Bringing community pedagogy into the 21st century: Electronically enabling community learning

Year: 1999

Author: Braun, Patrice

Type of paper: Refereed paper

Community-based interventions to influence people's environmental values, attitudes and behaviour have been restricted to face-to-face education sessions; conventional media such as television, video, print and pamphlets; verbal and written messages from relatives and friends.

Online learning systems have interactivity at their heart. Conventional media are passive and transitory in nature. Education for the environment must be contrasted with education about and through the environment. As (Fien 1993) suggests education for the environment actively engages learners to resolve environmental questions and issues. Online learning systems have the potential to enable local communities to actively participate in global environmental issues.

Electronic and hardcopy-based surveys were conducted to identify a community's environmental information needs, environmental information gathering methods, satisfaction level with the current environmental information flow, computer literacy and online interest. Feedback from the questionnaire plus extensive literature review were utilised to construct the framework and design of the prototype environmental community website. Effectiveness of the online site was subsequently field tested.

The study had two aims: First to identify community interest in accessing environmental information online. Second, to investigate the potential benefits of using computer-mediated communication for pedagogical community use.

Findings indicated that when an online environmental community site is tailored to a community's information and online needs, it is a powerful tool for accessing and disseminating both local and global environmental information. Online community sites have the potential to effectively foster awareness and involvement in local and global environmental learning.