Ecotech Institute's first free online course receives positive student feedback

Aug 19, 2013

Descriptions such as "inspiring" and "eye-opening" were included in student feedback from Ecotech Institute's recent free online "Introduction to Sustainability" course.

Students came from "all walks of life and from around the globe," according to Kyle Crider, Ecotech Institute's Program Chair and Manager of Environmental Operations, who led the course. There was a diverse mix of men and women in the class, ranging in educational background from high school to Ph.D., about half of whom had never taken an online course before.

"Many participants were so engaged that they actually requested that the class continue beyond the ten weeks," said Crider. The course was designed to help participants think critically about environmental sustainability and how it impacts people at all levels, from corporate behavior to personal lives.

The course was Ecotech Institute's first "massive online open course" (MOOC) through the Canvas Network, a popular way for educational institutions to offer free courses to the public.

The course explored various definitions of sustainability used by governments, businesses and individuals to address environmental, societal and economic problems around the world. In addition, students learned ways to apply sustainable concepts in their own lives, including the capstone project of writing their own sustainability-focused mission, vision and goals.

Some of the feedback includes:

  • "I'll always remember it as the course that gave me the push I needed in deciding to continue study in a master's program in sustainability."
  • "I learned a lot, removed some general misconceptions about sustainability, and am truly inspired to continue learning and reading more about these topics. Plus, I am taking actions to change my personal habits."
  • "It was a much needed eye opener and has inspired me to open a consulting business (which I did last week) and have a little fun helping people save themselves…well, from themselves!"

MOOC instructor Crider says he was invigorated by the engagement and passion that came from the course attendees. "The diverse student population supports the fact that regardless of our differences we all live on the same planet and collectively need to play our part," he said.

Due to the overwhelming positive feedback, Ecotech Institute plans to offer future MOOC courses. The school will provide updates on future courses through its Facebook page, which users can "like" to access.