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Exploratory research into environmental education, and digital media production : a subject/ive mosaic Reid, John Morgan 2010

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EXPLORATORY RESEARCH INTO ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION AND DIGITAL MEDIA PRODUCTION: A SUBJECT/IVE MOSAIC  by JOHN MORGAN REID B.Ed., Simon Fraser University, 1996  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Curriculum and Instruction)  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver) March 2010 © John Morgan Reid, 2010  Abstract Drawing from diverse data sources, this thesis explores issues associated with environmental education and digital media production. Working in an interpretive paradigm and developing concepts through anecdotes, literature study, interviews, and discussion, I invite the reader into a conversation that includes stories of learning about the environment, about digital media technology, and about teaching and learning experiences. Foregrounding my presence in this way envelops the field study and interview data in subjectivity, a tactic grounded in the theoretical notion of the co-construction of knowledge. The situations and dynamics associated with learning in the rapidly-changing fields of environmental education and digital media production are discussed as examples, meant to be used as catalysts for ongoing inquiry into how these kinds of learning, associated pedagogies, and the institutional arrangements in which they occur can be better understood. In addition to stories, the thesis includes qualitative research comprising interviews with two students and an instructor in a university course in which digital video production was used in an environmental education assignment. The interviews indicated the technological demands of the projects combined with the practices and choices of the students may have contributed to weaker self-reported outcomes. The author sets these interviews in juxtaposition with stories of his own experience to develop concepts and a series of practical, methodological, and theoretical questions to inform subsequent phases of research into learning systems, curriculum design, and pedagogy.  ii  Contents Abstract ................................................................................................................... ii
 Contents.................................................................................................................. iii
 Acknowledgements ................................................................................................ vi
 Dedication............................................................................................................. viii
 Introduction .............................................................................................................1
 An Overview................................................................................................................................... 1
 A Note About the Author’s Role .................................................................................................... 2
 Icarus and Daedalus: Enthusiasm Using New Technology ............................................................ 2
 My Position and Beginning Inquiry................................................................................................ 6
 Overview and Approach ................................................................................................................. 7
 Embodied Experience: On a Beach .............................................................................................. 11
 Wired Experience: Video Editing Crash....................................................................................... 12
 Mediated Environmental Education: Engagement Through Television....................................... 16
 Fishing for Learning ..................................................................................................................... 18
 Embedded Experience: Doing Science, Being a Scientist, Fluid Action ..................................... 20
 Synthesizing these Experiences: “Engagement” .......................................................................... 24
 Rationale For Interdisciplinary Topic: Overwhelming Potential Of Awareness And Collective Action............................................................................................................................................ 26
  Voices in the Conversation: A Subject/ive Mosaic .............................................31
 Influences on my Thinking ........................................................................................................... 32
 Foucault................................................................................................................................................... 32
 Clustering concepts................................................................................................................................. 35
 Environmental education ........................................................................................................................ 36
 iii  Learning: cognition and skills in a changing network ............................................................................ 37
 From culture to practice .......................................................................................................................... 39
  Co-construction and Development of Concepts Through Conversations with Students and an Instructor ...................................................................................53
 A Qualitative Approach ................................................................................................................ 53
 From Theory To Methods............................................................................................................. 56
 Rationale for Environmental Education Setting: Guiding Concepts in Interviews ...................... 56
 A Field Study Component ............................................................................................................ 58
 Summary and rationale: conversations-in-place..................................................................................... 58
 Field site.................................................................................................................................................. 58
 Researcher’s relationship with site and participants............................................................................... 59
 Subjects and recruitment......................................................................................................................... 61
 Methods: data collection focus ............................................................................................................... 61
 Interviewing procedures.......................................................................................................................... 62
  Data and Analysis ..................................................................................................65
 Overview of the Section................................................................................................................ 65
 Participants.................................................................................................................................... 65
 Tagging Interview Data ................................................................................................................ 66
 Reading the Data: Emerging Issues and Themes.......................................................................... 68
 Technical problems: an isolated incident?.............................................................................................. 68
 “Technical problems”: a common issue?................................................................................................ 70
 “Technical problems”: impact on learning? ........................................................................................... 70
 “Technical problems”: preventable?....................................................................................................... 71
 “Complex problems, complex ‘solutions’”: when in doubt, students improvise ................................... 72
 “Many tasks, many skills”: prior learning, individual and collective action .......................................... 77
 “Connections made and missed”: a lack of formal interactions ............................................................. 79
  From Inquiry to Conversation: Translating Data into Questions ....................81
 From Issues to Questions .............................................................................................................. 83
 Intention: fit between instructor’s and students’ perceptions? ............................................................... 84
 Students’ skills: prior assessment and group distribution? ..................................................................... 87
 Time: awareness of changing skills among students? ............................................................................ 89
 Synthesizing problem-solving questions into research questions........................................................... 90
 Practical and technical concerns: containing complexity? ..................................................................... 92
 Cultures and technologies: choices in participation?.............................................................................. 94
 iv  Looking forward ................................................................................................................................... 101
  Conclusion ............................................................................................................103
 References ............................................................................................................108
 Appendix A: Assignment Handout ....................................................................116
 Appendix B: UBC Research Ethics (BREB) Certificate..................................119
  v  Acknowledgements My sincere gratitude goes to my family and friends who have expressed interest in and offered encouragement toward the completion of this thesis. The affirmation that so many have offered in hearing the subject of the study has been helpful and energizing. I thank Ted and Nina Rashleigh for their interest and assistance with editing. I wish to thank Drs. Peter Cole, Susan Gerofsky, Samia Khan, Don Krug, Karen Meyer, Stephen Petrina, and Rob VanWynsberghe for their teaching and mentorship. These professors offered a tremendous range of challenges and inspirations. My thanks also to Members of the Faculty of Education and the Centre for Cross-Faculty Inquiry in Education for the supportive environment and the culture of innovative scholarship, and to JoAnne Naslund of the UBC Education Library for teaching me to use RefWorks, which helped me organize nearly a thousand publications, books, and articles that would have otherwise become a tangled menace. To the participants in the study interviews, and to those who contributed to the pilot interviews, I owe immeasurable thanks. This conversation would not have occurred without you. Matthew Weinstein’s TAMS Analyzer software was a great help in coding and analyzing data, and I appreciate the spirit in which he shares his software freely under GNU license. My thanks to Dr. Ulrich Rauch of the University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Arts for encouraging me to undertake a Master’s degree, and to Dr. Cyprien Lomas for his interest in my application of communities of practice concepts.  vi  Dr. Stephen Petrina, my co-supervisor, provided me with the honour of rigorous, challenging, and collegial discussions, shared his positive comments and helpful questions from the start, and supported me in publishing an article and in completing this journey. My special thanks to Dr. Don Krug, who has read drafts, provided insightful advice, and welcomed me as a co-presenter at conferences. Along with giving me the support of a thesis supervisor, Dr. Krug has shown patience and humour along with a willingness to involve me in the academic enterprise in a variety of ways. I am grateful for his openness to diverse approaches to writing, and I continue to marvel at his ability to remove dread and anxiety from the graduate study process, which he seems to do with ease. I express my deepest appreciation for my wife, Jennifer, whose patience, healthy skepticism, and appreciation for balance are only surpassed by her intelligence, creativity, and inspiring energy. Despite the generous assistance and support from these people and others, I remain responsible for the content of the thesis, including any errors or omissions.  vii  Dedication  To my parents, Reet Tari and Ian Reid, and to my daughter, Jade, who inspired me.  viii  Introduction An Overview This thesis is somewhat unconventional in format and approach. It is more cyclical than linear, written in the hope of provoking interest in a new field. Concepts are introduced through stories and anecdotes, suggested and illustrated more than defined. Problems, and examples of their manifestation, are not arrived through random sampling, but instead are selected and developed through a few case study interviews chosen because my position in the institution gave me the chance to analyze and consider the examples and issues in context. I worked directly with the students and instructor interviewed for this study, in consultations with the instructor and guest lectures with the students. Each section of the thesis offers a piece of a wider picture. When taken together, the juxtaposition of various configurations of learners, teachers resources, and community represent a challenging distillation of some serious issues educators must face: the increasing interdependence of environmental education with digital media technologies may lead to spectacular, almost predictable failure. From these juxtapositions, for example of wondrous engagement in the environment versus technological paralysis in the computer lab, or of a deadend classroom versus a thriving learning community, we can see the future is not certain or preordained. We shape the way technology is used in environmental education, but we must realize that the environment is both technological and biological. Our ways must reflect this principle, and this thesis is one way of exploring what it means to develop knowledge of an educational ecosystem that includes complex technologies.  1  A Note About the Author’s Role My role as author and researcher is somewhat unconventional as well. I am at times a storyteller, at others presenting qualitative social science research. My main goal is to convey the importance of better understanding the ways people work with media technology in environmental education. I am drawing attention to certain ideas and examples: I select, frame, and describe some pieces of a picture. I advocate co-construction of knowledge, so while I say “This is some of my experience and what it means to me,” I hope that you, the reader, will find connections between the pieces and see analogies and similarities in your own experiences. Because I have spent years working in a variety of settings connecting people with environmental issues, often using digital media production technologies in the process, I have developed a sense that the issues in this thesis are of urgent importance. Yet my experience also tells me that facts and evidence are not enough to catalyze conversation and change. Stories, as much as data, seem to compel people to think deeply about current issues, and so it is that my role: to try to draw your interest through stories first, and offer up a few examples of current teaching and learning from my immediate recent experience.  Icarus and Daedalus: Enthusiasm Using New Technology When I was twelve years old, I read an English translation of the Greek myth of Icarus and Daedalus, in which Daedalus, the father, and Icarus, the son, escape an island prison on wings they fashioned of candle wax and bird feathers. Icarus ignores his father’s warnings and foolishly, euphorically, flies higher and higher until the sun melts the wax on his wings and he plunges to his death at the brink of freedom. At that age, I strongly favoured scientifically plausible stories, and knew that the sun is approximately 150 million kilometers from earth and 2  that temperatures chill with altitude. If asked about it at that age I would have promptly pointed out the scientific problems with the story and been unlikely to appreciate more poetic or archetypal meanings in the story. Nearly twenty years later, teaching a computer studies class, I had a personal experience of what it means to understand the concept of archetype. I opened a unit on the history of computer technology with the story of Icarus and Daedalus, not because it was a prescribed or recommended resource, but because my instinct told me it was a good start. In my mind the myth endures because it warns us that the products of our technical ingenuity can lead to our demise. This myth comments on human nature: there may be no way to warn against the harm we can do to ourselves when we enthusiastically attach our fate to the inventions that we hoped would free us from our limitations, from boredom, isolation, and imprisonment in banal existence. Daedalus was a wise, old man, one whose lifetime of work as an inventor meant he had the wisdom to respect the limitations of inventions, even to fear them. Imprisoned by the king because he knew the secrets of the Labyrinth, Daedalus undertook a great risk to escape imprisonment and free his son. His words of caution were not enough to overcome his son’s predictable enchantment with the new power of flight. Icarus died, but the real central character is Daedalus, whose invention killed the next generation, symbolized in his son’s fall into the sea. That story underpins my caution about technology. I wondered if the Icarus and Daedalus myth’s cautionary message found voice in the work of teachers. I found a fascinating example of the merging of this myth with teaching practices in a report produced by a group of teachers (McKie, Smith, Milner, and Green, 2002). The report characterizes their collaboration in making a video which retells the Icarus and Daedulus myth. They describe the production project as an inspiring experience that helped them see what it 3  meant to integrate technology with a number of curriculum areas. They emphasized their engagement and insights, “the amazing potential” of being able to explore “what it truly means to learn in a constructivist classroom” (McKie et al., 2002, Reflections section, ¶ 2). The group reports: While we were learning about the technology and how to project our vision, each of us also saw the amazing potential for our own classroom with the high level of engagement and links to the curriculum. Filming Icarusaurus together was so much fun because we were exploring what it truly means to learn in a constructivist classroom and we wouldn’t have learned half as much without completing the focused task ourselves. (McKie et al., 2002, Reflections section, ¶ 2) It is clear from the report that a great deal of work and thought went into the work of enacting a project-based learning exercise using technology. Positive outcomes in process and collaboration skills are central to their discussion: Utilizing technology in telling a story allowed us to be much more than writers and storytellers; it allowed us to be planners, organizers, set designers, puppeteers, camera people, artists, directors, editors and problem solvers- real life skills that will serve us well in future projects. We had to negotiate individual expectations, make complex decisions, use technology to communicate and exchange files, and meet often as a group. Digital video technology helped us to tell the story of Icarusaurus with images, words and sound, in a medium that promotes sharing with others the joys and excitement of our work. (McKie et al., 2002, Reflections section, ¶ 4) I appreciate and respect the value of those skills, but given the impression I carried about the myth and its relevance to technology in education, I wondered if ever their enthusiasm was tempered by the underlying message of the myth. Nowhere in the video or the website was there a retelling or discussion of the caution message of the story in the context of their practice. Interestingly, and unfortunately, I think, the very motivation for the new Icarusaurus character to travel was climate change, an environmental theme. But neither is this theme nor the myth’s warning—that technology is not an unproblematic solution—reflected in their discussion. I am 4  not in a position to explain these teachers’ motivation or analysis, nor is it entirely fair of me to level such criticism without according the opportunity of defense. It struck me as a vivid example of an opportunity missed, and drove me to wonder what goes on in the experience of teachers and students making media for the purposes of learning about something. This group reports their initial expectations: “We were expecting to learn a lot about technology and the process of integrating technology in meaningful ways,” (McKie et al., 2002, Reflections section, ¶ 1) and goes on to describe the transformative effects on their understandings of teaching and learning. “What we didn’t expect was to have our outlook on teaching and learning change based on what we discovered when technology and constructivism collide” (McKie et al., 2002, Reflections section, ¶ 1). Their statements struck me as lacking the critical distance of reflective practice. The group’s report enthuses “Finally, we truly began to understand how exciting technology could be when infused with meaningful and challenging learning” (McKie et al., 2002, Reflections section, ¶ 4). What is intended by “meaningful and challenging learning” is unclear and leaves me asking “what meaning?” and “what challenge?” Apparently the convenience and transparency of the technology they used was such that “Once we completed the project we began to realize that the project wasn’t really about technology at all; technology was simply the means to an end” (McKie et al., 2002, Reflections section, ¶ 4). This statement is useful in the context of this study because it gives me the opportunity to tell something about my sensibilities and position. I do not react with shared enthusiasm to such an uncritical claim. I am seriously troubled by it. I am of the opinion that it is vitally important for educators to approach the use of technology with at least professional circumspection, and not to transform a positive individual experience into application in the classroom without the benefit of careful and collaborative consideration of the potential implications on learning, both positive and negative. 5  In relation to the space of the curriculum and the time available for teaching and learning, this points to questions of priority, and by what processes technology should be integrated into teaching practice. This is not to say technology skills have no place in the curriculum, but that critical technology studies must accompany the enthusiastic teaching of how to use something that could be misconstrued as “simply a means to an end” (McKie et al., 2002, Reflections section, ¶ 4). I am struck by their claims about what technology enables them to become, and I ask what might be lost with such an emphasis on the technology. I also appreciate the authors’ enthusiasm about the new roles they were able to experience, yet it strikes me that they are missing something important in claiming to transcend the roles of writers and storytellers. The Icarus and Daedalus story is about the folly of uncritical adoption of technology. Reading about the Icarusaurus project reinforces my concern that educated professionals, any of us, could be distracted by the novelties and challenges of technology, and spend less effort and time on the responsibility of cultivating prudent awareness among our students. The lesson of Icarus and Daedalus stays with me: using more technology in teaching warrants a cautious, reflective approach that draws on and respects the wisdom and cultural knowledge of those who are reticent about it.  My Position and Beginning Inquiry I relate the above anecdote to convey my motivation to conduct my recent research. As a student and as an educator I have had formative and contradictory experiences with nature, technology, media, and scientific inquiry. In my professional life I have worked in environmental conservation and education. I have been a park naturalist in Banff and Pacific Rim national Parks, museum education coordinator at the Courtenay Museum and Paleontology Centre, and 6  high school teacher in BC’s Lower Mainland, Somewhat circuitously, I eventually came to work more with digital media than field-based education. I never lost my interest in environmental education, but have been making a living in working with academic technology. This work has included making educational documentaries, teaching video editing, and providing academic technology support. These experiences have exposed me to an ever-expanding and increasingly accessible array of media tools. In my position as a staff member of the University of British Columbia, I held a role for some years that included supporting student video production. In this setting, I helped facilitate projects and observed students working in learning environments saturated with digital technologies. I saw students learning about environmental issues using internet sources more than field studies, and using digital media tools to represent their learning. I wondered in what ways learning in these contexts compared to my formative experiences learning about the environment. I already had questions: What does learning about “the environment” mean when students use more digital technology than I did? Are these digital technologies a help or a hindrance to learning about environmental issues? Would making videos enhance or inhibit abilities to understand and solve environmental problems? I decided to develop a research project that would allow me to pursue these questions more formally.  Overview and Approach Students have increasingly widespread access to digital media production technologies, as universities direct valuable effort, resources and mandates toward acquiring and developing technology enhancements (Smith, Salaway, & Caruso, 2009). Students have been using these technologies in environmental education. This qualitative, interpretive thesis presents an exploratory phase of research into what happens when environmental education and video7  making intersect. I bring together diverse, complementary sources, tracing connections among them, with the hope of contributing to understanding and informing future research in this emerging area. The objective is to develop analysis at this nexus of complex sets of disparate and yet potentially synergistic concepts, practices, artifacts and discourses. My professional experiences and personal stories have informed my research at all stages, and I include some of these as major elements of this thesis for three reasons. First, I want to explicitly acknowledge these as strong influences on my research decisions. Secondly, these stories and experiences are expository and communicative. The study includes stories of some of my most powerfully formative educational experiences, as well as my observations from being both an employee and a student in the university where the field study participants’ project was undertaken. Variously presented through anecdotes, folded into analysis, and combined with discussions of related literature, these experiences illustrate my values and biases, serve to introduce concepts, and convey my priorities. The third reason is methodological. My work is influenced by the methods and concepts of grounded theory, as presented by Glaser & Strauss (1967) and Charmaz (2006). Glaser (1978), as well as Strauss and Corbin (1990) point to the importance of professional and personal experiences in “theoretical sensitivity,” which “refers to the attribute of having insight, the ability to give meaning to data, the capacity to understand, and capability to separate the pertinent from that which isn’t” (Strauss & Corbin, 1990, p. 42). I am comfortable asserting that this is particularly important in my ability to understand and inquire using the technical and field-specific languages of video and environmental education. However, I also aim to acknowledge the potential for conceptual blindness, and I counter my immersion in these fields by alternating my analytical perspective between these fields in the hope of avoiding 8  dogmatic interpretation. In addition, I bring data collected in interviews with students and with an instructor who worked on an environmental video project. Their contributions are vital in that they lead my inquiry in new directions, and drive me to challenge and develop my conceptions beyond my original scope. My open-ended, qualitative approach does not start with fixed questions nor end with fixed conclusions. I began with the concerns I have developed over time about the possible roles and effects of using technology in education, and narrowed the study to focus specifically on environmental education and digital video making by students. In framing my inquiry, I set aside my original more detailed questions, and worked from very general questions, such as “what is going on?” and “what are students’ experiences?” Through pilot interviews I refined these into more specific questions, which formed the basis of semi-structured interviews. After a long period of involvement with the interview data, which included transcription and coding, I arrived at the results of this thesis: more questions. Readers familiar with qualitative research will recognize these as similar to the early phases of a grounded theory study. As mentioned earlier, I have adopted parts of this approach, and fully acknowledge its influence, particularly the procedures and techniques described by Strauss and Corbin (1990). I had some concerns about eventual generalizability of qualitative research, and these were addressed to some degree by the argument that interpretation is necessary in any attempt to transfer meaning from one context to another. Inquiry into a new situation can be informed by the study of another, but we recognize there is no complete transfer of truth from one setting to another (Lincoln & Guba, 2000). Validity is in large part a judgment by the reader as s/he considers its honesty, truthfulness, suggestiveness and relatedness to new situations. A researcher 9  in a new situation can determine to what extent the previous results seem to apply in the new situation. This is coherent with my preference for understanding phenomena as emergent, rather than fixed or fixable. I am satisfied with heuristics that recombine and refine data and inquiry in an ongoing co-construction of situated knowledge that is dependent for local value on local actors and conditions more than on any declarative or directive external power or cultural paradigms. This is coherent with the ideas of grounded theory, in the sense that the data of the local situation informs the successive stages of inquiry. However, I see a limitation in the value of grounded theory to drive inquiry beyond the particular setting. So, both to provide further analytical traction and to explicitly present testable challenges, I have incorporated the communities of practice ideas of Etienne Wenger and Jean Lave (1991; Wenger, 1998). These ideas have helped me to develop more questions along lines that acknowledge the social, professional, and institutional contexts of teaching and learning. As I undertook this thesis, I was both concerned and hopeful about the quality and potential of collective participation in ongoing processes of meaning-making in a time of rapid institutional, cultural, and environmental change. By presenting this study I hope to catalyze further cycles of this meaning-making, wherein students, instructors, and the institutions in which we work will be better-equipped to adapt positively to these changes, and to use technology selectively, reflectively, and effectively in environmental education. The first anecdote, below, represents an anchor: a memory galvanized in an embodied environmental learning experience unmediated by technology, wherein my cultural knowledge met the meaningful and comprehensible information provided by the immediate surroundings through my senses. Some things can’t be digitized. 10  Embodied Experience: On a Beach My most vivid and formative learning experiences have been in real-world, natural settings. At the age of ten, I walked one stormy November afternoon for an hour or so along the rocky ocean shore near my family’s home, lifting stones to watch and catch the scuttling shore crabs, poking in tide pools, scrambling up to peek over the top of a tidal island where I had seen an octopus the summer before. Eventually I stopped on the beach near our home, my curiosity waning—not into boredom, but into satiety with exploration. Time for a break from running around and getting into things. My active pursuit of impulse slowed, and I felt a little hungry. I stood there on the sandy flat beside a buried rock that rose up to shoulder height beside me, and eyed an oyster that grew there. In light of feeling a little hungry, and knowing that adults were strangely enthused about oysters on the half shell, I considered the oyster and remembered a few things I had heard “It’s okay to eat oysters in a month that has the letter ‘r,’ but not in the summer.” This connected to something vague about them being more slimy than usual in the warmer months because they were spawning. I remember something very distinct about the final decision to use my knife to pry the oyster off the rock and eat it: I knew the words of the rule about months with ‘r’—I was allowed by the adult world to pick and eat that oyster. But the way I decided for my ten-year-old self to eat the oyster was based on a feeling, not a rule, and that feeling was based not on some esoteric psychic oneness with the ocean, but on sensory memory and real-time, immediate, and vivid sensory input. From the moment I pressed my knife point into the crack between the two valves of the oyster’s shell, I felt it pulling them tighter together. I knew it was alive, which, for me, was a good thing. It would be about as fresh as it could be. Once I had separated it from the rock, I thought for a moment that I should have the customary lemon juice with it, and then readied myself for what I thought would be a somewhat challenging snack. For a moment I was 11  utterly occupied with sliding the oyster into my mouth, I could taste salty cold—not a whiff of fish. A few quick chews and a brave gulp later I stood there, and felt some perceptible shift in my place in the world. There was something about being more grown up, and there was something about this being another one of those foods that I used to hate until I tried it when I was actually hungry, and was to like it ever since. But the thing that really struck me as I walked home was that the oyster was clean—clean enough to eat. And that it was food, provided by the ocean. I later learned that the oyster was probably Crassostrea gigas, a name I still remember without reference, perhaps because I once ate one, but more likely because I have remained interested in marine life ever since those childhood wanderings, when I declared I was going to be an oceanographer (despite having very little idea that it was actually probably more a marine biologist that I wanted to become. I have over time learned about the Pacific oyster’s distribution, life cycle, feeding strategies, anatomy, and environmental requirements. I think of it as moderately important in aquaculture, and as an indicator species, requiring clean water and high current flows. The oyster isn’t just a single organism, or a brief adventure in fresh seafood. It has become somewhat iconic, in a modest way. That clean oyster represents the health of an ecosystem, and more personally, it represents my first clear and visceral feeling of being fed by the ocean directly. It represents an abundant and benevolent aspect of the natural environment, which I have come to value and worry about.  Wired Experience: Video Editing Crash A contrasting experience, this one with digital media technology, would be inconsiderate to relate in detail, but it is enough to say that I did learn some years ago that a video editing application lacking an arcane sequence of software updates, combined with an insufficiently fast 12  computer hard drive, will overshoot its capabilities without warning or explanation in the most fantastically inscrutable manner at the most inopportune time—eliciting alternately tears and narcolepsy from my editing associate. I, in grim determination and questionable thrift, elected to troubleshoot the system with the help of built-in “help” applications, internet forums, and telephone calls to technical experts. I discovered that while there might be better ways of doing things in the pro world, our experience was far from unique among regular folks trying to do things the computer and software said they could do. After seven hours, in frustration I looked at the blank Google Search field, having run out of synonymous phrases for “Premiere v 1.0 crashes capture Mac OS 9” and thought briefly of just casting my desperate feelings into the Googleverse. In practical terms I knew better, but then could not resist the curiosity of seeing whether anyone else had already done something like it. It was a brief and depressing existential distraction that I do not recommend, from which I learned that things would be very bad indeed if I actually had to resort to typing a genuine cry for help into an internet search engine. This was an experience of isolation despite being connected to the “world wide” web. The gap between my knowledge and skills and those required to solve an obscure problem was paralyzing. That I was alone, however, was not the only problem, as illustrated by a teaching experience I had a few years later. It is regrettably not a story of success—in fact I see it as a great failure on my part—but is certainly a story of learning, and has been influential in my ongoing concern about use of technology in environmental education. Several years ago I was connected with an instructor and her group of teachers-in-training, and we arranged together for me to provide some training and support for a video diary assignment that the student teachers would undertake. The goals included producing a short video, using camcorders and iMovie. In 13  this case all of the resources, from cameras, to software, to computer lab time, were provided by the university. After some basic training in setting up for recording, holding still while shooting, and avoiding the zoom button, groups of student teachers recorded up to an hour of footage. I collected the tapes and offered to take care of making the footage available to the students for editing in their computer lab sessions. This meant that I would capture the footage from the tapes, label the files, and transfer them from portable hard drives to the lab computers. Everything took more time than expected, from capture problems to file transfer difficulties. As a professional with experience working with many formats and several editing applications, I was relieved that I had so thoughtfully agreed to take on this troublesome task. This way the students would be better able to focus on their reflection and editorial choices rather than on technical issues. I did not realize in advance how badly things would go when I thought I would be able to get the footage from tape to camera to computer lab workstations. Each phase took hours. On the day of the editing workshop, the process of transfer and distribution to the computer labs took much longer than the two hours I allotted, and as the student teachers filed in, I was filled with frustration and dread. I was appalled that this project would likely be a waste of time for many of them. As I anticipated, the process of transferring footage was not complete in time for the editing work to start. The logistical complexity of organizing footage and people to be on the correct computers was too much to effectively organize with the group. Functional and logistical problems took an inordinate amount of attention and time away from the academic work at hand. With learners in a large group, there is often a limited capacity for providing instructions, and there is always a range of abilities and plenty of questions and requests requiring individual attention. I knew these things, and so felt regret and shame at providing this group with such an ill-organized experience. Compared to my standards of what should have been happening in the 14  room—story construction, editing reflective video journals, composing text, outputting to a CDROM—only a few groups were even able to start. Source files were not on their computers yet. They could not log in to start the application. Procedures for basic editing were confusing to some, easy to others. I found myself at one point helping those who could help themselves and apologizing to the quiet patient group who had not been able to do anything for more than an hour. The students were remarkably gracious, ranging from supportive to practical. Some eventually let me know they would be getting on their way and would check in later, others suggested alternative approaches and workarounds. It was the worst that a mediated experience of environmental education could be, short of someone coming to physical harm. And it was an opportunity to experience first-hand how slippage in a few of the variables, like data transfer rates, encoding compatibility, and computer access privileges turned most of our attention away from the environmental subject material. Troubleshooting broke the flow of thought and creativity. As we encountered new difficulties, and as time ran short, an oppressive pressure built up. Would the students’ grades be dragged down by this failure? Would there be allowances for extra time? Would it ever become possible just to get working on assembling a simple, short video? There were two key concerns coming out of this experience for me: We had invested hours in the digital video project, and this all but ruled out abandoning it, so we were caught up in trying to complete it, no matter how stressful the experience or marginal the product. Our investments in technology extended beyond the wasted hours in that room—they were social and institutional: the course assignment, the computer lab, the prevailing concern to ensure that students are technologically experienced enough to compete in a twenty-first century workplace. For any one 15  person to stand up and say something against the technology-laden plan would be a sociallyawkward, almost taboo, emperor-has-no-clothes kind of act. There was an obvious problem, but perhaps people were reluctant to complain too much because of these taboos against complaining. It is almost as if, because the infrastructure is there, we feel obliged to use it. In my experience, this does happen. It may be that technology training in education is at least as much driven by the momentum of compliance to vague expectations about keeping up as it is by practical or of defensible value to learning. The second thing that concerned me was the level of difficulty involved in supporting this project for a class of students. The technological competence available in the room that day was fairly high, but the problems were so diverse and layered that ever more resources would be required to solve them. More hard drives, more account administration, more workstations, more network speed, more teamwork, more knowledge, and ironically, ever more control. To keep a situation like this from spiraling out of control could require standard applications, standard security and access procedures, universal identity management, and significant lock-step software training. Would it be possible for a flexible, adaptive support system to be in place, rather than a completely standardized one? Can we better understand the technology systems with respect to the needs of learners? So, given the complexity of supporting this kind of project, I came to wonder what it means to be equipped to judge whether a technology-dependent learning arrangement is even worth the trouble, and if it is, how to design it to work for the students, and not the other way around.  Mediated Environmental Education: Engagement Through Television Rolling back into earlier memories, I recall vividly watching The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau on broadcast television. In my memory, my entire field of perception was filled with a 16  sense of being there alongside Cousteau and his crew, and this was my introduction to the sea. I identified with the younger crew members of the Calypso as they explored and filmed in tropical seas and under Arctic ice. I was completely attentive to the narration of the elder Cousteau as he explained what I was seeing. My wanderings along Pacific shores were filled with an excitement that was primed by that world that immersed me in the ocean on a small black and white rabbiteared set. I wanted one day to be Jacques Cousteau, and so I went outside. There were no influences among friends or family that had anywhere near the power of television to draw me into the ocean world, even though we lived right beside it. A few books, and a few old fishermen who dropped the odd tip on how to catch things—these answered some questions as they came up. Mostly, though, it was the nature shows that encouraged me, and showed me that I was allowed by the adult world, to be interested in the ocean. More than just showing me a place or thing of interest, the show evoked a sense of belonging with and on the ocean. This worked well for me. If grown-ups could make a living by exploring, then I could certainly get along pretending to be Jacques Cousteau instead of the remote yet more typical role models of fireman, police officer, or airline pilot. An important part of staying interested in the ocean was the social reinforcement I received from those adults who had great influence on my developing sense of self— adults outside of my family. When a neighbour, a research ship’s captain who I barely knew was leaving on a three week voyage, I nervously wished him good luck on the trip, and said “I hope you catch a coelacanth.” He stopped, turned around, and asked “What are you going to be when you grow up?” I had the courage of a prepared answer. I said with ten-year-old self-confidence “An oceanographer,” and I saw again the same response I had seen once or twice before. I saw the response, although I 17  don’t remember exactly what I heard, because the facial expression said enough: Eyebrows slightly raised, looking into space briefly, the lower lip pushing up, nodding, looking back at me. A serious, considered, almost grave response. That reinforcement conferred on me a potential place, sometime in the future, in the legitimate world. From my view, from here and now, that was an opening of possibility, of one day being part of something, and one day having an identity as “an oceanographer.” In contrast to the direct experience of eating an oyster, this television-watching was heavily dependent on media technology, and, unlike many of the experiences I have had with media, this watching was fluid and fully engaging, as it is designed to be. But it was certainly much more than entertainment: it was a vehicle for language and self-concept that taught me about the environment and the social roles that I could legitimately engage with it. Saying I wanted to be an oceanographer one day prompted others to connect me with experiences they thought I would be interested in. So, the show taught me more than a few things about the ocean. It taught me something of the culture of learning about the ocean, just for the sake of learning about it. I soon turned to the next obvious place to show my interest in the ocean.  Fishing for Learning My formative experiences with the ocean were diverse: mediated and real, personal and social. But few of them were in school. In fifth grade I caught my first fish. I had never seen a fish like this before and I was a little disappointed that it wasn’t exactly a trophy chinook: more like a cross between a small shark and a bug-eyed rodent with a sagging belly: Hydrolagus collie’s face looks a lot like what its Latin name suggests: a rabbit, albeit without the ears. The common English name is ratfish. They are not prized by fishermen—neither for sport, nor for eating. But 18  we asked Mr. Wilkinson down the road, and he told us if we skinned it right away, it would be just fine pan-fried with bread crumbs and some salt and pepper. A week or so later I caught my second ratfish. Without any clear purpose, I decided to bring it to my teacher. I didn’t have any particular questions, and there was no “show and tell” time in our class. I just wanted to give the fish to my teacher. He directed me to place it outside the window on the roof, and that was the end of it. Neither my teacher nor that little rural school had structures in place to respond to my pride and interest. It is likely that some other students had seen one of these fish, and someone might have had a story to tell about how they or their parents caught them, but there was no space for this kind of diversion. Instead, we spent hours listening to our teacher read science fiction stories. Math, Science, Reading, and Social Studies from textbooks and worksheets filled the rest of the structured time. In that particular situation, the educational and social context was unresponsive. The culture of the school was not the kind of community of learning that automatically noticed and nurtured students’ interests. I had been motivated in part by a television show to go out on the ocean and catch a fish. I wandered the shores seeing thousands of new things. I walked to school with a strange-looking fish and the open-mind of a child, and eventually felt ashamed of doing so. Without consciously choosing, I began to cause trouble. I interrupted the teacher, talked to other students, and alternately dove into class work or avoided assignments. I don’t remember the next time I did anything in school about the ocean. That school just did not seem to have ways to connect me and my interests to anyone who could encourage them. I was used to forests and foreshore, and the school was pavement and bricks, both metaphorically speaking in its culture and in its physical reality.  19  Embedded Experience: Doing Science, Being a Scientist, Fluid Action The school experience can also be fantastic. This one involved open-ended and largely selfguided learning, with plenty of room for errors and for exploration. We were to systematically study a topic for which we could not find existing answers rather than simply regurgitate what we found in the library. We were accorded a great deal of class time, access to a huge range of physical resources and ready access to people who were supportive of our roles as students, and interested in what we were doing. My use of the word “we” here is deliberate; although each of us worked on an individual project, we all worked in a shared lab, talked about what we were doing with one another, and shared ideas among ourselves at least as much as with our instructors. There was something legitimate about our work, and something collective about it, too. This was the anecdote that really got me thinking about the context of learning. I had the privilege of being in a chemistry class in which we students, all about eighteen years old, were set the challenge of designing some kind of experiment to inquire into some kind of chemistry-related question. This was not an answer we were going to find in the textbook. We asked: “you mean you want us to come up with an experiment?” Stephen, our instructor, was sitting on the lab bench with his feet on a stool. He looked around the room and said: “Each of you comes up with your own question, and then you design experiments to explore your question. You can use anything we have in the school, and I’ll help you if you get stuck. For next Tuesday, find a question, like ‘Why is the sky blue?’ and come in and tell me what your question is and how you’ll study it in the lab. Any questions? No? Okay, then get to work” He clapped his hands, and as he slid off the lab counter I am sure I saw him chuckling to himself. He was not a cruel or unsupportive instructor, but he did get some amusement out of seeing us flounder and 20  struggle a bit. A day later, I told my father that I was having trouble finding something to make into a question and experiments. He connected me with a chemistry instructor from a medical school, who told me about this weird mess that pH meters make if you leave them to themselves. The pH meters were used in labs as a quick way of obtaining a digital reading of the acidity or alkalinity of test samples. I had never seen one, but she explained that the sample was measured by dipping a plastic wand into it, and the meter compared the sample wand to another wand that was in a reference solution of potassium chloride (KCl). The reference side, if not kept underwater when not in use, would somehow become covered in powdery crystals after a few days. It was nicknamed “KCl creep.” I had no luck in books and libraries finding any explanation, and the term creep often referred to metal fatigue, but never pH meters or KCl or reference electrodes. It seemed like a good enough question since it wasn’t already obvious and easy to answer using books. When I talked with Stephen about my question “what is KCl creep?” he told me I should clarify it and design some experiments. He gave me the OK to study this question, and made no indication of whether he thought it was exciting or boring, just that it passed his basic test of being a question I might be able to do something with. In this school, I and all other students wore a lab coat, all the time. But it was the day I began mixing up some KCl solution that I first started to feel like a scientist. This was not dabbling or posing, but a mesmerizing tension. I draped proper laboratory demeanour over sheer amazement as I added yet another measure of white powder into the swirling liquid in the largest beaker I had ever had my hands on. I had not systematically designed my experiments, but rather just started from my best guess: two litres of warmed distilled water took well over a kilo of KCl powder. The magnetic stirring bullet spun steadily in the bottom of the beaker, and each time I added more KCl, it gradually swirled into solution. This giant beaker full of warm heavy liquid was mine; I had 21  prepared the stock solution, for my experiments. Over the course of a few weeks, I arranged jars and beakers and covers and dyes for the crystals to crawl over. One weekend I left a half-metre long glass stirring rod in an open beaker of the liquid and on Monday found the crystals nearly all the way up the rod. There was inexplicable magic to this strange growth of crystals. It defied gravity. There was something creepy about it, as if left unattended it would crawl up just about anything—or anyone. Of course it was too slow to watch, or so I thought. But I tried a microscope anyway, on the day I was to present my findings to Stephen. I had no explanation ready. Although I had been able to guess—and, through testing, prove—that evaporation was involved, my ideas were still incomplete, half-magical and scientifically implausible. Stephen lurked, or seemed to, in the adjacent lab while I scrambled in my last half hour before I was to explain what was going on with the crystals. Did they really climb up things? How? And why? With two minutes to go, I had my first really formative experience with a microscope. I looked at the way liquid barium chloride beaded on a solid waxy disc of BaCl crystal, and then pulled a Petri dish of KCl crystals under the scope. I spilled a small amount of KCl liquid, and then touched it with a bit of paper towel to soak it up. I did this again while looking under the microscope, and saw the liquid soak up into the towel. Under the lens was a bright jagged tangle of sharp KCl crystals, filling up my field of vision. Into this I released a single drop of solution, and it immediately disappeared among the jagged crystals of KCl, soaking its way to the edge of the frosty mass. Whereas the BaCl liquid beaded and shook with tight surface tension on the smooth solid BaCl crystal, the KCl drop broke immediately and was pulled into the voids among the crystals. Stephen came in. I was nearly hyperventilating, half from the pressure of having to have something ready, and half from the amazement of what I had seen under the microscope. It was not simply the pure visual effect, which was stunning in itself, but that I was seeing 22  something important to my question. I was seeing The Answer. I believe I provided an explanation entirely satisfactory to Stephen’s expectations, preoccupied as I was with seeming on top of my experiment. Just before he left he said “Okay. Write it up,” and then paused to look at the eyedropper, the BaCl and KCl dishes and the microscope. He caught me letting out my breath. “Good experiment,” he said. I knew it was, because I knew I had figured out something, and that it was my own work. I later explained the mechanism of KCl creep in a report and discussed it with the medical school instructor, who was genuinely interested. The experience was a full success. It helped that I was curious. It helped that I was lucky enough to attend such a school, to have such a teacher, and an outside contact, and the freedom and resources to design and conduct my own experiments. When I think of it now, I realize that, in a contained, protected way, it was an experience akin to the pinnacle of scientific aspiration. Freedom of inquiry. Discovery. Contribution. Ownership. Recognition. It was a loosely organized assignment, with simple clear guidance, and plenty of space for trial and error and independent work. It was also one of the best experiences of engagement I have had. I was far from alone, and far from isolated. The environment was stimulating in many ways and presented both plentiful, readily available resources and ready opportunities for discussion. We had to solve substantive subject-related problems, problems of experimental design, and of equipment choice and technique. We had access to appropriate technology, and this technology was predictable in its behaviour, not distracting or confusing. The autonomy we exercised was balanced with room for observing one another and collaborating loosely. When we were working in same space at the same time, it was possible to talk through problems, ask questions about equipment and techniques, and try ideas on each other. It was from this difference that I began to 23  consider that learning contexts would be important to understanding how learning works, especially when independent study depends on technology and techniques.  Synthesizing these Experiences: “Engagement” Each of these experiences includes varying degrees and kinds of engagement, from the direct, unstructured exploration of my beach wanderings, to my entanglement in a video editing lab, to my consuming obsession with crystals and capillary action. When I think about “engagement,” I usually think about times and situations in which learning is not even explicitly noticed, but rather seems like it is just happening. I believe that both individual challenges and shared undertakings can be engaging. Overcoming discouragement and difficulties to accomplish more than expected is an important way to build competence and confidence. Uncertainties can be engaging. I suggest there is also another form of engagement, which we could call entanglement, such as when a technical problem sidetracks us further and further into troubleshooting. I think this is different from total disengagement, because one is still drawn into an active effort that requires concentration and presence of mind. So, engagement may or may not be on a productive track. Disengagement, on the other hand can result from having no idea what is going on, or what one is supposed to do, and feeling powerless, even oppressed. From my own experience this is even worse when everybody else seems to know what to do and how to do it. Knowing how I am doing is engaging: feedback helps, and so does correction. Whether speeding or struggling along, especially at beginning levels, I find it hard to engage when I am concerned that I might be going down a “wrong” path. It helps to have others around, but not necessarily if the ability to solve the problem is vested in only one or a few overtaxed people. Having someone to check in with may not mean being told the answers, but, on the other hand, being left alone to 24  really waste one’s time could be discouraging, especially for a beginner. Engagement, to me, is more than a cognitive or emotional state. It involves doing, and is as much bodily and physical as mental. For example, smells, as physical stimuli, are commonly referred to as strong memory triggers, and can draw one’s entire awareness to a moment. This is engagement: merged physical and mental involvement in a moment. In my own experience, I associate bodily engagement with a sense of competence, wherein skilled movements unthinkingly follow intention. The complementary, cognitive aspect of engagement to me means keeping my mind on a line of inquiry. This is especially likely when there is no distraction created by weakness in skills or techniques. If I am thinking about an idea, shifting my attention to an unfamiliar physical procedure means stopping to think about something else. I am much more engaged when I can stay on my ideas, and experience the moment without thinking about whether I’m carrying out procedures or executing techniques correctly. To me, this is an important mode of learning: engagement means I can experience what is happening, rather than what I am doing. I experience that which is not myself with immediacy, and the vivid details of these moments are galvanized into combined sensory and cognitive memory that only later are described in words. Recalling the anecdotes above, it follows from this working definition of engagement that technology that unpredictably requires a great deal of troubleshooting attention may interfere with this positive kind of engagement. Conversely, watching a completed production, such as the Jacques Cousteau shows, can be thoroughly mentally engaging. As well, it is possible that the process of making a media production can be engaging with little technical distraction, as I discuss later. I want to make explicit my beliefs about engagement in learning specifically at the postsecondary level. Engagement for university and college students is, to me, about developing 25  increasing participation in the enterprise of solving real-world problems that are too complex for any one person to handle. Engagement to me also means that students are expected to join with and surpass their instructors in their pursuit of insight into the subjects of their studies. Students should become involved in problem-solving, case studies, and field work. A good example might be an inventory and analysis of a local system to which the student has access. Perhaps the instructor could do a more expert job of this inventory and analysis given the chance, but in this example, the student becomes, for the time being, the current expert. Even if the exercise is simple, the student is the one who knows about it, and can do the telling. Through discussion the student and instructor can reflect together on the process, data, and meanings. A student’s ownership of learning increases and develops through this collaboration because it is engagement in the sense of merging, wherein the student is included in the pursuit of academic ideals— learning for learning’s sake—in an exhilarating moment of belonging. Hierarchical conventions of the institution may even be briefly superceded by this shared focus on what the student has learned, as the instructor’s and learner’s roles evolve in the moment through this engagement.  Rationale For Interdisciplinary Topic: Overwhelming Potential Of Awareness And Collective Action Before concluding this introduction, I would like to develop a richer sense of why I believe both environmental education and the use of digital media technologies are important, and why they should be considered together. Both subjects are complex, both permeate the educational enterprise in many ways, and both are potentially overwhelming to students and instructors alike. It is this aspect of being potentially overwhelming that affects me the most, both personally and professionally. Both environmental issues and technology systems are especially about interconnectedness, whether they are thought of as ecosystems, networks or as systems. Yet the 26  very interconnectedness that is characteristic to both can lead to an experience of being overwhelmed, lost and helpless. With either type of system no problem is simple, so even rudimentary engagement, such as mastering a basic technique or concept, tends to demand a rapidly expanding awareness of interconnectedness and interdependence. Competence or proficiency in both of these fields simultaneously likely requires exposure to overwhelmingly complex bodies of knowledge, physical systems, and interdependent procedures. There is tremendous irony in this paradox, as technologies are routinely presented as helpful resources for solving problems, and awareness of environmental connectedness is often described as a key solution to many of humanity’s problems, yet dealing with either can be an exercise in humility, frustration, and, unfortunately, eventual apathy. In my own experience, I have encountered nearly-paralyzing helplessness as I acquired basic knowledge, developed skills, and moved toward questions of understanding what it means to be capable when working with both environmental issues and media technologies. In both fields I have had experiences of isolation and despair, but these were at times mitigated by participation in a wider enterprise where I was able to maintain communication and collaborative relationships with others working toward similar goals. Another experience illustrates a professional setting in which engagement emerged despite a beginning in alienation. Several years into my undergraduate studies, I was feeling hopeless and very disillusioned. The more I learned about our vast dependency on petroleum products, the more I became convinced that humans had little capacity to care about the predictable collapse of major economies and industrial food systems. I was profoundly worried, and felt increasingly isolated and powerless. My environmental non-profit advocacy work had been both intermittent 27  and exhausting. When, in 1990, I joined the Canadian Parks Service. I felt a sense of hope and renewed energy that came from, I think, two sources. The first was that I was doing something enabled and paid for by the government of our country. The work was legitimate and mainstream, yet enabled me to advocate for sustainability and perhaps persuade and inspire hundreds of people to connect with and act on their relationships with the natural world. At the time there was a strong agenda from the government to teach and support environmental citizenship. In retrospect, this program may have had a significant effect on the popularity of recycling in Canada. For myself, I was part of a grand enterprise that I perceived to be of real value, and I found the work to be tremendously rewarding and nourishing. The important lesson for me from this experience was that I was closely connected, through group training and ongoing projects, with a dozen or so close colleagues who all struggled with the challenges of the job and the complexity of the issues. As I understand it, we helped each other to make sense of the influences and issues that we were embedded in: policies and directives of the Ministry of Environment, the operational structures of the parks system, the visitors’ needs and expectations, our ways of crafting communication, and our own individual and professional capacities, limitations, and styles. In Wenger’s (1998) terms, we helped one another to make sense of our world and our work. At the very core of what we did were the same hugely complex and daunting environmental problems that had paralyzed and unhinged me months earlier. On top of humour, friendship, collaboration, and shared experiences, we had room to be individuals, and the expectation of professional and personal growth as naturalists. We were encouraged to learn from the veterans, but also to develop our own styles. Authenticity and personal style were highly regarded, and the human connections we made with visitors were as important as the environmental messages we conveyed during walks and talks. In many ways these were common 28  characteristics to the conservation campaign I worked in previously, but with the significant difference of legitimacy. We all served a federally mandated mission of conservation and enjoyment. We produced shows, sometimes live, sometimes recorded, that were remarkably like those that I had seen years earlier on television. The messages were emotional as well as scientific, and the effects on the audiences were often quite astonishing. People often greeted us after the shows, thanking us for inspiring them. This was the glory and reward, but the hard work of producing these shows was far from painful. We had at our disposal some technology for recording and editing images and sound. Our science resources were limited to a small library and our own knowledge and observations. Yet in the office there was the immeasurable richness of at least a collective century of experience among the naturalists. We tried our ideas, talked out our visions, and attended rehearsals and early performances. The trusted collaboration of my fellow naturalists helped to guide my story efforts and solve technical problems. There was a media technologist available to us once every few months, but his work was limited to equipment checks and cursory briefings. More than any other factor, I recall my senses of possibility and responsibility were sanely balanced. The issues were fairly serious, but they needed to be embraced with expertise and affection. Even for a relative newcomer, I felt the benefit of this community, and was able to overcome inhibition about technology and engage for hours on end, arriving each subsequent Saturday with a sense of pride and belonging that I was readily able to share. Being a part of the naturalist community provided a source of security and energy to try new things and extend the effects of my actions through the institutional structures in which the role was embedded. It seems that being part of a larger enterprise was helpful for me in maintaining 29  balance working with the complex, potentially overwhelming issues that were the core of my personal and professional values. These experiences led me to a lengthy search for research already published that would help me to focus my concerns, and further, to help me find ways of belonging and contributing in an academic context.  30  Voices in the Conversation: A Subject/ive Mosaic Turning now to a review of literature, I would like to develop a shared sense of my experience exploring the thinking of others in subjects connected to my inquiry. These selections are writings that affect my sense of what is important in studying the intersection of environmental education and digital media technologies. I would not necessarily expect us to agree on the meanings of these readings. My goal in choosing a selection of writings for review here is to represent some of the subject areas and ways of thinking that I have incorporated. In a vernacular sense, I can be satisfied if you “know where I am coming from”. I have made selections that suit my purposes of sampling significant influences on my learning. This is to say that I present this literature review first as a subjective mosaic, to convey some awareness of what I encountered and pursued along the way. My interpretations of some of these works are at times critical. My selection serves to illustrate influences on my theoretical and methodological beliefs, creating a mosaic of reflections and concepts but not a concise, fixed statement about them. I have been and remain reluctant to join a particular school of thought, and so I do not offer a simple label for the body of works that influence my thinking. This means I am asking you to do more work than if I had presented a selection that offers more unity. As this is an interdisciplinary work, I have availed myself of the freedom—and encountered the challenges—of reading from a diverse range of influences. The formula of a literature review of a field therefore does not apply here, instead I try to convey why the various selections are relevant to me.  31  Influences on my Thinking Foucault Michel Foucault’s ideas opened my perceptions about values, norms, and power configurations in educational systems. I have come to think of educational systems as complex structures, nested and intertwined networks of connections, flows, and topographies, populated by people and technologies, structured by social relations and cultural norms. The broad field of education, with its present rush to ensure students are prepared with technological skills to be competitive in a global workplace, socializes students in its values and norms, and in my observation, draws them increasingly into technology-centred practices. Students are pressed to achieve the requirements of assignments while working within increasingly technological institutional systems. Foucault’s writings, particularly his “Means of correct training” (Foucault, 1979b) describe educational systems as historically situated: ie. the values, norms, and practices of the institution are collective human creations that have developed over time, and will continue to be developed in the future. Present conditions are therefore not a result of inevitable evolution, nor are they necessarily ideal. People create them. They are also exceedingly difficult to understand and change. As I work toward understanding the phenomena at the intersections of environmental education and media technologies, Foucault’s work reinforces the need for critique of norms and practices in the institutional setting. This need for critique is based on a critical premise: if left unchecked, such norms will eventually become dominant without the benefit of considered forethought. Students, instructors, and staff alike all participate in the enactment and reinforcement of dominant paradigms. In the same article, Foucault (1979b) addresses relations and structures in 32  modern educational settings, and the mechanisms of reinforcement of norms. The examination is a technique of specifying and monitoring individual compliance to rules and norms. Individuals’ performances on tests and assignments are graded against expectations. Progress depends on meeting expectations. The depth to which instructors can be independent in developing these expectations, and the extent to which students can resist or reconfigure the standards against which they are measured, are limited. There are repressive, coercive measures to encourage compliance—a failing grade, with threat of expulsion, or the prospect of not being re-hired to teach a course— but these dangers of punishment are not the primary mechanism of ensuring compliance to the values and norms of the system. Repressive measures are not as powerful as are the range of acceptable options for behaving appropriately. These acceptable options remain within a dominant set of discourses, embedded in ideologies. It is simply much easier to do something within the range of normal. Positively reinforcing individuals’ compliance to norms requires very little direct or repressive work on the part of the institution (Foucault, 1979b). The grading system, and other mechanisms of reporting, ensure that participants monitor one another, and also eventually lead to the assumption that one is being monitored. A student assumes s/he will be evaluated. S/he assesses the range of acceptable results, and attempts to win approval. This is also true for an instructor. The mechanism by which a student or instructor complies to certain norms is her or his own choice, in the present moment of the decision, that shapes his or her actions. One monitors oneself, produces what one thinks will meet expectations, awaits the grading of the examination, and moves along the educational process to eventually achieve higher social status. Foucault states: “This is an extremely complex system of relations which leads one finally to wonder how, given that no one person can have conceived of it in its entirety, it can be so subtle in its distributions, its mechanisms, reciprocal controls, and adjustments. It’s a 33  highly intricate mosaic” (Foucault, 1972, p. 62). There is, in this sense, a dispersed but continuous authority. Foucault uses the term panopticon to describe a system in which the assumption of being watched or examined leads to internalized compliance to one’s best understanding of the norms of the institution. I understand schools as panoptic settings, not only because of the physical surveillance structures and mechanisms of examination, but because of the implicit and explicit normative agenda enacted through curriculum, instruction, and extracurricular activities. In my own schooling experiences, both K-12 and post-secondary, the opportunities for compliance routinely drew my energies beyond simply conforming, to becoming part of the enforcement and deployment of normalizing mechanisms. I have often noticed myself enacting the ultimate indicator of a panoptic system: internalized compliance to the point of becoming an extension of the dispersed technologies and practices of subtle, creative, and situated enforcement. Relating to the topic of my study, I perceive the increased use of technology and the prevailing concern with environmental issues to be expressions of norms. Understanding these norms requires questioning them, and this is an act of non-compliance, of resistance. Even though I may or may not ultimately oppose these norms, I want to examine them. Perhaps it is good for students to produce more videos for environmental studies. But I am not satisfied to watch a set of norms simply emerge, and to watch nascent innovations in environmental education be stunted by more powerful, yet outdated economic ideologies that drive environmental degradation. There must be space to discuss what values and what effects are desirable and undesirable. With the pressure of environmental problems increasing, the practical stakes are high. I must be able to ask, is this new normal something chosen deliberately? Are we designing 34  practices to meet the real needs of the foreseeable future? I need to choose a way beyond resistance, to enact a different kind of power, sufficient to create space for alternative values and practices to emerge. Foucault (1972) comments on resistance and power relations in an interview on the “role of the intellectual”: What the intellectual can do is to provide instruments of analysis…What’s effectively needed at present is a ramified, penetrative perception of the present, one that makes it possible to locate lines of weakness, strong points, positions where the instances of power have secured and implanted themselves by a system of organization dating back over 150 years. (Foucault, 1972, p. 62) This comment has given direction to my efforts to contribute to conversations about technologies and environmental education. I work from the assumption that the system is fundamentally grounded in values, which are enacted through power relations. The basis of a given assignment, project, course, or program in an institution exists within a web of social and economic relations of dominance and compliance. The researcher’s task is to interrogate this reality in some specific ways, and Foucault is suggesting that the way is to locate power and weakness. In application, I see a way of locating power and weakness by learning about participants’ activities and experiences, and by learning where and how problems arise for them. Clustering concepts To better inform this inquiry, I undertook to identify and discuss publications that explicitly addressed the nexus of environmental education and video-making. I found no publications that exactly matched the issues in which I was interested. Over three years, I have read or checked hundreds of publications, found primarily through journal indexes, Google Scholar, and library databases, first using keywords such as environmental education, video, digital, student-made, student-produced. I then searched the bibliographies of the books, articles, and web pages that 35  the first search cycle produced. Repeating this search dozens of times from 2006-2009, I found a great deal of interesting work, but again, none directly addressing the issues video-making in a post-secondary environmental education context. The works I have chosen elaborate on strongly relevant themes, such as environmental education as a changing field, cultural and anthropocentric biases in environmental education, interdisciplinarity, pedagogy, social learning, and skills and cognitive development. Environmental education I surveyed a variety of writings on environmental education (Bolscho & Hauenschild, 2006; Disinger, 2001; Zimmermann, 1996; Smyth, 1995; Tilbury, 1995), and selected Tilbury’s as a vehicle for discussing the concept. Tilbury describes environmental education as “education for sustainability“ (Tilbury, 1995, Introduction, ¶ 2). Education with this objective builds upon much of the principles of environmental education in the 1980s, by adding relevance to the curriculum, adopting an issue-based approach, by stressing participation and action-orientated dimensions in learning and by placing emphasis on values education. (Tilbury, 1995, Conclusion, ¶ 2) She traces the evolution of environmental education from the 1970s, where priorities were in “environmental studies, outdoor education, conservation and urban studies” (Tilbury, 1995, ¶ 7). Although these all contributed to growth in environmental education, they resulted in fragmented efforts due to differences in their origins, traditions, and political positions. According to Tilbury, the fragmentation of effort detracted from the “prime goals of environmental education, [which is] environmental improvement” (Tilbury, 1995, ¶ 13). As environmental education became more holistic, interdisciplinary, and globally-oriented, debates over priorities eventually converged on  36  an agreement amongst scholars and researchers that environmental education in the coming decade must re-orientate itself towards improving the quality of life of all citizens under the focus of environmental education for sustainability.” (Tilbury, 1995, ¶ 13) With sustainability for the benefit of humans as its focus, environmental education more explicitly includes social responsibility and brings up a new sense of global citizenship. However, I believe that there are limitations in this way of conceiving environmental education. I appreciate that Tilbury’s definition embodies the fundamental ecological concept of connectedness and emphasizes responsibility. At the same time, “sustainability” is fraught with anthropocentric bias, and tied strongly the concept of development. For example, a wilderness area may not need to be developed in any way, but “sustainability” could be invoked to justify sustainable extraction of wood resources. In order to think about environmental education, we have to consider environmental education in cultural contexts. Learning: cognition and skills in a changing network My understanding of “learning” has changed over the course of this research. I would like to reflect in my discussion of learning a process, rather than a product. For readers who insist on a product, I offer the short version: “learning is increasing understanding of and involvement in social, physical, ecological, and professional systems and networks.” Briefly, this working definition, connected to Siemens’ (2005, 2006) work has evolved from two descriptive models, one offered by Benjamin Bloom’s (1956) taxonomy of cognitive educational objectives, revised by Anderson and Krathwohl (2001), and another developed by Hubert Dreyfus and Stuart Dreyfus (1986) that addresses skill acquisition in a five-step progression. These models are somewhat overly structured, and do not take into account the recent growth in importance of networked systems. Over the course of this research I have been open to the interplay between 37  literature about learning and my own observations and ongoing analysis of interview data. The Bloom taxonomy and the Dreyfus and Dreyfus models were helpful at the stages of approximating the levels of understanding and skills of the students and instructor I interviewed. It seemed that the skill and knowledge levels in environmental issues and media production were relatively low among participants, but the models do not provide traction for thinking about why this might be the case. When I considered the discussion of learning offered by Siemens (2005, 2006) about learning as (paraphrasing creatively) learning-about, learning-how, and learningwhere (Siemens, 2006) and learning as network-forming (Siemens 2005), I was struck by the richness of the his assertion that the process is one of coming to know, rather than of knowing. The developing structure of technology, neural research, institutional reorganization (from hierarchy to network), and social impact of learning under new ideologies, is evolving too rapidly to be effectively detailed as “this is what it is”. The moment this declaration is made, the environment has shifted. Learning is an in-process activity. (Siemens 2005, pp. 26-27) By considering both structured ways of thinking about learning as well as messier and less authoritative ideas about networks I saw that the stories of my own experiences and those of interview participants presented an opportunity that resonates with the idea of learning as process. I first used Bloom’s taxonomy, and the Dreyfus and Dreyfus model of skills acquisition as a way of taking a provisional snapshot: what are the knowledge and skill levels of these individuals? This led me to think of the networks or systems in which they were working and learning, and rather than use these structured models to emphasize factual claims about individuals’ learning, I began to think about the skill and knowledge levels of the systems-ascomposite-entities of which we are all a part. Siemens’ ideas of learning as network-forming process, taken as context for the learning of both the individuals and of the system as a whole pointed to the focus of this study into the interactions and relations of learners, instructors, with 38  their institutional social ecological, and professional contexts. Through the lens of the Bloom and Dreyfus and Dreyfus models, the level of knowledge and skill both within this institution and within this study seems to me quite rudimentary. But there is value in recognizing that there may be a great deal to learn. From here, the process is to learn more, to learn how to extend network involvement in ways informed by the insight and wisdom of all related communities. This is discussed more later in this thesis in terms of developing ecological knowledge, which is perhaps the crucial kind of learning for the temporal purposes at hand. From culture to practice Bowers At its core, Bowers’ (1993) book, Critical Essays on Education, Modernity, and the Recovery of the Ecological Imperative, is about the identification of deep culturally- and ideologically-based problems in mainstream Eurocentric, liberal educational institutions that underpin ecological problems. Bowers points to ways in which taken-for-granted assumptions serve to obscure the complicity of liberal education’s role in reinforcing the harmful cultural metaphors that “underpin the dominant technicist, consumer, individualistic, middle-class culture” (Bowers, 1993, p. 170). Bowers’ book is a cultural discourse analysis that strives to expose problematic technologies and metaphors, and dominant linguistic and cultural patterns, that relate directly to the ecological crises humanity faces. Bowers tells of his attempts in his institution to “reconstitute the epistemological foundations that led to an industrial model of teacher education” (Bowers, 1993, p. 166). He points out a number of problems in teacher education, notably in his twelfth chapter, wherein he emphasizes that ecological crises are coinciding with growing awareness of cultural and ethnic identities because they are related to disenchantment 39  with the illusory promises of modern forms of consciousness, such as individualism and personal success (Bowers, 1993, p. 163). The impacts on cultural groups and environments alike are becoming pressing issues, traceable to the Eurocentric mind-set, with its human/nature dichotomy, its emphasis on competitive individualism and technological/economic practices, and its experimental approach to ideas and values guaranteed by a belief that change is inherently progressive. (Bowers, 1993, p. 164) Bowers goes on to identify the main areas of misunderstanding. He points out that teachers act to transmit cultural norms, but do not teach awareness that their characteristics and assumptions exist among many possibilities. Teachers also need to understand that scientific methods and mainstream cultural understandings must be questioned and supplemented, if not wholly replaced, to deal with ecological problems on an effective scale. Further, teachers may fail to recognize how their use of language serves to transmit cultural norms, not just through the explicit messages, but through the encoding schemes within language that carry meanings through their structural and metaphorical patterns. Multicultural perspectives could prompt more ecologically sound thinking and sustainable practices by including more root metaphors that enrich and inform rather than deplete our ecological relationships. He contends teachers tend to support the notion of technology as a neutral expression of modern progress, reinforcing blindness toward cultural diversity and toward the harmful effects of technologies (Bowers, 1993, p. 172). Bowers offers that environmental education can implement the “deep cultural changes” (1993, p. 196) needed to re-orient education toward a sustainable future. His strategy has four phases: understanding facts about environmental problems, bringing these facts into culturally-situated educational settings, challenging the assumptions of conventional analysis, and looking for opportunities to recognize, experience, and value minority cultures’ ecologically 40  sustainable patterns, practices, and values. For Bowers, modern education is a deeply flawed, outmoded, and destructive cultural entity that needs to change. Education must adapt before its destructive unsustainable ways destroy everything including itself. I am not quite ready to cast contemporary education as a monolithic entity but I do agree that much of contemporary education is part of a configuration of normalizing apparatuses. Bowers also risks the pitfall of essentializing minority cultures as being well-stocked with handy metaphors in their sustainability-minded cultures. The value of his point, though, is that homogeneity of culture is actually dangerous, and that education can tend to promote homogeneity. If education ignores or displaces a diversity of methaphorical ecological insights, grounded in diverse languages and cultures, with a narrower selection from Euro-American anthropocentric discourses, there will be a crucial loss of an implicit sense of relatedness to the natural environment. Bowers’ ideas resonate with my concerns about using video to learn about the environment. Bowers warns us that the ever-expanding curriculum of technological competency within the context of modern education threatens to overwhelm or displace environmentally-focused learning. Becoming competent with digital media technology might require becoming entangled in a sub-culture having its own imperatives and pressures that can displace other kinds of knowing. Russell and the voice of nature I would like to bring in some recent research that discusses the voice of nature. Voice is a critical issue in both environmental education and videography. Russell (2005) expresses concern about the near-absence of the voice of nature in environmental education research. One of the problems mentioned is that “nature” remains largely in the domain of the natural sciences, “thereby 41  leaving the social sciences free to focus on humans” (Russell, 2005, p. 434). Russell notes that this situation is not total, and that there has been some writing indicating “‘nature’ is understood as a cultural production” (Russell, 2005, p. 434). Most postmodernist approaches to “nature” are problematic, she argues, as they tend to first recognize “nature” as a social construction, only to abolish these constructions as outdated metanarratives (Russell, 2005, p. 435). Toward an effort to deal with these difficulties, Russell introduces the important concept of co-construction of knowing, which I understand as a collective process of meaning-making, to ask if all coconstructors need necessarily be human. “Is there any room here for ‘nature’ as co-constructor?” (Russell, 2005, p. 435). Despite the limited capacity of a human to reliably and legitimately fill the role of interlocutor, Russell (2005) argues that, when humans represent nature, there is an ethical imperative to somehow include nature’s voice. In this role, we are shaped in our thinking and action by our physical characteristics, and so must engage the question of “who, or what, draws our attention and is deemed worthy of representation in the first place?” (Russell, 2005, p. 437). She further argues for structuring spaces for multiple voices, including the non-human, to participate or intrude as the case may be. These voices for non-human representation may be in media other than written texts, movement, music, and film, (all of which are produced by humans) (Russell, 2005, p. 438). I think of vocalizations, markings, and other traces produced by living and non-living beings that we often just call phenomena, but which could be read by humans as richly communicative languages in themselves. She further suggests we consider narratives of other animals within ethically and ecological appropriate contexts, and consider the human subject non-hierarchically among all beings (Russell, 2005, p. 439).  42  Russell’s concerns about the voice of nature are perhaps the most esoteric and challenging to incorporate, as they are to me less about verbal arguments than about space and openness to perception and experience. As I understand it, an ethical approach to conveying nature’s voice requires concrete descriptions of ecologically situated details rather than abstract arguments. Communicating these details leads to co-construction of meaning between what nature has to say and what a reader understands. My own narrative of eating an oyster on a beach mediates the voice of the ecosystem which produced the oyster: the oyster’s location and condition, for example, are words in nature’s language. When I chose to eat the oyster, I recalled the words of adults about when it was okay to eat them, but it was the feel and smell of the oyster, the freshness of the sea, and my own hunger that spoke to me in the moment. These are, to me, highly communicative of meanings of relatedness and interdependence. We learn also of the subtlety of nature’s voice, in that we can so often defeat its non-verbal messages with our technologies. For environmental education, respecting and conveying nature’s voice is challenge enough. In environmental education using media-making technology, conflicts between nature’s voice and the demands of the technology may become a pitched battle. Technology and sustainability education: Elshof Shifting focus, I would like to discuss an article that considers educational disciplines, situations and practices, and argues for interdisciplinary collaboration involving technology and sustainability education. Elshof’s (2003) article is primarily concerned with the need for environmental and sustainability issues to inform and be integrated into interdisciplinary studies in secondary education, especially in technology studies. The secondary context is relevant to my study because secondary experiences shape skills and knowledge of students coming into the 43  early post-secondary courses. Further, I am developing my own sense of possibility for integrating the two disciplines, and articulation between secondary and early undergraduate studies is a part of this interest. Finally, his analysis of relations among disciplines seems to me well-suited to post-secondary studies because of the level of sophistication in his arguments. Elshof argues that much more work needs to be done within secondary education to integrate science, geography, business, and technology education in order to help young people develop the interdisciplinary perspectives and problem-solving skills they will require to confront the thorny issues of sustainability. (Elshof, 2003, p. 166) The failure of the provincial school system, in which he works, to effectively integrate sustainability issues into education is contrasted with the significant potential of technology studies to support this need. Elshof’s disappointment with the school system is clear, but rationally expressed. He names technology studies as a discipline that has “the potential to help students envision, design, and construct a more sustainable built world” (Elshof, 2003, p. 166). Elshof develops the idea that it is through integration of studies that students can move through stages of knowledge and skills development, from information-gathering, to problem-solving, to critical engagement. Environmental and sustainability studies are examples of new [hybrid] academic discourses, whose general epistemological characteristics…indicate a movement • from segmentation to boundary crossing and blurring • from fragmentation to relationality • from unity to integrative process • from homogeneity to heterogeneity and hybridity • from isolation to collaboration and cooperation • from simplicity to complexity • from linearity to non-linearity • from universality to situated practices (Elshof, 2003, p. 167)  44  These evolving, hybrid discourses can be embodied in interdisciplinary approaches that serve sustainability and environmental education. Complex relationships, analyzed from multiple viewpoints, through both positivist scientific and humanistic approaches, are the appropriate subjects of environmental and sustainability research. Team learning is a necessary aspect of interdisciplinary approaches, which ideally facilitate progression from individual “islands of knowledge,” (Elshof, 2003, p. 169) toward both broader and more critical awareness, appreciation, and understanding of interests, perspectives, problems and possible solutions (Elshof, 2003, pp. 168-169). Elshof notes a shortage of existing critical curriculum on the subjects of extractive activities, waste, resource use, human needs. He contrasts this shortage with the overabundance of cultural and formal learning by which students are directed to become vigorous consumers. This imbalance leads to inadequate development of students’ critical faculties (pp. 170-173). Elshof calls for collaborative connections between environmental and technology education that will help students learn how to create technologies for a more sustainable world (pp. 176-179). He concludes with a short list of questions which technology education should engage. • • •  Is how I live and what I do compatible with the right to life of others? Does it or does it not steal basic resources from them? Does it or does it not despoil their environment? (Elshof, 2003, p. 181)  Elshof’s technology education questions are recognizable as environmental education questions: he is advocating bringing environmental education into technology studies. I wonder if this interdisciplinary integration goes well in the other direction. In practical terms, how could technology studies interact with environmental studies? Would the use of more technologies improve the insight, data richness, and communication abilities of students dealing with complex environmental issues? How, if at all, would nature’s voice be mediated? Or would students be 45  required to learn so much about the technologies that they might learn less about the environmental issues? It seems to me to be sensible that technology and environmental studies inform one another. Environmental education studies should include highly-developed understanding of the effects of many kinds of technologies on our own and other species’ lives. Despite the apparent potential for synergy between these disciplines, I have long wondered if integrating technology and environmental studies may have pitfalls as well as benefits. I have found some evidence of these in my research. As we shall see, the students’ and instructor’s accounts collected for this research suggest that implementing the idea of interdisciplinary integration may not be easy, and understanding the potentials and dynamics of this curriculum decision requires much more work. Meaningfulness of learning involving video: Karppinen Although not directly involving environmental education, Karppinen’s (2005) article focuses on characteristics of effective learning involving video. She suggests that learning using videos is meaningful when it is “(a) active, (b) constructive and individual, (c) collaborative and conversational, (d) contextual, (e) guided, and (f) emotionally involving and motivating” (Karppinen, 2005, p. 236). I briefly discuss this article as it intersects with my study’s focus and draws attention to the social aspects of teaching and learning using video. She argues that the subject material is not simply stored in and extracted from video footage, but rather that learning is a socially-mediated experience among the teacher and students. “Simply putting pupils around a computer to work together will not automatically result in a pedagogically-meaningful collaborative construction of knowledge” (Karppinen, 2005, p. 240). The instructor ideally pursues a dynamic balance between structured guidance and supported student freedom to create 46  their own knowledge and construct their own understandings. Instead of doing whatever it takes to support students’ success with the technology or the material, she expects to guide them toward challenges as well as solutions, under the principle that “guiding pupils only to further enhance their strengths is not a valid educational strategy” (Karppinen, 2005, p. 239). Karppinen (2005) writes “A pedagogically meaningful use of videos is one in which the learner resorts to collaboration and conversation” (Karppinen, p. 240). Her comments are relevant to my interests: When teaching environmental education through video-making, how is the balance between guidance and challenge maintained? When is learning inhibited by too much freedom or too much challenge? Karppinen’s ideas remind me of the unpredictable nature of both technology and project work. I recall my own troubleshooting traumas with video-editing, and my own struggles with writing. These are first-hand experiences of too much challenge and not enough guidance. The interview participants’ who contributed to this study describe some experiences that are their own examples of such imbalance. Situated learning and communities of practice Some ideas influencing my analysis of this study’s observational and interview data come from Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger (1991; Wenger, 1998). In their collaborative book Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation, Lave and Wenger (1991) articulate the implications of learning that “is a process that takes place in a participation framework, not in an individual mind” (Lave & Wenger, 1991, p. 15). They describe learning as a transformative process of developing identity, so that developing competence is not simply a matter of learning skills, but is a part of becoming a person who belongs, in a socially-situated role. The role includes competence, relationships, access to resources, and gradually increasing participation in 47  the enterprise of the community. In Situated Learning, Lave and Wenger offer case studies of midwives, tailors, butchers and others engaged in learning the ways of their trades, and describe the unofficial social structures and patterns as well as those stages and phases that are explicitly acknowledged as identifiers of movement toward full participation as experienced members of their practice, so that the person has been correspondingly transformed into a practitioner, a newcomer becoming an old-timer, whose changing knowledge, skill, and discourse are part of a developing identity—in short, a member of a community of practice. (Lave & Wenger, 1991, p. 122) Lave and Wenger offer that the notion of “legitimate peripheral participation” is a way of understanding how individuals and groups learn, as newcomers become part of communities of practice. Individuals and the whole community of practice are pursuing shared purposes: they are solving problems in their work, they are adapting the existing objects and processes of the practice to current circumstances, and they are making sense of their own experiences and places in the community. Lave and Wenger’s ideas present an inviting set of possibilities for developing my understanding of students making media in environmental education contexts. I struck me that my analysis could be enriched by considering my participants’ involvement with various communities of practice. One of the concerns and opportunities for analysis I had early decided on for this study was students’ access to the resources needed to support their learning. Traditional resources, such as assignment handouts, reference lists, readings, lecture notes, library books and internet searches were not anywhere near representative of the total context in which students learned. Soon after my initial review of the interview data I realized I perceived the university as a rich environment for learning. I also realized that this environment was not necessarily accessible to the students I interviewed. This could be important, since in Lave and 48  Wenger’s view, access to resources is of crucial importance to participation and learning (Lave & Wenger, 1991, p. 114). Rather than learning being an experience of classroom learning in a conventional sense, the authors insist that exposure to resources for learning is not restricted to a teaching curriculum, and that instructional assistance is not construed as a purely interpersonal phenomenon, rather … that learning must be understood with respect to a practice as a whole, with its multiplicity of relations—both within the community and with the world at large. (Lave & Wenger, 1991, p. 114) This means, in practical terms, that the design and practice of supporting learning must include strategies that include student access to appropriate members and other resources of the communities of practice with which their learning is associated in reality, not just in curriculum guidelines and lecture notes. The implications are significant, for if this is true, educators must better understand not just the subject material, but the present state of the practices related to students’ learning in rich, current, personal, and complex ways. Further, it is not therefore up to just the instructor to write a syllabus and a course of studies with appropriate assessment. Successful participation requires that the instructor, the institution, and relevant communities of practice make students aware of their learning expectations, and connect them with a range of opportunities to participate, collaborate, observe, and practice with other learners and mentors All involved, including the institution, instructors, fellow learners, and the student him- or herself must recognize this participation as mandated, valued, and central to students’ learning— that is to say legitimate. For example, the grade five student who brings a strange fish to school needs to know which teachers might be interested in fishing, boats, biology, taxidermy, or whatever study, or other practice that can be seen by the student and other members of that school community as legitimate. Similarly, students learning to use digital media, would find great value in interacting with professionals to create short documentaries. Practical questions 49  occur, but are embedded in the context of discussion of what makes a good story, and how to access and make sense of a situation that is worth telling about. Students want to produce good work, and, it seems to me, are likely to experience technical instructions as largely noise when their pressing concern is what message they have to offer. Situated learning as identity development also suggests to me that what students are learning becomes more layered and complex as they develop skill with the technology, as the cameras and computers and software become useful to their pursuit of a communication goal rather than a hindrance to a purposeless exercise. Even if the learners are not training to become professionals like the mentors with whom they interact, they may gain motivation from these interactions. In the words of Lave and Wenger, “Legitimate peripheral participation moves in a centripetal direction, motivated by its location in a field of mature practice. It is motivated by the growing use-value of participation” (Lave & Wenger, 1991, p. 122). Lave and Wenger’s ideas in Situated Learning increased my interest in thinking about my study participants’ reported experience in terms of legitimate peripheral participation in communities of practice. Wenger’s subsequent book Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identity (1998) extends the ideas originally presented in his earlier collaboration with Lave. One of the fundamental issues of social theory, that of the interactions between structures and individuals, is addressed here with application to learning. Wenger emphasizes that learning is a social phenomenon taking place in communities of practice, through processes of identity development, as part of a shared enterprise in which structures and individuals are mutually constitutive. In Communities of Practice, Wenger develops a descriptive and analytical approach and provides a theoretical framework for applied analysis and design. Key ideas in the text include: 50  • • • •  The concept of practice as both constitutive and a result of collective learning through doing the meaning of identity as a transformative process toward knowing, competence, and belonging meaning as dual process of reification and negotiation community as a result of mutual engagement, joint enterprise, shared repertoire, and mutual negotiation of meaning in practice. (Wenger, 1998)  Identifying just what is a community of practice (CoP) requires more than an assumption of social harmony in the vernacular sense of community. Wenger offers criteria for characterizing CoPs, and these suggest some interesting implications about relations among learners and about technology. Wenger writes “connotations of peaceful coexistence, mutual support, or interpersonal allegiance are not assumed, thought they may exist in specific cases” and “Most situations that involve sustained interpersonal engagement generate their fair share of tensions and conflicts. In some communities of practice, conflict and misery can even constitute the core characteristic of shared practice” (Wenger, 1998, p. 75). Acknowledging that communities of practice can be places of struggle widens the range of systems that can be called communities. Rather than claim that all groups of interacting persons are communities of practice, Wenger specifies that participants in a community of practice, whether newcomers or old-timers, engage with one another, discuss problems, and share their ideas and complaints in an effort toward common goals. Wenger (1998) calls this “joint enterprise,” which he describes as “the result of a collective process of negotiation” (p. 77). The negotiation process itself is defined by the participants as they mutually negotiate ways to respond to their situation (Wenger, 1998, p. 77). Lave and Wenger’s ideas of “situated learning” and “communities of practice” contributed a basic perspective to my inquiry into environmental education and media-making. From these authors’ influences I decided to study learners in contexts, paying attention to what they were 51  trying to do, what they actually did, and with whom they interacted. As Lave and Wenger would have surely expected, the contexts and communities were to became an important focus.  52  Co-construction and Development of Concepts Through Conversations with Students and an Instructor A Qualitative Approach There are a number of motivations for my decision to approach this study qualitatively. The basic logic of the decision is that I would like to identify some concepts and questions that might be important in a relatively unstudied intersection of fields, and I see a qualitative approach as more productive and descriptive of these than a quantitative study would be. I advocate a qualitative interpretive approach to exploratory research because it allows room to consider many forms of data, to hear stories, to find out what factors are at play, to include the perspectives, biases, and insights of the researcher, and to find out what questions are important. To approach a new topic without qualitative exploratory research would be to ignore the possibility that there are new questions to be asked. My motivation for this study is partly rooted in a sense of concern and responsibility for our natural world and our place within it. These are ethical, social, and scientific considerations, to be sure, but also quite personal and unavoidably political. I believe there are issues of values, practices and of culture to be dealt with, for example, whether there is any place at all for digital media technology in environmental education is a question of values that must be exposed before any measurements are taken of how “effective” these technologies might be. Along these same lines, I want to foreground the awareness that cultures and practices in education are not simply incidental happenstance, but they are created based on values. Doing qualitative research supports alternatives to positivist paradigms. I advocate being open to alternatives to the mechanistic and reductionist knowledge systems that have dominated scientific, political, and 53  educational cultures for just long enough to correlate remarkably closely with the emergence of massive environmental and social problems. Science, rooted in the positivist paradigm, has dominated educational and environmental policy decision-making for much of this time as well, all the while carrying a cloak of objectivity and impartiality. Qualitative research has the potential to acknowledge and expose subjectivity and partiality, even to celebrate them. The underlying values of this research are in agreement with Denzin, Lincoln, and Giardina, (2006), who advocate “a methodology of the heart, a prophetic, feminist postpragmatism that embraces an ethics of truth grounded in love, care, hope and forgiveness ” (Denzin, et al, 2006, p. 770). It is my belief that this methodology looks like conversation, in which stories, reflecting characters, voices, values, concerns, and morals, are followed by discussion along the lines of “this is what happened to me,” “this is what I did,” and “this is what I want to do. What do you think?” The process is collective, iterative, and reflective, and generative of new meanings and new configurations and actions. That is the basis for my choice to pursue this research through qualitative means first. I advocate a qualitative approach grounded in a concern for exposing and countering assumptions that may be inherent in pro-science, pro-engineering, and pro-technology paradigms. I see this methodology, enacted through co-construction of knowledge and generative of collaborative action, as a moral alternative to science-based empiricism. This reflects what Denzin et al (2006) describe as a post-pragmatist view, in which there is no neutral standpoint, no objective God’s-eye view of the world. The meaning of a concept or a line of action or a representation lies in the practical, political, moral and social consequences it produces for an actor or collectivity. The meanings of these consequences are not objectively given. They are established through social interaction and the politics of representation. (Denzin et al, 2000, p. 776) 54  The meaning or value of truth and knowledge claims can then be interpreted through dialogue on experience and specific ethical considerations. Collins (cited in Denzin et al, 2006) offers four criteria: “primacy of lived experience, dialogue, an ethics of care, an ethics of responsibility” as a “framework [that] privileges lived experience, emotion, empathy and values rooted in personal expressiveness” (p. 776). Research grounded in compassion demands insight into the effects of technologies on vulnerable people, including the students who put their trust in educators to provide them with measured, appropriate challenges. In my practice, this framework becomes research comprising stories, feelings, values, personal viewpoints, and efforts to understand and respect the existences of all beings. At the beginning of this research, I had no idea what questions to ask that would be suitable to a quantitative study, and so I pursued qualitative interpretive research and brought the assumption that the world is complex and ever-changing, rather than fixed and authoritatively measurable. As Denzin et al (2006) point out, some critics of qualitative methodologies “presume a stable, unchanging reality that can be studied with the empirical methods of objective social science. They seek to preserve this stable, unchanging—and imaginary—world against the attacks from the inside and the outside” (p.772). I situate my work in a framework that “seeks to contextualize shared values and norms,…privileges the sacredness of life, human dignity, non-violence, care, solidarity, love, community, empowerment, civic transformation [and] demands of any action that it positively contribute to a politics of resistance, hope and freedom” (Denzin et al, 2006, p. 776). I am hoping to advocate and catalyze action toward assessing, and if necessary, freeing learners from a possible overload of digital demands. I am aiming to resist my own complicity in 55  the deployment of technology in environmental education, and in doing so interrogate the possibility of a misplacement of science-based values, manifest in the increasing digitization of education. My stance is that we must repeatedly re-learn the changing reality of the world around us, and research must reflect and enact an iterative, participatory approach to remain engaged with this emergent reality. The overall structure of this study, the interview conversations, analysis, and the discussion that follows are an enactment of these values.  From Theory To Methods Participants in this study worked within and enacted networks of knowledge, skills, and resources to meet the goals of their assignments. In approaching this study as an inquiry into student experiences, I collected self-reported data that describes what they learned about the subject, the skills they practiced or gained, and the resources they used to do their work. These participant interviews, along with relevant literature, my own observations in the institutional context, and my own experiences help me to identify important concepts and develop questions about how to best enable learning. These multiple sources of data represent records of various kinds of conversation that merge in this written study, which then serve to catalyze further participatory meaning-making, as described in more detail later in analysis and discussion.  Rationale for Environmental Education Setting: Guiding Concepts in Interviews I would like to add some thoughts about my rationale for choosing an environmental education setting for a field study component and elaborate my evolving understanding of environmental education. Environmental education, as defined by the British Columbia Ministry of Education (2007), includes an explicit emphasis on three aspects of education “About,” “In,” and “For” the 56  environment. The subject matter is actually not just “About” the environment, and is not only practicing advocacy and stewardship, but also is learning inherently and explicitly “In” the environment. This implies a study into one’s own place and relationships as part of a system. As such it draws attention to several questions: Who and what am I? (identity), Where am I? (place), and What is happening? (system dynamics). These questions can be thought of as parallel with the aspects of learning-about, learning-how, and learning-where (Siemens, 2006). In drawing these connections, there is some blurring. Is know-what about all of identity, place and system dynamics? Do students develop know-how in the realm of system dynamics? And what does learning-where mean in environmental education if we don’t limit this notion to descriptions of places and ecosystems separate from ourselves? If we choose to understand environmental education as being about ourselves (self) as much as the environment (other), that is to say, seeing ourselves as part of the (whole) system, then we need to study our relationships within living and non-living systems, and we need to study the articulations of our individual and collective being and doing with other elements of the system with which we interact. These elements shaped the focus of the interviews I conducted for this study: descriptions of participants’ experiences and activities in a class concerned with environmental issues, assigned to make videos about their topics of study, in an institution of higher education. This study aims to characterize interactions from the individual-social scale of student and wider to her or his interactions with people and resources. The following section describes the field study in more detail.  57  A Field Study Component Summary and rationale: conversations-in-place This study includes multiple approaches, including literature research, autobiographical stories, and theoretical studies. The field study component complements these, and provides fresh language and perspectives from which to consider the topic further. Although I have had occasion to observe many students and instructors working with video over the years, only two students and one instructor contributed to the formal interviews in this field study component. Were I attempting to collect a representative sample for a more exhaustive study, I would have pursued further recruitment. However, my aims have been primarily in starting a conversation, and in opening dialogue through questions grounded in multiple sources of data. Although I might have recruited more students, the contribution of the instructor was a great help in enriching the picture, as he was able to provide composite descriptions of things that happened to larger numbers of students than I could have possibly interviewed. In addition, the instructor’s comments complemented the concerns of students to draw my attention to a wider view that now includes not only the instructor’s concerns, but the interactions of students and instructors with the institution and with groups and agencies beyond the institution. I doubt there would have been any disadvantage in interviewing more students from the class I worked with, but I also see that the two students and instructor who participated provided more than enough data to make a significant contribution to the discussion by helping identify areas for further research. Field site I chose a project within a post-secondary course as a field research site because the characteristics of the project exactly matched my interest in students working with digital video 58  technology and environmental education topics. This apparently bounded site—namely, a course—is in reality more of an entry point to an unpredictable space of learning relationships. The data generated with students includes their descriptions of the spaces and relationships that were relevant to their learning. As such, the research site was bounded iteratively through data collection and analysis. Some specific characteristics of the research site include: an environmental education topic (ecological footprint); students producing a video on the topic; a first-year post-secondary program in which students study as a cohort; a mixture of structured (classroom) and independent (field/location) activities; and a project-based assignment with a variety of formal and informal settings. Researcher’s relationship with site and participants Since 2001, I have been employed at the same university in which this research was conducted, and over that time have often helped provide resources and support to students. In the summer of 2008 I was invited to provide guest instruction to a class of students who were to be assigned a project making short public-service announcement videos (PSAs) on the topic of ecological footprint. The instructor of the course was referred to me for help supporting his students through the project. The needs expressed at the time included information about access to video equipment, training on its operation, and introduction to the techniques and craft of video editing. I mentioned my research interests to the instructor, and he offered to invite his student group to participate in my research. The guest teaching comprised two lecture-demonstrations. I identified myself as a guest lecturer, a staff member from a different Faculty, and a graduate student doing research in the field of technology and learning. I stated to the group that I would not be collecting data from them during the lecture-demonstrations. I advised the students that 59  the lecture-demonstrations were provided in support of their learning and success on the assigned PSA projects, and that their opportunity to participate in research was separate from the in-class activities through voluntary participation via sign-up sheets for out-of-class interviews. Their comments and questions at this stage were to be excluded from the study data, but I recorded my own experiences and the facts of my own presentations as part of the study context. In the first meeting I provided the group of twenty-five first-year students an introduction to the language of video, discussion of the public-service announcement format, some discussion of message selection and approaches to success in this short form. With the instructor’s approval, I reinforced the emphasis on communication of ideas above high production values, in effect advising the students that “As long as the technical quality of video or audio do not distract from the communication, then high production value of video is not a priority.” For example, a highdefinition format project would not be awarded more marks than an otherwise equal project shot on a cell phone. This was relevant for several reasons: the university would likely not be providing enough equipment for the class to do their projects; the output format was ultimately to YouTube; and the main goals of the project were emphasizing basic video skills, collaboration, and communication of understanding rather than high technical production value. A brief demonstration of camera operation and capturing techniques was also presented. The content of the second workshop moved quickly through a variety of footage acquisition, editing, and upload methods. One of the guiding principles of these demonstrations was that there was no prescribed method or technology, but that the basic process could be applied with several kinds of acquisition and editing tools. The instructor told students they were expected to choose and find their own resources, although some would be available for pre-approved loan from an audio-visual department in the university. In accordance with the instructor’s plan, I was not 60  available to provide assistance to students during production or post-production. Thus, with the exception of some troubleshooting conversation over email with the instructor, my involvement with the students’ projects ended with the guest lectures. Subjects and recruitment Several weeks later, on the assignment due date, the class met at its usual time and location for a screening and class-favourite award contest conducted by the instructor. At this time I was given an opportunity to describe my study and to distribute paper invitations to participate. I gave all students a copy of the paper invitation, and I asked that the students indicate their interest or lack thereof on these sheets, and that they all hand back their invitation sheet whether they wanted to participate or not. In this way the course instructor would have no way of knowing who chose to participate. This was intended to protect students’ privacy and anonymity in the context of the class, and reduce concern that non-/participation in the study could in any way affect a student’s standing in the course. At the end of the class most of the students returned their sheets, and six indicated willingness to participate and provided me with availability and contact information. Student participants were then contacted by email or telephone according to their preference, and two interviews were scheduled initially, and another later with the instructor. I asked participants to review their journal entries associated with the video PSA assignments, and to choose whether they would want to share copies these with me as data. The instructor and the teaching assistant also offered to participate in interviews. Methods: data collection focus Interviews were focused on the physical, disciplinary, academic, institutional, and social context of several students’ learning experiences. I was also interested to gain more understanding about 61  what and how they were learning, through open-ended questions, such as “in what ways was your experience in this project different or similar to other learning experiences in other projects?” and “Do you think there was any effect on what you learned because you were making a video?” We also discussed the context of learning. I asked both students and the instructor to talk about “the dynamics and the connections and arrangement and configuration of a system that you're learning in.” Combining their comments about context and about learning, I collected data that I hoped would help describe what resources students needed to complete their projects, and where these resources were located in relation to the students. Further, the interviews inquired into students’ beliefs about what they learned, and how important or valuable this learning was to them. Also, I asked students to contribute their thoughts about how this learning could be made better through institutional arrangements, pedagogical design and further research. To make specific the broader questions above, I asked students about their sources of knowledge and capabilities, how and where they found what they needed in terms of both knowledge and resources, what they learned, and how they perceived the value of their learning experience with the assignment. The questions fall into four general categories: 1) networks of resources; 2) beliefs about what they learned; 3) beliefs and suggestions about how their learning could be better supported; and 4) beliefs and suggestions for what should be researched in the future. Interviewing procedures In order to refine the interview process before meeting with the students and instructor in the PSA project group, I conducted pilot interviews with two students who were not connected with the research participants’ class. These interviews offered me a chance to practice the interview structure in order to move the process along more naturally and maintain similar duration. I 62  arranged to meet with individual participants in either meeting rooms or small classrooms that allowed relative privacy and safety. I was concerned to provide an interviewing arrangement that would be quiet enough for audio recording, and yet not so isolated that participants might feel ill-at-ease or cornered. I provided on-campus locations where students would be unlikely to be seen by their course instructor or classmates, once again to protect their anonymity in the context of the course. After a brief technical setup procedure that included approximately five minutes of audio testing and speech recognition software profile training, the substantive content of interviews proceeded as described below. The first phase of each interview involved questions about students’ technological and environmental backgrounds. I asked students to rate and describe their perceptions of their own levels of skill in working with computers, with making digital media, and with internet web sites and applications, and to describe their perceived prior levels of knowledge and experience relating to environmental issues. In this section we reviewed what knowledge they brought to the project, and what knowledge they gained through the project about the ecological footprint concept, video technology, or digital storytelling. The second phase of the interview included a questioning and resource-map drawing approach, such that participants each drew a map on a sheet of paper showing the names and locations of various knowledge, skill, and technical/physical resources they recruited for their project. These included people who helped, locations, physical objects, equipment, supplies, and any other resources they remembered. This mapping excluded resources or individuals who are routinely part of the student’s life but did not play any role or provide any contribution to the project. Participants were asked to include themselves in the maps, and they were assured that the data would be stored, interpreted and 63  analyzed in such as way as to preserve anonymity and privacy as much as possible. Resourcemapping offers a descriptive-qualitative spatial view of students’ work, and a way of representing the students’ learning systems. The third phase of the interview session continued the semi-structured interview focusing on students’ beliefs about what they learned and its importance to them. This data provides qualitative indications of whether the kinds of projects they undertook seemed to them to be worthwhile. Near the end of the interviews, I also asked students about their opinions of how projects could be designed and supported to make them better or more valuable to them, allowing open interpretation by the students of what they might mean by “better” or “valuable.” The structure of the interview sessions is summarized as follows: •  Protocol administration, signing consent, questions or concerns  •  Introduction and overview of interview  •  Calibrate voice recording  •  Interview part 1: discussion of assignment and participant prior experience  •  Interview part 2: resource mapping  •  Interview part 3: semi-structured conversation: learning, needs, suggestions  64  Data and Analysis Overview of the Section Interviews were transcribed into text, and transcripts tagged with descriptors summarizing or interpreting the main ideas of passages. Following the early stages of a grounded theory method, as described by Strauss and Corbin (1990), I reviewed the data by sorting tags and looked for themes that caught my interest, whether because they were especially vivid or concise, seemed to occur often, or nagged at my intuition. Tagging provided organization, and was conducive to close reading of transcripts. By spending hours listening to the audio recordings, and then transcribing these to text, I began to form impressions about several events described therein. For example, I found that some students were distracted by technical challenges. In another case, some students improvised and dodged one of the instructor’s intentions for the project. Each of these was different enough to warrant a new tag. To convey and share my process of learning from these data elements, I describe the tagging and analysis procedures. Further on, I present excerpts from the transcripts, and develop interpretations and discussion about their meaning.  Participants I would like to briefly introduce the participants, Tara and James (pseudonyms) were students in the course. Tara seemed relaxed and confident in the interview, and her story included some indications that she had a higher level of technical skill than others in her group. She was the one to do the troubleshooting, and her group was quite creative with production design, using puppets that made themselves to convey their message. James was somewhat formal, very wellspoken, and seemed somewhat reluctant to describe his own skills and abilities. James seemed to mainly see the exercise of making a video as a different way of showing what he had learned, but 65  not so much a learning experience in itself. By the end of the assignment, James reported that he had not increased his abilities to work with video. Interestingly, James also reported that he generally found most assignments did not challenge or enrich his learning, in that they provided “very little learning experience for me in general. I find most assignments of an academic nature to be geared towards expressing my knowledge versus just gaining knowledge.” His candour throughout was appreciated, since I could reasonably assume that James was not completely averse to making critical comments. Michael (pseudonym) was the instructor of the course, and he was able to make comments about the class as a whole as well as about his own experience teaching it. He candidly and openly expressed his belief that he had gone well beyond the requirements of his position in designing and supporting a video-based assignment, and that project assignment had a mixed outcome. Michael’s comments also provided a way of checking an additional perspective on both the concerns raised by students and my own about what and how students were learning and the impact of video-making technologies and practices with pedagogy. Michael’s interview also conveyed the sense that a key problem exists in the relative isolation of instructors and to some extent students. His contribution helped a great deal in my effort to generate questions about the relationships and configurations of teaching and learning.  Tagging Interview Data In broad terms, the approach I first took was to read through transcripts and tag segments with codes. In coding and analyzing the interview transcripts I made a deliberate effort to apply both interpretive tags as well as descriptive tags. In this way I marked some items with my initial impressions of their meaning, as well as tagging them with empirical observations that included 66  minimal interpretation. For example, a passage from a student that included a statement about emotions of feelings would be tagged with the descriptor “affect.” I might also interpret the emotion and label it “affect>frustrated” if I believed that frustration was an accurate interpretation. The aim of coding was twofold: to be involved with the data in a reflective, analytical way, and to use the capabilities of the data analysis software to help with efficiency of recall and to collect related segments for further analysis. I first created several dozen broad codes, and then nested subcodes within these. For example, when participants used a word that described a feeling, I applied the code “affect,” then added subcodes to provide more detail, such as “affect>challenging,” “affect>confusion,” “affect>interesting,” and “affect>uncertainty,” to name a few. As I was unfamiliar with the software and new to the process of software-assisted qualitative data analysis, I refined my coding design as I went. After cycling through transcripts I had 198 codes. Tags were applied 958 times to text segments in the transcripts of two students and one instructor. Many passages were marked with multiple tags. In the case of “locations,” for example, I opted for redundancy and overlap rather than force a system of exclusive codes, so a piece of transcript that mentioned “residence commons block” was tagged with both “location” and “resources” tags. In practice, some such items in the transcripts were tagged with multiple subcodes as well. I decided that since my purpose in coding was involvement with the data and recall of segments rather than developing theory, exclusive codes and categories were not necessary at this stage.  67  Reading the Data: Emerging Issues and Themes I approached the analysis with an expectation that interesting issues would arise from reading transcripts and reflecting on these in light of experience. Through an inductive approach I identified some issues of interest. I collected data segments that were related by similar tags and I analyzed these for thematic links, or synthesizing concepts. I also looked for repetition of related tags within and across transcripts. The approach was not exhaustive, in the sense that I did not mine the data for all possible concepts. Technical problems: an isolated incident? As mentioned earlier, I found some evidence of problems using technology, described in comments from both the instructor and the student participants. I found that a software version change was a small problem for one group: Tara noted she had to spend time teaching herself how to use the latest version of the iMovie (08) editing program. She had previously used the “06 HD” version, and found the new version to be very different. She describes her experience of encountering and overcoming a problem in this excerpt from the transcript (edited for clarity): Morgan: Did you have any problems with editing? Tara: A little bit because that was the first time I used this version of iMovie. I'm used to the old one, so I basically fiddled around with it at home in between filming and editing. Just to try to figure out how to use it. Morgan: So the learning how to use iMovie, it was already on your computer, and you were familiar with the previous version. Where did you learn your skills with the previous version? Tara: I basically just messed around with it a lot and figure things out by luck, I guess. I did use the help feature occasionally, but for the most part it was just sort of guessing, seeing how things worked. Morgan: Okay. Had you taken, had you made any videos before? 68  Tara: Yes sort of. Nothing that had to be good or anything, just stuff for fun. Like, I think I filmed my friend’s hamster once, nothing serious at all. Morgan: You were working with iMovie, the new version. I've seen it. Tara: Yeah it's a bit frustrating. Morgan: It is different from the old one I do understand that. Were you completely on your own to solve the problem, learn it, figure it out? Or did you find help from somewhere? Or something? Tara: I just messed around with it for awhile, and just figured it out. It took me a good half hour to figure out how to put clips together and everything, but after I pressed a few buttons, I don't remember exactly what I did, but I did figure it out eventually. Yeah that was good. Although I do know that someone else in the class who had severe difficulty with the old version of iMovie, so they could not get any sound on theirs, so theirs was silent in the end. So I guess I was lucky. Figuring things out. As empricial information, this data first struck me as, at most, an anecdotal confirmation of my expectations, of limited value. So, yes, the student encountered technical problems with iMovie, and was able to solve them herself. After spending time reflecting on this anecdote in a number of ways, it became increasingly suggestive and fertile. Tara had encountered technical problems with iMovie, and was able to solve them herself. The resources mapping portion of the interview supplemented this information with some context: Tara owned her own computer; had previous experience with the computer itself, and had the skill, freedom and flexibility to use it to learn new applications and to solve problems on her own time. Her related experiences, namely previous skill with an earlier version of the application, and with the computer platform, were indicated elsewhere in the interview data as well. She had stated that she was comfortable with self-teaching applications. Tara was also able to reflect on her situation in relation to others. She  69  knew other students had application problems, and said she was “lucky” that she could solve hers on her own. “Technical problems”: a common issue? Now that I had collected and reviewed empirical data specific to one situation, I looked for evidence that might help develop the theme of “technical problems” in the students’ projects. The instructor corroborated and described the problem of iMovie skill levels: Michael: An example problem was a number of them were familiar with older versions of iMovie, and then they attempted to use the most recent version of iMovie to put together the video, because obviously the most recent version of any software is the best piece of software (laughter). So, that was very unfortunate. I don't even know what the most recent version of iMovie looks like, but as I understand it is nowhere near as friendly, and it is nowhere near as smileinducing as older versions. Some of them went a very great distance right? And they simply realized that they were going to have to start again. And I felt very badly for those couple of groups, because there was nothing I could do other than to provide them with encouraging words. “Technical problems”: impact on learning? The instructor indicated that this was not simply a minor obstacle, but in some cases seemed to have an impact on student learning. I asked him whether he thought the technology and the nature of the assignment helped or hindered their learning. Michael: Okay, did the technology help or hinder their learning? I would say that depended entirely on the student. If they got very interested, if their imagination was captured by, you know, the opportunity to put together a digital video, then I think it propelled them to delve into the issue a little bit deeper. Unfortunately for the students who were not thrilled by that, I'm 70  hesitant to say that it actually hindered them, right? But it certainly put the brakes on, on the additional research that they had to do to inform the video. Right? So, if there's a group who were not so comfortable with the technology, right? That was a bit of a speed bump, and they didn't go off and necessarily sort of learn that topic in great detail. Which was unfortunate. Morgan: Just asking again, what put the brakes on? Michael: Right, the students’ discomfort or their inability to express themselves in the medium of digital video. It did put the brakes on them sort of finding that, sort of creative way through the assignment. So apart from, you know, this one group that I've described to did find a creative way through the assignment, they didn't actually explore the topic in any more detail than if it were any just written assignment or anything like that. For some of the groups where the people were not so technically competent, their videos ended up being, they were all impressive, especially where they were coming from, but just for a range in the class some of them were not as impressive as others because they became more fixated on video as the medium rather than telling an amazing fantastic story in whatever cobbled and sort of lackluster technical fashion they could. At first I had an individual student’s description of the iMovie version problem, but looking further it became apparent that this issue affected many members of the class. We return to this later on where there is an indication from the instructor that the technology “put the brakes on”— in other words inhibited engagement and learning. “Technical problems”: preventable? At this point I began to interpret the iMovie version problem as an example of an issue that perhaps could have been somehow predicted or solved. However, the specific problem may not be exactly relevant to another context, or even a new group next year in the same context. Might 71  there be mechanisms, methods, practices, or models might help to anticipate and deal with this kind of problem in the future? The next step in my analysis of this anecdote is to suggest that there is a need for students to be aware of what equipment and software they are going to be using to do their work, and that they must be ready to use them when the time comes to produce and edit their stories. This is the point in analysis where my thinking crossed into consideration of a learner in a community context. The example of Tara’s problem and the similar problems of others in the class drew my attention to the speculation that if everyone could have known about, anticipated, and solved the versioning problem well ahead of the due date, they might have been able to maintain more focus on the subject matter. Perhaps the iMovie version issue could have been averted in this case, if 1) there had been a practice phase that was debriefed with the group, 2) the students tested and evaluated their workflows beforehand, 3) the test/evaluation process was easily accessible, quick, and supported by people with skill in the fields in which the students were working, and 4) solutions and alternatives were shared and iterated through this same cycle. I looked further into the data to see how students dealt with their weaknesses in information or skill with technology. “Complex problems, complex ‘solutions’”: when in doubt, students improvise A variety of data segments from the transcripts point to active negotiation of technology issues, and illustrate student capabilities and efforts to focus on the messages and meanings of the environmental issue of ecological footprint, even though they were less comfortable with the technology. There is an example of a group that effectively minimized some of the technical challenges of producing video by taking an approach the instructor did not expect, and produced a video that in my reading was quite good at conveying a message rooted in the subject matter. 72  Their strategy included creative interpretation of the assignment intentions. The value of this anecdote is that it illustrates both a disconnection between instructor intentions and an active negotiation of the meaning in the work of video-making for an environmental education topic. The instructor talked of one group of students who completed the assignment, but compensated for a shortage of video production skills in their group. They availed themselves of Creative Commons and public domain video clips, and according to the instructor, “what it meant was that they put their video together in one-tenth the time that it took everybody else” (Michael). I began to wonder if and why this was an issue, and returned to the instructor’s comments. Michael: This one group found an escape hatch, which I did not know was there, to avoid all of this and that is they did not actually capture their own video…. In fact, in the future if I were to run this again I would actually specifically state in the assignment that I want them to capture their own video. And that if they wanted to use other people's open source video clips that was fine, but I would put a limit on that. I pursued further analysis of this anecdote. The instructor mentioned that he would change the assignment instructions next time. I set to searching the interview transcripts for comments about the students’ and instructor’s perceptions of assignment requirements. The instructor communicated his intentions of assignment requirements to the students prior to the work being done in several ways. The assignment handout noted that, by the end of the assignment, they would “be able to use a video camera and digital video editing software” (see Appendix A). The substance of the assignment, which was to create a one-minute public service announcement (PSA) on the subject of ecological footprint, was described in the same handout and corroborated by students’ interview comments, but students did not mention any perception of requirement to shoot all their own footage. The fact that one group chose to produce a video mostly made of 73  downloaded clips seemed to be a potentially interesting lens. I looked further into the definition of the assignment as a collection of characteristics. The assignment (See Appendix A) was inherently complex, and the handout, according to the instructor, itself reflected this: Michael: I mean, it's a very long very detailed assignment. Lots of text. It’s two pages of single-spaced text because there are so many steps and it's so complicated, and I was delegating it all, effectively to them. And there are so many places for things to go awry. I tried to be as clear as I could at every single stage of where they had to be in the assignment. It was a tremendous challenge for me to be able to communicate that in the assignment. In retrospect, if I were to do that again, perhaps what I should do is instead of giving them the entire assignment in one fell swoop like that, I should perhaps feed it to them in one nugget at a time. There was not an explicit requirement for a ratio of original footage, and Creative Commons sources were both demonstrated in a training session and recommended in the assignment. There was a storyboard stage, and a requirement for a production plan and timeline, which explicitly mentioned a shooting window. A paradox of sorts begins to emerge, wherein the instructor appears to have spent a great deal of time designing the assignment, yet cannot contain the complexities and ambiguities. This is not necessarily a matter of the project being an experiment for the instructor, as he had assigned it previously and has revised it since. In the research interviews, the students had comments on the nature of the assignment, revealing a divergence in their perceptions from the expectations of the instructor. Tara: It had to be a video. And I'm guessing that if we wanted to we could have made a video using, like, screenshots or something, and just had a voice. You did not have to necessarily, I think, film anything yourself. Like, you could take pictures and use pictures from the web I imagine. 74  It was not Tara’s group that had used downloaded footage. Rather, far from avoiding shooting their own footage, Tara’s group chose to produce a video with somewhat challenging production design. They used animated sets, sock puppets, props, voice-over, and timed music. This introduced in my thinking a question of the students’ skill levels and access to resources, which warrants further treatment shortly. There is some disconnection between, on the one hand, an effort to control and guide students through instructions and arrangements, and, on the other hand the emergence of improvisation among the students. Students were not just free to improvise—they needed to do so. Instructor comments indicated that the assignment was logistically difficult to support, so that while he would arrange access to as many resources as possible, the students would be on their own to deal with the technical aspects of the production. Among the resources arranged by the instructor were: two in-class guest lecture-demonstrations (provided by the author); loaner cameras from the faculty technology centre; computer lab time blocks for editing; email and telephone help for technical problems. The instructor was concerned and went to substantial effort to provide for students’ technology needs. Michael: I spent so much time trying to make sure, to communicate things with [the faculty technology centre]… and say okay this is my class. I gave them the list of names and student numbers so they could sign out cameras. I reserved computer lab time for them, so that no matter what happens, they could do the entire assignment without having to spend one penny of their own money. The instructor also intended for the students to collect and use resources on their own, and learn whatever skills they needed to complete the assignment. Apart from the guest lecturedemonstrations, students were not provided with any formal training or support. 75  Michael: the way the assignment was designed, I simply delegated. I outlined what I wanted them to do, I delegated to them, and I said “I'm available to deal with your technical disasters” but apart from that, I simply left it up to them… So, apart from occasional interventions… if I can be crass, it was their problem to overcome all of the technical hurdles. Further, the instructor indicated this expectation that students would improvise: “they could use whatever tools and whatever resources they wanted, and I just wanted a finished video at the end.” (Michael) The results of this implicit requirement to improvise were unexpected in two ways. First, the students did not use the loaner resources arranged by the instructor. Michael: I also know for a fact that … none of them used [university] hardware to really do anything. I think a few of them signed out cameras. All of the editing took place on their own computers in dorm rooms and wherever else they were… I reserved equipment for them on campus, and as a matter of fact, me going around and getting my hands on access to equipment was a complete and total waste of my time. Another unexpected improvisation: the instructor was impressed by the extent to which students recruited assistance and resources from unexpected sources. He indicated that he was not aware of the actual sources of footage and music for the videos until the finished videos were submitted. Michael: In fact some of these were almost quasi-family productions occasionally. I know one girl asked her brother to provide a soundtrack. He's in a band somewhere. So he sat down and he recorded a piece of original music for them to use for their public service announcement. I know another girl asked someone, a roommate of hers on this same floor to play a piece of original music… So they all started trying to create their own music, and that's how they got around that, was by enlisting quote unquote experts to do something 76  for them, … So, they drew in friends and family. I mean, there were people—I had no idea who they were—appearing in the videos…there were people who were active in making these videos who were not getting course credit. The students clearly had unsupervised latitude in the production and editing phases. To some extent this might seem to indicate that students were unconstrained in their abilities to design and produce their videos. A closer examination of the data indicates other aspects that may be relevant to students design decisions with respect to how they chose to meet the requirements of the assignment. “Many tasks, many skills”: prior learning, individual and collective action I was curious about student abilities, particularly skills with media production and editing. In addition, group composition presents as a potential factor, and finally access to resources of several kinds presents an avenue for further discussion. Both the students themselves and the instructor described a wide range of comfort levels and skills with video technology. James indicated a limited level of skill and comfort with the video medium: James: [I have] generic skills I guess, you could say…research…I had nothing technical…I know how to take pictures with a camera. I know how to take videos with a camera so the simple stuff you should expect somebody with a digital camera to be able to know how to use. That I was able to do. However specific technical requirements of skill specific to the film medium like making an actual video or film I don’t have…I found the film medium to be awkward because it suggested a certain technical background in terms of film and I guess that is a background I did not feel I have sufficient knowledge or mastery of to come up with an effective assignment at the time to suit perhaps the project requirements.  77  The instructor described three categories of students, and estimated how many students fit into each category: Michael: So then starting with the least comfortable of, not comfortable with technology. There were twenty-two in the class. There were maybe six of them were not comfortable with technology. For the people who were more comfortable with technology, I would say perhaps there were eight or so. So even though they themselves weren't all experts through their previous experiences, dealing with the technology was not such a challenge for them. And then for the people who had experience with digital video, these are kind of overlapping boundaries, so I'd say like maybe four, six, right? Approximately. Approximately. Part of the problem with me imposing numbers on this is I only have access to what they would say in class and the kinds of questions they would ask. … Students coming out of high school, I would say maybe 45% of them had experience with some kind of digital video in high school. Having an approximate sense of the skills distribution of the class group, I asked the instructor about groups or individuals who had problems. He reported Michael: there were people who I would call them borderline averse to using the technology, and in fact it's unfortunate that there were a number of people who were averse together in the same group. The instructor identified this as the group mentioned earlier who chose to produce their video using mostly downloaded footage. Although the downloading of footage did not fit the instructor’s expectations, the finished video is in my opinion originally scripted, communicates a clear message about the subject and is well-edited. The instructor’s mention of group composition, noting that this group was averse to technology, led me to inquire further into the ways groups handled the tasks of researching and producing their videos. James indicated that 78  his group allocated work based on existing skills, and did not develop significant additional skills through the assignment. James: That group member had prior experience working with video media and so they did much of the editing at the time of the work whereas the other two of us did some of the shooting as well as research so we split it up that way based on our respective strengths… I didn’t end up doing any of the editing. I don’t know how to do any of the editing. Conversely, Tara reported everybody in her group participated in the editing work, although it is difficult to determine to what extent all students actually worked with the editing in a hands-on sense. When asked if everybody participated in the editing, she replied “Yes. Yes pretty much. We'd pretty much sat in there for a half an hour, and just cut things out and changed the tones in the pictures. Stuff like that so it looked better.” (Tara) With respect to the story development process, it is clear that there was shared participation: Tara: Yes we just talked things through, and sort of, no one originally came with this idea, it just sort of evolved in our conversation. So, I'm really glad that we had it as a group thing otherwise I would not have come up with much. “Connections made and missed”: a lack of formal interactions The variety of skill levels among a few students is still only a small part of the picture. It seemed that students were using more and different resources than those the instructor arranged. Given that they did not use the resources set aside for them at the university, I wondered whether those resources were actually unnecessary, or just not appropriate in some way, such as them being perhaps more trouble than they would be worth to students compared to resources they brought themselves. At least one third of each interview involved a resource-mapping exercise, in which students were asked to draw and describe a schematic map of the resources they used for the 79  project. The map was not meant to be geographically or spatially accurate but rather served as a recall device, to evoke memory of where they obtained cameras, computers, information, skills, assistance, inspiration, props, etc, and where they did the project work. The resource mapping exercise yielded data indicating that students for the most part used resources they already had or had access to, and used university infrastructure, such as internet access and locations, but very little to no university equipment. As I learned about the struggles of the students and the instructor, and students’ improvised arrangements for resources and assistance, I reflected on their experiences in terms of the communities of practice (CoPs) concepts developed by Wenger (1998). I began to wonder if any of the learners and instructors were involved at all in any forms of legitimate peripheral participation, with any forms of communities of practice relevant to the project assignment. When I analyzed the interview data, it was striking to me that the instructor appeared to be working in relative isolation, and that the students’ work had not been guided into connection with any communities of practice. That there appeared to be very little structured involvement with CoPs did not seem abnormal to me at first, but this gradually emerged as an interesting issue. The next section continues the discussion of data, but in a somewhat different format, wherein my interpretation shifts from a descriptive approach to developing themes in more depth through questioning. These questions are the substantive results of this study.  80  From Inquiry to Conversation: Translating Data into Questions I have been exploring ideas around environmental education, ideas around digital media technology, and reflecting on the accounts of a small number of people involved in learning activities that bring these together. As a result of this exploration, it seems to me that students, instructors, and the institutional systems in which we work spend a great deal of time and effort concerned with practical technology issues, such as how to use cameras, computers, and software. This focus on basic technology operations might detract from the work of learning about and engaging with the environmental issues, and perhaps sap motivation. I am genuinely concerned by the potential situation of the no-longer-hypothetical student who chooses to enroll in an environment-related course only to spend an inordinate amount of time struggling with converting video files or troubleshooting a soundtrack. On an emotional and instinctive level, this strikes me as a sad waste of initiative. I would rather see these students having guided field experiences than sitting in front of computers and cobbling together some simple repetition of a popular analysis. I would rather see the power and reach of video used incisively and tactically to convey original and compelling messages and stories. I would like to see students reveal the dynamics of particular examples of unsustainable practices and follow these with persuasive local examples of participation and transformation toward the future that they are in the process of creating. I would like to see them using video to engage with and catalyze positive change, and I would like to see them exercising their judgment as to when to set the technology aside, and experience the multi-sensory, physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, and social aspects of their lived environments, and be motivated by these to overcome obstacles, so they might eventually help to translate abstract environmental problems into solutions that become 81  familiar and normal parts of culture, like recycling has in some parts of the world. These are real goals that I think can be served by well-designed learning experiences in postsecondary institutions. That being understood, I need to reflect on the distance between these desires of mine and the state of the research that I have so far undertaken. I found little research that directly addressed the issues and practices of students bringing environmental studies and digital media production together, and so approached this work as naively as I could, as a new field. I began with qualitative research and chose to provide a multi-faceted depiction of my thinking, qualifying my account as subjective and inductive. My belief that research, however systematically written up, often progresses through subjective, inductive, intuitive phases has been reinforced by my own experience. I trust the potential value of both the intuitive and the deductive as complementary. This thesis is of course an account of the more subjective and intuitive phase of a potentially rich series of studies. The outcome of this intuitive, subjective exploration and reflection, and its articulation with future study, is a body of questions. I am offering that the research phase which I have just gone through involves questions of the form “What is going on in these examples?” which can include concrete details such as “Where?” “How?” and “With whom?” There are no claims to broadly translatable representativeness or transferrable significance. This phase leads to answers about specific cases and personal perspectives. I learned some empirical details about what two students and an instructor did. There are some rather banal statements that can be drawn out of this level: students and instructors have different experiences, and some experience these as more or less positive or valuable. However, there is nothing said about the meaning of “positive,” or “valuable”, let alone what could be done to make things “better.“ My point here is that this exploratory phase is about describing, more than about evaluating, and about identifying interesting elements for further 82  study. For example, it may be possible in future to study the relationships of these elements with learning outcomes. While I do not aim to develop universal principles for designing similar projects, I would expect that this and further research along these lines could contribute to decision-making. This contribution would not be prescriptive, but certainly could highlight potential pitfalls and factors for consideration. So, in the exploratory phase any statements I make are only descriptive. To provide a basis from which to proceed beyond this phase, I offer a range of questions that would not have occurred to me had I not conducted this research.  From Issues to Questions The following discussion develops the bridge between “What was going on in these examples?” (initial exploratory research question) and a series of concepts and questions that I suggest for taking forward into longer-term research. Most of the discussion in this section is developed from data recorded in interview with the instructor, “Michael.” I find that the instructor’s comments are helpful in addressing issues quite directly. There is a distillation in the instructor’s comments. He reflects on the design of the project assignment and offers a view that includes candid perspectives on the students’ activities in an institutional context. Institutional context led me to questions regarding the students’ interactions with their context. These questions tend to begin with considerations of pedagogy and branch from there to touch on theory, values, and some practical aspects. I am struck by the emergence of this practical theme, as I encountered the idea that time and effort were limited, and a good deal of both could be expended by students and instructors on practical concerns. I have identified a number of questions that pertain to learning, to pedagogy, and to the structures and systems in which these occur. I offer a series of questions that develop lines of inquiry into whether and how the concepts of communities of 83  practice might be applied to understanding and enhancing the design of learning situations. There are also areas that I think could warrant further study that may require better understanding of the roles and capabilities of the members of the class, the teaching teams, institutional professionals, community members, and other organizations. Some analysis is suggested of elements in a learning system. Finally some concepts are offered for more speculative, reflective, and imaginative work, primarily relating to the way relationships are developed and enacted through environmental education activities. Intention: fit between instructor’s and students’ perceptions? The instructor’s perspective, as presented in assignment materials and interview conversations, indicated that he intended for students to engage the topic of ecological footprint and produce a short public service announcement (PSA)–style video. Some of the pedagogical considerations were: learning objectives; procedures and steps involved in the assignment; type of instruction; delivery format; assessment; and structure of student activities. Interesting questions arise around fit of the assignment with the outcomes in terms of student work. The instructor describes his intentions Michael: what they were supposed to do in the assignment was I wanted them to take a body of theory we talked about in class, and I wanted them to explore that theory in some kind of a real or practical application. The specific goal is described in a three-page assignment handout provided to students: Your ultimate goal is to produce an original 60-second public service announcement on the subject. The context can be here on campus or in society more generally. How can these concepts be used for good? Create a video to communicate the essence of the model and its potential application. (Appendix A)  84  Individual students were required to keep an ongoing diary, and directed to conduct research on the ecological footprint model, then work together in groups to specify their message and objectives for communication of this message. The assignment handout included a section with instructions and suggestions for research, Research the Ecological Footprint model (you were introduced to the model in lecture on Sept 10th). What more can you learn about how the model is being used to affect positive change? Can you identify any strategies that do not appear to already be in use? (Appendix A) The handout provided students with instructions for specific stages and requirements such as a proposal, a project timeline, a storyboard, and a finished video. In retrospect, the assignment struck me as both thorough and potentially overwhelming. Focusing on this stage of the process, I would like to discuss some aspects of the fit between students’ understanding of the assignment in comparison to the instructor’s intentions. The instructor also expressed an interest in better understanding of the role and effect of the assignment handout: Michael: I am continually tinkering with the assignment, the written assignment sheet that I hand out, and that I go through in detail in class. I am always very interested in that connection, or that role that assignment sheet plays, because in my experience it's been crucial, right? Even though I had something in my mind as to what I wanted to accomplish, sometimes it's very frustrating that even the most ridiculous phrasing will send them down one path or another, in ways that I did not anticipate at all. I don't know if that's something that can be researched, or whether that's just experience, of testing of different assignments, on different groups of students. Michael notes the complexity of the ecological footprint topic, and this combined with the technological challenges faced by some students is a self-reported indication of a less-than-ideal outcome for at least some of his students: 85  Michael: The notion of ecological footprint, not as successful. I mean the videos were very good and they had fun and they learned a lot. However, the more theoretical the theme for the year, the more, it was much easier for them to drift off much further away from what I was hoping that they would accomplish. Two questions arise here: “How does the instructor determine the students’ comprehension of the assignment?” and “What is the instructor’s level of experience, both in doing the kind of work required in the assignment, and in teaching this kind of project?” Unpacking the first of these could reveal an opportunity to study the mechanisms, and validity of various means of checking students’ comprehension of assignments. The second question regarding instructor experience has considerable potential for identifying an indicator and sparking professional debate. Does an instructor’s experience level in practice and teaching correlate with degree of fit between assignment intention and student understanding? If so, would it be possible to indicate paths for professional development levels that could reasonably be considered necessary for teaching this kind of assignment? It is of course up to professionals themselves to determine the need for further experience and training, but these decisions can be better made when supported by research into outcomes for instructors of different levels of experience. A quantitative approach to these questions could require validated measurements of fit between instructor intentions and student comprehension of assignments, and a sufficiently large sample of instructors of varying experience teaching similar projects. I would offer that while these last are interesting questions, one of the methodological challenges would be to sufficiently support any claims to comparability among instructional settings and projects.  86  Students’ skills: prior assessment and group distribution? Further discussion revealed that it was possible that the video-making requirement, specifically the affinity or lack thereof for technology was, for some students, inhibiting to their success in the project: Michael: Okay, did the technology help or hinder their learning? I would say that depended entirely on the student. If they got very interested, if their imagination was captured by, you know, the opportunity to put together a digital video, then it, I think it propelled them to delve into the issue a little bit deeper. Unfortunately for the students who were not thrilled by that, I'm hesitant to say that it actually hindered them, right? But it certainly put the brakes on, on the additional research that they had to do to inform the video. Right? So, if there's a group who were not so comfortable with the technology, right? That was a bit of a speed bump, and they didn't go off and necessarily sort of learn that the scene, that topic in great detail, which was unfortunate…In my experience, more often than not, realistically, one person edited the video. That was usually the most technically competent, savvy person. Occasionally, when a group did not have such a person in their midst, that caused problems, and very much hindered what the group was able to produce. This brings up the subject of how one deals with the various levels of technical skills in the group. The instructor built in some stages for students to assess their own and one another’s areas of strength with the technology, including a stage in which students were required to plan the division of labour on the project. As a prior group knowledge and skills assessment, this may have had some effect in helping students to calibrate what they would be able to do. The assignment included a reminder to “be realistic about what you can hope to accomplish with the visuals” (Appendix A). However, the arrangement of groups by the instructor did not necessarily 87  take into account the technical skills of the individuals in the groups, so the existing capabilities of the groups of students were variable by accident, and therefore some groups were weak. Michael: It's unfortunate that there were a number of people who were adverse to the technology in the same group. Which was a total surprise to me. When I'm putting them together in the groups, especially as the beginning of the year, I don't know the students. I don't know the capabilities. It's just more random of the draw. I did try to put them together according to their personalities and how they… might work. But as far as their technical competence, it's a mystery to me. Bringing together the notions of group composition and technical skills distribution, I would suggest that it would be helpful to ground these aspects of instructional design in research that addresses the following question: “What are valid and effective methods for prior knowledge assessment for both skills and conceptual understanding required to undertake the assignment?” To be specific to the context of environmentally themed video production assignments, it would be necessary to ask “What are the relevant skills?” and “How do we measure these?” It may be worthwhile to develop the practice of prior knowledge assessment in areas relating to the technologies being used, to the subject matter, and further to the application of these two in concert. We might ask “What prior experience do the students have producing video?” and “What are the students’ knowledge (information), analytical (thinking), and applied (experience) levels of previous or present engagement with the subject matter, both in formal and informal learning settings?” To turn these questions into workable assessments would require adaptation and specification to the particular technologies and topics to be undertaken, and to changes in these over time.  88  Time: awareness of changing skills among students? Michael reports a significant difference in the skills and backgrounds of two groups of students less than two years apart. Recalling the distribution of skills from an earlier time he taught the assignment, the instructor offers Michael: The first year there were one or two students who were very accomplished. I mean, they had a lot of experience in all things film and video. … of the twenty, there was one student who actually considered himself to be much more than amateur, right? Like, he already considered himself to be quasi professional. …Of the rest of them, I would consider there is another tier of them who I would consider to be highly technically literate, highly technically savvy. And so, even though they had no experience with this sort of thing before, [any] technological situation…that anyone were to throw at them, they would navigate their way through it just fine. And, I would say it of the twenty there's maybe three, or so like that. And then the overwhelming majority of them, they would use a computer for a word processor or e-mail, but if something actually went wrong with their computer they would probably have to enlist the help of others to solve whatever the problem is. So that was the first year. Eighteen months later, the students tended to have more experience with digital video coming into the course: “The second time, I ran this, students coming out of high school, I would say maybe 45% of them had experience with some kind of digital video in high school.” (Michael) Prior knowledge and skills assessment is a potentially sound basis for decisions on group composition. But to fully inform group composition decisions, one would need a sense of what roles are required, and further of what capabilities for fulfilling these roles an instructor can expect from student. Both the prior knowledge / skills assessments and the group composition 89  heuristics have to account for changes in the skills required and for demographic and technology changes. This prior knowledge and skills assessment is at face value a practical recommendation for designing instruction. For it to be of such value, it needs to be grounded in research that evaluates the variety, effectiveness, and value of such prior knowledge assessment in appropriate settings. Assuming that I should conduct prior knowledge and skills assessment, I want to base my choices on research that deals with sound, adaptable methods of prior knowledge and skills assessment as well as the application of the results of these assessments to pedagogical decisions, including group composition. Synthesizing problem-solving questions into research questions To assess students’ prior knowledge and skills and experiences is not simply a one-way extraction of data, but enacts a dialog on expectations, which starts not with the students, but with the instructor and curriculum developers. An instructor’s considered approach to assessing prior knowledge requires the instructor to specify for him- or herself the knowledge and skills required for the assignment. Having a clear sense of this is a start, and then the students’ perpetual question of “What are we supposed to do?” can be preceded with some reflection of their own on whether they are prepared for the task at hand. A prior knowledge assessment process is therefore a communication and learning tool in itself, helping students to focus their energies and know where they might need to learn more and develop more skills. So prior assessment instruments need to meet a few criteria. Such questions should: •  account for changing skills and knowledge requirements over time  •  be clear enough to facilitate dialogue and focus improvement where required  •  be sensitive to improvement in an individual’s skills 90  •  account for roles in working groups as well as skills and knowledge in individuals  •  ideally, support comparison.  The last is of some interest with respect to conducting research on the prior knowledge assessment: The research questions associated with prior knowledge / skills assessment and with group composition should ask “To what extent and in what ways are prior knowledge and skills assessments used in designing group composition by experienced versus inexperienced instructors?” and “What differences in outcomes are found when such assessments are carried out compared to when groups are designed randomly or by other criteria?” In short, I would expect that there might be some different outcomes among groups who are organized under the judgment of experienced instructors, and that the explicitness and formality of such assessments is variable among different instructors. Developing this query a little further, I would be interested to see what, if any, correlation patterns exist between instructor experience and explicitness of prior knowledge / skills assessment. We might learn something about the pathway to expert instruction. For example, I would expect correlations showing less-experienced instructors using brief, superficial assessment, moderately experienced instructors using more detailed and explicit assessment, and expert instructors using very concise and reliable methods of prior knowledge and skills assessments. Is it possible that instructors develop and test their own heuristics with more experience? This example suggests some considerable potential for iterative and specific study into professional development and the interactions with pedagogy and learning in the rapidly changing fields of digital media production and environmental education.  91  Practical and technical concerns: containing complexity? Michael offers an indicator of how crucial early stages of the project could be. Once the students were in their groups, they were largely on their own. Michael: I did not have access to them going through the struggle of actually assembling things, so I don't really know. Right? So, in that sense the way the assignment was designed, I simply delegated. I outlined what I want them to do, I delegated to them, and I said I'm available to deal with your technical disasters, but apart from that, I simply left it up to them. Thinking about the group’s activities as a system, the early stages of the project as they are guided and shaped by the instructor’s decisions are an inflection point in the system’s growth and development. Group composition, the instructor’s and students’ awareness of their knowledge and skills, and the instructions for the assignment form a set of initial conditions from which emerge the diverse activities and decisions the students undertake to complete the assignment. It is reasonable to expect a range of outcomes, but my concern for this stage and the is based on the idea that the initial conditions, namely the moments and methods by which pedagogical decisions are enacted by the instructor, warrant a great deal of research attention. Once these initial conditions are incorporated into the students’ activities, they may diverge or converge in very interesting ways. The degree to which students’ activities are focused on execution of the assignment is of course affected by pedagogical decisions, but logistics and practical arrangements may have inordinate impact on project outcomes. The instructor indicates he would like to see research into ways of simplifying the technological and practical aspects of the assignment.  92  Michael: As far as more research might go, there's two things going on at least, in this assignment and there is [1] what I want them to learn for their topic, and then [2] having to translate that into video speak… If there were some way of containing the technical or video aspect of it, because I pretty much gave them an entirely open field, maybe if I start putting a lot more very strict boundaries on the tools that they should use, and simplify that enormously, maybe that would help. I'd be interested in knowing what other people might think of that. Because, as I say they're highly video literate, the problem, unfortunately that's on the receiving end of video. In terms of creating video, that's a lot more spotty, in my experience. Some of the outcomes of this class assignment may have resulted from students’ unexpected adaptations to the requirements of the “entirely open field” (Michael) of the assignment. I wonder, then “Is it possible that simplifying the technical aspects would lead to different or improved outcomes in the students’ work?” To deal with this question in more specific detail, I would also ask “What does it mean to simplify the technical aspects?” and “Is it helpful to students to use a standard set of technologies?” This second question may be measured in terms of outcomes, but could also be studied as a qualitative inquiry into student experience. As such, a chief goal would be providing students with opportunities to learn effectively and focus on subject material objectives. A secondary goal, no less valuable, could be to inform the institution and instructors as to what technology issues students are concerned with and also to maintain dialog on new and emerging technologies, possibly addressing misconceptions held by staff and instructors about students’ interests in technology. Questions of whether it is helpful to students to use standard sets of technologies need to account for change as well, as what may be an advantage at one time could become a liability with changing technology. “If using standard technologies is helpful, in what specific ways is this helpful?” and “What trade-offs or 93  disadvantages are there to using standard sets of technologies?” Disadvantages need to be accounted for. “Is it desirable to provide or require a standard set of technologies?” and “What, if any, differences exist in outcomes where technology options are unspecified and unrestricted versus specified and restricted?” I would be interested to find ways of determining the extent to which creative and outstanding communication is evident in groups using diverse versus those using standard technologies. “Are there significant differences in originality and creative expression among students using standard technologies as opposed to those using a diverse set?” Cultures and technologies: choices in participation? Choice of technology could be understood as culturally based. Instructors’ and students’ awareness of and preference for technologies used in their work may be connected to the practices of their social circles, fellow students, and those of the institutions and communities in which they work, study, and play. There is a great deal to be learned about the interactions and roles of cultures in students’ experiences with technology. The questions I offer here are aimed at moving inquiry along three lines, those of 1) interactions among the formal learning institution and these other agencies and groups, 2) student interactions with other organizations, such as government and non-government agencies and groups, and 3) student and instructor interaction with the institution. I will start with questions about the first. Interactions among the formal learning institution and these other agencies and groups To gain an understanding of interactions among institutions and other groups and agencies, I would suggest asking “What are the formal and informal linkages among the institution, professional associations, advocacy groups, NGOs, and government agencies?” and “How are these linkages enacted to provide opportunities for students to interact with and participate in the 94  activities of these?” Further, “Are we able to identify, value, reward, support, and encourage enactment of these linkages with the involvement of instructors and institution staff?” I would like to make an underlying assumption of mine explicit, and suggest questions to inquire into the validity of this assumption: I expect that an awareness of and involvement in the practices of other groups affects institutional practices, and affects decisions on the design of not only curriculum in general, but specifically on what technologies are provided or encouraged for students to use, and how those technologies are demonstrated and applied in assignments and projects. Put another way, I expect that technology practices as well as values, priorities and methods will cross-pollinate through these interactions, which might include visits, internships, and the like. Whether this expectation is true is worth evaluating: “Are there technology choices, methods and other cultural practices shared among the institutions and other groups?” and “What are the mechanisms, benefits, and disadvantages of such sharing?” I am particularly interested in these interactions at the level of the instructor. Understanding instructors’ professional involvement in relevant practices can be thought of as a subset of the inquiry into institutional linkages with organizations doing related work. It may be easy enough to assume an individual’s—an instructor’s or staff member’s—professional involvement over time is an authentic enactment of such cross pollination. I challenge this assumption based on my doubt that the instructors employed to teach such rapidly-changing subject areas as digital media production and environmental advocacy are always able to participate in professional and volunteer activities enough to keep them abreast of the current issues and practices of the diverse communities involved with media production and environmental causes. Michael’s comments reinforce this concern. He is not compensated for the extra time and effort involved to undertake this kind of assignment: 95  Michael: I'm not being paid by the hour to do this, so in many respects this is absolutely, this is an insane assignment for me to give to the class, because there's all kinds of potential problems, there is, you know, I'm receiving e-mails at midnight and everything else. And I'm not being paid to do this. It demands potentially, a tremendous amount of time from that, on behalf of the instructor. That's not guaranteed, but you have to, if things go awry, and so the ideal situation is that whoever is leading this, I mean, has the time to devote to this assignment. I mean, I did it because I thought it was interesting, rather than because [the institution] asked me to do interesting things which I guess is sort of an unwritten expectation. Further, he had little experience in associated practices of video production or teaching video production: Michael: So, my, my interest in video it's not so much because I know anything about video, because I didn't know a lot at all. I was just trying to find a way that would capture interest, and creativity, and enthusiasm amongst the students…The only reason why I even considered something like this to begin with is because I have a friend who … asked me to volunteer one time. She was volunteering in helping put together a music video. And it was, I mean it was a full on, it was no different from the people that you see around campus with a white trucks and everything else. There were all kinds of people with their jobs all going at their little thing. And so all of a sudden I was seeing this world from the inside. And this black box had just been opened up entirely. And I had no idea what I was going to do right before I arrived, but before I left I was doing actual, real [work], somebody's real job. Out in the world somebody actually gets paid to do what I did. And so watching all this unfold, I thought oh, my gosh. That's not very difficult. That's not very complicated at all, right? … So I thought okay, well if it's that simple, why not inflict this on the students? [Laughs] … I did not really have any experience beyond this one concentrated weekend working on this music video. 96  So, instructors’ professional involvement as a way to support and enhance teaching practice is not a given, and needs to be better understood. Student interactions with other organizations Returning to consider the second item, student interactions with other organizations, such as government and non-government agencies and groups, I suggest assessing “To what extent are students provided with opportunities to learn from and interact with organizations and groups involved in the professional and advocacy practices related to the issues and methods assigned in the student projects?” I am aware of the existence of co-operative education programs, and I would offer that consideration of the pedagogy of co-op programs should be given more priority. “When students are placed with an organization or group involved in work relevant to their studies, what are the teaching and learning practices associated with these placements, and how are they validated and improved?” This is meant to be a constructive challenge, in that I wonder whether four- and eight-month-long placements are the most effective learning opportunities for students. “Are there potential benefits to learning in placement models such as communityservice learning and problem-based learning in field settings?” Underlying these questions about the structure of student involvement with real-world work are some fundamental concerns that should be borne in mind in future research: “What are the learning objectives associated with the internship placement, who sets them, and how are they affected by student and instructor involvement with organizations and groups other than the institution of formal record?” These are ongoing concerns of relevance and value as much as of curriculum and policy, which, in my opinion, should be foregrounded and openly discussed both in research and in practice.  97  Student and instructor interaction with the institution To inquire further into issues of student and instructor interaction with the institution, I first note Michael’s comment about difficulty arranging support for the students, and the problem of calibrating support provided to student needs. Michael: It was much more difficult for me to provide technical support, for that, which is, I can't even remember how I, I was groping around on campus…. I reserved equipment for them on campus, and as a matter of fact, me going around and getting my hands on access to equipment was a complete and total waste of my time. I spent so much time trying to make sure, to communicate things with [the departmental technology support unit] and say okay this is my class: I gave them the list of names and student numbers so they could sign out cameras, I reserved computer lab time for them…And, as it turns out, really, they never used any of that right?...none of them used [school] hardware to really do anything. I think a few of them signed out cameras. All of the editing took place on their own computers in dorm rooms and wherever else they were. Michael’s efforts to arrange equipment and support were not calibrated to the students’ needs and practices, possibly because it is very difficult to know what students will need in any given year. While it may be the case that students would have used different forms of technology and support if they had been available, they did not avail themselves of what was available in this case. Does this mean that there is no need for technology support, such as equipment loans and training for students? I would think it worthwhile to ask “What are students’ expectations of technology support?” and “What kinds of equipment, training, scheduling, storage, working space, and other facilities should be provided?” Further, “Who should be the support providers for students?” and “By what mechanisms can support arrangements be calibrated to student 98  needs?” Again, underlying issues need to be kept in mind, particularly “What forms of value and benefit, if any, are demonstrable as a result of institutional support for student technology projects?” and “How can support be provided that does not necessarily displace disciplinary and subject matter concerns with technology training?” There is a potential dilemma in this area, namely that it is possible that we might resort to a model of standardized technology support widely available to students, incorporated into the culture of the institution, but that this model could provide both the benefit of familiar equipment and methods, and the disadvantage of a cumbersome, out-of-date, self-perpetuating technology support enterprise that loses agile responsiveness to student and disciplinary needs. A clear evaluation of “Centralized or decentralized technology support?” will likely be one of the more elusive and debatable areas for ongoing research. Michael notes above “All of the editing took place on their own computers in dorm rooms and wherever else they were.” This and some other comments indicate that he did not know where students were doing their work. Where students did their work and where they obtained their resources was a topic discussed with student participants in some detail during interviews. The two students from the course who participated in interviews were asked to draw as well as describe verbally where they did their work and where they obtained resources for their projects. Student comments indicated use of public spaces on campus, such as residence common areas and coffee shops, for group meetings and project work, as well as in dormitory rooms, as Michael guessed. While the map drawings are raw data not easily reproduced, those segments of the interviews were useful in gaining a sense of the variety of places students went to obtain ideas as well as equipment. One of the student groups took a long transit ride together, spent time 99  brainstorming on the bus ride, and then wandered a large shopping centre, where their ideas developed more specifically. Eventually they made a sock puppet theatre and did the acting and video recording in a campus residence commons area. An excerpt from the map / interview data indicates “bus to [shopping centre]: brainstorming > at [shopping centre] store; there, puppet mittens > let’s use sock puppets > ate at restaurant” (Tara). The interview transcript matching this part of the map drawing exercise includes the mention of the location: “We were at a restaurant. It was after that glove thing, or what ever. And then we went back, basically. And that was it. That's where our ideas came from” (Tara). Another student, James. indicated that he and his group conducted all of their research using internet sources, and used their own equipment for video recording and editing. These small excerpts do not depict the breadth of actual activity of the whole class, or even of the groups to which interview participants belonged. However these excerpts suggest useful questions: “Where could students be conducting their research, production, and post-production?” and “What kind of contexts are available at present that students may or may not make use of?” Further, “What influences student decision-making about where to obtain help, inspiration, and equipment?” and “What ongoing or previous projects could students participate in as learners, interns or assistants?” More basic level questions need to address “What value or benefit, if any, is there to students in accessing resources such as mentoring, technical troubleshooting support, and equipment?” and “What possible institutional and non-institutional forms might such support take?” These questions lead me back to Wenger’s notions of communities of practice and Lave and Wenger’s concepts of apprenticeship and situated learning. Applying these concepts to the environmental education / media production activities I studied, I begin to wonder “Are relevant structures, analogous to Wenger’s communities of practice, in place?” and “To what extent are there opportunities for students to 100  participate in these where they exist?” Further, “Is there value in engaging students with both institutional and outside communities of practice, if they do exist?” These echo earlier questions regarding participation in professional, government, and non-government organizations and groups. This convergence emphasizes the rich potential of further research into student participation in activities that are real-world enactments of the issues and practices they are meant to be learning about in formal settings. A further development of this line of questioning brings me to ask more exploratory questions about ways of understanding the nature and enactment of learning, as both individual and collective activities, particularly with respect to the idea of developing, through research into practices and configurations of learning systems, what I might call a literacy of learning systems among researchers and educators. I am not so much suggesting that researchers and educators do not understand their work, but that there seems to be opportunity to understand better “What different kinds of configurations of learning systems exist, and how do these function, in descriptive terms?” and further “Are there ways to choose configurations of learning systems to better suit different kinds of educational intentions and objectives?” Looking forward These questions are pressing in a time of rapidly changing issues and technologies. Does it make sense to teach environmental education through digital video projects? Are we able to develop more sophisticated understanding of what we as educators and researchers could be doing, based more in a dynamic research and learning program that supports a conversation between practice and research and enacts the dynamics of subject material in ways that we can choose and explain  101  with a collective and effective rationality, one which may make use of but no longer rely quite so heavily on trial and error?  102  Conclusion We’re pretty sure environmental problems deserve high priority. We try a few things to get students to participate more actively in their learning about these issues. Predictably, we get mixed results. We wonder, what next? Is this worth trying again? What would we change? We make some adjustments and we try again. I have taken this approach myself in developing curriculum and practice. It’s commonly referred to as being a reflective practitioner. I don’t believe it is enough. There is a need to incorporate collective, collaborative, participatory, research phases into reflective practice. Is it possible there are processes by which practitioners, researchers, and students can work closely together in identifying what they need to do, what they are able to do, how they are to do it, and with whom? Specific to the study topic, when students make videos in the process of learning about the environment, how will students, instructors, and researchers learn better, and improve processes as well as outcomes? What is important now is to validate priorities, indicators, and measures as well as subjective outcomes. I suggest an approach that is coherent with this study’s basis in knowledge as co-construction. In teaching and learning, this knowledge is further constructed by iterative, collective, reflective engagement with practical problems. Action is the natural extension of knowledge, and iteratively, the converse is true. There are two steps in this extension of knowledge into action to which this thesis contributes: 1) choices of action, in the form of questions to focus research, and 2) ways of enacting these choices. It may be possible for an individual to undertake research based on the questions posed. However, I see more value in a collective effort, perhaps one that is loosely-connected but with rich information flow and collaborative ties.. An overall model is analogous to the idea of a collaborative studio. There may be different projects underway, but 103  certainly the people working on those projects will consult one another on goals and solutions to problems. A collective undertaking to better understand how teaching and learning about the environment using video should be more than just a collection and analysis of data. It should be an enactment of the collective knowledge, and an extension of the capabilities of the group. The questions posed are offered, therefore, in the spirit of collectively developing better understanding of what is important (choices), and in practicing the ability to enact those choices as they are developed. This is the stage of a thesis to summarize unifying concepts, and offer a sense of closure. I must respectfully refuse to do so, on the principle that there is little need for contentment with the apparent state of understanding of how video production might work in environmental education. I will, however, suggest by way of summary a few issues about which we might be especially discontented. Most learning situations, especially those involving media production and environmental issues, are inherently complex. But it makes no sense to focus too much discontent on this complexity since eliminating complexity completely would defeat the pedagogical purpose of learning how to deal with complex problems. If there are problems among students with engagement of the subject material, this does not warrant the bulk of our concern either, at least not directly, for a lack of engagement is more of a symptom of a problem. Nor is the solution to focus efforts on cataloging and solving every last problem, for these will change and emerge anew in different forms. More productively, we should be concerned, and perhaps quite vigorously concerned, with the capacity of our learning systems to adapt to change. Through this study it has become apparent to me that individual responses to complex, changing situations are not going to be 104  enough to bring the full value of media technology to bear on environmental concerns. It is in collective capacity that we will build and retain both competence and adaptability. But perhaps we know this intuitively already, and seek specific steps toward enacting this collective capacity, while still fostering initiative. The paradox is that specific steps are not equivalent to adaptive capacity. A way forward comes from blending wisdom from each of the two disparate fields of technology and environmental studies: in both, ecological knowledge is a key to adaptive success. In practice this means fostering ecological knowledge of both the technological and the human systems that support media production, and fostering ecological knowledge of “the environment,” however that may be defined for a specific learning purpose. Obviously students need to develop their ecological knowledge of technology resources: Where is everything? Who does what, and for whom? What resources can I access? How do I learn to use them, and from whom? And, of course, students need to develop their knowledge of the ecosystems they study. If we are to take seriously this concern, then it will be just as obvious that instructors, their colleagues, and the institution’s administration will benefit from valuing this complementary complex of ecological knowledge. Further, instructors need to develop not just their own collection of ecological knowledge. A pedagogy of ecological knowledge must be a part of their skill sets. This is not to say that technological systems are equal to ecosystems; however, we are driven by the fundamental principle of environmental studies to recognize that they are interconnected. Ecology has changed. Technology has become part of our ecosystems, and media has become part of environmental studies. So we will need to change our approach to both. Before students undertake to make a show about the environment for school, we will need to collectively share deeper, more habitual, and more explicit practices of introducing one another to the ecosystems that are relevant to our efforts. This means active information105  gathering and participation in both fields, media production and environmental work. By learning about and participating in the real-world ecosystem as a matter of course, students, instructors, and institutions will be better-equipped to adapt to meet the challenges of the future. The strange synergy of environmental education with digital media technology, where complexity, interdependency and interconnectedness challenge our capabilities as researchers and as humans, leaves us plenty of room for error. The extent to which these errors are solvable or repairable is one of the greatest uncertainties facing our generation. As much as trial and error teaches us, further study into deliberately building interconnection and interdependency into our awareness and into our practices will help us to adapt. For environmental education to serve purposes of citizenship, sustainability, nourishment, and inherent value, it needs to grapple with its relations with new technologies in explicit, conscious and informed ways. Technology adoption does not just happen, any more than academic success or progress in research just happens. As we undertake to adapt our institutions and practices of learning, it is my sincerest hope that further research into the questions developed here will yield some configurations and arrangements that work better—toward goals for learning not just as individuals, but as a species. I would like to take few moments to focus and reflect. There are a few key ideas to take away from this thesis. Co-construction of knowledge, as an enactment of community, could be a way of recursively challenging assumptions while maintaining the lessons learned in the convergence of the rapidly changing fields of environmental education and digital media production. Real-life practice in both fields, for students and instructors could be a necessary part of ensuring relevance and efficiency of learning experiences. And the approach to studying and working with institutional configurations must be more sophisticated to meet the challenges of complexity and 106  change. The thesis has been a vehicle to finding these general concepts and to elaborating a collection of specific questions that can be applied to other settings. These questions are a bit of a Trojan horse: I hope to start some conversation. In an age where accountability and measurement are in fashion, questions are popular when they can provide measurements and correlations. 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Environmental Education Research, 1(1), 3. 114  Stake, R. E. (1978). The case study method in social inquiry. Educational Researcher, 7(2), 5-8. Stake, R. E. (1995). The art of case study research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Strauss, A. L. & Corbin, J. (1990). Basics of qualitative research: Grounded theory, procedures and techniques. London: Sage. Tilbury, D. (1995). Environmental education for sustainability: defining the new focus of environmental education in the 1990s. Environmental Education Research, 1(2), 195-213. Viel, A., & Lue, R. A. (n.d.) [Video file} Inner life of a cell. Retrieved July 7, 2009 from Harvard University Biovisions Group web site http://multimedia.mcb.harvard.edu/anim_innerlife_hi.html Walton, R. (2000). Heidegger in the hands-on science and technology center: Philosophical reflections on learning in informal settings, Journal of Technology Education, 12(1), 49– 60. Vygotsky, L. S., & Cole, M. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge (MA): Harvard University Press. Wenger, E., McDermott, R. A., & Snyder, W. (2002). Cultivating communities of practice: a guide to managing knowledge. Boston: Harvard Business School Press. Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: learning, meaning, and identity. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press. Yin, R. K. (2009). Case study research: Design and methods (4th ed.). Los Angeles: Sage. Zimmermann, L. K. (1996). Knowledge, affect, and the environment: 15 years of research (1979-1993). Journal of Environmental Education, 27(3), 41. 115  Appendix A: Assignment Handout -------------- Digital Video Assignment: Ecological Footprint Public Service Announcement. Instructors: ------------- and --------------. Goals. By completing this assignment you will be able to: • use a video camera and digital video editing software • divide a large project into separate tasks and negotiate the distribution of work • display your understanding of theory from our class and incorporate it into a practical application You will be given limited resources to complete this project, possibly the most precious of which is the very limited time. Keep your design as simple as possible. Don’t be too ambitious. The Project. There will be four components for this project. A research proposal, a personal diary, a digital video and a presentation to the class. Each member of your team should contribute to all steps of the process. Assume the identity of an environmental non-governmental organization with an interest in sustainability issues. Research the Ecological Footprint model (you were introduced to the model in lecture on Sept 10th). What more can you learn about how the model is being used to affect positive change? Can you identify any strategies that do not appear to already be in use? Your ultimate goal is to produce an original 60 second public service announcement on the subject. The context can be here on campus or in society more generally. How can these concepts be used for good? Create a video to communicate the essence of the model and it’s potential application. While the initial audience will be your instructors and peers, we will upload our videos to the --------------website, YouTube, etc. For this reason, all material you use must be original and created by your group. This is to say, you cannot use a commercial recording as a soundtrack, and you cannot splice in copyrighted video from some other source. You can use open source content, but it must be credited. Similarly, do not film anybody without their permission. Do not try to film on private property. Please, no swearing, no violence. The Process. Each individual should keep a private, running diary of your experiences, to be handed in with your group’s final product. This is a document for you and your instructors, and is not meant to be read by your fellow group-members. The diary should not be written in one sitting at the very end, but rather as appropriate throughout the process! As the project 116  The Process. Each individual should keep a private, running diary of your experiences, to be handed in with your group’s final product. This is a document for you and your instructors, and is not meant to be read by your fellow group-members. The diary should not be written in one sitting at the very end, but rather as appropriate throughout the process! As the project progresses, detail in your diary how your team managed the work. What was done by each team member? Did you work effectively as a team? How did you ensure tasks could be done in parallel? The first step is Research. Independently, each group member should research the Ecological Footprint model and brainstorm some ideas for your video’s “plot.” This research and the video ideas should be no longer than one page. Email your one-page to your fellow group members, and then meet to decide on which aspects you will focus, and to determine your video’s message. As a group, discuss who your target audience is, and what you want to communicate. What should your video achieve, and how? Specify how you will evaluate your success upon completion. Step two is to assemble an outline with two columns. The first column should indicate message, text, plot summary, voiceover, or the like; the second column should describe the visual that will accompany the idea already described. Be realistic about what you can hope to accomplish with the visuals. Be prepared to explain why you chose your final design. In your diary, discuss the design procedures that you have gone through to produced your work. Third, produce a timeline, including projected jobs and tasks, and who will likely do them. Important dates to include: Sept 10-19, research and brainstorming. Before Sept 15, meet as a group. Due in class Sept 19, group proposal including storyboard with two columns. Sept 22 - 28th shooting film. Sept 29-Oct 9th editing and production. Final product due for presentation in class on Oct 10th—the CAP Nature & Society Film Festival! At the end of your video, include a credits screen identifying this as a ----------- ----------- ---------- Program, Nature & Society Stream, ----------- ----------- project, detailing who did what. Make any other acknowledgements as required (not included in the one-minute time cap).  There will be a prize for the best PSA, as voted by your peers. The rest of the class will evaluate your group’s work based upon: fulfilment of the requirements a clear and easily understandable message innovative use of the video medium how well your project matches your target audience 117  Marking Rubric: Individual Ecological Footprint research (5%) and group proposal (5%). Project Dairy (10%) and Completed Video (10%). Group 1: ----------- -----------, ----------- -----------, ----------- -----------, Group 2: ----------- -----------, ----------- -----------, ----------- -----------, Group 3: ----------- -----------, ----------- -----------, ----------- -----------, Group 4: ----------- -----------, ----------- -----------, ----------- -----------, Group 5: ----------- -----------, ----------- -----------, ----------- -----------, Group 6: ----------- -----------, ----------- -----------, ----------- -----------, Group 7: ----------- -----------, ----------- -----------, ----------- -----------, Group 8: ----------- -----------, ----------- -----------, ----------- -----------, Group 9: ----------- -----------, ----------- -----------, ----------- -----------, Group 10: ----------- -----------, ----------- -----------, ----------- -----------,  118  Appendix B: UBC Research Ethics (BREB) Certificate  119  

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