Low Carbon Learning

We’re all trying to be more environmentally conscious. Recycling, not letting the water run too much when we brush out teeth, resisting the urge to print off all those emails and buy shiny new folders to hoard them in. But what about learning events? What impact do they have on your carbon footprint?

Let’s look at a typical scenario

An organisation needs to train 20 of their managers, who all work in a different city. The usual approach would be to buy in the services of a trainer, get all the managers together for a training day and put them all up in a nice hotel with good facilities (although the bar is usually the only  popular one.)  Oh, and the trainer will take a maximum of 12 delegates per day so you’ll need two sessions (and two training fees and two lots of expenses for the trainer.) And off you go, everyone is trained, job done. But is there a better way?

Of course there is, but it’s new, isn’t it? We’ve heard about web 2.0. We’ve read about elearning, blended learning and webinars and wikis.  But what’s all that about? So, more often than not we stick to what we’ve always done (and get what we’ve always got.) 

It doesn’t have to be difficult

You can start small by reducing the number of instructor-led training days and substituting elearning for part of the programme. If your organisation has been very traditional from a learning point of view then this blended approach also helps to ease “traditional learners” into new ways of learning. Reducing travel is the main energy saver with e-learning but cutting the amount of paper used is also a key benefit – just think about all those handouts and training manuals that lurk in a drawer somewhere. Could a PDF format work better? With Adobe’s latest version of Acrobat you can even embed video and flash content so the possibilities are endless.

Here’s some examples of energy savings with elearning:  

• CISCO estimate they’ve avoided carbon emissions to the tune of  47,000 carbon tons since introducing e-learning and home working.

• A number of councils are  using elearning to help meet their obligations under the  government’s Efficiency Agenda as well as to save money

• An Open University study found that producing and providing elearning consumes 90% less energy and 85% fewer carbon emissions per student than live classroom training.

• BT reportedly saved £12 million on their annual training budget by substituting elearning for some of their instructor led content.  Following this success, they have expanded elearning to their wholesale customers.

What do you think? Do you use elearning as a tool to improve your organisation’s carbon footprint?  Perhaps you’re looking into this now – we would love to hear your thoughts. Please use the comments box below to let us know what you think.

Photo Credit: Francesco Marino

2 Responses to “Low Carbon Learning”

  1. Review of Blogging to the Bank 2010 said:

    Feb 16, 11 at 2:38 am

    Great blog 9/10! Bookmarked :)

  2. Antony Bores said:

    Mar 11, 11 at 8:06 am

    I simply declare you actually make a few great points and I will publish a number of suggestions to add in briefly.

Leave a Reply