This isn't a brand new idea, but even two years ago it was still somewhat of a novelty.
According to Rick Nigol, blogging on BreakthrougheLearning.com in 2008, it was an "aha moment" for him when, on a consulting gig, he heard a pair of vice-presidents explaining how eLearning software would help them meet their strategic focus of becoming an environmentally sustainable company.
These days - despite recessionary pressures (and possibly, in some cases, as a result of them) - the idea of sustainability continues to grow.
What in it for you?
Here are some green benefits of using an LMS for computer-based training:
Stay home: eLearning is available anywhere you have employees, so travel and lodging costs associated with training - and their resulting environmental impact - are no longer an issue.
Save paper (and ink, and energy): Who needs handouts - which often need to be updated multiple times during a product rollout or large-scale training effort - when you can keep everyone on the same (virtual) page with an easy-to-update LMS? Going this route means using less energy to produce and distribute training manuals and other documentation, as well as less waste.
Green culture: Beyond using an LMS for your regular training and employee development needs, consider creating some green training modules to give your employees practical ways to reduce the company's carbon footprint in their daily activities.
Carbon offsets: If you want your business to be as carbon neutral as possible - whether out of environmental concern or simply as a pragmatic marketing decision - there are several calculators and companies out there that can help you understand what you need to do and certify the results. No matter how intense you want this effort to be, eLearning tools are one of the easiest, most obvious ways to cut your carbon footprint.
When you look at the above list, it's obvious that many of the benefits of learning management systems - such as increasing productivity through reducing travel - transcend reducing carbon emissions and can save your business time and money in other ways, as well.
The bottom line
We've come across some companies - mainly outside the U.S. - that are promoting the environmental benefits of eLearning as central parts of their marketing efforts.
That's all well and good, but while LMS vendors may no longer be surprised to hear customers talk about sustainability, one point Rick Nigol made two years ago still holds true: Using eLearning simply to reduce travel, while noble, isn't in the best interests of any organization.
Finding a robust eLearning system that can meet all your training needs is the real holy grail of corporate learning, and anything else is gravy.