Educational systems should warrant learning needs of the population they serve offering a diversity of educational agents, strategies, and answers to the needs of those that seek knowledge (Caeiro, Martinho, Azeiteiro, & Carapeto, 2004). In Portugal the experience of teaching subjects related to environmental sciences via open distance learning started in 1995 at Universidade Aberta (a public university specially dedicated to the open distance learning of graduate and undergraduate courses). This experience began with general ecology, and in view of the interest showed by students (and in fact by a wider public) the university later offered other subjects such as environmental education and water pollution. Today we have a number of different subjects within the vast area of environmental sciences and are preparing an undergraduate programme in view of the recent Bolonha Agreement. The university also offers post-graduate programmes that bring together the environment and the citizen participation. The aim is to heighten the interests of our students in scientific subjects related to the environment as well as providing a practical perspective of what they can do as active citizens. The programmes are supported by necessary tools that enable students to critically analyse and discuss press articles about the environment, protocols that are designed to make industries “greener”, as well as government decisions.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Course Design: Setting learning objectives, media applications, planning evaluation.
E-Learning: Learning that is facilitated by the use of digital tools and content. Typically, it involves some form of interactivity, which may include online interaction between the learner and their teacher or peers.
Videoconferencing: Communication across long distances with video and audio contact that may also include graphics and data exchange.
Pedagogy: The strategies, techniques, and approaches that teachers can use to facilitate learning.
Open Distance Education: One of a group of terms that overlap with each other, including open learning, flexible learning, correspondence courses, and even supported self-study and resource-based learning. The main point about distance learning is that there is geographical distance between the learner and the teacher.
Distance Education: An educational methodology that makes use of a set of teaching materials, methods, and resources that are available to those who want to learn in a self-learning regime, aiming to widen their knowledge or academic/professional qualifications.
Formative Evaluation: Refers to tests that are designed to measure students’ achievement of instructional objectives; these tests give feedback on the extent to which students have mastered the course materials.
Evaluation: Both qualitative descriptions of pupil behaviour plus value judgments concerning the desirability of that behaviour. Using collected information (assessments) to make informed decisions about continued instruction, programmes, and activities.
Summative Evaluation: Refers to a test that is given at the end of a course or course segment; the aim of summative evaluation is to give the student a grade that represents his/her mastery of the course content.