four Es of sustainability

Yesterday I had the opportunity to try out the same presentation to two different groups. In the morning I presented at our OER Ripple event to partners  and friends from our neighbouring institutions Oxford Brookes University and Harper Adams University. In the evening I presented  with my colleague David Howard to Fellows and students at Kellogg College as part of Fairtrade week.

The presentation, in  a nutshell, offers a framework for evaluating the sustainability of our open educational resources projects (to services).

The four e-s framework is drawn from literature around sustainability in an urban development context, which is where Dr Howard comes in.  The first three es : economic, environment and equity are common in sustainability discourse.  They echo ideas of  ‘folk, work and place’, ‘people, planet, profit’ and the triple bottom line: ‘social, economic and environmental’. We added the fourth e  ’emotion’ in an attempt to include the  behaviour change and ‘buy-in’ required from people who make these changes possible, and ultimately ‘sustainable’.

Learning technology practitioners have a tendency to have to hijack other disciplines’  models and frameworks to assess the effectiveness and/or appropriateness of a particular type of learning technology strategy or intervention because we don’t have many of our own.  Usually we take models from education, sociology or computing, but it seems to me that when so much of our discussion revolves around  ‘the place’, the walls and the infrastructure, perhaps sustainable urbanism is a useful place to look too.

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