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Challenging hierarchies: The impact of e-learning



New developments in e-learning and increasinglysophisticated learning technologies arebeginning to make a major impact in U.K.universities. It is clear that universitiesneed to change to accommodate the impact oftechnology on learning. Communicationtechnologies that are free from time or placeconstraints provide new challenges touniversities on how they should be organised. The paper reflects on the university's strategicplanning process and outlines the developmentprocess of an e-learning initiative. Examplesof the emergent change agenda are identifiedand finally possibilities for futuredevelopment are explored. It isclear that the impact of e-learning willrequire universities to re-think fundamentallytheir thinking and therefore their strategiesin a whole range of areas. There hasbeen much focus on technological advancementbut much less on how technology impacts onstrategic planning. This paper addresses thisgap in the literature by examining oneuniversity's strategic responses to thischallenge of e-learning. The learning attachedto this case study could be used to help otheruniversities respond to the change agendabrought about by e-learning.
Higher Education 48: 379–395, 2004.
© 2004 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands. 379
Challenging hierarchies: The impact of e-learning
The School of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Glamorgan, Treforest, CF37
1DL, South Wales, United Kingdom (author for correspondence,
Abstract. New developments in e-learning and increasingly sophisticated learning technolo-
gies are beginning to make a major impact in U.K. universities. It is clear that universities need
to change to accommodate the impact of technology on learning. Communication technologies
that are free from time or place constraints provide new challenges to universities on how they
should be organised. The paper reflects on the university’s strategic planning process and
outlines the development process of an e-learning initiative. Examples of the emergent change
agenda are identified and finally possibilities for future development are explored. It is clear
that the impact of e-learning will require universities to re-think fundamentally their thinking
and therefore their strategies in a whole range of areas. There has been much focus on tech-
nological advancement but much less on how technology impacts on strategic planning. This
paper addresses this gap in the literature by examining one university’s strategic responses to
this challenge of e-learning. The learning attached to this case study could be used to help
other universities respond to the change agenda brought about by e-learning.
Modern universities, UK and worldwide, are typically large and complex
organisations; many of them have turnovers in excess of £100M per annum
and are responsible for more than 2,000 staff and 20,000 students. The range
of courses offered, the diverse nature of their students and the continuing
change that characterises higher education compounds their complexity.
Additionally there is increasing pressure from central Government for univer-
sities to achieve ever-higher levels of performance and improve value for
money, as evidenced by the 2003 White Paper. Indeed governments across
the world are keen to explore ways in which they can reduce their contri-
bution to the funding of universities by encouraging commercial investment,
academic partnerships and economies of scale. At the same time they appre-
ciate the necessity of raising the skills and qualification attainment of their
populations. The higher education marketplace has become much more
competitive with students having an abundance of performance information
from which they can select their preferred university. Educational patterns
are also changing rapidly: there are many more part-time students, mature
students and students from more diverse backgrounds, often with lower levels
of qualification. Further there is little sign of these developments abating in
the future.
New developments in e-learning and increasingly sophisticated learning
technologies are beginning to make a major impact in UK universities, partly
in response to these trends. As Inglis et al. (2002, p. 33) emphasise, “The key
factor now driving change is technology”. Inglis et al. continue by noting
changes in education: “In both education and training there is a shift to
offering greater flexibility in relation to time, place, pace, entry and exit”
(p. 33). Advances in technology coalesce with the requirement for universities
to be more flexible. More universities in the USA and the UK are starting to
embrace the use of technology to deliver programmes. Education leaders in
the USA, e.g. Drucker (1993) and Oakley (1997), predict that, unless univer-
sities change radically, they will cease to exist in the twenty first century. As
far back as1967, McLuhan visioned ‘the global village’ and Hanna (2000,
p. 8) prophesises that “McLuhan’s concept of the global village is about
to come to life for every person on the planet”. E-learning and the Internet
are seen as the ideal medium to create a global village (Inglis et al. 2002;
Laurillard 2002; Evans and Nation 2000) and universities are expected to be
at the centre of the move towards the ‘global village’ Wilson (2000, p. 39)
highlights this:
... some of the biggest changes for universities will stem from further
advances in I.T. ... a capacity for interactive networking which will
connect any university to a global audience.
As David Seymour, President of Qsystems, claims: “We are kidding ourselves
if we believe that educating people for the year 2000 is essentially the same
as educating them for the year 1975. Everything has changed – technology,
lifestyles, cultures. Our educational systems must change as well” (Buck
1997, p. 19). Communication technologies that are free from time or place
constraints provide new challenges to universities on how they should be
organised. The Higginson Report on the use of new technologies in further
education concluded that:
colleges are looking to new technologies and their applications to learning
to help them improve productivity, to manage planned growth, to help
reconstruct the curriculum in modular and unitary forms, and to keep
track of an increasingly heterogeneous student population (Helm 1997,
p. 41).
It is clear that universities need to change to accommodate the impact of
technology on learning. And hence coping with and controlling change in
modern universities represents a very formidable management challenge for
vice-chancellors, their management teams and governors – even when judged
against many other public or private sector organisations. Universities have
been encouraged by Government to undertake strategic planning in order
to be more effective in managing such change. Indeed by 2000 Higher
Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) were reporting that
The importance of good strategic planning is recognised throughout
higher education. Good progress has been made over a long period to
improve the rigour of strategic planning (p. 2).
Although there are different examples of strategic planning models in
operation in UK universities (Jarzabkowski 2001), the models not unexpect-
edly depict strategic planning as a rational deliberate process, namely direc-
tion setting, resource allocation, monitoring and control. Mintzberg (1989,
p. 29) comments “Virtually everything that has been written about strategy-
making depicts it as a deliberate process. First we think, then we act. We
formulate then we implement”. He challenges the deliberate strategy process
stressing that it “precludes learning once the strategy is formulated: emergent
strategy fosters it” (Mintzberg 1989, p. 32). Mintzberg however advocates
both deliberate strategy and emergent strategy, thus combining control from
deliberate strategy and learning from emergent strategy. These approaches
could be viewed as end points on a continuum. This paper explores the impact
of an e-learning project on the strategic planning process in one university.
The aim of the paper is to explore how the existing practices and
hierarchies in the case study university have been challenged and, in some
instances, changed as a result of the introduction of e-learning. The paper
examines and discusses the adoption of e-learning at the University of
Glamorgan over the last two years and in particular the impact of e-learning
on the university’s strategic planning process, both deliberate and emer-
gent strategy will be analysed. The paper first discusses the University
of Glamorgan’s new strategic planning process. Examples of the emergent
change agenda are identified and strategic challenges are extrapolated and
finally possibilities for future development are explored. As other univer-
sities approach similar adoption processes this topic is important and of wide
interest to those managing the transition to e-learning.
The strategic planning process
The University of Glamorgan is a new university. It became a university in
1993 having been a Polytechnic, College of Technology and School of Mines
previously. This heritage has influenced the development of the University as
its focus has been firmly on vocational courses, teaching rather than research,
serving disadvantaged post-industrial communities and a network of partner
colleges taking higher education to similar communities across Wales. During
the Autumn Term of the 1998–1999 session the University of Glamorgan
undertook a fundamental review of its strategic planning processes, with the
assistance of an external consultant. The outcome of this exercise was docu-
mented in a Guide to Strategic Planning and Management that was agreed in
January 1999. The implementation of the new processes was geared towards
the development of a new style of strategic plan for 2000–2001 onwards.
The purpose of the new style of strategic planning was to provide a top-
level plan to achieve the University’s vision and mission, together with a
strategic framework for departmental plans. It was intended that the new
approach would generate a focus around which the University’s staff could
work towards achieving the vision and mission. Key to success would be
the ability to be seen to address the key strategic issues that were relevant
to the future of the University. The new strategic framework would estab-
lish the business objectives that would form the basis of managers’ personal
objectives so that their objectives were explicitly tied to the achievement of
the University’s strategic objectives. Finally the new style would provide the
means of assessing the strategic performance of the University both against
its own objectives and its competitors.
The introduction of the new processes was progressed as a management of
change programme with staff involved throughout in order to obtain commit-
ment to the new processes. The University elected to follow a continuous
improvement cycle approach. This started with an analysis of strategic issues
and the setting of the University’s overall direction. Staff were then mobilised
and their commitment secured to the University’s direction. The strategies
were implemented and finally performance was to be measured and overall
direction changed if necessary.
The starting point for setting strategic direction was the vision,orwhere
the Governors and the Directorate were aiming to position the University
within ten years. The mission was to comprise the fundamental purpose
of the University, its top-level direction and its values. Thus in 2000
the University adopted a new vision and mission which were translated
into SMART (Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Realistic and Timed) strategic
goals. The University’s performance against each strategic goal was to be
measured at regular intervals. These measurements were to provide a good
indication of the University’s overall performance, highlight any areas of
under-performance and provide the stimulus for the University to improve
continuously its performance. The new style strategic plan started with a
summary of the University’s core business in the higher education market-
place. It placed particular emphasis on the range of academic subjects that
the University intended to concentrate on in the short and longer term. It then
covered, briefly, the other core business functions. The plan also set out how
the University intended to deal with the unique aspects of its higher education
responsibilities, such as serving the local community. For the University of
Glamorgan this articulation of twin aspirations of regional impact and quality
academic provision was a step-change in focus. Finally the plan set out the
University’s values. They were an important statement of the University’s
beliefs and behaviour or, in other words, its culture.
It is worth noting that, although the University had stated that it would
serve local and regional communities, its Teaching and Learning Strategy at
that point did not explicitly show how that engagement was to be delivered.
The new Strategic Plan stated that the University had moved forward vigor-
ously with its new Teaching and Learning Strategy which was geared
towards promoting greater flexibility in learning styles and strategies, and
supporting them through staff development programmes. The Teaching and
Learning Strategy provided the framework within which academic schools
and support departments could work together to achieve those aims, including
continued investment in ICT infrastructure and learning resources. There was
no mention of the potential of e-learning, let alone delivery via e-learning.
Despite engaging in strategic change processes the University had not identi-
fied at this stage either the implication of technological change or the means
by which it would take forward that part of its vision concerned with serving
local and regional communities.
Thus, by 2000 the Strategic Plan had started to place strategic emphasis
on alternative teaching and learning methods. With the start of the developed
strategic planning process, it had been agreed that it was timely to review the
present position on initiatives in teaching and learning innovation, and to co-
ordinate and disseminate good and active practice. The University then iden-
tified that it would be necessary to invest in appropriate technology to meet
the future needs and expectations of students and other stakeholders, and to
deploy the energies of the academic staff more efficiently in student support.
At grass roots level lecturers in many departments were beginning to
explore the area of computer-assisted learning as a way of meeting the
aspirations of new students many of whom increasingly had experienced
computer-assisted learning before coming to University. Many lecturers also
believed that computer-assisted learning might offer the potential to address
the learning needs of students coming to University with less formal qualifi-
cations and educational experience, as well as the ability to reach students
who were unable to travel to study. Nonetheless many bemoaned the lack of
direction or support for developments in this area.
There was a sea change, however, as a result of a successful Objective
One bid to the European Union for the development of an E-College across
Wales. The University is in an Objective One area of the European Union,
which means that it is able to apply for significant match funding for activities
to bring about economic, social or cultural re-generation. The successful bid
made it possible to undertake a large scale investment programme to recruit
additional and expert staff, buy software and hardware for the University and
partners, and laptops and on-line network connections for students. This was
a collaboration in business and management education with the University’s
partner colleges across Wales, delivered through flexible, shared learning.
This was made possible by the established network of partners the Univer-
sity has with the further education network in Wales; this was to represent a
significant step change in Welsh higher education. The E-College initiative
was launched on March 1st 2001 in Brussels. E-College provides on-line a
BA in Enterprise, an MA in Professional Development , a Foundation Degree
in Business Administration and finance modules. To date there are over 600
students enrolled on these programmes and the demand continues to grow.
The E-College project has made an important impact on the strategic plan-
ning of the University. Although the formal strategic plan had identified the
need to explore more flexible models of teaching and learning, the strategies
for the adoption of e-learning emerged and continue to emerge through the
E-College project. This is a good example of Mintzberg’s (1989) emergent
Strategies can form as well as be formulated. A realized strategy can
emerge in response to an evolving situation, or it can be brought about
deliberately, through a process of formulation followed by implementa-
tion (p. 30).
Senge (1990) argued very strongly that learning organisations require all
employees to be involved in change processes and it should not just be senior
managers driving top-down change. Martin (1999) and Wright (2003) explore
university change based on Senge’s work; Martin’s study reveals from a
sample of 161 university staff there was an assumption that strategy would
be passed down the hierarchy. In addition Martin’s study (1999) revealed
a break down of communication between leaders and staff and the result
was staff felt powerless victims of change. Wright (2003) although focussing
on the enhancement of quality of teaching in universities argues convinc-
ingly for organisational democracy rather than coercive managerialism.
The E-College initiative reveals how one university undertook this transi-
tion of combining top-down deliberate strategy with bottom-up emergent
Very early in the E-College project it became apparent that e-delivery
offered exciting opportunities for delivering to the ever more diverse
backgrounds of students which the University recruits in response to the
Government’s aim of extending participation to 50%. The challenge for
the University would therefore be to mainstream the managed learning
environment with all of its attendant questions of funding streams and HR
Toffler (1985) suggests that significant organisational change only occurs
when three conditions are met:
First, there must be enormous external pressures. Second, there must be
people inside who are strongly dissatisfied with the existing order. And
third, there must be a coherent alternative embodied in a plan, a model, or
a vision (p. 14).
The first condition for change identified by Toffler was met easily as a
result of enormous external pressures on universities not only from govern-
ments and stakeholders but also from global competitors. The second condi-
tion for change, insiders dissatisfied with the existing order, is being driven
both by changes in the external environment such as funding opportunities
and also by internal debates on the nature of learning and teaching and
the development of life-long learning. The E-College project provided the
impetus for the third condition for change identified by Toffler (1985), namely
the creation of a plan or vision for change.
The emergence of new demands highlighted through the E-College project
placed significant pressure on the University to adapt and undergo significant
change. Mintzberg (1989) highlights that a move from a stable but complex
environment to a dynamic one requires organisational structures to adjust and
become for more responsive to change. Examples from the change agenda are
provided in the next section of the paper.
The change agenda and strategic challenges
The issues that have emerged in the move from traditional assumptions and
values to those assumptions and values associated with e-learning and the
strategic challenges, which emerge, are discussed next.
Hierarchical challenges
It became clear at the start of the project that a range of staff, academic,
technical, administrative and staff with new composite skills from different
departments across the University and across the Welsh further education
network needed to work together. Existing administrative structures were
problematic and hindered interdisciplinary arrangements. There were very
few examples of staff from so many different areas of the University working
together in one group, the boundaries between academic departments and
support departments were well protected by tradition and culture; this now
needed to change.
The development of an e-learning environment led to the creation of
multi-disciplinary teams, including staff from Academic Registry, Learning
Resources Centre, Human Resource Development, Marketing, Student Infor-
mation Systems, Information Systems, Student Services, the partner colleges
and the academic schools. It is clear that the success of the project rested
upon an integrated team involving all the University’s support departments
working alongside the Business School from the beginning, as in an e-
learning environment the support is required at the start and is immediately
transparent to the e-learner when they log on-line (Salmon 2002). Nunan et
al. (2000) highlight the importance of integration,
Information technologies are bringing structural change to serve areas,
causing a convergence of roles and functions between registry, library,
corporate services, production and teaching support and student services
(p. 72).
The blurring of traditional departmental boundaries has been particularly
evident in the development of modules on-line and represents an important
change within universities. This however is posing challenges, especially to
heads of department who may see this blurring as a threat to their power. The
new paradigm has also created new relationships between further education
partners and between further education and higher education. Further educa-
tion staff, and colleges, are assuming new roles which will necessitate new
agreements, funding models and quality controls. These changed roles will
also threaten the prevailing hierarchies and pre-conceptions about the status
of further education vis a vis higher education.
The collegial nature of academic life is also challenged by the funda-
mental change in the learning paradigm that both strategic planning and
e-learning bring. Berlant (1998) explores the academic’s introduction to
strategic planning:
The strangeness of negotiating the odd intimacy of institutional associ-
ation with colleagues we know well but barely know; the hierarchies of
professorship that mediate, though it’s never clear how, the personal rela-
tionship among faculty members; the interpersonal effort involved in the
daily grind of professorship; the strain of optimistic institution building
in this difficult context (pp. 107–108).
This “strangeness” of dealing with colleagues from outside the security of
shared disciplinary assumptions – colleagues without an academic tradition
even – exposes the academic to new and different concepts and approaches.
E-learning then challenges the pedagogic base of their professional activity.
It is clear that the University needs to reduce the rigidity of boundaries
between departments and in particular between academic schools and support
departments. This need to re-cast boundaries on a more flexible basis than
before is an inevitable result of technological change. Beardwell and Holden
(2001) note that one consequence of greater flexibility is
... the attendant delayering of managerial hierarchies and the attempted
breakdown in the typical pyramid structure of organisations ... (p. 155).
Organisational change
As stated earlier, universities are inherently resistant to change: thus in order
for significant change to occur it is essential that there is support from the top
of the university. Muilenburg and Berge (2001) stress
Without a shared vision ... a strategic plan and key players within the
organization who are knowledgeable and supportive of distance learning,
implementing a distance learning programme is a slow and difficult
process (p. 8).
This does not contradict Mintzberg’s (1989) thesis as he advocates strategy
emerging in response to a changing situation or brought about deliberately
through a process of formulation. The University is already engaged in
strategic change processes and quality enhancement processes. As a result
of e-learning fundamental changes are happening – not just a shift in norms,
structures, processes but also an essential alteration of views, perspectives and
understanding of the organisation, these will be explored later in the paper.
As Hanna (2000, p. 28) emphasises
the success of these change processes depends both on the organisation’s
ability to undergo a significant shift in values, vision and direction and on
the ability of stakeholders to understand and accept a new conceptualism
of the organisation.
Technical expertise
Firstly it should be noted that earlier attempts by the Business School to intro-
duce e-teaching had failed because staff lacked the knowledge and skills to
develop a course on-line and no funding stream was available to support this
sort of development. The success of the E-College project was due in large
part to European funding which allowed the hiring of instructional designers
and multi-media experts to support the academic staff. This very important
barrier was overcome as a result of the input of technical support staff as a
result of the creation of a central technological facility.
It is a common experience with ICT that it brings many advantages for as
long as it works. However when it stops working it is a source of consid-
erable frustration. Many new e-learners (and e-moderators) will come to
e-learning with that in-built prejudice. It is therefore imperative that the tech-
nology works all the time. E-learning uses a variety of software packages,
Internet technologies and hardware platforms. Many of these are maintained
by external organisations outside of the direct control of the University.
Moreover many are new and liable to rapid change. The credibility of the
University’s e-learning will be dependent upon using the newest technologies
and techniques – and using them successfully. This poses real strategic, finan-
cial and managerial challenges. The early stages of e-learning implementation
saw an understandable wish to assert maximum control by centralised opera-
tion. However increasing confidence and maturity is likely to bring about a
move away from centralisation to more devolved and flexible technological
provision. The challenge will be to respond to this without sacrificing control,
accountability or consistency.
Psychological problems
Technology potentially poses problems at many levels including some staff in
the University feeling threatened and insecure as a result of the introduction
of e-learning. It is apparent that some staff feel their jobs are being threatened
by technology and others who feel unable to cope with the technological
changes and are as a result feeling insecure. The responses have ranged from
those who lament the growth of technology and foresee a loss of human
interaction to those who see the changes as control mechanisms brought in by
management and reducing their power and autonomy. There is clearly a major
staff development agenda associated with a change of this magnitude. Those
threatened by lack of technical expertise may be assisted easily and quickly
with training but those with negative attitudes, who feel their power base or
core values are being threatened will be more difficult to change. Prendergast
(2001) noted a number of concerns affecting educators including the issue of
‘technofear’ especially amongst traditional older teachers. He reported that
‘it is hard to change the mentality of some teachers’ (p. 2).
Staff development
The University agreed that human resources strategy and practice would be
central to the successful delivery of the strategic programme. This was to
include a programme of staff development to enhance the traditional teaching
and learning function and to take advantage of the opportunities of the twenty-
first century, especially e-learning. It was also to include an active programme
of recruitment of staff with the expertise(s) necessary to deliver via a high
quality managed learning environment. Right from the start of the project
staff development was identified as a crucial element without which the
project could not succeed. The very different nature of the students’ learning
experiences would mean that it would be essential for there to be a structured
staff development programme for all kinds of staff who were to be involved,
followed up with rigorous evaluation and reflection.
Prendergast (2001) highlighted the importance of this and notes that
many organizations failed to plan for realistic staff training, when intro-
ducing this medium. This often resulted in people with little or no
understanding of the medium being expected to undertake tasks of which
they had insufficient knowledge. The hardest part of introducing CSCL
was to motivate and train the educators and trainers (p. 2).
Legal issues
Issues surrounding copyright, data protection and intellectual property rights
are at an early stage of understanding. We underestimated the problems
of obtaining copyright clearance, the lack of knowledge of academic staff
regarding rights regulations and the debates on intellectual property rights
continue. The pace of technological change is such that the legal implications
are yet to be tested in court. Nevertheless although development must still
proceed even if the legal situation remains unclear institutions will find that
consideration of the legal issues may slow development, this certainly has
been our experience. Similarly as statute and case law evolve institutions
must be prepared to revise their practices in the light of emerging law. The
impact of legal considerations is exacerbated because one of the fundamental
advantages of e-learning is the facility to operate beyond national borders –
but this opens institutions up to the requirement to be aware of international
law and the national laws of all participating countries. As yet we have only
operated E-College within Wales but we are now moving into global markets
and these additional factors will need to be considered.
Role of academics and staff contracts
The pedagogy and the finances of e-learning have implications for academic
staff contracts. The academic’s engagement with development, delivery and
assessment of learning materials is fundamentally different to the traditional
model – and a greater variety of staff are involved in those areas. However
there is little direct experience of the time it takes to e-moderate which means
that issues such as staff compensation, incentives and timetables all have to be
addressed. The financial model sees a considerable investment of academic
time in the development phase. The economies of scale that e-learning facili-
tates creates large student populations. This has caused us to reflect on the
need to find new categories of staff to support the students’ academic progress
at a price that the market will bear and which ensures that academics are free
to pursue their role of extending learning methods, research and scholarship.
These HR issues need to be explored as e-learning projects are scaled up
to accommodate large numbers of learners across the world. Thus the skills
required of academics might be less those of teacher/performer and more on
innovation, research and development.
Managerial issues
The University’s experience with E-College has mirrored that of Beer and
Eisenstat (2000) who found that:
Increasingly the implementation of strategy requires more managers at
lower levels who can lead teams that co-ordinate key strategic initia-
tives across functions, business units or geographic borders ... people
who had worked closely with the top team – a significant management-
development experience that changed their own perspective and the
perspective of the senior team about employee capabilities (p. 39).
The new roles taken on by staff with differing backgrounds and skills
included leadership and managerial responsibilities. A project team was set
up and instructional designers, technical support staff, Learning Resources
Centre staff and lecturing staff took on leadership and managerial responsibil-
ities. The traditional line of accountability and control became fuzzier. Those
in traditional managerial and leadership roles were less well equipped to
assume those roles with E-College because of the novelty of the development
and its technologies, the multi-disciplinary approach and the sheer speed of
development. Universities will increasingly want to train and enthuse staff to
take on these kinds of roles – and will then want to ensure that those skills
are exploited to the full once any project is completed.
Provision of student support i.e. Learning Resources Centre, Student
Services, tutors and administrators is essential. The paradigm shift where
the learner, at the centre of her/his learning process, calls upon many expert
sources (Paquette 1998, p. 21), the move from teaching to learning, the move
from lecture centred to student centred requires a very robust system of
support. The University already had a student charter but this required change
to incorporate a learning service agreement in which the level of support to
the e-learner was set out. This e-learning environment required enhanced
levels of student support and higher expectations from students in an elec-
tronic environment in terms of speed of response. We have not yet moved to
24/7/52 but the message from e-learners, especially those in employment, is
that they require support outside of the normal working day. There may be a
need to redefine student support services as the nature of student support will
change not least because the nature of the students themselves has already
and will continue to change. Students in an e-learning environment are more
autonomous learners. They are geographically distant. They come from more
diverse backgrounds and are far more likely to see themselves as clients
as well as learners or students. Thus the nature of pastoral and educational
support will change with learning resources professionals, administrators and
IT staff all providing the kind of essential support to learners that has tradi-
tionally been the preserve of academics. This change must be managed with
the attendant stresses on resource allocation and professional expectations.
UK funding of higher education has been based upon students completing
recognised HE qualifications or parts thereof (credits). The move to e-learn-
ing opens up the need to find robust ways of funding learning rather than
end qualification, as already we are finding that, for the first time, students
are valuing learning as much as, if not more than, qualifications. Thus
this development has exposed a tension between the Government’s policy
objective to encourage lifelong learning and its funding methodologies. Simi-
larly the University’s own strategic planning poses questions of balancing
policy objectives (opening up higher education to new and different learners)
with financial prudence, ensuring that there is sufficient income to fund
both investment and recurrent activities. Until funding policy has caught up
with lifelong learning on the ground there is a real danger that growth and
development will be held back.
The University had now placed e-learning at the heart of its strategic
The University will acquire the teaching and learning skills needed to
complete in the emerging UK and international e-learning markets, both
on and off campus, by investing heavily in the development of production
and support systems for e-learning (Strategic Plan 2001).
The roll out of e-learning across the University and its partners will require
a significant investment in staff, hardware, software and training and devel-
opment. The scale of this investment is such that no one British university
can be expected to be able to take this forward on its own. The strategic
challenge therefore will be to build alliances with other higher education
providers to share development costs and risks and commercial partners and
funders/investors so that the economies of scale can be acquired. At the same
time the University will have to make strategic choices of its own to allocate
resources away from traditional delivery. This is bound to have a dramatic
impact on the culture and ethos of the University.
The strategic challenges for the case study university and other universities
is clear but in order to seize the challenges we need to continue to evaluate
and learn from the E-College project. Mintzberg (1989) stresses that, “purely
deliberate strategy precludes learning once the strategy is formulated, emer-
gent strategy fosters it” (p. 32). In agreement with Mintzberg we believe
that universities need both types of strategy making. Indeed we believe that
our e-learning experience demonstrates that a dynamic and flexible interplay
between deliberate and emergent strategy assists with the management of
change – where reflection and evaluation (and consequent action) are essen-
tial components of change in new settings. The emergence of e-learning has
provided a good example of emergent strategy coupled with the University’s
deliberate strategy making processes. The learning attached to this emergent
strategy could be used to help other universities respond to the change agenda
brought about by e-learning.
When the University started a more formal approach to strategic planning
it could have been expected that it would utilise the traditional model where
the long term goals were identified and resources and action plans were put
in place to deliver them. Whilst this is still a key feature of the Univer-
sity’s planning it has seen strategic planning move on so that Hofer’s (1973)
incrementalist view of planning and Mintzberg’s (1989) ideas on emergent
strategy are just as important – where strategy attempts to understand the
external opportunities and match these to the organisation’s capabilities and
learning is part of the strategic processes. Hofer expects more managers to
be involved in the delivery of plans – and the University has seen many more
staff at all levels taking responsibility for the change agenda. This is a major
feature of Senge’s et al. (1999) notion of sustaining momentum in a learning
organisation. It is clear that the impact of e-learning, and in the future mobile
learning, will require universities to re-think fundamentally their thinking,
and therefore their strategies, in a range of areas including human resources,
estates, pedagogy, quality assurance, funding, management and commercial
and educational partnerships. Inglis et al. (2002, p. 189) confirm our findings:
For most organizations, the transition to electronic delivery will represent
a significant shift. It will involve major changes to the organization:
changes in staffing, procedures, infrastructure, and most of all to the
culture of the organization.
Information and communications technologies (ICT) are forcing major
changes in the location, development, methodology, delivery, support, evalu-
ation and timing of education delivery. Although it provides real opportunities
it also poses threats that need to be addressed. Grasping the full poten-
tial of ICT will require a substantial shift in human resources policies
including recruitment, contracts, training and development and innovative
payment systems. Lecturers will become learning facilitators, co-ordinators
of learning experiences and this shift will have dramatic implications for
human resources strategies.
Staff roles and responsibilities and staff structures are in transition and this
paper offers an insight into the ways one university is leading the changes.
There is no doubt that e-learning offers an opportunity to challenge arrange-
ments in most sections of the University. This has explicitly questioned the
University’s organisational structures and therefore the University has to re-
consider both its academic and managerial arrangements. Laurillard (2002,
p. 241) argues that the delivery infrastructure should never be in the fore-
ground, rather it should be supporting the dialogue on learning. Whilst we
agree with the overall sentiment we argue that at present at the University, the
delivery infrastructure associated with e-learning is at the foreground but as a
result, there is a refocusing on the many processes of the University.
Whilst the authors recognise that one size does not fit all and the case study
university’s experiences of strategy will not suit all universities as Sloman
(2003, p. 1), in his analysis of the change agenda associated with e-learning,
A strategy and agenda can only be constructed within the context of the
particular circumstances found in each organisation. ... However, some
problems can be overcome by a better understanding of where others have
found appropriate solutions. This is not the time to reinvent the wheel.
The learning attached to our e-learning strategy will help other universities
respond to the change agenda associated with the introduction of e-learning.
Rosenberg (2001, p. 32) stresses “Many efforts often underestimate the
complexities of the interactions between e-learning and the organisation, with
so many stakeholders and business variables in the mix, a more strategic
approach is necessary to ensure that e-learning has the best possible chance
to succeed”.
In this paper we have shown how strategic processes associated with e-
learning not only address issues of technology and learning but also address
issues of change, culture, leadership and staff development. The University’s
expectations of strategic planning have changed in a relatively short period
since their introduction in 1999. Strategic planning in a period of turbulent
change such as that brought about by the introduction a new delivery mode
(e-learning in this case) is about organisational self-learning. It has become as
much a voyage of self discovery for staff at all levels, as it is about directing
the University’s destiny.
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... Despite this, many studies have attempted to examine the antecedents of ELE [22][23][24]; they did not introduce a comprehensive model for the antecedents of ELE. However, the results of these studies have not always been consistent [25,26] and, therefore, ELE antecedents remain unidentified. Thus, our research helped in filling this gap by introducing a comprehensive framework for the antecedents of ELE in higher education institutions during the COVID-19 pandemic in the KSA context. ...
... Indeed, the introduction of EL leads to the emergence of strategic challenges. Reference [25] lists ten challenges: hierarchical, organizational, managerial, legal, technical expertise, psychological, staff development, role of teachers, administrative and technical staff, student support, and funding. These different challenges assume that the implementation of EL at the university requires, a priori, a well-established planning phase. ...
Full-text available
Nowadays, the extensive use of e-learning in higher educational institutions in many countries leads us to apprehend the reality, precisely the key success/failure factors of the implementation, of e-learning systems in these institutions. This motivation becomes more and more important, inevitable, and urgent, especially for institutions that have heavily adopted e-learning systems under exceptional conditions without any prior planning, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. From this perspective, this research aimed to provide an e-learning success model in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic by assessing e-learning effectiveness and by investigating the key antecedents of e-learning effectiveness. The literature review led to the identification of four main factors influencing e-learning effectiveness: The e-learning system, e-learning readiness, interactivity, and resistance to change. These four variables constituted the antecedents of an effective e-learning system, which was tested in a KSA context. A structured survey, including a sample of 1202 students from Imam Mohammad Ibn Saud Islamic University was used to examine the linkages among our proposed model. The model, with a total of ten direct and six indirect relationships, was tested by using structural equation modeling. The research findings indicate that effective e-learning is supported by the interactions between four factors: the e-learning system, e-learning readiness, interactivity, and resistance to change.
... Despite this, many studies have attempted to examine the antecedents of ELE [22][23][24]; they did not introduce a comprehensive model for the antecedents of ELE. However, the results of these studies have not always been consistent [25,26] and, therefore, ELE antecedents remain unidentified. Thus, our research helped in filling this gap by introducing a comprehensive framework for the antecedents of ELE in higher education institutions during the COVID-19 pandemic in the KSA context. ...
... Indeed, the introduction of EL leads to the emergence of strategic challenges. Reference [25] lists ten challenges: hierarchical, organizational, managerial, legal, technical expertise, psychological, staff development, role of teachers, administrative and technical staff, student support, and funding. These different challenges assume that the implementation of EL at the university requires, a priori, a well-established planning phase. ...
Full-text available
Nowadays, the extensive use of e-learning in higher educational institutions in many countries leads us to apprehend the reality, precisely the key success/failure factors of the implementation, of e-learning systems in these institutions. This motivation becomes more and more important, inevitable, and urgent, especially for institutions that have heavily adopted e-learning systems under exceptional conditions without any prior planning, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. From this perspective, this research aimed to provide an e-learning success model in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic by assessing e-learning effectiveness and by investigating the key antecedents of e-learning effectiveness. The literature review led to the identification of four main factors influencing e-learning effectiveness: The e-learning system, e-learning readiness, interactivity, and resistance to change. These four variables constituted the antecedents of an effective e-learning system, which was tested in a KSA context. A structured survey, including a sample of 1202 students from Imam Mohammad Ibn Saud Islamic University was used to examine the linkages among our proposed model. The model, with a total of ten direct and six indirect relationships, was tested by using structural equation modeling. The research findings indicate that effective e-learning is supported by the interactions between four factors: the e-learning system, e-learning readiness, interactivity, and resistance to change.
... The other consequence is a growing mismatch between…education and the requirements of industry which is reorganizing itself in terms of technological or even sociotechnological systems tasks…no wonder, then, that the particularly strong systemic interaction between man and computer has not yet found a place in the university. (Jantsch, 1972, p. 22) Using the journal's publications as a barometer of international attention on technology as an increasingly ubiquitous part of the process of learning across all disciplines, it would be more than twenty years later before the affordances and availability of fit for purpose personal technologies started to appear in ways that would sustain a relatively 'stronger systemic interaction between (student) and computer' in the university as an organizational concept (Beattie & James, 1997;O'Shea, 2004). This observation does not mean that in the interim, a growth of educational technology within particular disciplines or attempts at organizing university-wide educational technology support for did not occur. ...
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Student learning experiences at university are constantly evolving; new disciplinary discoveries, new knowledge, interdisciplinary synergies and new exigencies make learning a dynamic experience for students, teachers and researchers alike; and that is just the what of learning. Add to this, changes in the how of learning, new pedagogies and new technologies, new partners in the provision of learning, as well as new configurations of where learning takes place, such as on campus, at home, in the workplace and online; and it is not hard to make the case that learning experiences of students enrolled in a degree are relatively more complex today than they were even 20 years ago. Much of this change has been captured over the last five decades in the journal Higher Education. The ongoing challenge of these changes is the complexity that accompanies them. How do we improve the student experience of learning in a complex context? What should the outcomes of a higher education degree be? What learning processes are likely to lead better outcomes? How do you assess the quality of learning that may occur in small groups on campus or online, or in large groups in both places, or in laboratories or the workplace? What is the role of material objects in these experiences and do they contribute to outcomes? This manuscript will consider such questions and where the journal is pointing researchers towards new avenues that are developing in learning and teaching internationally.
... Fichten et al., (2009) explored E-learning problems and solutions among 223 students with disabilities from 58 Canadian colleges and universities. Based on the study Jones & O'Shea (2004), the researcher identified that lecturers who accountable for supporting and implementing elearning in teaching, failed to think about the accessibility needs of students in various disabilities. For example, power point presentations in class, if not posted online ahead of time, can cause difficulties for students with visual problem and other disabilities requiring adaptive software to read and follow the presentation. ...
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Conference Paper
COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted teaching in a various institution. Electronic learning (e-learning) became the core method of teaching the curriculum during the pandemic. E-learning is the use of Information Technology Communication e.g. Internet, Computer, Mobile phone, Learning Management System (LMS), Televisions, Radio and others to enhance teaching and learning activities. The main purpose of establishing e-learning is to increase the content of the courses and their accessibility unfortunately not aimed at improving student academic performance. This research intends to investigate the pertinent factors (family, facility and lecturers support) towards academic performance among disability students at UUM in e-learning during COVID-19 pandemic. This study employed quantitative method using questionnaire. The questionnaires were distributed to disabled students. Findings revealed that facility support has significant influence to the level of academic performance among disabled students in e-learning. Family support and lecturer support are not influencing academic performance among disability student. This study also proposed recommendations to improve the roles of family and lecturers to be part of "backbone" factors to the disabled students in order to obtain excellent academic results. Finally, this study also addressed future studies need to be take into account towards enhance the academic performance among disability students.
... The issue of emergency management has recently grown importance in the context of emergency scenarios, such as the provision of education to communities that are prone to natural as well as non-natural disasters. Currently, universities must take proactive initiatives to overcome technological communication challenges to expedite the adoption and development of customized online education system (Jones, 2004). The institutional learning and teaching strategies have been the heart of higher education transformation processes in the United Kingdom (Gibbs, 2000). ...
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Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are facing more enormous challenges due to the quick spread of NOVEL COVID-19, which carried lockdown in the lives of people across the world. Countries are preparing to face the challenge as the pandemic may run for several months. A large number of academic institutions had shut their campuses and went online. In terms of e-education, developing countries are facing more challenges comparatively. The current study is designed to investigate the phenomena from the lens of emergency management theory, with a purpose to come up with a viable framework for taking proper actions. Another objective of the study was to examine commonalities and differences between a developed and a developing country in terms of preparedness, response, mitigation, and recovery. The study was conducted under the philosophy of social constructivism, following qualitative research design, applying phenomenology research method, with the help of interviews as a data collection technique. Thematic analysis was applied for data analysis with the help of NVivo 12. The results show there are significant differences in terms of 'preparedness', a considerable difference in terms of 'response' and 'recovery' and a minor difference in terms of 'mitigation' between developed and developing countries. The study is conducted during COVID-19 emergency and provides useful insights to understand faculty point of view and suggestions for improving the quality of e-learning and emergency preparedness.
As institutions of higher education began their full returns to campus in Fall 2021, questions arose about continuing the flexible student support services that emerged during the pandemic, the expectations students might have of the post-shutdown world, and whether there would be equity between the support of on-campus students and those who remained at a distance. This chapter details the literature amassed during the height of the pandemic and the findings of a study focused on the online organizational structures that emerged as campuses were shut down when COVID-19 was sweeping the United States in early 2020. Interview participants detailed the rapid rollout of robust student support services that were offered in a virtual mode during the height of the pandemic. Participants hoped for the long-term continuance of services that offered better support to online and remote students, as well as those that could more robustly support on-campus students who choose to consume services in a more multimodal way.
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The covid 19 pandemic has impacted the worldwide education system and moved on their all teaching-learning activities online. In this present study, the researchers find out the attitude of college teachers towards online teaching during the covid 19 pandemic in the Alipurduar district of West Bengal. The researcher used the descriptive survey method to conduct the present study. Stratified Random sampling techniques are used to select the colleges and samples for this present study. The researchers selected Five undergraduate colleges under the University of North Bengal from that district of Alipurduar. The sample of the present study comprises 50 college teachers including (25 Males and 25 Females similarly,27 Urban and 23 Rural college teachers and 21 General caste college teachers & 29 Reserved category college teachers out of 50 as it is). A 5-point attitude scale is used by the researcher for collecting the data. The mean score of both male and female, urban and rural, general caste, and Reserved Category college teacher groups were tested for significance of difference by using the 't-test. The mean score was found that in this present study, there is not a significant difference between the attitude of Male and Female college teachers, and there is no significant difference between Urban and Rural college teachers' attitude towards Online Teaching and the attitude of General caste college teachers & Reserved Category college teachers is a significant difference at 0.05 level and not significant at 0.01 level of during the covid-19 pandemic.
Purpose The study is done to investigate the factors that affect the intention of higher education students towards online education. The research also focuses on the importance of students' stability and students' resilience on perceived usefulness and perceived easiness of use that frame the attitude towards the intention to use online education. Design/methodology/approach Online survey method is employed using Google form link with a sample of 686 students of higher education. Excluding the outliers (univariate and multivariate), the final sample size ( N = 679) considers the empirical results of the study. Partial least square structural equation modelling (PLS-SEM) is applied to unearth the relationship in the proposed research model of the study. Findings The empirical results indicate that perceived usefulness and perceived easiness of use have a direct impact on students' intention to use online education platform. Moreover, perceived usefulness and perceived easiness of use also have a positive influence on the students' attitude, which has a strong influence on students' intention to use online mode of education system. Also, students' stability and students' resilience have mixed impact on the level of perceived usefulness and perceived easiness of use that are the most useful determinants of attitude towards the intention to use online education. Research limitations/implications The study counts on the technology acceptance model (TAM) where constructs like behavioural controllability, past exposure and perceived accordance are not considered for measuring the intention of students in adapting to online education. Originality/value This paper employs the extended model of technology acceptance with additional determinants, namely, students' stability and students' resilience, to investigate the intention to use the online form of education as an alternative to the offline mode.
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This article explores the affordances, challenges, and imperfections of researching “post”humanizing creativity, by offering two exemplars, sharing how we walk the talk, so to speak, as well as how we have been rewarded and challenged. This is all within the larger umbrella of exploring how a posthumanizing creative approach can expand pedagogical and methodological possibilities for educators, facilitators, environments, and other actants, and ultimately to see how this can disrupt established cultural and educational practice and research to address the challenges of the Anthropocene.
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MOOCs are becoming dependable and reliable platform for self-learning. Self-learning is very significant in the area of science and technology due to rising number of applications developed on inter-disciplinary approaches based on automation and computation in science and technology. MOOCs provide a brilliant opportunity for students to learn advance technologies to increase knowledge and skills. Many times, students attend these online courses, but, do not pursue the exams or complete assignment. This paper presents an analysis based on the students’ perspective to support that assessment and assignment are important for learning and earning a certificate in these courses to enhance knowledge in students. Through the completion of assignments and passing the assessment process to earn a certificate in online courses, students enhance their learning. Out of the 48 participants of secondary education, 27 participants were able to earn a course certificate also shows that students are inclined towards self-learning. This paper supports that MOOCs provide an excellent platform for self-learning. KeywordsMOOCsSelf-regulated learningInter-disciplinary studySecondary
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This article reports on a large‐scale (n = 2,504), exploratory factor analysis that determined the underlying constructs that comprise barriers to distance education. The ten factors found were (1) administrative structure, (2) organizational change, (3) technical expertise, (4) social interaction and quality, (5) faculty compensation and time, (6) threat of technology, (7) legal issues, (8) evaluation/effectiveness, (9) access, and (10) student‐support services.
The article reports on specific ways in which strategic planning influences organizational effectiveness. The author focuses on discussing a research project which focuses on viewing the relationship between strategic planning and organizational effusiveness as a generic pattern of stimulus and response. The author goes on to describe the research model he used in his study. The study's findings have implications for business-related subjects including recourse management, production, and product life cycle. Variables such as sales growth and profitability were used to evaluate financial performance.
Humility is not conventionally associated with the project of cultural stud ies. This is because, despite constant assertions that their knowledge is his torically contingent and politically specific and will not always be true, the scholars who engage in this work seem to want to change the world through criticism: they risk grandiosity of the intellect in believing that their critical
Since Peter Senge published his groundbreaking book The Fifth Discipline, he and his associates have frequently been asked by the business community: "How do we go beyond the first steps of corporate change? How do we sustain momentum?" They know that companies and organizations cannot thrive today without learning to adapt their attitudes and practices. But companies that establish change initiatives discover, after initial success, that even the most promising efforts to transform or revitalize organizationsdespite interest, resources, and compelling business resultscan fail to sustain themselves over time. That's because organizations have complex, well-developed immune systems, aimed at preserving the status quo. Now, drawing upon new theories about leadership and the long-term success of change initiatives, and based upon twenty-five years of experience building learning organizations, the authors of The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook show how to accelerate success and avoid the obstacles that can stall momentum. The Dance of Change, written for managers and executives at every level of an organization, reveals how business leaders can work together to anticipate the challenges that profound change will ultimately force the organization to face. Then, in a down-to-earth and compellingly clear format, readers will learn how to build the personal and organizational capabilities needed to meet those challenges. These challenges are not imposed from the outside; they are the product of assumptions and practices that people take for grantedan inherent, natural part of the processes of change. And they can stop innovation cold,unless managers at all levels learn to anticipate them and recognize the hidden rewards in each challenge, and the potential to spur further growth. Within the frequently encountered challenge of "Not Enough Time," for examplethe lack of control over time available for innovation and learning initiativeslies a valuable opportunity to reframe the way people organize their workplaces. This book identifies universal challenges that organizations ultimately find themselves confronting, including the challenge of "Fear and Anxiety"; the need to diffuse learning across organizational boundaries; the ways in which assumptions built in to corporate measurement systems can handcuff learning initiatives; and the almost unavoidable misunderstandings between "true believers" and nonbelievers in a company. Filled with individual and team exercises, in-depth accounts of sustaining learning initiatives by managers and leaders in the field, and well-tested practical advice, The Dance of Change provides an insider's perspective on implementing learning and change initiatives at such corporations as British Petroleum, Chrysler, Dupont, Ford, General Electric, Harley-Davidson, Hewlett-Packard, Mitsubishi Electric, Royal Dutch/Shell, Shell Oil Company, Toyota, the United States Army, and Xerox. It offers crucial advice for line-level managers, executive leaders, internal networkers, educators, and others who are struggling to put change initiatives into practice.