Sustainable Learning and their environments 

Sustainable Learning Environment

We often hear the word sustainable bandied around today, mainly in relation to the climate. But sustainability does not only relate to the environment. Sustainable simply means to be maintained at a certain level or rate.   It also means to be upheld and defended.


What does that mean in terms of learning?


What is sustainable learning?

If you look sustainable learning up online, you will find various definitions, related to teaching in an ecosystem and others.

But sustainable learning actually means teaching students the skills they need outside of the classroom. The things that they need to know to carry on learning, developing, working and living once their course has finished.

In the modern world, we all need to change and adapt. The world is changing and we need to change with it. We need to understand a particular area. For example, if we work in IT, we need to know about IT. If we work in horticulture, we need to know about that. But to survive in the modern world, we also need other skills, usually known as soft skills, such as –

  • Research skills
  • Time keeping
  • Teamwork
  • Presentation skills
  • Communication skills


Sustainable learning is not just about doing a course, or being in education. It is also about learning and developing the skills during a course and then being able to use them in the world of work, further studies or your life in general.

For example, a student does a course on freelance writing. During the course, they learn how to write well. But they also learn how to apply for freelancing jobs, organise their time, edit their own work, work collaboratively etc. The skills they need to be able to get freelance work after they finish the course. So, their learning is sustainable and maintained AFTER they finish the course.

Creating a sustainable learning environment

How do we create a sustainable learning environment? Let’s look at some ways in which we can do that.


Don’t forget


Research suggests that on average, people forget 70% of what they learn within a day. A day!

They forget 90% of what they have learned in a week, unless they try to remember it.  So if a student revises what they have learned, rereads it and pays attention, they may retain more. But if they simply read the information or listen to it in a classroom, 70% of it has gone within a day and nearly all of it within a week. Those are worrying statistics and means that the education provided is not sustainable.

However, research also suggests that online learning is more effective than traditional, classroom based learning.  Some research suggests that students retain 25 – 60% 

Research also suggests that students learn faster online than in the traditional classroom.  With online learning, students can –

  • Work at their own pace
  • Reread materials
  • Skip sections they are familiar with
  • Work more quickly through concepts they understand well

Learning is A Priority

In a sustainable learning environment, learning should be a priority.  This can be difficult, of course, for students studying online. They may have work commitments, child care commitments, a social life etc.  Learning may not always be their priority.

However, a sustainable education provider can ensure that the learning is available for the student when it is a priority to them. 

In classroom based learning, a student will be required to attend at a certain time on a certain day. This is not always possible when people have other commitments.

With online learning, most courses are self-paced and the student can study when, where and how they want to. This, therefore, aids sustainable learning, as the student can prioritise the learning to fit in with their other commitments.

The education provider will also need to ensure that the learning materials are available to the student as required.


After the Course

After the course, the learning should not end. A course should provide a student with the skills and knowledge they need to progress further in their life and career. As we have already mentioned, courses should include soft skills, such as time management, problem solving etc. it should also provide the student with the knowledge and skills they need, eg. in relation to horticulture.

A course should provide the student with skills to enable ongoing learning and development.  It should not be – do a course for three hours, get a piece of paper and off we go. It should be that the course provides learning which is ongoing and beneficial to the student in the future.


Real World

Moving on from this, learning should also connect to the real world.

Person A does a course on pruning. They get a piece of paper and that’s it.

Person B does a course on pruning, practises the skills required, increases their knowledge and skills, then incorporates that learning into their existing work and world.


The Future

We have already said it, but it is an important point, the world is changing and changing rapidly. Knowledge, skills and jobs can change. Some may even be obsolete in the near future. 

At one point, there may have been a great demand for people who could repair VCRs (video cassette recorders). Today, there is, presumably very little demand for VCR repair people.  The first DVD was released in 1997. The last videos were produced around 2008. You can see in a very short time how repair requirements for videos were virtually gone.

Think about other forms of recording films, such as laser discs, Betamax etc. 

Jobs do become obsolete. Jobs change.

Skills become obsolete and change.

It is important, therefore, that we do not just provide students with knowledge about a particular topic.

  • We also need to provide them with transferrable skills. Skills that be used in different jobs.
  • We also need to provide students with skills that can help them to grow and develop educationally and at work.

By providing education like this, we provide sustainable education.

Sustainable learning is a pathway to growth and development throughout a person’s life.


How Does ACS create sustainable education?

ACS has worked hard to develop sustainable learning and education in our courses. How?


With ACS, all of our courses are offered by online learning. As the research suggests, this should aid the retention of learning by the student.

Our courses are also self-paced, so students can work as quickly or as slowly as they need to.   There is no rush. Students can work at a pace that suits them. They can also review materials if they need to.


Prioritise Learning to Suit Students

With ACS, all of our courses are self-paced. Students can study when and where they want to, at a time and location to suit them.

After The Course

Our courses are designed to include hard skills and soft skills. We encourage students to develop knowledge and skills for their future, not just during the course itself.  Lifelong learning is important in the modern world and a course should enable a student to develop skills to continue to learn.

Real World

A course should provide students with the knowledge to enable them to use their skills in the real world. With ACS courses, we encourage students to develop the theory and practical skills to improve their learning and skills in the future. Their learning is useful to their future world and careers. It is sustainable learning.



  • Would you like to find ways to offer sustainable learning?
  • Would you like to set up your own online school?
  • Would you like to expand your existing provision?

Get in touch with us now and find out more.

Share this Article

Search the blog

Follow us

What our clients say

We've been working with ACS over the course of the last three years. Being able to mix and match content to suit our students' needs has been extremely useful. With their material in combination with our own in house tutor service we have been able to provide a complete online learning service which has helped us expand our student cohort and advance our teaching techniques! We are thankful that we have had them as a partner throughout our time in the industry and look forward to many more years of growth together.

Jason T - Director, ACS Partner College (Affiliate)

ACS Distance Education have been fantastic to work with over our first 12 months as a start-up online short education affiliate.
They provided immense support in the foundation period ensuring we setup the best support mechanisms for students and engaging quality tutors.
ACS have continued to be receptive to feedback and promptly moved to make improvements wherever required.

David C - Director, ACS Partner College (Affiliate)

Having access to ACS' extensive library of digitalised education content has allowed us to scale our business quickly and efficiently. Their LMS is easy to access and manage, whilst also providing the consumer (student) with a professional and easy to use experience. John and Kate have always been a pleasure to work with and are quick to provide support when it is required."

Andrew O - Director, ACS Partner College (Affiliate)

Looking for more information?

Fill in your details below for an information pack and discussion with one of our friendly affiliate managers

Please note: we are only considering requests from Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Europe, North America, the Middle East, South Africa, United Kingdom.