E-Learning Mechanisms for Embedding Sustainable Development in Higher Education

Caroline Aggestam Pontoppidan, Lavinia-Cristina Iosif-Lazar, Anne-Karen Hueske

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearchpeer-review


Purpose: The aim of this article is two-fold: 1) to explore the extent of E-learning and the types of E-learning used, as method and tool, to support education for sustainable development and 2) to understand the coverage of SDGs in one specific form of E-learning, namely massive online open courses (MOOCs).
Design/methodology/approach: The paper draws on the morphological box of education for sustainable development in higher education as a point of departure and explores the specific evolvement of E-learning as a component of higher education for sustainable development (ESD) within the socio-technical system HEIs sustainability transition. More specifically this paper identifies and analyses how and what kind of E-learning the Nordic HEIs have established as a means to contribute to sustainability transition and ultimately sustainability development. Through content analysis and thematic coding of reports of HEIs, different methods of E-Learning are identified (formalis). Furthermore, searching the webpages of the selected HEIs 30 MOOCS are identified and analyzed regarding the SDGs (materials).
Findings: The development of mandatory online E-learning for formal education to advance ESD presented very limited options. . In terms of blended learning mechanisms, each HEI applied a number of different mechanisms. The development of blended learning mechanisms to advance ESD is more diverse and applied across HEIs for both formal and non-formal education. In the MOOCs offered by Nordic HEIs, there is a pre-dominance towards covering three SDGs. The focus on SDG 9 on industry, innovation and infrastructure, SDG 13 on climate action and SDG 11 on sustainable cities and communities, is in line with the Nordic countries status as developed economies, were these topics are framed as priorities.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2020
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2020
EventAnnual Nordic Chapter PRME Symposium: Sustainability and the Nordic Description - Karlstad Business School, Karlstad, Sweden
Duration: 16 Nov 202016 Nov 2020


ConferenceAnnual Nordic Chapter PRME Symposium
LocationKarlstad Business School
Internet address

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