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Issues in Digital Technology in Education Adult

Issues in Digital Technology in Education Adult

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11/06/2014

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Issues in Digital Technology in Education/Adult E-Learning in Education for Sustainable Development1
Issues in Digital Technology in Education/AdultE-Learning in Education for SustainableDevelopment
According to Nicholas Stern, global climate change is the defining issue of our time requiring immediate anddecisive action (Stern, 2006). A much required global transformation will emerge from: individual actions,sustainable business strategies, government regulations, and non governmental organization initiatives (Muller &Siebenhuner, 2007). This paper will argue that the only way that businesses can manage their climate change risk isthrough the comprehensive implementation of sustainable development strategies. These strategies require aparadigm shift toward more systems, future and critical thinking skills, by everyone in the company. This willrequire the re-education of the workforce from the current, largely one dimensional focus on economic value; to amulti-dimensional, interdependent, values-based, focus on environmental, social and economic issues. Thistransformation will be complex and will evolve over the lifetime of a learner. Businesses will find that education forsustainable development through learner-centred e-learning, within a blended learning program, will be the mostefficient and effective means of achieving long-term business survival and prosperity.
Opportunities and Risks
For business, the response to global climate change and adoption of sustainable development will be driven byopportunities and risks. Business opportunities include: new markets, increasing brand equity through corporatesocial responsibility programs, attraction and retention of labour, and brand differentiation through leadership values(Lovins , Lovins, & Hawken, 1999). For instance, companies like Unilever have adopted sustainable developmentfor their world-wide Corporate Social Responsibility program in order to enhance and protect brand equity(Unilever, 2008). Business will also be driven to manage climate change risk: physical risk, regulatory risk, litigationrisk and reputation risk (Van Bergen, Soonawala, & Wisse Smit, 2008).Mainstream economic theory would have us believe that we can have infinite growth on a finite planet (Daly &Farley, 2004). The menacing implications of climate change such as rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide; andthe depletion of water, natural resources, and soils, speak to the unsustainable nature of our current economicparadigm. It has been proposed that the concept of sustainable development and its balance among economic,environmental and social priorities is the basis for shifting to more sustainable practices. Organizational learning isan essential enabler to achieving sustainability (Siebenhuner & Arnold, 2007).
Sustainability Defined
Sustainability, a term often used interchangeably with the term sustainable development, has been commonlydefined as
“…
development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of futuregenerations to meet their own needs.
(WCED, 1987). The Brundtland Report (WCED, 1987) identified two keyconcepts within this term: 1) the concept of 'needs', in particular the essential needs of the world's poor, to whichoverriding priority should be given; and 2) the idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and socialorganization on the environment's ability to meet present and future needs (WCED, 1987). Although the concept of sustainable development has been around since 1970, the Brundtland report legitimized it as a template for globaldecision-making. The idea that there should be a balance between economic, social and environmental priorities inthe decision making process was born.Since the notion of sustainable development is centered in the use of new
thinking processes
to realize new valuesand attitudes; learning and reinforcement of learning must occur continuously and should be part of a lifelonglearning process.
Lifelong Learning
 
Issues in Digital Technology in Education/Adult E-Learning in Education for Sustainable Development2The re-education of the workforce for the implementation of sustainable development, and its required shift inthinking must be systemic and evolve over the lifetime of a learner. The concept of lifelong learning within businessreturns as an important element in the sustainable development solution.Lifelong learning first emerged in the early 1970s, and was briefly popular among intergovernmental think-tankssuch as UNESCO and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development OECD)(Field, 2000). Itre-emerged in 1994 in the European Commission, in a White Paper on competitiveness and economic growth. Whenthe Commission declared 1996 to be the European Year of Lifelong Learning, the idea spread throughout Europe(Field, 2000). Lifelong learning is a concept that recognizes the accelerated rate of change in industrial society andthe advances in technology, information systems and global markets (Merriam & Callarella, 1999). Lifelong learningsignals a shift from a solitary focus on formal schooling to a broader focus that also embraces ongoing learning byadults.E-learning, inconjunction with face-to-face learning, holds the promise of accessibility and a framework for asustained engagement in a lifelong learning process.
Education for Sustainable Development
As noted earlier, a shift to sustainability is a change in paradigm for business, which has traditionally viewedeconomics as a dominant notion within society. Springett suggests that education on sustainability challenges the
rationality
of the capitalist economic paradigm of production and consumption (Springett, 2005; Siebenhuner &Arnold, 2007). Many advocates for sustainability question whether incremental changes in business strategy can gofar enough, suggesting that transformational change is required (Tilbury, 2002). Numerous researchers also suggestthat a transition to sustainable development must introduce changes in personal values and institutional structures toachieve an environmental, social and economic balance (Gladwin et al, 1995; O
Connor, 1998; Huckle, 1996 as citedin Springett, 2005).While studying organizational learning for the management of sustainable development, Siebenhuner & Arnold(2007) defined sustainability-oriented learning as a process:
“…
where organizations display behavioural changes that are attributable to a change in the knowledge and valuebases as a result of reflexive processes, and where the concept of sustainability served as a fundamental framework 
(Siebenhuner & Arnold, 2007, p.341).Numerous researchers have identified that education for sustainable development requires the building of skills insystems thinking, critical thinking, futures thinking, visioning, problem solving and participatory decision-making(Springett & Kearins, 2005; Springett, 2005; Carew & Mitchell, 2008; Wheeler, Zohar & Hart, 2005; Vann, Pacheco& Motloch, 2006; Galea, 2004 as cited in Tillbury, 2002). In addition, researchers have identified that specificprofessional groups such as professional managers, engineers and accountants require reorientation to incorporatesustainability into their professional standard bodies of knowledge (Bebbington, 1997; Carew & Mitchell, 2006;Baas et al, 2000).Pedagogical approaches for sustainability must be experiential, inter-disciplinary, based on action-learning andprovide
 just in time
, real world learning and application opportunities (Wheeler, Zohar, & Hart, 2005; Siebenhunerand Arnold, 2007; Dieleman and Huisingh, 2005; Bebbington, 1997; Springett, 2005). Instructional techniques suchas the inquiry method lend themselves to the reflective nature of sustainability concepts, where learners
increasetheir competency as learners
and focus on the learning process rather than a final predetermined answer (Postman &Weingartner, 1969).E-learning and blended learning can be designed to meet many of these requirements. For instance, games andsimulations have been used as experiential learning tools for sustainability (Dieleman & Huisingh, 2006). Given thewide variety of learners in business (front line employees to professionals), it is necessary to use a number of educational techniques to establish and provide long term reinforcement of sustainability attitudes, knowledge andskills. E
 –  
learning or computer based training can play a role in this evolving activity.
 
Issues in Digital Technology in Education/Adult E-Learning in Education for Sustainable Development3
E-Learning
 –
A Component in Blended Learning
Sustainability-focused workplace learning will redefine e-learning and its contribution to blended learning.E-learning has been defined many ways including:
the use of computer network technology, primarily over orthrough the internet, to deliver information and instruction to individuals
(Welsh et al., 2003 as cited in Servage,2005),
instructional content or learning experiences delivered or enabled by electronic technology
(Commission onTechnology and Adult Learning, 2001 as cited in Servage, 2005), and
“…
us(ing) information and communicationtechnologies (ICTs) to deliver content (learning, knowledge and skills) on a one-way [asynchronous] basis
(Conference Board of Canada, 2001 as cited in Servage, 2005).Blended learning incorporates e-learning with various methods of face to face learning. Blended learning at anorganizational level can be defined as:
“…
a purposeful mix of delivery media (particularly face-to-face and various forms of technologies) to improvelearning/performance solutions which are derived from the goals and needs of an organization.
(Yoon & Lim, 2007,p.481)Face to face learning may range from formal instructor-led training to informal peer discussions. The blend of face toface activities and e-learning provide the best of both worlds and have been proven to be more effective than eithermethod on its own.In the past, e-learning
s ability to deliver on its promises of customized,
 just-in- time
, impactful learning havefallen short (Servage, 2005). However, e-learning could be effectively used to provide
 just in time
reinforcementand coaching on the application of sustainable development concepts. B&Q Stores, the largest home improvementretailer in the UK, used e-learning to create awareness and reinforce the award-winning work they were doing onsustainability and diversity. The company reached over 9,500 staff in over 320 stores by using scenarios and casestudies from actual B&Q employees featured in interactive e-learning modules. The e-learning modules weresupported by face to face staff meetings and discussions among colleagues (Epic Company, 2007; B&Q Stores,2004).In other situations e-learning can support sustainable development implementation by providing decision makingtemplates for purchasing, tools for policy development, and systems for communicating new policies andprocedures. The Sustainable Development Department in the United Kingdom provides procurement personnel andpolicy analysts with on-line decision support forms and tools for sustainable development (Sustainable DevelopmentUK, 2008).Sustainability is about people and their way of knowing and acting in the world. Learning new sustainable ways of knowing and being will depend on learners
self-awareness, strengths, weaknesses and locus of control, in additionto language, cultural and socio-economic factors (Servage, 2005). Furthermore, the interdependency of learning andsocial context for sustainability is critical. It is for this reason that e-learning, with its ability to use an array of technologies, learning objects, languages and learning theories can help bridge the language, culture andemployment divide. Unlike face to face instructor-led training, e-learning has the ability to provide a choice to alearner about when, how and what they need to learn, thus supporting the principle of androgogy and self directedlearning. Some of the technologies that can be used include: group or individual webcasts, discussion boards,podcasts, simulations and games, blogging, learning objects and e-portfolios (Mason, 2006). Blended with face toface learning, e-learning can be imbedded into organizational learning and operational strategies to create life longlearning in sustainability.
Learner Centred E-Learning within a Blended Learning Program
Learner centred education is central to the success of education for sustainable development due to its dependence onaligned values, attitudes and behaviours. Particularly, the depth and breath of learning theories are critical to thedesign and implementation of instructional strategies. Critical learning theories include andragogy, self-directedlearning, critical reflection, cognitive, and social learning (Waight & Stewart, 2005). These theories, when properly

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