Oration: using ICT to support learning processes that contribute to a more sustainable future
A children's book on plastic pollution, an exhibition of waste art, local 'beach cleanups' and selling reusable water bottles. These are just some Oration of the actions taken following the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on plastic pollution of seas and oceans. The new UNESCO Professor of Technology-enhanced Learning for Sustainable Development Prof Dr Joop de Kraker will explore, among other things, how this successful MOOC can be expanded further. He will deliver his inaugural address in Heerlen on Friday 1 December 2023.
To find a solution to the sustainability problems we face worldwide, as many people as possible in various places and positions need to take action. But how do you empower people to do so? That is the question the field of Learning for Sustainable Development tries to answer. Technology plays a major role in this. With the help of ICT, such as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and interactive digital platforms, you can provide many people all over the world with the knowledge they need. At the same time, you can connect people so that they can learn from each other, inspire and support each other.
Successful action plans
About 10 years ago, environmental scientists and educational technologists at the Open University developed the MOOC on plastic pollution of seas and oceans in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Since then, the MOOC has been offered four times, most recently in 10 languages and with more than 10,000 participants from over 90 countries. To complete the MOOC with a certificate, participants must create an action plan to combat plastic pollution. From a sample of 138 participants, 92 turned in an action plan. Of them, 64 participants say they have successfully implemented the action plan.
A great result, but given the urgency of the problems, we need to develop 'action competence'- the ability of people to take concrete actions that contribute to solving sustainability problems - faster and on a larger scale. How ICT can help with this is the area of research Joop de Kraker is focusing on within the Technology-enhanced Learning for Sustainable Development chair. Among other things, he will examine how best to expand the successful MOOC on plastic pollution of seas and oceans.
Technology makes solutions more effective
'Trained as an engineer in Wageningen, I am very interested in analysing complex problems to discover where the solutions may lie,' the UNESCO professor said. 'To then explore how implementing them can be supported with tools. Technology in itself is rarely the whole solution, but technology can make certain solutions much more effective. That also applies to 'learning for sustainable development'.'
Prof Joop de Kraker has been appointed UNESCO Professor of Technology-enhanced Learning for Sustainable Development at the Open University from 1 January 2023. He delivers his oration 'Wider, faster! Can we scale up and speed up learning for sustainability with technology?' on Friday 1 December 2023 at 16.00 in the auditorium of the Open University in Heerlen, Pretoria building. You can register for the oration via ou.nl/invitation. The oration can be followed online via ou.nl/live.
About Joop de Kraker
Joop de Kraker has worked at the Open University since 2001 within the Department of Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science. He is also professor of Sustainability Assessment at Maastricht University. On 'Technology-enhanced Learning for Sustainable Development', he wrote several practice-oriented books and scientific articles.