One very important thing is missing from many online classes: paper! Perhaps the most obvious environmentally friendly characteristic of online education is the lack of required paper consumption by students, who can see all course content, manage their notes, turn in assignments, and take tests electronically.
But online education is also helping the environment in another important way: energy. And running a traditional campus--its buildings, computers, maintenance--takes a lot of it. Dr. Omer Pamukcu, a department chair and professor at the all-online University of Phoenix, gives some highlights:
• Traditional colleges and universities spend, on average, $2 billion a year on energy.
• Commercial buildings, including those at colleges and universities, produce about half of the carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S.--and nearly a third of the energy in commercial buildings is wasted.
• Online learning uses nearly 90 percent less energy and produces 85 percent fewer carbon dioxide emissions than traditional campus-based courses, according to a study by the Design Innovation Group.