Environmental education using distance learning during the COVID-19 lockdown in Israel
Keywords:Social-ecological systems, Adaptation, Transformation, Distance learning, Environmental education, Outdoor learning
Education systems and environmental education professionals have been challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic and the sharp transition to distance learning that has necessitated a rapid response. Environmental education as part of a social-ecological system is dependent on the adaptability and the scope of the change with which the system responds to crisis. It is therefore important to explore the ways in which environmental educators choose to increase students’ proximity to nature under conditions of lockdown. The aim of this study, therefore, was to examine environmental educators’ perspective on and teaching methods for implementing environmental education under distance learning conditions. To this end, we conducted 16 interviews and analysed teaching methods (e.g. videos, lesson plans and written assignments) that were used by Israeli environmental educators in March–April 2020. The findings highlight the creativity of the educators who used a variety of teaching methods, involving active/passive learning and the direct/indirect experience of nature, using nature for observation, investigation and in-depth personal, social and environmental learning. The study’s contribution stems from its exploration of the crisis from the perspective of environmental education in the context of social-ecological systems. Key findings present challenges (e.g. lack of direct outdoor interaction and feedback) and opportunities (e.g. public access to online lectures and the nationwide sharing of teaching materials) that were faced by environmental educators in Israel and that led to the development of diverse teaching methods for contending with the crisis. The study recommends incorporating diverse activities in nature, implementing outdoor teacher training for all teachers and creating professional teacher networks.
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Copyright (c) 2021 N. Assaf, D. Gan
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