Wednesday, September 9, 2020

We can reduce a universty's contribution to climate change through e-learning

The Australian National University is conducting a public consultation on "How can we reduce ANU contributions to climate change?".

There are seven themes, each with the opportunity to contribute ideas, via a web page and video conference:
  1. Leadership and targets
  2. Energy and buildings
  3. Travel
  4. Behavioral change
  5. Removing atmospheric greenhouse gases
  6. Finance, investment and purchasing
  7. Integrating below zero operations, research and teaching
Under the theme, Behavioral Change, I have suggested more use of e-learning, to allow more students to be educated without increasing the buildings required, while also reducing carbon emissions from less travel:

Shift 80% of ANU Learning Online to Reduce CO2 Emissions

ANU's Vision for Excellence in Learning and Teaching only requires minor tweaking to boost online learning, without abandoning the campus. The average student needs to be on campus for about 20% of their study. By facilitating the other 80% of study off campus, the ANU can reduce its emissions per student, and also help students reduce their carbon footprint through reduced travel.

An example of such an online course is, appropriately enough, "ICT Sustainability" (COMP7310), first offered online in 2009 (Worthington, 2012). This course teaches students to estimate and reduce carbon emissions though the use of computers and the internet. Students undertake the course wherever in the world they happen to be.

Online learning can be part of an attractive package, with campus instruction. As an example, ANU TechLauncher students have been learning this way (Worthington, 2020).


Worthington, T. (2012, July). A Green computing professional education course online: Designing and delivering a course in ICT sustainability using Internet and eBooks. In 2012 7th International Conference on Computer Science & Education (ICCSE) (pp. 263-266). IEEE. URL

Worthington, T. (2020, June). Blend and Flip for Teaching Communication Skills to Final Year International Computer Science Students. Paper accepted for the IEEE International Conference on Teaching, Assessment and Learning for Engineering (TALE), 10-13 December 2019, Yogyakarta, Indonesia. URL

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