Measuring the Environmental Impact of Online Learning: Where do we Start?

By Ruth May, Vanessa Cox, Stanley Kroder and Geralyn Franklin.

Published by Ubiquitous Learning: An International Journal

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

While universities are increasingly focused on developing “green’ standards and practices and integrating sustainability concepts into their curricula, few have considered the potential impact that their online learning programs may already be having on the environment. Online classes result in some number of miles not driven, classrooms not lighted, and paper not printed thereby reducing the carbon footprints of institutions and their students. Yet despite the growing enthusiasm of academic institutions to be recognized as champions of sustainability, recent progress made by corporations in measuring and reporting their sustainable efforts has not been matched by educational institutions, particularly in the domain of online course delivery. Consequently, the purpose of our paper is to present a framework for measuring the environmental impact of online learning currently being pilot tested in the College of Business at the University of Dallas. We propose that the starting point for measurement is in the digital content itself and present results from the pilot data in the spring and summer semesters of 2009. We conclude with suggestions for establishing measurement models at other institutions where partnerships between university administrators, faculty and students hold promise for increasing the sustainable impact of eLearning.

Keywords: Environmental Impact, Sustainability, Measurement, Online Delivery

Ubiquitous Learning: An International Journal, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp.65-76. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.716MB).

Dr. Ruth May

Professor, College of Business, University of Dallas, Irving, TX, USA

Ruth May is a Professor of Global Business in the College of Business at the University of Dallas. In 2006, Ruth received a national teaching award from for Excellence in Online Teaching and has been an invited speaker on the topic of online course development at the Sloan Consortium. Before entering academia, Ruth served as Vice-President, General Securities Principal and Senior Registered Options Principal for McLarty & Company, an NASD member firm, and as a Senior Investment Officer for Legg Mason Wood Walker, a NYSE member firm. Ruth now specializes in research and consulting in transition economies through the Rayter Group which she co-founded in 1992 with Gregory Rachmelivich Rayter, founder of the Russian Human Resource Management Association. Since 1993 she has coordinated the design and execution of management training programs for over 50 organizations from Russia and Ukraine. Ruth has presented papers at regional, national and global conferences and has published in the Academy of Management Executive, Academy of Management Journal, Entrepreneurship Theory & Practice, European Management Journal, Journal of Business Ethics, Journal of Emerging Markets, Multinational Business Review, and Organizational Dynamics.

Vanessa Cox

Director of Online Learning, College of Business, University of Dallas, Irving, TX, USA

Vanessa Cox is the Director for Online Learning at the University of Dallas, Graduate School of Management. She manages all operational aspects of the online delivery method and blended learning for the MBA, MS and MM programs. This includes the functional areas of IT Administration, Course Development, Contract Review and Program Communication. She has implemented various process improvement ideas for the university and supported the online enrollment increase of 18.61% over the 2005-2006 fiscal year. Vanessa has over 20 years of professional experience in progressive business development and program management. Her educational background includes an undergraduate degree from Indiana University in Marketing and an MBA from University of Dallas in Information Assurance.

Dr. Stanley Kroder

Associate Dean, College of Business, University of Dallas, Irving, TX, USA

Stan Kroder is the Associate Dean for Professional Development of the College of Business at the University of Dallas (UD). In this role, he is responsible for programs in training and development including many that lead to professional certifications. At UD he launched an MBA in Telecommunications Management and was involved in the initial design of the UD IMBA. He continues to teach in the MBA curriculum. He joined UD after a long career at IBM in computer systems, marketing and education. Dr. Kroder received a BS degree from MIT'’s Sloan School of Management and a Master of Science degree from Case-Western Reserve University. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Dallas.

Dr. Geralyn Franklin

Dean, College of Business, University of Dallas, Irving, TX, USA

Geralyn McClure Franklin, Ph.D. (University of North Texas) serves as Dean of the College of Business at the University of Dallas, having assumed the position in late May of 2009. Dr. Franklin has published numerous articles on human resource management, employment law, and small business management and entrepreneurship issues in various journals. She has been involved with directing and coordinating online management education since 1998.