Greening Higher Education qualification programmes with online learning

Caird, Sally; Lane, Andrew and Swithenby, Edward (2014). Greening Higher Education qualification programmes with online learning. In: Leal Filho, W.; Azeiteiro, U. and Caeiro, S. eds. E-learning and sustainability. Umweltbildung, Umweltkommunikation und Nachhaltigkeit - Environmental Education, Communication and Sustainability, 35. Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien: Peter Lang Scientific Publishers, pp. 105–116.



Digital infrastructure and devices and computer technology-based pedagogical applications are transforming the way higher education (HE) teaching, learning and assessment is delivered, and are having varied environmental, pedagogical and economic impacts. This chapter introduces the SusTEACH Modelling Tool, developed following an investigation of the impact of computing technologies or Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) on HE teaching models together with a carbon-based environmental assessment of 30 courses, offered by 15 UK-based HE institutions. This offers lecturers a tool for modelling UK-based course and qualification programmes, and estimating their energy consumption and CO2 emissions, following an analysis of the relationship between various online and ICT-enhanced, face-to-face and print-based distance teaching models and the main sources of energy consumption in HE. Applied to the Open University’s BSc Environmental Management and Technology programme, which uses various Online and ICT-enhanced Distance teaching models, the Tool shows that compared with a wholly face-to-face taught programme, carbon reductions of 84% are achieved, although moving to a fully online programme would reduce carbon emissions by 87%. Discussion includes the role of online learning designs and pedagogical use of computer technologies for achieving carbon reduction in HE.

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