June 14, 2022
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...
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?
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.
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.
Well, isn’t that simply perfect?
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.
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...
What can we do to drive change?
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!
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.
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.
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.