Since 2016, the Environmental Justice Institute (EJI) offers virtual classroom seminars. Using its network of experts of associated academics from all over the world, using the virtuality as classroom is both economic and reflects the inter- and trans-disciplinary approach to which the EJI is committed. E-Learning is also seen as a service that not only fosters new and progressive ways of communication, but also helps to spread out the global dimension of environmental justice research to even remote parts of the world.
By providing the service in the field of environmental science related e-learning, the EJI seeks to achieve the financial capability to support critical research (for more information on this discourse please click here). The scope of teaching topics is here not limited to environmental justice only, but also covers environmental policy analysis, environmental sociology, indigenous rights, climate change, biodiversity, and nuclear waste management in the context of the energy transformation.

For detailed questions and/or interest in such seminars, please contact us by mailing the E-Learning team.

What is E-Learning?

E-learning – electronical learning – describes basically the way of gathering knowledge by using the advantages of the Internet. It can be distinguished in three ways: synchronous learning, asynchronous learning, and Learning in the Moment of Need (LMN). The different learnings concepts have been combined and summarized by the term of virtual lecturing. Details are provided by discussing key concepts such as Blended Learning (combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning) and LMN through the sustainable Production of Knowledge.
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The academic literature is rich in debating both the potential and advantages of E-Learning in the field of academia. Widely used in the area of training by stakeholders in the industry, the debate about Blended Learning as well as the aim of producing sustainable knowledge accessible to everyone has become both vivid and controversial. As a matter of fact, all sectors of the globalized society (industry, politics, NGOs, academia among others) speak about what could be accomplished by implementing E-Learning in the regular curriculum of university learning, but steps forward fall short.

Many do reference the industry as positive examples, but even this cannot cope with the problem set totally. Why is that? First of all, virtual training in the industry is not much of success story as many stakeholders tell.
As principle problem - thus applicable to all learning environments - one can identify a lack of customization in working with E-Learning systems. There is not only the technical side of knowing how to use a specific tool. There is also the didactical challenge of using the virtual classroom setting. Despite the continuing discourse on stickiness around the globalized world through web 2.0 and second-life, even the digital generation is mostly adapted to the virtual reality in terms of asynchronous access to information. Young scholars do use skype as people have used the telephone in earlier days, but even the mainstreamed use of Facebook could not change the social fact that most learning environments are still settled in the physical world.One reason for this is the lack of experience with teaching that is transferred into the digital world.
On the other side, the business world teaches us that E-Learning is a cost saving method to transfer knowledge. The issue is that the 'success story' cannot be copied so easily. The reason for this is the content of learning in business related areas compared to the academic world. It is not a provocation to say that the complexity of knowledge transferred in universities is much higher than what is BTW what has to be taught in the business environment. Discussions about abstract problem sets are usually more difficult to teach compared to how to use a software that is needed in the everyday life of an employer.

In the academic system, we face a threefold challenge:

1) Teaching in the virtual space is generally more difficult than face to face teaching. Thus, academics need to be trained to be virtual lecturers. This is in addition to the academic qualification in the particular field. The lecturer needs to know the advantages and disadvantages of the virtual classroom setting and therefore is in need of assistance regarding the didactical methods.

2) The lecturer also has to be trained in the use of E-Learning software to teach in the virtual classroom. Again, in addition to what has been pointed out above, the teaching staff must be proficient with the virtual classroom she has designed BTW she has to design. This requires professional assistance and accommodation.

3) Last but not least, the scholars must be willing to accept the virtual space as learning environment. This can only be successful if using virtual classroom objectively serves their purpose. For the students, this means that the lectures save unnecessary opportunity costs and provide more time and more resources for learning. Students must feel that they are benefitting at least equally from the new, unknown setting than the lecturer and the university administration.

The Environmental Justice Institute (EJI) offers a visionary solution to these issues. Obviously, the problem frame is systemic, thus a solution can only be found when approaching all three obstacles at the same time. The chosen method is leading by example. The EJI wants to create positive examples of virtual lecturing to foster this type of teaching on an international scale. In order to do so, the EJI relies on its strong international network to offer courses in the field of environmental and climate justice. Courses that are attended by students from different universities will not only strengthen e-learning as an innovative method of teaching but will also create stronger ties between the involved universities. Teaching staff and students alike will benefit tremendously from this experience that also will be reflected in acknowledged newspapers.

An exemplified course is displayed here. More information about the Blended Learning method you find here. If you are interested the sustainable production of knowledge for long-lasting learning, click here.