Carbon Footprint and FNF

Teresa Callaghan

Here is the next in our series of blogs talking about our Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) statement, which we launched earlier this year. In this blog, we hear from Teresa Callaghan, FNF Company Secretary and Executive Assistant, and Rob Cutforth, FNF Senior Learning Technologist, who explain more about Carbon Footprint and FNF. 

“Florence Nightingale Foundation (FNF) is committed to reducing our carbon footprint and we started to measure our output in early 2023.

We introduced a low carbon events policy, we’ve become a member of the UK Health Alliance on Climate Change, and are a member of the Planetary Health Alliance.  We aim to look to reduce our carbon footprint and have committed to reducing the environmental impact of our operations to promote a sustainable future.

Aside from our memberships and alliances, FNF has looked at how our carbon footprint can be reduced at team level.  Monthly team meetings have been made virtual to avoid FNF team travel and printing is discouraged in favour of online content.

Changes have been made to the way in which we launch and celebrate our leadership programmes in order to minimise travel, whilst retaining vital face to face contact with our Scholars.

FNF’s Environmental, Social and Governance Statement underpins our commitment to creating an environmentally sustainable future for the organisation.

Online learning and Sustainability

In addition to the measures above, FNF have created a Learning Management System to offer online programmes.

It has employed two full-time Learning Technologists with years of experience in delivering distance, university-level, online learning who, with the help of subject matter experts, create content that is comparable to programmes delivered in Higher Education Institutions, and in many ways are better because FNF is not hindered by traditional e-learning technology.

FNF employs an application called LearnDash that takes all of the good things that a university system offers, but allows us to innovate because it operates with a WordPress architechture.

WordPress is, by far, the world’s most popular web application so whenever a new innovation is developed, it is often developed for WordPress first. 

Robert Cutforth

When building something completely new for a traditional learning system like Blackboard or Moodle, it requires a lot of time, expense, and staff, and often it is often not possible at all.

Where distance education falls down is when it is seen as a “box tick” for staff to complete. Everyone has done a bit of e-learning in GDPR or Health and Safety, where you click through the material to get to the end as quickly as possible. Our material employs the following techniques to ensure that our users have a more rounded experience and come away with skills that they would not otherwise be able to get due to their location or inability to take time away from work to complete.

  • Employing experts – All of our material has been written by experts in their field and is updated regularly to ensure that the delegates are getting the latest information.
  • Padlets – These are online discussion areas where our delegates can communicate with each other and make comments on the material and ask for help from their peers. This is the most powerful element because at FNF we believe that creating a support network that stretches across the country is a great way to improve quality in different trusts.
  • Live Sessions – In addition to our online material, we also offer live sessions via Zoom that bring the material to life.
  • Storytelling – Storytelling is a tool we use as well to engage the learners. Because our programmes are bespoke to our audiences, we can tell stories that relate directly to them so they can see themselves in similar situations and provide solutions that speak directly to them.

But what does that have to do with sustainability we hear you ask. The short answer is that it cuts down on the need for car journeys, hotel rooms, conference rooms, and everything else a face-to-face session needs in order to be delivered effectively. The online programmes can be accessed everywhere and can be done at the delegate’s pace. There is still carbon generated by the devices they use, but often the material is completed while on breaks at work or at home where their devices would be used doing something else anyway, so the increase in carbon is minimal.

Online Learning is not a silver bullet that will bring our carbon footprint down to zero, but it will reduce it significantly, without sacrificing on quality. It will never fully replace face-to-face sessions because we always want to accommodate learning in all forms, but we are very proud of our online programmes and are continuing to innovate to bring our carbon footprint down even further.”