December 18, 2013, by Helen Whitehead

Advent calendar #18: A facilitator’s view

Georgina Wood writes:  Sadly my time at Nottingham is coming to an end as I submit my PhD thesis and move on to pastures new! My PhD focused on the ‘water literacy’ of young people in the East Midlands of the UK. By this I mean the conceptual knowledge and understanding teenagers have about how much water they use at home and where, how it is sourced and brought to their house, and the deeper issues and wider implications of water consumption. These include the ‘virtual water’ embedded in the items we use and food products we eat, which are produced in other countries where clean water may be more scarce than in the UK. I worked in secondary schools in the region to better understand young people’s perceptions of water as a resource, and in turn help to design educational materials which could be used in the classroom (see image).

Part of the reason why I embarked on this PhD project was because I have strong feelings towards everyone developing a strong understanding about sustainability issues. This meant I jumped at the chance to become a facilitator on the ‘Perspectives on Sustainability’ NOOC (the precursor to the MOOC Sustainability, Society and You). It was great not only to see students and staff engaging with different ideas across the breadth of sustainability, but also to learn myself from the perspectives of others and make my own understanding of sustainability far richer. My interest in learning from the views of others also led me and four other PhD students to set up the Sustainability Research Network (SRN).

All these experiences have led me to my next chapter, working as a postdoctoral research assistant on a collaboration between three UK universities. I am particularly excited about the educational element, where I’ll be helping to design materials for adults and children around energy and water use. This strongly relates to my PhD research, but additionally working on the NOOC undoubtedly helped me to understand the major benefits and opportunities related to e-learning and MOOCs. I’m very grateful to Sarah Speight, the NOOC team and all the participants for teaching me a great deal, and I’m looking forward to being able to sign up for some MOOCs myself!

The University of Nottingham MOOC Sustainability, Society and You starts on January 6th and you can sign up now for free on the FutureLearn website.

Image © frachon CC BY
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