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Design of higher education teaching models and carbon impacts

Caird, Sally; Lane, Andy; Swithenby, Ed; Roy, Robin and Potter, Stephen (2015). Design of higher education teaching models and carbon impacts. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 16(1) pp. 96–111.

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DOI (Digital Object Identifier) Link: http://doi.org/10.1108/IJSHE-06-2013-0065
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Abstract

Purpose
This research examines the main findings of the SusTEACH study of the carbon-based environmental impacts of 30 higher education (HE) courses in 15 UK institutions, based on an analysis of the likely energy consumption and carbon emissions of a range of Face-to-face, Distance, Online and ICT-enhanced blended teaching models.
Design/methodology/approach
An environmental assessment of 19 campus-based and 11 distance-based HE courses was conducted using questionnaire surveys to gather data from students and lecturers on course-related travel; the purchase and use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and paper materials; residential energy consumption, and campus site operations. Results were converted into average energy and CO2 emissions, normalised per student per 100 study hours, and then classified by the primary teaching model used by lecturers.
Findings
The main sources of HE course carbon emissions were travel; residential energy consumption; and campus site operations. Distance-based HE models (Distance, Online and ICT-enhanced teaching models) reduced energy consumption by 88% and achieved significant carbon reductions of 83% when compared with campus-based HE models (Face-to-face and ICT-enhanced teaching models). The Online teaching model achieved the lowest energy consumption and carbon emissions, although there were potential rebound effects associated with increased ICT-related energy consumption and paper used for printing.
Practical implications
New pedagogical designs using online and distance-based teaching methods can achieve carbon reductions by reducing student travel, residential and campus accommodation.
Originality/value
Few studies have examined the environmental performance of HE teaching models. A new classification of HE traditional, online and blended teaching models is used to examine the role of ICTs and the likely carbon impacts.

Item Type: Journal Article
Copyright Holders: 2015 Emerald Group Publishing Limited
ISSN: 1467-6370
Project Funding Details:
Funded Project NameProject IDFunding Body
SusTEACHNot SetJisc
Extra Information: Awarded the Outstanding Paper in the 2016 Emerald Literati Network Awards for Excellence.
Awarded Green Gown Award (Research and Development), Finalist Certificate 2012. The SusTEACH project.
Keywords: carbon impacts of higher education courses; environmental impacts of teaching and learning; Low carbon teaching models; environment assessment methods; Greening pedagogical design; online learning
Academic Unit/Department: Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) > Engineering and Innovation
Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
Other Departments > Learning and Teaching Solutions
Other Departments
Interdisciplinary Research Centre: Innovation, Knowledge & Development research centre (IKD)
Item ID: 38870
Depositing User: Sally Caird
Date Deposited: 04 Nov 2013 09:18
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2016 20:22
URI: http://oro.open.ac.uk/id/eprint/38870
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