Saturday, 18 January 2014

Activity six: Sustainable Flexible learning

Activity Six: Module Four

Sustainable Flexible Learning

The need for community care and sustainability has been promoted in recent years. We should all be aware of the need to protect and keep what resources we have on this planet. There are two contrasting ways of approaching sustainability; one is to throw caution to the wind and say, "What difference can one person make?" or second, make positive decisions and changes in our lives to become more personally sustainable. It is everyone’s responsibility to make small changes to enable bigger ones to follow. Future generations need a safe and nurturing place to grow up in.

The article by David Orr (1991) suggested that a goal of educating was to get as much information into students as possible. He talked about a number of educational myths then went on to offer ideas to change these. "The goal of education is not mastery of subject matter, but of one’s person" I like to think we have moved on from his original comments and we now offer a more diverse education for today’s students. Flexible learning is a great example of this. We are encouraged, as students, to research and push boundaries, investigate and reflect on our findings and also increase our knowledge and personal development.

As a teacher it is my role to not only lead by example but to also encourage my students to think about sustainability across all areas of Veterinary Nursing. A number of our medical practices are not particularly sustainable, but important for providing optimal animal health. For example, as nurses we need to use a new syringe for each animal and a new needle to inject with. Also some of the substances we use when cleaning kill viruses and bacteria but are not eco friendly and may even be toxic. We are required to balance the need of the patient with the need to be sustainable and still remain aware of our impact on the environment. It is hugely important that we encourage our students to ask questions and investigate alternatives to current products that are more sustainable but still as effective.

The School of Veterinary Nursing takes sustainability very seriously and is committed to making changes by embedding practices that make positive differences to our staff and students. Students are encouraged to think of ways to make changes in their personal and working lives. This can range from turning off lights when leaving a room to reusing everyday items to make cat and dog toys rather than buying readymade ones. A weekly blog is written by a staff member a "Tip of the week" is included for staff and students to read.

This year the School of Veterinary Nursing plans to incorporate the topic of sustainability at Block Courses at the beginning of the first semester. This may take the form of students working in groups to discuss what their understanding of sustainability is. By introducing the topic early in the year we will immediately encourage the students on a learning journey that will help towards a more sustainable future for all. At the start of semester two a short review is planned to see what has been learnt and what sources the students found to be the most helpful. The full time class will also be included in this with lectures scheduled throughout the year. The veterinary nursing staff have also been asked to add a section on sustainability to course notes and have questions relating to this in assessments. One example of this is in the paper: Demonstrating Knowledge and Skills for Providing Veterinary Reception Services (US 5195). The students are asked to consider some sustainable practices that could be put in place in the reception area and to give three examples of ways they can make changes in their veterinary clinic. Last year, a large number of our veterinary nursing students not only offered great ideas, they put these ideas into practice. This follows along the lines of providing real experiences in real situations. It allowed the students the opportunity to reflect on their actions and they were able to see the differences they themselves can make.


Ministry of Education. Education for Sustainability, Effective pedagogy in education for sustainability. Retrieved from:

The Learning Revolution (1991) What Is Education For? David Orr 1991.
Retrieved from:

1 comment:

  1. Great to see that sustainability is going ahead in leaps and bounds in Vet Nursing. Have you any suggestions for how lecturers could be more sustainable in relation to the resources they use for their courses? Hint: How well do lecturers currently share their resources with each other? You have mentioned something about this in the next post in relation to OER.

    How effective do you consider the team in implementing an effective pedagogy for sustainable education -inquiry, reflective, collaborative and experiential learning?