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Create a Sustainable Classroom Environment.

The first step to creating a more sustainable classroom is to understand the practices that make it wasteful in the first place and educate people about the problem. Despite being some of the most technologically-savvy organizations around, colleges and universities still produce a tremendous amount of physical and energy waste. In fact, a recent study* estimates the annual waste from campuses at “5.8 million tons, or about 2.5 percent of the U.S. solid waste stream,.” Believe it or not if you’re an institution with 4,000 students taking 10 courses per year, over 8 million sheets of paper, or 960 trees, are being used to support your academic activities each year, not at all good for the environment, but not a cheap proposition either.*Ecodemia : Campus Environmental Stewardship at the Turn of the 21st Century by Julian Keniry.

Build a Green Education Curriculum

Many institutions are looking to build curriculum initiatives in sustainability, including research and student activism as well as campus facilities-related efforts. Environmental conservation programs and curriculum’s on campus include alternative transportation, energy audits of and improvements to campus buildings, green purchasing, use of renewable energy, a robust recycling program, and sustainable building standards. the Gilfus Education Group can help you develop programs for Green Initiatives on campus.

Implement a Learning Management System

Fortunately, many technology platforms already exist to support the paperless classroom transformation, such as learning management systems, eBooks, and online syllabus. By working with these technologies, we can teach the world that the alternatives to paper are more accessible than ever before and come with a host of benefits for students, instructors, administrators, and the environment. Learning Management Systems have become a diverse and embedded part of teaching in college campuses today. They provide capabilities for file posting, drop boxes, test and quiz taking, and grade return on assignments tools, just to name a few. A green initiative on university grounds revolves heavily around this increasingly essential teaching tool..

Launch a File System or Institutional Intranet

A learning management systems file system or an institutional intranet can immediately reduce the use of paper in the classroom. In place of printing handouts of your presentation slides, just upload them and your students can access them from anywhere, anytime. Not only is this a more efficient way to disseminate course content, but it is much easier to for the student to archive the material by saving it on their machine, so it is more likely that they will be able to access it well into the future.

Utilize Assignment and Drop Box Technology

Online assignments and file sharing drop boxes empower students to submit assignments and projects through an online “mailbox” – a clear environmental win. Their work is uploaded to a website and later downloaded by an instructor or assistant when it needs to be reviewed and graded. Graders are then able to annotate the assignment and return it with a mark for the student. This also means there is no chance of losing the paper materials along the way, as an electronic audit trail is created along the way. Plus, these “smart” drop boxes collect all your materials in a central place and can be set up to accept assignments within an automatic time frame. Everything is stored and processed online, and is retrievable at any time.

Develop Green Initiative Outcomes

The benefits resulting from a green course initiative are tremendous. Not only will you be helping to save thousands of trees, but you will be saving money along the way as well. Plus, the delivery and management of your course will be more convenient and interactive than ever before.

Many of the tools described and steps provided are easy to follow and truly make a difference. We also understand that going green is a continual process, so we recommend you explore and incorporate one new platform into your classroom each term. If you are unsure if these digital platforms are available for you, we encourage you to contact the help desk at your school.

Perhaps the most rewarding element to making your classroom more environmentally friendly comes about when others consider you a role model and aspire to such eco-friendly behaviors. For that reason, we hope you not only work on greening your own courses, but share the knowledge you’ve gained with others and help advance a broader green course initiative in your school. Living in a green way is not just a fad for today’s age; it is vital to our future and must become way of life for everyone.

Sustainability Resources

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