S3-CT4-4 - Virtual exchange in Education for Sustainability

1. Innovative Practice Work In Progress
Per Fors1 , Thomas Lennerfors1
1 Uppsala University

In this work-in-progress research paper we aim to explore further the concept of Virtual Exchange (VE) in engineering Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). VE is understood as an ICT enabled practice where education programmes and/or education-related activities take place between students or groups of students who are separated geographically. VE allows for international and intercultural interactions among students without the need to move abroad, which substantially lowers the barriers for participating in such exchange. As VE enables interaction between students with different cultural backgrounds without the need for physical travel, it is clear that VE has potential to contribute to sustainability. However, there are also other sustainability- related effects that need to be emphasized. First, to promote international collaborations among students with different worldviews (internationalization) is often emphasized within ESD in order to be able to acquire a global mindset and develop the ability to collaboratively contribute to the alleviation of global sustainability issues, such as climate change. Second, VE requires students to adopt digital competences not directly related to the course content such as virtual meeting software (e.g. Zoom, Skype), “cloud collaboration software” (e.g. Google Drive, Microsoft Teams) and more. These competences are useful in order to later in the professional life of such students to exploit the dematerialization potential of sustainable ICT. Furthermore, we discuss our experiences with VE in the course Managing Sustainability in Global Industrial Companies which is a course co-taught between Uppsala University and University of Tokyo