Promoting online students' engagement and learning in science and sustainability preservice teacher education

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Australian Journal of Teacher Education, ISSN: 0313-5373, Vol: 40, Issue: 11, Page: 78-107

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Tomas, Louisa; Lasen, Michelle; Field, Ellen; Skamp, Keith R
Edith Cowan University
Social Sciences; 130313; Education; online learning; blended learning; sustainability education; science education; preservice teacher education; Higher Education; Higher Education and Teaching; Online and Distance Education; Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
article description
At James Cook University, a core first-year subject within the Bachelor of Education, Foundations of Sustainability in Education (FSE), sees students investigate the underlying science and complexity of socioecological challenges through inquiry, placebased learning, experimentation and consideration of classroom practice. Given that this subject is delivered across modes, a blended learning approach that encompasses an innovative use of learning technologies and careful consideration of pedagogy provides opportunity for both on-campus and online students to engage in active, learner-centred, collaborative, experiential and praxisoriented learning experiences (Wals & Jickling, 2002). In this paper, we draw upon Pittaway's (2012) engagement framework and Herrington, Herrington, Oliver, Stoney and Willis's (2001) guidelines for quality online courses to explore students' perceptions and experiences of FSE. We investigate how a blended learning design can support the development of a robust foundational knowledge base in science and sustainability education, and engagement in active, experiential and praxis-oriented learning experiences for first year online students. This paper furthers the discussion around best pedagogical practice and blended learning design for science and sustainability education in online preservice teacher education, and in other disciplines in teacher education that call for hands-on learning experiences in an online environment.