Why E-Learning is Green (and how you can benefit)

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Online courses represent a highly efficient learning option, but you may be surprised to discover the ways that eLearning is green. Some statistics from eLearningIndustry.com indicate that eLearning requires 90% less energy than traditional on-site classroom education and CO2 emissions per student are reduced by 85%. This is an energy savings realized by fewer driving emissions, less use of paper, and the ability to learn at home.

eLearning is also efficient with time as you can simply power up and start working wherever you are. It democratizes education by allowing higher pay and more benefits for online instructors. Plus, the Internet is available to everyone equally, and the scale and power of this medium is unprecedented. The implication is that you can create a global classroom and reach more people than ever before while establishing relationships and collaborations that were never possible before.

There is an implied loss of human connection and presence, but that is being addressed in progressive ways through technologies like video chat and other experiential learning tools. The savings in time, money and resources are significant and undeniable.

As eLearning becomes more prevalent there will be less need for actual real estate – fewer physical classrooms and less parking. There is also a significant savings in time, primarily less time spent in travel, which allows for more time spent actively learning. Instructors who become adept at building online courses can leverage audio, video, written content, visual media and other resources – even guest speakers — into a cohesive and dynamic learning experience. Plus, global interaction, sharing, and collaboration with other instructors in other places becomes immediate and rich at a much lower cost than ever before.

Beyond academics, there is also the potential to deliver quality corporate training to employees and organizations via eLearning technologies. What has required large expenditures in travel, lodging, time away from the workplace, and other resources for entire departments in the past can be accomplished with far less time and money through online training built on integrated, expandable platforms like lifterLMS that you can customize to your organization’s specific needs.

You can post comments, and also subscribe to our newsletter at LMScast.com for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMSCast. Thank you for joining us.

And if you’re an already successful expert, teacher or entrepreneur looking to grow, check out the LifterLMS team’s signature service called Boost. It’s a complete done for you set up service where your learning platform goes live in just 5 days.

Episode Transcript

joshua millage: Hello everyone, we’re back with another episode of LMScast, I’m Joshua Millage. I’m joined with Christopher Badgett. Today we’re talking about something that’s a little different, talking about the efficiency that E-learning brings to education. I think we’re going to talk about some things that most of you won’t think about either. Chris, what is one of the huge efficiency increases that you have with E-learning over traditional education?

chris badgett: Absolutely. I want to start it off with a quote or more I should say statistic I found on a great website called Elearningindustry.com. They have a great article about the Top 10 E-learning stats for 2014. The stat is that E-learning is also eco-friendly. Recent studies conducted by Britain’s Open University have found that E-learning consumes 90% less energy than traditional courses. The amount of CO2 emissions per student is also reduced by 85%. I want to talk about efficiency in general but let’s kick it off with talking about the environmental impact of E-learning versus traditional education.

joshua millage: That sounds great. This is, like I said, something that I hadn’t even considered until you mentioned this in our pre-chat is that, it does makes sense because we don’t have driving emissions, we don’t have a bunch of paper that we’re using, it’s basically just the Internet and you can stay at home. It’s an interesting advantage to E-learning that I don’t think a lot of people are considering or talking about when we are in such a crucial point in terms of climate change and what not, where we need to be considering ways to reduce emissions, this is easy. This is not even difficult.

There are so many other efficiency advantages too in way of the way that it democratizes education allowing professors to get paid more. There’s just so many advantages. I think the green one though is one that I didn’t even consider and surprising because I live in Sta. Cruz. Things like that should prop up on my radar but that’s really cool. I think it’s really interesting.

chris badgett: Absolutely. You and I had been working in the Internet world and Internet business for a long time. But over time it just continues to amaze me the scale and the possibilities of the Internet. Because really at the end of the day it’s not about the information that you can find on the Internet, it’s about the connections. Just the power of the Internet, my respect continues to deepen about this interesting phenomenon we call the Internet that nobody owns but everybody uses and all these things.

When we look at the green aspect, E-learning is not necessarily 100% green. For example if you have a website that means you have web hosting which is a computer that had to be built that’s in a warehouse somewhere that requires power. But at the end of the day like you mentioned, there’s no real estate in the sense of like a classroom. There’s not 30 people or 100 people or 30,000 people coming in cars to this building.

It’s also just very efficient with time. You can just open up your computer and start with your E-learning experience. It’s a really neat value-add for doing the E-learning route. It’s not that E-learning should 100% replace traditional education but the environmental impacts are important to consider. Also, the really positive side effect is just, when you take away that real estate of a classroom, and you can truly do your E-learning with a global audience, that is just amazing, that you can reach so many people.

joshua millage: Yeah. We’ve experienced that, not so much in the E-learning space but just in terms of selling lifterLMS. I’ve talked to people from all the way from Switzerland and Romania, to Australia to Peru, all over the place, that’s just something to support the E-learning industry. But at the same time, the impact that we’ve had, the relationships we’ve been able to form has been truly amazing. We’ve seen that too with clients that you’re worked with in Africa and all over the place. Their ability to reach across borders and make connections and change people’s lives literally on the other side of the globe. It’s pretty interesting.

You think about, you take that back to the environment. You’re not flying a plane all the way across the globe to get there saving all of that money and also fuel cost, all the things that go along with that. It is truly an amazing thing that happens.

I think like with technology too, the loss the you receive with E-learning will start to change. What I mean by loss is like, that human connection. Because since the pipes, the fiber optic cables all that is getting faster, it allows us to do things like this video chat. It’s going to allow for more experiential type of learning experiences that happen online. Same thing with engagement and being able to track how people are doing in courses and so forth, we’re not going to have so much of that in-person loss that we would have had in the past few years. It’s a great time I think to get online and to take advantage of some of these increases that are happening.

chris badgett: Absolutely, absolutely.

joshua millage: Yeah. Chris what’s another one that comes to mind when you’re thinking about E-learning efficiencies?

chris badgett: We talked about the lack of a need for a commute which is absolutely huge. The lack of a need for real estate or a structure to house that classroom, which of course you might still have if you’re doing a blended learning situation where there is a lot of live interaction which we talked about in a previous episode.

The other thing is just speed to market in terms of delivering your online course material. A teacher can be very efficient once they get comfortable with their computer and their technology. Whether they’re using video, their writing, creating audios or creating slideshows and thing like that, it can be very efficient. If you think about the traditional teacher which also ties into environmental impact, there’s like handouts that have to be copied. All this like curriculum overhead that has to happen. Whereas when you become really efficient as an E-learning professional, you’ve got all the tools at your fingertips. You have an idea, you can bring it into your classroom in a matter of moments or as long as it takes you to create that educational content.

joshua millage: I like that. The other one I thought about is personnel. I think a lot of people who are building online courses and things, they don’t think about the efficiency increases in combining their teaching with other people’s teaching, creating like a literal online university which I think is really interesting. I watched my father go through the classic education system, university system. It’s like if you wanted another job, we’d have as a family, pack up and move our lives across the nation to take that job. He was, at one point, looking at moving from Indiana to Idaho to take a position. That’s because there wasn’t the talent needed in Idaho. They were importing that talent from elsewhere in the country.

But with online education, you don’t have to do that. Those people can stay where they’re at. They can essentially import that talent or that expertise from all over the world. You’ve done that with organic life guru from a gardening standpoint. You said you had, I think you said Costa Rica and all over the place. People participating, creating courses, I think that’s a unique advantage. There’s so many benefits to that.

Now the knowledge isn’t geo-located and trapped in one part of the globe but can really be brought to anyone. The distribution power is there and that really doesn’t cost much to distribute it. I think that’s another thing too. Even as I think the courses that I want to create, there’s a power in creating a bunch of different people teaching from different angles in that niche and creating almost like a university around it. Be really interesting.

chris badgett: Like I was talking about, a deeper respect for the Internet and having it not be about the information but about the connections. You could even call it a web just like the world wide web. If you’re going to collaborate around the topic, and like you said, build an online university, you don’t have to get on a plane. You can pipe in a guest instructor on your course and have them teach a section on something where it’s so efficient, all that person has to do is say yes. Maybe you’re working out a financial profit-share arrangement with them or not, maybe they’re just a guest speaker. But they could come right into your classroom from their home office or wherever they are and deliver content, very efficiently as opposed to getting on the plane.

joshua millage: Yeah. I think it’s a fantastic opportunity and one I hope people start to think about more because it just makes for more potent information, more powerful information when you have multiple perspectives and angles. Especially like just in terms of what we do, marketing. Like internet marketing on Australia, post to Europe, getting all of that information in one place would be really interesting to see the different approaches and what’s similar and what’s different. Because that perspective is what makes education so powerful. Challenging your one perspective and giving you multiple perspectives, so easy to to do in E-learning and I love that aspect of it.

chris badgett: Absolutely.

joshua millage: We’re coming down to the end of our LMScast episode today. What is the final thought here Chris?

chris badgett: I just want to take it up a level and say if you’re beyond like a traditional teacher or an educational entrepreneur and you’re looking at E-learning more in terms of corporate training. If you think about a major Fortune 100, 1000, 10000 incorporation, perhaps you’re in charge of their E-learning. If you have to fly a bunch of staff for a global company to a location or various locations on different continents for ongoing training that’s required for the job or team building and what not, if you bring that online, it can be very efficient, very cost effective for the company and open up a lot of opportunities for corporate training, E-learning style at very efficient, much less cost there.

I was reading a statistic like 25% of people leave their job because of the lack of opportunity for growth in continuing education, you can really attack that and do that in a very efficient way with E-learning.

joshua millage: Yeah. I think that’s a great, great point to end on. This has been more of a high level outlook on some advantages of the E-learning industry. I think people can really take this and apply it to their own niche E-learning businesses or courses, whatever they’re up to. I’d love to hear from you. I knew Chris would too if you can go to LMScast.com, you can click on this episode and leave us a comment.

We would love to engage with you there, get your thoughts on what we’re talking about. Maybe you could tell us some efficiency increases that you’ve seen that we haven’t discussed today. But we’re really excited to see this community grow. There’s a lot of people who are reaching out to us and that just makes what we’re doing here so much more fun. Check that out at LMScast.com. Until next time, we’ll see you soon.


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