The environmental impact of teaching and learning
The environmental impact of teaching and learning

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The environmental impact of teaching and learning

4.4.2 Exploring the SusTEACH Modelling Tool

The SusTEACH project found considerable variation in the transport impacts of teaching models with a high face-to-face teaching component. This was explained by the significant impact of student travel by plane to attend courses. The findings consequently showed that there is not a clear mapping of the impacts of teaching delivery methods on energy consumption and carbon emissions.

The SusTEACH Modelling Tool allows more sensitive modelling of differences within a teaching model design based on the SusTEACH findings and estimates the likely associated energy consumption and carbon emissions. As a lecturer, academic designer or qualification director you can explore the two functions of this tool:

  1. You can model the energy impacts of a new or existing course by selecting your main teaching delivery methods to describe your teaching model and calculate the energy impacts associated with your course. You can also estimate the impacts of a full qualification programme of courses with similar teaching models and designs.
  2. You can model the energy impacts of a qualification programme that includes several courses with different teaching models.

SAQ 10

Explore the SusTEACH Modelling Tool. Estimate and model the likely energy consumption and carbon impacts associated with your design for a course, module or full qualification programme.

Download or open the SusTEACH Modelling Tool [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

The user guide is available to help you to navigate through the tool if you need additional help.

Answer

Let’s take the same examples explored in Boxes 6 and 7 with the Planning Tool. This will help you to understand the additional functionality offered by the SusTEACH Modelling Tool.

Compare your result with the examples in Boxes 8 and 9.

Box 8 Using the Modelling tool to estimate the carbon impacts associated with an informatics course and full qualification programme

We know that the postgraduate module in informatics has high face-to-face teaching and that this usually requires students to travel and to live close to the campus in temporary university accommodation.

Beginning with Function 1, which is carried out from the Rating tool screen, you would expect term-time travel to be rated as high. It is also expected that at least 50 per cent of the registered students will travel by plane from their home abroad, so travel between home and term-time accommodation should also be rated high. Accommodation should also be rated as high, because students will be required to use temporary residential accommodation to attend face-to-face teaching.

Some learning opportunities are provided using specially developed printed teaching materials, but because this is likely to be less than 250 sheets/pages per student per 100 study hours/10 CATS credits, the rating for print-based teaching should be low. Some of the teaching and learning provision is ICT-enhanced, but the main teaching delivery method is face-to-face teaching, so the rating for ICT provision is low.

The results of Modelling Function 1 estimates that the average carbon impacts for this teaching model would be an average of 257 kg CO2 per student per 100 study hours/10 CATS credits, which is a very similar result to the estimate provided by the Planning Tool.

But what if fewer than 30 per cent of the registered students travel by plane from their home abroad? The rating for travel between home and term-time accommodation would then need to be changed to average. The results of Modelling Function 1 would be reduced to an estimated average of 224 kg CO2 per student per 100 study hours/10 CATS credits for this teaching module. This shows that student travel can make a significant difference to the carbon impacts attributable to a course.

Modelling a qualification programme

Via the Rating tool screen you can estimate the impacts of a full qualification programme of courses with a similar teaching model using the same information.

If there are eighteen similar courses offering 100 study hours/10 CATS credits in a typical postgraduate qualification programm,e the average carbon impacts for a full qualification programme can be scaled up to produce an estimated 4646 kg CO2 per student per 100 study hours/10 CATS credits.

But what if you decided to change the design of courses within the qualification programme to have different teaching models, some of which would have lower carbon impacts than others? This can be modelled using the Qualification Programme Teaching Models panel (Function 2). If ten courses were taught with a face-to-face model, four with a print-based distance teaching model and four with an ICT-enhanced face-to-face teaching model, this would reduce the carbon impacts to an average 3960 kg CO2 per student per 100 study hours/10 CATS credits. The impacts could be further reduced with the use of more online and ICT-enhanced teaching models in the design of a qualification programme.

Box 9 Using the Modelling tool to estimate the carbon impacts associated with a design course and full qualification programme

We know that the undergraduate module in online design provides the teaching mainly online.

Beginning with Function 1, which is carried out from the Rating Tool screen, you would expect the rating for to be rated as low because the students typically live at their permanent home during their studies and only travel to study sites to attend a few day schools. Travel between home and term-time accommodation is not applicable and Accommodation should be rated as low because students will typically live in their main home whilst studying.

Some guidance for students is printed, but because this is likely to be less than 250 sheets/pages per student per 100 study hours/10 CATS credits, the rating for print-based teaching should also be low. Teaching, learning and assessment is mainly provided online using ICTs and digital resources available on the university websites and VLE; therefore, the rating for ICT-provision is high.

The results of Modelling Function 1 estimates that the average carbon impacts for this teaching model would be 42 kg CO2 per student per 100 study hours/10 CATS credits, which is a very similar result to the estimate provided by the Planning Tool.

It is interesting to note that this impact is less than a fifth of the carbon emissions produced by the Informatics course (Box 8).

Modelling a qualification programme

Via the Rating Tool screen you can estimate the impacts of a full qualification programme of courses with a similar teaching model using the same information. If there are thirty-six similar courses offering 100 study hours/10 CATS credits in a typical undergraduate qualification programme, the average carbon impacts for a full qualification programme can be scaled up to produce an estimated 1500 kg CO2 per student per 100 study hours/10 CATS credits.

But what if you decided to change the design of courses within the qualification programme to have different teaching models, some of which would have lower carbon impacts than others? This can be modelled using the Qualification Programme Teaching Models panel (Function 2). If twenty courses were taught with an online model, eight with an ICT-enhanced distance teaching model, four with a face-to-face teaching model and four with an ICT-enhanced face-to-face teaching model, this would increase the carbon impacts to an average 3171 kg CO2 per student per 100 study hours/10 CATS credits. The impacts could be reduced with the use of more online teaching models in the design of the qualification programme.

Please note that the contribution of each course to the qualification impacts will be calculated per 100 study hours/10 CATS credits. The guide provides further guidenace on making adjustments for courses with a larger or smaller learning provision.

You can also explore this tool further by varying your teaching and learning design for a full qualification programme, and identify how changing this design affects the likely carbon impacts, as estimated from the SusTEACH findings.

What difference would it make if you designed a qualification programme to have more online courses to replace courses taught face-to-face or using distance teaching methods?

Are there any changes you could make to the design of teaching and learning provision to reduce the requirement for students to make journeys, travel long distances and live away from their usual home during their studies?

SusTEACH_1

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