The Pedagogy of Sustainable Web Design

By Denis F. Doyon

As education increasingly emphasizes science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), many media educators may choose to promote skills-based technology curricula as a substitute for critical forms of media literacy. This poses a challenge for media educators who are trying to incorporate environmental issues into their pedagogical practice. As a website designer, I have wondered how my work contributes to the climate crisis, and more important, if there’s anything I can do to reduce the carbon footprint of the websites I create.  What I’ve learned not only shows me how I can create more eco-friendly websites, it also suggests how educators can encourage students to investigate the environmental impact of new media technology while they learn technological skills. Since media production is an important component of teaching media, media educators often create their own web-based projects or assign them to their students.  These can become ecomedia literacy projects by 1) investigating the environmental impact of websites, 2) using critical media literacy skills to verify environmental claims made by tech companies, and 3) learning and implementing best practices of sustainable web design to minimize the carbon emissions associated with student and faculty websites. At the very least, students can be challenged to evaluate the environmental footprint of their web-based projects.

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