Learning Sustainability through Digital/Social Media (DSM) and its Impact on Students in Qatar
Authors: Mariem Fekih Zguir, Maryam Alhail, Muammer Koc
Abstract: Nowadays, the utilization of Digital and Social Media (DSM) is becoming more and more ubiquitous in different fields, especially amongst the youth. A cornerstone in the technological and information revolution as well as a powerful medium in spreading knowledge in the twenty-first century, DSM is becoming omnipresent in the education arena where teachers and students alike use them for their respective education. Given the need to cater to different learning styles, to diversify instructing methods to ensure better learning outcomes for different students, and to help students become tech-savvy, DSM offers an array of opportunities to boost collaboration, communication, inquiry, and to engage students in the learning process. From blogging to using several platforms such as Twitter and Instagram, it has been proven from the literature that DSM can play a vital role in empowering students to be global citizens and to advance Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Amid the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, schools and institutions worldwide were compelled to embrace remote classrooms and to shift to distance learning, relying more heavily on DSM as an attempt to bridge the knowledge gap and to use them as effective tools to deliver lessons. In light of this event, schools that were not previously prepared to incorporate digital media as part of their students’ learning faced numerous hurdles and issues trying to reach their students and maintain their learning standing. In a response to this emerging need, this paper suggests a website as a digital and innovative solution, which was designed by the authors and used by the English department in one preparatory school in Qatar during remote learning. The purposes of this website are threefold: i) prompting students to enhance their written communication skills through journaling on different topics via an online platform, ii) encouraging students and teachers to interact in a safe environment by reading each other’s posts and commenting on them, and iii) leveraging the use of DSM by helping students reflect on and disseminate their sustainability habits in a country that is seeking incessantly to shift to a knowledge-based economy and to meet the SDGs as part of its own national agenda. As the K-12 curriculum framework in Qatar delineates the importance to incorporate sustainability values within various subjects, this website serves to address the application void that is left to be filled in and decided by teachers in delivering these subjects. Using qualitative approaches, mainly data coding and text analysis to evaluate findings from semi-structured interviews conducted with the website users (both students and teachers), and from essays posted on the website, the results show that students were increasingly motivated and interested in topics related to sustainability and environmental issues pertinent to the local case of Qatar after posting on the website. Furthermore, findings from teachers’ perspectives reveal that the ease of sharing, commenting on and documenting students’ reflections and writings made them more prone to use the website more regularly. The study concludes with a set of recommendations to improve DSM learning in Qatar.
Keywords: Education For Sustainability, Role Of Digital Media In Esd, Sustainability Learning, Digital Social Media And Esd, Qatar Education System
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