ICT Sustainability

Assessment and Strategies for a Low Carbon Future

An Online Graduate Course & Book by Tom Worthington MEd, FACS CP

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The course is designed for on-line learning supported by a tutor. It uses a conventional Distance Education (DE) design and educational philosophy (Worthington, 2012).

Before the Course Starts

Before the date for commencement of the course, the tutor should check for any updates or corrections needed to the e-book of course notes and the course web page.

The tutor should ensure their photo, name and link to a biography are displayed on the top of the course web page.

The course notes contain hypertext links which need to be checked. The Internet Archive is a good place to look for on-line documents no longer available at their original location.

While the course notes and major assignments are available to the students from the start of the course, weekly activities are hidden and timed to appear each week (to avoid overloading the student with material). The tutor needs to check the dates each activity is timed to appear is correct. Also reminders are programmed to appear before each assignment is due. These reminders disappear after the deadline and the timing needs to be checked.

When the Course Starts

The tutor should post a welcome message to the News Forum, to introduce themselves, outline the course (particularly the assessment) and invite students to introduce themselves in the chat room.

Here is an example welcome message:

Welcome to ICT Sustainability COMP7310

Welcome to ICT Sustainability (COMP7310). I am your tutor for this course, Tom Worthington.

You will find materials for the course on the course web page. There is an e-book with a chapter for each of the twelve weekly topics, a description of the weekly on-line forums and the two assignments.

Each week there will be a new topic added to the course web page (corresponding to the topics in the eBook). You need to read notes and the readings. There is a short quiz for each week to help with understanding of the material (this does also count toward the assessment). Then answer two or three questions in an on-line forum (by replying to my posting of the question) and discuss them with your fellow students. Give each posting a rating and I will provide feedback and a mark the following week.

Do not attempt to start the assignments now. The weekly readings and discussions are designed to give you the background for the assignments.

Your first task, if you wish to do so (not for assessment), is to introduce yourself to your fellow students on-line in the chat-room.


You will see a separate forum posting with this week's questions (for assessment). You only need to write a couple of sentences in answer to each question. For the first two weeks, use formal Harvard (author-date) style for referencing, so you have some practice with it for the assignments. After two weeks you can use simple hypertext links.


Proposed assessment for this course is:

To pass the course at least 10/20 for Weekly Assessment and 40/80 for Assignments is required. Grades of 70% and higher (Distinction and High Distinction) are based only on Assignments.

All assessment is to be submitted on time, apart from special consideration for illness or other causes. Any comments on the assessment are welcome.

First Week

In the first week you will need to remind students that they need to answer questions in the forum, use references and consider an assignment topic. Students not used to on-line courses can tend to forget to do the work, this even applies to experienced adult learners.

Posting Reminder

Here is an example posting reminder message:

Answers to Week 1 Questions Due Wednesday

This is a reminder that there are three questions for you to answer by this Wednesday in the Week 1 Discussion Forum.

You first need to read the notes on the "Politics, Science and Business of Sustainability". There is a Week 1 Quiz to help with understanding of the material (this does count toward the assessment). Then answer the three questions in an on-line forum (by replying to my posting of the question) by Wednesday and discuss them with your fellow students by the end of this week. Rate the answers from your fellow students and I will provide feedback and a mark (out of 2) the following week.

There should be hypertext links to the relevant course materials (underlined above). You might want to add some topical item to the end of the message.

Referencing Reminder

Students may need some help with referencing. ICT students in are more used to writing code than scholarly posts.

Here is an example reminder referencing message:

Find something to reference for your posts this week

The second forum question for this week asks you about "Effects and responses to climate change" in an organisation. I realize you may not be able to find a published public document from your organization, but see if you can find something relevant on the record. This may be from a similar organization, an industry group, or research report.

One reason for using references is to give your postings more credibility. You can also reuse these references in your assignments.

Some students may not have a suitable organization they have worked for to write about. In that case, pick one you would like to work for and there is information publicly available about. You should write all your answers for weekly questions about the one organization, so you will know enough about it to write about in the assignments.

Each Week

Each week the tutor needs to prime the discussion forum at the start of the week, provide group summary and feedback at the end of the week, feedback and a mark to each student and a reminder of what is in next week.

Start The Weekly Discussion

Start a thread of discussion for each question asked in the notes (listed at the end of each chapter in the e-book).

Here is an example discussion question post:

Search for articles and papers

Search for documents, articles, papers and videos about ICT Sustainability. List three and briefly say what they cover and why they are worth reading.

Students can then reply to this post with their answers.

Approaches to tutoring on-line courses vary. This course has been designed to have extensive scaffolding provided to the students, so that after asking the weekly questions, it should not be necessary for tutors to participate in the discussions. Tutors should only have to intervene if there is no discussion (rarely a problem), or if a student posts inappropriate or incorrect information (usually corrected by other students).

Provide Individual Marks and Feedback

Provide a couple of lines of feedback and a mark for each student each week. For those students doing well, it may not be necessary to provide more than a "well done" and the mark after the first few weeks.

Use the grading system to examine forum ratings and quiz result for each student. You can have the students sorted from lowest to highest grade to identify those who need assistance. Examine some of the forum postings from each student to see if the rating is appropriate and adjust this in the grade book if necessary to arrive at your mark for the student. Find a posting to praise, before identifying deficiencies.

Here are some feedback sentences to use:

Forum for last week: 0 out of 2 (Limited contribution)

Forum for last week: 1 out of 2 (At expectation)

Forum for last week: 2 out of 2 (Greater than expectation)

Well done. Your post on ...

Your initial responses to the questions were not made by the Wednesday deadline.

You answered the questions by did not post any replies to other students.

You do not appear to have made any contributions to last week's forum. Do you need some assistance?

You do not appear to have attempted the quiz for last week. Do you need some assistance?

The system indicates that you are a student in "ICT Sustainability". The course has a weekly forum which students are required to post contributions to pass the course. You do not appear to have made any contributions for the first three weeks. These forums are designed to help with your study. Please let me know if I can be of assistance. You can contact me via the system, by e-mail, telephone, or book a time to visit my office.

As mentioned previously, you do not appear to have made any contributions to forums. I have asked Student Services to contact you to see if there is a problem with your enrollment in this course.

Your posting about ___ (___ PM) appears to use text copied from ___ but without being marked as a quote. The ANU Academic Skills and Learning Centre has on-line documents and courses to assist with this. Keep in mind that failure to cite sources can result in a reduced mark (down to zero) and disciplinary action under the ANU Code of Practice for Student Academic Integrity.

General Feedback
As well as the feedback to each student, post feedback to the weekly forum for all students. This should tell the students where to find their individual feedback, what the average mark was, some tips and introduce the follow week's topic. You may also include some item of general interest, but keep the posting short (two to three hundred words). In the first few weeks of the course the feedback is likely to be on administrative matters rather than the course content.

Here is an example weekly feedback message:

General Feedback

Each of you should have received an individual message with a mark and in some cases also a comment or suggestion on your week one forum postings, via "Talk to your tutor".

The average mark was 1 "At expectation". Three students were graded at 2 (greater than expectation). Four students made limited, or no, contributions and so their mark was zero.

Please keep in mind that the reader may see your post out of context, so if you are replying to something briefly tell us what it is not just "I agree". Also remember when you use words, or an idea, from someone else you are required to cite that source. This was covered in the Professional Communications courses which most students have done (further assistance is available from the ANU Academic Skills & Learning Centre). Continue to use formal formal Harvard (author-date) style for referencing this week.

For week 2 "The Global ICT Footprint" there is a Week 2 Quiz. There are just two questions in the Week 2 Discussion Forum, on Greenhouse reduction strategies in your organisation and Greenhouse friendly policies.

You might like to attend ....


Assignments are important and stressful for students. Students can be reluctant to start and so in addition to the automated reminders in the course web page, include a reminder in the weekly feedback. Also it is useful to explicitly remind students that the weekly forum questions are designed to help with the assignments and then can use the material they contributed in the forums, including references, to prepare the first draft of their assignment.

The course notes include a marking rubric. It is suggested the tutor use this to mark the assignment. After reading through the assignment submission the tutor should select a rating and make one or two sentences of comment against each of the criteria in the rubric. These comments can also be listed at the top of the feedback in the general comments area for clarity. It is generally not necessary, or useful, to make notations on the student's submission. Where the tutor needs to make a detailed notation, they should only make it on the first occurrence of the problem in the assignment. In particular tutors should not correct all of the grammatical errors in an assignment. Students who have difficulty with report writing should be referred for specialist assistance, as it is not the role of the course tutor to teach this.

Along with the individual assignment feedback to students a report should be posted to the course forum, with the average mark, a breakdown of marks and issues identified.

Here is an example assignment feedback message:

Results for Assignment 1

The results for Assignment 1 have been released. The average mark was 62% (Credit):

Results for Assignment 1
Grade Number
High Distinction 6
Distinction 0
Credit 2
Pass 2
Fail 3

Some problem areas for the assignment were:

  1. Not Answering the question: Some gave a general dissertation on climate change and emissions, only briefly estimating those for an organization.
  2. Not Detailing Calculations: Some reported the emissions estimates but not how they were calculated, in particular what conversion factor was used, where it came from and why.
  3. Not citing sources: All the reports submitted had lists of references at the end, but some did not identify in the body of the report where these were used.

Those who have not yet reached the required standard have been offered the opportunity to resubmit revised work for up to a "Pass" mark (50%). This offer will not be made for the second assignment.

ps: As with the first half of the course, the weekly readings and discussion questions, are designed to prepare you for the second assignment.

Next: Glossary.

About the book: ICT Sustainability: Assessment and Strategies for a Low Carbon Future

Edition Notice

ICT Sustainability is about how to assess, and reduce, the carbon footprint and materials used with computers and telecommunications. These are the notes for an award winning graduate course on strategies for reducing the environmental impact of computers and how to use the Internet to make business more energy efficient.

Copyright © Tom Worthington, 2017

Second edition.

ISBN: 978-1-326-96794-9. (Hardcover)
ISBN: 978-1-326-95850-3. (Paperback)
ISBN: 978-1-326-95849-7. (ePub eBook)
ISBN: 978-1-326-96791-8. (PDF eBook)

Cover shows Power on-off symbol: line within a circle (IEC 60417-5010).

These notes have been used for the courses:

  1. Green Technology Strategies: offered in the Computer Professional Education Program, Australian Computer Society (first run as "Green ICT Strategies" in February 2009),
  2. ICT Sustainability (COMP7310), in the Graduate Studies Select program, Australian National University (first run July 2009), and
  3. Green ICT Strategies (COMP 635), Athabasca University (Canada). Adapted for North America by Brian Stewart.

Course materials available free on-line, under at Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0) license at http://www.tomw.net.au/ict_sustainability/