community Scale (CCS) and the Online Learning Experience Study Ques- tionnaire (QLESQ). Originality/Value: By serving as a model for further testing and development, this work supports institutions in higher education and a range of organizations in their attempt to approach innovative sustainability practices and connect those practices with learning opportunities through online learning. Acknowledgements: This research has been supported with a grant from BC Campus.ca. The authors are indebted to the advice of the Course Development Committee of Paula Beltgens, Alex Michalos, Clare Mochrie, Tannis Morgan and Donald...
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