Using Wikis for Environmental Education and Awareness of Primary and Secondary Education Students in Greece

Using Wikis for Environmental Education and Awareness of Primary and Secondary Education Students in Greece

Marianna Poutakidou (University of Athens, Athens, Greece) and Dimitris Gouscos (Faculty of Communication and Media Studies, University of Athens, Athens, Greece)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/IJCESC.2015010101
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Abstract

Environmental education (EE) institutions worldwide strive to promote awareness and learning related to the protection of the environment and sustainability issues. In this effort, they take stock of the capabilities of online and social media. This paper briefly overviews characteristic examples for the use of social media for environmental education, as well as basic ideas that underpin the use of wikis in particular in education and learning, and discusses the ways in which wikis can be used, within environmental education programs, for raising environmental awareness of primary and secondary education students. This discussion is based on a research project employing wikis and conducted during 2011-2012 in Athens, Greece. The research questions guiding this project, the design and implementation choices of the research, the difficulties encountered and the revisions decided, as well as the research results and findings, together with proposals for further research work, constitute the contents of the paper.
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1. Introduction

Internet evolution is continuous and directly affects all areas of human activity, especially with the advent of Web 2.0 technologies and social applications. Social media are increasingly adopted by a large number of users, with concepts like “interaction” and “user-generated content” becoming more and more familiar to the average internet user of today.

These rapid developments have also caused significant changes in the field of educational technologies. The emphasis now is no longer limited to the deployment of IT and internet access infrastructures in schools, but extends beyond that to increased students’ levels of digital literacy.

In Greece, the Ministry of Education policy for modernizing public schools articulates a New School (Greek Ministry of Education n.d.) vision based on the so-called Digital School concept, which incorporates programs for digital classrooms and digital educational content (Digital School Initiative n.d.).

On the other hand, as early as 1993, namely quite a few years before the massive entrance of schools in the digital age, the agenda of environmental education (EE) has been introduced in the formal education curriculum at an international scale. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), EE can be defined as “… the process of recognizing values and clarifying concepts in order to develop skills and attitudes necessary to understand and appreciate the interrelatedness among men, his culture and his biophysical surroundings. EE also entails practice in decision-making and self-formulation of a code of behavior about issues concerning environmental quality” (IUCN 1970).

The Greek Ministry of Education has pursued development of environmental awareness for students in joint collaboration with other administrative agencies and NGOs, as well as through a network of regional Centers for Environmental Education (CEE) all over Greece. The mission of Greek CEEs is to provide formal, non-formal and informal environmental education to students and adults. In this landscape, the use of social media for environmental education in Greece could, in principle, be favored by two major factors: (a) the Greek Ministry of Education New School policy, as well as (b) the presence of Greek CEEs in new media and social media.

Still, despite the many successful attempts to integrate social media in EE projects that have been implemented worldwide, there is a need for guidelines and frameworks concerning the integration and use of these tools in the Greek educational system and, more specifically, in the Centers for Environmental Education on which the research reported is focused. In this respect, the research effort presented in this paper has tried to bring forward some specific research questions that could help formulate elements of such a framework, with a focus on wiki platforms which have been used as the enabling technology for the underlying case study.

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