Managing the Ecology and Sustainability of Online Learning Environments

Managing the Ecology and Sustainability of Online Learning Environments

Miraç Banu Gündogan (Middle East Technical University, Turkey)
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 10
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2830-4.ch015
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The future of online learning may be more than technology integration or increasing demands; it has to be humane and sustainable. Project management aiming to provide better online learning environments has to integrate sustainability into its vision and action in order not to burden future generations with careless creations of products or processes. This integration can be achieved by treating nature as a model and mentor and ecology provides the framework for this treatment. The first step towards realizing humane and sustainable online learning environments is to define the online learning ecosystem based on the characteristics of natural ecosystems; the external inputs, producers, consumers, decomposers, organic, and inorganic compounds. Once this ecosystem is defined, the managerial vision and strategies based on ecosystem management principles can be formed. Sustainability studies provide the necessary roadmap for these principles. The objective of sustainability is to be considerate in the usage of resources, not to deplete them and damage the environment with the products and production processes. Management attitudes incorporating these principles would facilitate the growth of humane and sustainable online learning ecosystems which would cultivate efficient learning experiences and their renewal within local, regional, and global resources.
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The Online Learning Ecosystem

The term “ecosystem” was introduced by Arthur Tansley in 1935, describing it as “the whole system … including not only the organism-complex, but also the whole complex of physical factors forming what we call the environment”. Encyclopedia Britannica (retrieved from explains the ecosystem as: “A self-sustaining community comprised of interdependent organisms (plants, insects, animals) and their natural environment. It provides the food chain through which energy flows, and the biological cycles that recycle essential nutrients and wastes”. An ecosystem defines a unique whole in which all living and non-living elements, the environment, inputs, outputs, nutrients and wastes continuously interact and live by means of energy flows.

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