Online education basically tips traditional education on its head, making all aspects of study available from one computer used in a student’s home, instead of using up mounds of paper and creating an elaborate amount of energy consumption.
An increasing number of universities are dipping their toes in the water of online education, including many World Top 100s who provide MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) and other learning centres offering courses for anyone who is willing to put in the time.
The best part? There’s a strong green impact of online education.
Before anyone has started learning anything, CO2 emissions are dramatically reduced by those learning online. They aren’t commuting to and from a busy university campus and around the city. Instead, work is done remotely in the comfort of a student’s own space.
With cars and trucks accounting for almost one-fifth of all US emissions alone, reducing commuting is a positive contribution from online education.
If you’re wondering whether it actually makes a difference, look no further than the University of West Georgia where researchers found that for every 100 students who do not commute, carbon dioxide emissions reduce by ten tonnes each semester.
The green impact of online education spreads further when looking at what organisations can save in terms of building. When students learn online, there is no need for a huge campus and construction of new buildings to facilitate the demand, meaning that there are less emissions and materials need in the creation of a learning centre’s facilities.
Instead, a centre can “expand” online, where there’s plenty of space for everyone.
Alongside the lack of construction which can affect pollution levels as well as beautiful natural landscapes and habitats, another green impact of online education is the conservation of natural resources.
Buildings use an enormous sum of heat and power each day, be it lecturers or students, there’s a huge level of power consumption. Think of all the computers on a campus library, for example, that are left turned on for pretty much the whole day long.
Online education means students consume up to 90% less energy compared to traditional learning, as found by The Open University in the UK.
It’s perfectly natural to wonder whether or not employers are valuing the green impact of online education and support the new approach to learning.
Well, having an online course on your CV looks great – and employers will often ask about it in interviews.
It also shows a lot about you as a person: you’re self-motivated and organised if you can manage to complete an online course that requires you to actually get out of bed and learn on your own terms. But there’s also no difference in the outcome of your course if you learn online instead of going to an educational institution.
For example, there are plenty of ways to gain engineering online opportunities – you can even earn a Master’s degree in engineering which puts you at the forefront of a brand new “breed” of engineers.
And when it comes to engineering in particular, an online course shows you’re serious about the subject.
After all, many degree-level qualified engineers often dedicate their careers to contributing environmentally-friendly, sustainable products and inventions to the world, so why not start with your green degree?
Online education has one other huge green impact: it saves paper. We all went to school with at least one kid who said they didn’t want to do their homework because they wanted to save the trees.
Well, that kid has no excuse anymore (and, thankfully, they can stop getting laughs for it) with online education.
Online learning dramatically reduces the number of paper handouts, printing services and waste and makes the USP of traditional education practically nonexistent. It’s all on a screen.
The green impact of online education is certainly interesting – and it’s undoubtedly worth looking into, whether you’re a provider of it, like 40% of Fortune 500 companies, or a consumer of it, like one in four students in the US.
Writing and travelling are two of my passions – both of them together is my paradise. I love reading classic novels and I also live and breathe politics. Enjoy! You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram: @lxurenwhite