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HR product vendors have attempted to convince HR buyers that simply deploying e-learning packages will transform their training and development courses into green learning. This argument is specious at best because no concept of green learning is offered by which the effects of e-learning can be judged and the argument assumes that all e-learning packages are structured and administered in a similar manner. New training and development companies such as StreamingStrategies are offering green learning that reduces the corporate carbon footprint while maintaining instructor-led authentic learning methodologies.
The green learning concept is based on three principles: sustainability, renewability, and a positive impact on the environment. Sustainability has two major aspects: objective and subjective. Objective sustainability is the resource demand required to formulate and deliver the learning. Subjective sustainability is the endurance of learning in the learner.
The resource demand to formulate a learning package must include the manufacture of computers, networks, studio equipment, and distribution media. The resource demand to deliver a learning package must include the demands of the physical facility and the required infrastructure to present, administer, tabulate and report the learning experience. Together, these constitute the aggregate resource demand (ARD) of the package. Casual observers may be tempted to equate "carbon footprint" with ARD because society is willing to accept gross estimations of the pejorative "carbon footprint", but such a scale is merely an indicator, not a measure, of ARD.
Subjective sustainability (SS) is increased when the learner sustains the new knowledge. When knowledge is closely related to the real-world situation of the learner, the learner sustains that knowledge longer and more deeply. This is the basic tenet of authentic learning. The total sustainability factor (Y) of a green learning package for (L) number of learners can be expressed as:
Y = ARD / (L x SS).
Training can be made renewable by supplying a blueprint within the learning materials so that the learning can be applied to similar problems by utilizing the blueprint. The blueprint should include a logical model of the learned principles, a logical model of the application of the learned principles and a representative set of data descriptions for the problem statement and the derived solution. Such a blueprint in effect makes the learning renewable to new learners and renewable to new problems of a similar nature. The effect of the blueprint on the fundamental knowledge benefit (KB) conferred by the training is to make each learner a trainer for other learners and a solver for new problems. The blueprint factor (B) of a green learning package, which measures the renewability of that package, may be expressed as:
B = KB x L2.
The green value (G) of a learning package, which measures its positive impact on the environment, is thus expressed as:
G = Y + B.
This formula should be easy to remember, for as we all know:
Green = Yellow + Blue.
Although the basic formula for green learning, G = Y + B, is not an expression of quantities, it is an expression of forces. As such, it is able to guide scientists who can derive suitable quantities for the variables; and course designers who can apply content and delivery factors in beneficial alignment with the fundamental forces; as well as HR buyers who can assign benefit to each force to determine the greatest value of the training programs they purchase.
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