Structural reduction of carbon emissions through online education in Dutch Higher Education

M. Versteijlen, F. Perez Salgado, M. Janssen-Groesbeek, A.D. Counotte - Potman

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Dutch institutions of Higher Education have to meet stringent requirements for energy efficiency andreducing carbon emissions imposed by the national government. The commute of students and staffgreatly contributes to the carbon footprint of a Higher Education Institution. International students inDutch Higher Education also have a substantial impact on the environment due to air travel. Theirnumber increases every year. The deployment and use of ICT can contribute substantially to thereduction of energy use and carbon emissions through decreasing mobility of students and staff byincreasing virtualization and digitalization of educational processes.This exploratory study examines the opportunities of online learning as a means to reduce the impactof students’ traveling on the carbon footprint. The research methodology consists of a systematicreview of literature and a series of interviews with experts of online learning and managers of energy,ICT and/or sustainability.An obstacle for decreasing the carbon footprint of a Higher Education Institution using online learningare differences in opinion as expressed by professionals, regarding the quality of this form ofeducation. Our research shows that those in favour of face-to-face education believe, that the socialprocesses are essential for high quality education. Proponents of online learning emphasize theopportunities by focusing on the advantages for individual students – i.e. giving students more controlover their own learning process. So far, only a minority have recognized that online learning can leadto decreased mobility and a reduction of carbon emissions.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - 23 Mar 2017
EventSymposium on Learning and Innovation in Resilient Systems - Open University of the Netherlands, Heerlen, Netherlands
Duration: 23 Mar 201724 Mar 2017


ConferenceSymposium on Learning and Innovation in Resilient Systems


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