E-Learning and Distance Education in Higher Education: Organizational Implications


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A presentation to the GUIDE conference, Rome, February 2006

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  • E-Learning and Distance Education in Higher Education: Organizational Implications

    1. 1. E-Learning & Distance Education in Higher Education: Organizational Implications Mark Bullen
    2. 2. Overview <ul><li>Distance education in conventional universities: a clash of cultures. </li></ul><ul><li>Managerial vs. collegial culture. </li></ul><ul><li>Creates organizational conflict. </li></ul><ul><li>Emergence of e-learning increases the potential for conflict. </li></ul>
    3. 3. Overview <ul><li>At risk: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Quality and sustainability of e-learning. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Social mandate of distance education. </li></ul></ul>
    4. 4. The E-learning Continuum
    5. 5. Three Types of E-learning <ul><li>E-learning as distance education. </li></ul><ul><li>E-learning as electronically-mediated learning. </li></ul><ul><li>E-learning as facilitated transactions software (Zemsky & Massy, 2004). </li></ul>
    6. 6. Three Types of E-learning <ul><li>Focus of this discussion on e-learning as distance education. </li></ul><ul><li>To a lesser extent: mixed mode e-learning. </li></ul>
    7. 7. Academic Cultures <ul><li>The collegial culture </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Autonomous faculty member. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Measurable outcomes, accountability resisted. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Academic freedom - guiding principle. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Governance faculty-driven. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Institutional change is slow. </li></ul></ul>
    8. 8. Academic Cultures <ul><li>The managerial culture </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Work organized and directed toward specific goals. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Evaluation and accountability highly valued. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fiscal responsibility, effective supervisory skills given high priority. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Planning and management are key. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>(Bergquist, 1992) </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
    9. 9. The Problem <ul><li>Effective e-learning requires a managed approach. </li></ul><ul><li>Collegial culture dominates in universities. </li></ul><ul><li>Cultural clash. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Academics: collegial </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>E-learning: managerial </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Potential for conflict. </li></ul>
    10. 10. Issues <ul><li>Managing faculty </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Faculty come to e-learning from a collegial culture but are expected to work according to managerial norms. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Faculty resist “management”. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Academic freedom </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Fundamental principle of research universities. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Increasingly, it is being invoked to argue against a managed approach to e-learning in which ownership of the materials created by a team of specialists resides with the institution. </li></ul></ul>
    11. 11. Outcomes <ul><li>Organizational restructuring </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Organizations will try to resolve the conflict. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Restructuring in favor of the dominant culture. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Loss of central support units. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>E-learning development devolved to Faculties. </li></ul></ul>
    12. 12. Organizational Restructuring <ul><li>University of British Columbia example </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Organizational restructuring. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Centralized distance education eliminated. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reveals the power of the collegial culture. </li></ul></ul>
    13. 13. Implications <ul><li>Quality and sustainability of e-learning at stake. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Economies of scale more difficult in decentralized model. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Critical mass of professionals is lost. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Management needed for quality control. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Social mandate of distance education at risk </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Conventional universities serve “traditional students”. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>DE units have tended to be advocates for the “non-traditional” learner. </li></ul></ul>
    14. 14. Solutions <ul><li>Centralized e-learning support units must be strongly integrated with academic departments </li></ul><ul><li>Academic freedom issue cannot be ignored </li></ul><ul><li>E-learning support departments must embrace change </li></ul><ul><ul><li>learn to adapt to the collegial culture without sacrificing benefits of the managed approach </li></ul></ul>
    15. 15. For Further Information <ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.bcit.ca/ltc </li></ul><ul><li>http://homepage.mac.com/markbullen/bcit </li></ul>