I read an article recently written by Kay MacKeogh and Seamus Fox. MacKeogh and Fox studied small tradition universities that have attempted to make the transition from face-to-face learning to e-learning. During this study, it was discovered that the schools that are making the change to e-learning need to address many issues as well as needing to have a very sound strategic plan.
They listed 7 reasons why universities adopt e-learning. They are:
- Enhancing Reputation
- Developing Information Skills/Literacies
- Widening Access
- Supporting the Disabled Student
- Improving Quality of Teaching and Learning
- Increasing Flexibility
- Reducing Cost/Improving Cost-Effectiveness
In order for your institution to successfully transition to e-learning and to integrate better education technologies inside the classroom, you have to decide why you are doing it. Some of these 7 go hand in hand together. Obviously if you improve the quality of teaching and learning, then your reputation in time will be enhanced (maybe immediately, depending on how the marketing goes!).
I think it is something that all universities are going to have to look at, no matter what the size of the institution. Online learning can bring in great revenue with little effort (just some expertise). Your faculty have to be fully behind it though and above that, they need to be informed on how this technology works. Lets face it, not everyone is computer savvy.
So while MacKeogh and Fox address many issues on why universities are adopting, these reasons are only a stepping stone. It is imperative that the people using the new technologies must know how they work and why they work. It is also critical to have some kind of support staff to ensure that if there are problems or training needed, it can be done almost instantly.
When you decide to adopt e-learning, you will realize that everything becomes instant and the slightest problem cannot be fixed quick enough. Soon is never soonest when it comes to e-learning.
Over the next while I will be discussing in more detail why soon is never soonest and some of the problems that students may face. Once you have the faculty on board, you need bodies to fill the virtual seats. For anyone that has tried e-learning, it can be intimidating the first time.