Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Does online study reduce carbon emissions?

The COVID-19 pandemic has provided a natural experiment on the value of online learning. As well as the effectiveness of this form of learning Heller, Sun, Guo and Malik, estimate it has saved about 8,000 kg CO2e per international student (2022). The authors used a relatively simplistic methodology, assuming on-campus international students travel to the city their institution is exclusively for the purposes of study. If an internaional student also works during their study, as many do, then the emissions from their travel can;t be attributed entirely to study. Also it is assumed that the university doesn't produce any extra emissions in providing education, on campus or online, compared to that of the average resident. The authors are advocates for the campus-less university. However, such a university still needs staff and equipment somewhere, which will product emissions. Also students studying will produce emissions. 


Heller RF, Sun YY, Guo Z and Malik A. Impact on carbon emissions of online study for a cohort of overseas students: A retrospective cohort study [version 5; peer review: 2 approved, 1 approved with reservations]F1000Research 2022, 10:849 (https://doi.org/10.12688/f1000research.55156.5)

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