Understanding Environmental Benefits of Online Learning:
To now, studies comparing the relative benefits of on-campus instruction vs distant learning have mostly compared learning results, with the majority of studies finding no difference and comparable levels of student satisfaction for both types of instruction.
However, in the aftermath of the Covid-19 outbreak, the topic has changed. Accessibility, flexibility, and lower rates of disease transmission, for example, were previously thought to be among the less advantageous aspects of e-learning. At the same time, the advantages of conventional university and college courses were, albeit temporarily, lost due to a string of crippling lockdowns.
Table of Contents
- 1 Stepping Up Our Effort to Combat Climate Change
- 2 E-Learning Has Demonstrable Environmental Advantages
- 3 Technology Advancements Are Encouraging Access to Online Education
- 4 Envisioning A Future That Is More Sustainable
Stepping Up Our Effort to Combat Climate Change
The extent of human impact on the planet’s ecosystems is widely known; a recent study demonstrates that there is currently greater than 95% scientific agreement that humans are driving current climate change.
An international response on a scale never previously seen is necessary to adapt the human activity to lessen the changes we are currently witnessing. This global transformation will permanently alter our thinking, learning, and making decisions. Universities and colleges are ideally situated to serve as platforms for advancing scientific research and discussion and as examples of best practices.
It’s a problem that’s being dealt within universities throughout the world. Many schools have invested significantly in “greener” structures and reoriented campus operations to provide sustainable benefits as part of their ongoing commitment to promoting sustainability. Another, possibly more significant, long-term development is offering a more comprehensive range of courses to distant students through online instruction.
Giving more students access to top-notch, campus-equivalent university programs is also a wise business decision. If broadly and successfully implemented, it may establish a “virtuous circle,” democratizing access to some of the top educational institutions worldwide while promoting behavioral changes that would aid in addressing harmful environmental effects.
E-Learning Has Demonstrable Environmental Advantages
Researchers discovered that using an online education paradigm resulted in carbon profiles that were approximately 90% lower than those of face-to-face instruction.
The project looked into the main factors that contribute to the carbon footprint of higher education teaching, such as staff and student travel, the use of IT resources and instructional materials, energy usage, and campus operations. It discovered that, in three crucial areas, online learning reduced firms’ environmental impact:
- Removing the need for the paper will help to reduce deforestation. Along with consuming a lot of natural resources, the paper sector also uses a lot of energy to make its products. Recycling used paper will help to some extent, but switching mostly to digital media offers a more long-term sustainable answer. Moreover, it’s great that students are gradually becoming accustomed to an eco-friendly lifestyle. It becomes the absolute norm in their mindset: “I’d rather write my essays online, save them in notes or Word than use paper.”
- Reducing the amount of pollution caused by the necessary travel and lodging for students and staff. More traffic, emissions, and air pollution resulting from more vehicles on the road in densely populated areas, frequently where universities are found. In order to reduce the impact on transportation and lodging, a course created by a team headquartered primarily at a single location can be given to hundreds or thousands of students (in terms and between terms).
- Easing the strain on university infrastructure, equipment upkeep, and operating expenses. Large public structures use a tremendous amount of heat and electricity. Although decentralizing students through e-learning does shift part of the energy burden from the university to the home, there are still significant energy savings. According to one study, students who switched to online learning reduced their carbon dioxide emissions from 90 kg to 4 kg every term. Universities intending to increase the number of students living on campus must also consider the carbon impact of the raw material needs for new or upgraded facilities.
Technology Advancements Are Encouraging Access to Online Education
Students from all walks of life can access flexible upskilling opportunities through online learning. Smart device ubiquity and the quick global adoption of high-speed telecommunications networks are progressively lowering the barriers to education and opening up new options for more individuals.
One of the most crucial ways we can start addressing the difficulties of sustainability that are becoming increasingly globalized is by providing education that can elevate human capital, both at a distance and on a large scale. Access to higher education must be expanded through digital transformation, but this cannot be done without upending established teaching and learning paradigms.
To Overcome the Difficulties of Online Learning, Novel Inventions Will Be Required, specifically
- The development of learning models that take into account students’ changing needs, such as the availability of blended or hybrid programs that merge theory and practice in some degree-related courses.
- Higher education institutions can administer learning programs more effectively and offer individualized help to distant students by hastening the digital transformation process.
- Creating scalable and tailored online learning models that maximize instructors’ knowledge without substantially increasing their burden.
Universities must invest in developing courses tailored to remote online learning delivery that are viable alternatives to a campus-based educational experience. E-learning initiatives cannot afford to be mere facsimiles of their on-campus equivalents. Faculties may have a rare chance to integrate digital distribution into the teaching and learning process for the benefit of all students, not just those taking online courses.
The push to create e-platforms that allow universities to provide excellent learning experiences to distant students poses new issues for higher learning institutions that traditionally prioritize campus-based courses. Implementing e-learning technologies and adapting course material for online students is expensive.
Envisioning A Future That Is More Sustainable
While the pandemic-induced worldwide closure of public venues sparked a quick shift to remote teaching, it highlighted the potential for online learning to play a bigger role in sustainable education.
Teaching methods must adapt to learning possibilities to be effective. Learners must be engaged in increasingly interactive, imaginative, and strategic ways across various geographies.
Without a doubt, demand is rising. Due mainly to flexible learning technologies, industry research experts predict that the worldwide online education market will increase to USD 350 billion by 2025.