What’s the Environmental Cost of ICT in Education?

Link to ETEC 511 research paper

One of the unit topics in ‘Foundations of Educational Technology’ was ‘The ecology of educational technology’. While the metaphor was insightful, helping us to see technology as a striving species in the education system and contributing factors which allow it to either assimilate or not, what most concerned me was how this new-aged species was impacting our biological ecology literally. Even though I consider myself to be fairly aware with respect to the environmental crisis, I had never stopped to think of how ICT was impacting and will continue to impact the environment. This may have something to do with the fact that the media seems to keep our attention focused on the oil & gas companies and the automobile industry; in fact, I can’t think of any news broadcast that suggested technology was also a main contributor to this crisis. Meanwhile, education systems are some of the heaviest users and promoters of ICT.

Multi-nationals are beginning to engage in greener practices (as part of their newly found corporate consciousness), but it would appear that this has been completely overlooked in education. Of all the technology plans I analyzed over the course of this program, not one made a mention of environmental responsibility.  Without a doubt, education professionals are in an excellent position to exert pressures on ICT giants to develop greener, renewable and upgradable technologies for the education context, but as it was the case for me, many educators have not stopped to think about the environmental cost of ICT in education.

This  paper then, was to serve as an eye-opener to all involved in education such that the environmental question might one day become a standard for inquiry in overall technology deployment. But in reality, it opened only my eyes for I’m not sure that any one except my instructors will ever read it. Nevertheless, the state of consciousness it created in me will undoubtedly impact my practice and my relationship with colleagues and administrators as integrate it into everyday discussion both in the staffroom and the classroom. As education systems become a part of the capitalist machine, “a framework that gives permission to exploit and dominate nature”, it will become increasingly important to advocate for the preservation of our own ecology (Merchant, 2002).

*This paper was inspired by an article posted in our discussion forum, Behold the server farm.

Works cited

Marchant, Carolyn & Schoch, Russell. (2002). A conversation with Carolyn Merchant. California Monthly, 112 (6).

Mehta, S.N. (2006). Behold the server farm. Retrieved June 18, 2009, from http://money.cnn.com/2006/07/26/magazines/fortune/futureoftech_serverfarm.fortune/index.htm

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