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How does E-Learning create a sustainable future?

How does E-Learning create a sustainable future?

June 14, 2022

How does e-learning create a sustainable future?

 

Photo of an iphone with the recycle logo on the screen

How does e-learning help create a sustainable future? It’s an important and common question as the world shifts towards digitalisation and more and more learning takes place online. 


 

 

Introduction
 

To understand fully how e-learning connects to sustainability, let us clarify the terms so everyone is on the same page. 

Firstly, what even is e-learning?  

Well according to The Economic Times , e-learning is defined as:

 

“A learning system based on formalised teaching but with the help of electronic resources is known as E-learning.“ 

 

So, any online learning system based off formal teaching is considered e-learning. It is a very wide net and thus e-learning can exist in multiple forms, one such form is in the form of a Learning Management Systems (LMS). 

Secondly, how is e-learning linked to sustainability

Well sustainability in the sense as UCLA puts it: 

 

“Sustainability presumes that resources are finite, and that it should be used conservatively and wisely with a view to long-term priorities and consequences of the ways in which resources are used.” 

 

Any consumption of a resource that has a finite amount (trees/oil/natural gas) will fall under sustainability. 
You can take a look at our sustainability efforts here!

Now that we know what e-learning and sustainability is, let us dive into... 

 
How e-learning paves the way forward to a sustainable future 

 

 

1. Reduces Paper Wastage 
 

Hundreds of waste paper stacks

To start us off, the most straight forward impact would be the reduction of paper waste

As we all know, schools use an enormous number of papers, how huge? Well roughly up to 320,000 sheets every year PER school! The paper is used for making textbooks, assignments, tests, and notes. Not only that, students usually hand in reports or take down their notes on their own paper as well. 

To cater to this demand, the paper industry not only consumes natural resources but also requires a substantial amount of energy to produce, up to 6% of global industrial energy consumption! And while recycling mitigates it to a big extent, saving up to 70% energy and water, this is not a long-term sustainable solution. 

E-learning addresses this issue because...

it doesn’t use paper? Or well, it uses digital paper, which does not require as much energy and natural resources to produce. 

Reducing paper wastage means lesser trees being cut down which means more trees in the world, and air that is fresher to breathe in.

For example, ACP digitised Adaptive Flashcards, thereby reducing paper usage while enhancing the online learning experience!

Now wouldn’t that be great? 

 

2. Reduces Pollution
 

Morning shot of powerplants burning fuel with columns of smoke rising

Secondly, pollution

Pollution in this case we'll focus on air pollution, which contributes to Greenhouse gases, increasing the amount of heat trapped and thus causing global warming

So how does e-learning alleviate the issue of pollution? 

To understand what is alleviated, we need to understand what causes it in the first place. 

We know that most staffs and students will need to travel from their homes to their school if they do not stay on campus ground.  

A national survey conducted by the UK found that up to 50% of students take a form of vehicle transport to school. More people on the road equals more traffic, which leads to more emissions and thus air pollution, especially in heavily populated areas where schools are located at. Studies show that student commuting contributes about 300 to 630 kg (about twice the weight of a large motorcycle) of CO2 emission per student, multiply that by 2.75 million in the UK alone, you hit 1 billion kg worth of CO2 emission! And that’s just the UK! 

Apart from the Greenhouse gas contribution, air pollution also affects our health in negative ways. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that air pollution causes the death of one-third of people suffering from stroke, lung, cancer, and heart disease.  

At this point, are you able to realise the significance behind how e-learning causes a HUGE shift in the pollution caused by transport? 

 

 

E-learning alleviates the issue of pollution

because well... learning can be simply done anywhere, anytime!

It EMPOWERS students to learn from their own home. 

 

 

 

The only travelling they will be doing is from one room to another! (And we know for some of you that’s still too far 😂) 

Not only that, when you realise that e-learning courses are scalable in the number of students they can reach (well... because one lecturer teaching on campus can hold at most a few hundred students. But if that same lecture is recorded and accessible online, the outreach is virtually limitless), the impact is scaled up as well. 

Altogether, we believe that these factors significantly minimises the impact on transport-related pollution. Learning online not only saves you travelling time, it also saves you a sizeable amount of money spent travelling! And most importantly, it saves the environment as well.

For example, ACP digitises the On-Job-Training process, reducing pollution while enhancing the e-learning experience!

Well, isn’t that simply perfect? 

 

3. Energy
 

An empty lecture theatre with the lights on

Finally, energy consumption

When you go into your usual public building to learn, there are a lot of background activity that uses energy.  

For example, in a study published by the energy department of the United States, public buildings are responsible for 40% of all US primary energy use and associated greenhouse gas emissions. Public buildings consume substantial amounts of energy via lighting, ventilation, heating or cooling, and many other activities. While a case can be made that decentralising student shifts the energy burden from campus to home, the savings gained are still significant.  

How significant? A study published by Kieran Walsh on the Taylor Francis Journal has a conservative estimate of up to 60% reduction in energy usage.  

Another study at the Open University saw related results, 90% less energy and produced 85% fewer CO2 emissions for online students and a study done by the University of West Georgia found that online learning helped to cut CO2 emissions by 5-10 tons per semester for every hundred students. 

Apart from the energy savings gained from not using the building facilities, there’s also the carbon impact from raw material requirements of new/updating facilities. The World Green Building Council estimates that 11% of all carbon emission in the world comes from the building process. It is indeed a sizeable chunk that will be saved through digitalisation. 

So the take-away here is that... e-learning does save a significant amount of energy.

 

At this point, we know that the science is clear on the immense benefit that e-learning brings to greenifying the world in energy consumption. That brings us to the next point...

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How can we help?
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Let's look into what we can do!

 

 

What can we do to drive change?

 

1. Support organisations that push for change

 

Amidst a crowd of people, there is one hand raising a cardboard message saying "There is no Planet B"

 

Over at LOOP, we have been advocating e-learning for quite some time now, since our first article published in 2010! We are no stranger to the benefits that e-learning brings. 

Likewise, you can look out for other organisations that has a strong history for pushing green initiatives and support them over other organisations! 

This will help shift the culture of sustainability throughout all the companies, and push for a greener world, one company at a time!

 

2. Advocate for sustainable products

 

a reusable cotton bag full of oranges with it's shadow cast on a wall

One such product is what this article has been speaking of, E-learning! and in turn, platforms that support e-learning. 

You don’t have to support just LOOP, there are other wonderful organisations out there pushing for green initiatives just like us! (Although we would like to think that we are at the forefront! 😁) 

Apart from e-learning, the same idea can be translated to other aspects of your life that requires any products. 

By supporting those products, you naturally create a stronger demand for sustainable products, and thus, move consumer sentiments towards those as well. 

 

3. By standing firm and shifting social norm 
 

Apart from the above two points, there was an interesting study published by the Nature Journal where it found out that people were more likely to perform a task if the social pressure was there.  

The Harvard Business Review has a wonderful article explaining the behaviour. You may be interested to check the article out.

 

Conclusion

 

Overall, the science is clear that e-learning brings about: 

1. a notable change for the environment in terms of reducing paper waste
2. alleviating air pollution, and it 
3. substantially cuts down on energy usage  

 

Change can only take place when we get educated on the risks and benefits, and when we understand which direction to push forth to.

 

Step by step, let’s move towards e-learning and create a sustainable future for all of us to live in. 

 

 

Share with others 

 

If you found this blogpost helpful, remember to share it with others so that we can all move towards creating a clean, green, beautiful world that future generations will remember us for. 

Find out other ways that e-learning brings benefit to you! 

If you are looking for a learning platform that is easy to use and environmentally friendly, try LOOP LMS now! Get a free account that is fully functional and allows you to use all the basic features of the learning platform.