Sustainability and e-learning

The Internet has certainly changed the world. It offers opportunities to empower individuals and communities. E-learning is probably one of the Internet’s most important and promising areas for development.

It is about bringing knowledge into the home and office. It is about flexibility in work and learning and vastly improved accessibility to knowledge. It is about communicating, networking, active discussion, interaction, not just static information on a web page or in a book. For example, you can use web-conferencing systems like BigBlueButton to interact and learn.

Through it’s ability to connect people anywhere in the world, any time, the Internet enables much more effective knowledge delivery. Importantly, it enables the discussion and development of knowledge to take place. The hope is that this process can benefit all socio-economic groups around the world. Maybe the world will evolve into a better place as a result. In this regard, it is interesting that sustainability and e-learning are now connected.

The importance of sustainability and ‘green skills’ in industry has been highlighted by various educational think tanks. As a result, it is now a requirement in training packages produced by vocational education and training (VET) organisations. For example, a discussion of this has been provided by Australian based VET group “The Knowledge Tree” (a link is provided at the end of this post).

But, what exactly is sustainability and sustainable development? The most quoted definition is from the World Commission on Environment and Development. “Our Common Future, Chapter 2: Towards Sustainable Development”. Retrieved 2011-09-28.

“Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” It contains within it two key concepts:

  • the concept of ‘needs’, in particular the essential needs of the world’s poor, to which overriding priority should be given; and
  • the idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organization on the environment’s ability to meet present and future needs.”

In terms of the industrial activities of mankind, a fully sustainable industry would be one that has zero impact or a positive impact on the environment.

Organisations such as Engineers Without Borders (EWB) are using e-learning because it is much more efficient than commuting to college and therefore reduces the carbon footprint associated with learning activities. The Open University uses e-learning extensively. Individual teachers and consultants also can use these systems.

The article from “The Knowledge Tree” is linked to here: “Eyes on a green horizon – sustainability and e-learning”