The Problematic Links Between Technology Use in Learning and Sustainability: Views From An Educator



Bullet points:

  • My byte size digital eco footprint (and yours)
  • What is the link between my mobile phone and gorillas
  • A tsunami of socio-ecological digital issues
  • Learning and the Digital fetishist
  • Learning and digital sobriety
  • On harmony: learning and the use of digital technologies
  • On ebullience: Why less equals more


A few paragraphs on your subject:

I work with learners /teachers/trainers all over the World. Together we think about where technology can play a useful role in learning and consider what constitutes effective learning in different learning contexts. It has dawned on me, over the years, that everything I do digitally has damaging impacts socially and ecologically and that there is no way on this Earth that I can reduce my negative impact on the Earth without addressing the educational work that I do.
In this talk I discuss what I, and others, are finding out about the negative impacts of digital technologies on our environment, on people at the hard-end of producing the minerals for and dismantling our technologies and on learning itself. I explore the metaphors that are being used to describe these issues. I look at attitudes to digital technologies in the learning sector and how commercial interests and fetishisms with learning technologies are negatively impacting both on our social, natural and learning ecologies.
I go on to ask how I can work to resolve these issues in my work. How can I help mitigate the negative impact of technology use in learning settings? What understandings and skills are needed to do so? I would love you – as probable digital technology users- to help me work out what needs to be done so that we can harmonise what is valuable about technologies (in learning) with what we need to do to reduce the negative impact of technologies.

A little bit about yourself

I am a coordinator at Ragged and love everything about this project. I love learning and working with others to learn things. My job is all about learning and that puts me in a very fortunate position . I’m a lucky person.
I like to imagine what people in the far future will be learning. I hope it is not how humanity in the 21st century deprived them of learning opportunities by destroying all the wonderful environments that generate them.

What free internet knowledge resources would you recommend to others if they wish to explore your chosen theme further?

Ferreboeuf, H. et al (2019). Lean ICT: Towards digital sobriety. The Shift Project.
Preist, C., Schien, D., & Blevis, E. (2016, May). Understanding and mitigating the effects of device and cloud service design decisions on the environmental footprint of digital infrastructure. In Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 1324-1337). ACM.
Ristic, B., Madani, K., & Makuch, Z. (2015). The water footprint of data centers. Sustainability, 7(8), 11260-11284. (this is an open access paper. Click on ‘Full text available’ to access.
Thomas, V. (2017). Digital Technologies and Environmental Change: Examining the influence of social practices and public policies (Doctoral thesis). Retrieved from LancasterEPrints:
Selwyn, N. (2018). EdTech is killing us all: facing up to the environmental consequences of digital education. [Blog Post] Retrieved from
Hodgson, C. (2015). Can the digital revolution be environmentally sustainable? The Guardian.

This event took place at The Castle Hotel (66 Oldham St, Manchester M4 1LE) on 13th June 2019