October 10, 2005

Response to feedback

"Was UKeU failure because of elearning, marketing, IT or project management?"

There were many interrelated issues regarding the failure of the UKeU; according to Richard Garrett from Educause and the House of Commons' Education & Skills Committee, one of the main reasons was a lack of market research. The service was delivered without forecasting demand, neither quantity or preferred method of delivery was forecasted. One of the main reasons for this was the government backing, which acted on fear, not fact. The government feared the USA's dominant e-university initiatives namely Phoenix online and NYU would take away students from the UK HE market. The UK therefore responded, not on figures which suggested a high demand in the UK for a completely online learning experience, but on speculation. The decision to go entirely online was also a big mistake for other reasons regarding the infrastructure of this initiative, these will be discussed further in the project.

Other factors include opting for a bespoke Virtual learning environment (VLE), although some VLE's were already available on the market, the initiative called in Sun Microsystems to produce a dedicated VLE. One of the problems with this VLE was that nothing on this scale had ever been produced before and the system was scaled according to the forecasted enrollments. These forecasts were of course made without the market research regarding demand.

These are just two of the main factors which resulted in the demise of the UK E-University

"I wonder whether a focus group discussion might be useful as well as your planned survey."

A focus group would be a good idea, it may be difficult to attract CBS students to attend unless there were actual incentives. Maybe this is a chance to use my marketing skills to promote a focus group. Perhaps it could be discussed at a WBSS seminar?

"Could you find an example of a course similar to CBS somewhere in the world that has a significant e-learning component. Is it successful? How does it compare with CBS in fitting with your theory of successful eLearning courses?"

I discovered, whilst doing my research that my idea of E-Learning is just one of the many forms of E-Learning. I, and I am sure many others stereotype it as being a form of learning where a pupil watches a recording of a lecture on their computer instead of sitting in a lecture hall. This is one form of asynchronous distance learning, however the way in which we currently study already integrates many other aspects of e-learning. Perhaps we do not see our course as integrating e-learning but it does.

We have:

*Online submission and automatic marking-BOSS ONLINE (DCS)

*Discussion forums-My.WBS and Departmental forums

*Online resources-uploaded to -My.WBS, e.g. lecture slides and readings

*Interactive synchronous discussion/seminar tools-whilst these do not exist formally, we have all used MSN instant messenger discuss course issues before.

*Multimedia resources-Very few lecturers upload video's onto their websites, perhaps because they do not have the tools, resources or knowledge to do so. Martin Campbell-Kelly is probably the best example of a lecturer at Warwick, who (i assume intentionally) incorporates many principles of hybrid/blended E-Learning. Refer to History of computing website.

*Financial and academic administration-My.Insight

*Online Enrolment-OMR

Whilst it would be helpful, and I will definately research further to find an example, we probably do not need to look much further for an example of E-Learning; we are (perhaps unintentionally) implementing one here at Warwick on the CBS course. Whilst we are a long way off from delivering an entirely online based e-learning course for distant learning, the foundations for the infrastructure are certainly already present.

My stereotypical model of e-learning has already been broken and I accept that Warwick itself uses many E-Learning principles, indeed many universities across the UK do. However, they probably do not advertise their courses as hybrid E-Learning courses, despite the fact that they technically are!

Part 2:

I also had an interesting conversation with Pete Thompson (CBS), we were discussing my project and I voiced the notion of theoretical scalability. That is, if a course was delivered online, there would be no limit, except human resources on how many people could sign up to this course. You would not be limited by the size of a lecture hall, so 1000 people could effectively sign up for a course or an individual module.

The problems arise in lecturer interaction, how will a lecturer respond to 1000 asynchronous questions (say) by email regarding the lecture. Pete suggested perhaps you have a live forum, like a seminar. A chat room basically, held at a certain time for everyone to fire away questions. Video-conferencing could be used, although it could prove extremely difficult/impractical to censor and control. We concluded the resources for teaching a class of 1000 online, could possibly be less than teaching a class of the same size traditionally.

We also discussed e-learning as an option, i.e. "you can either go to the 9am lecture, or go online and view the broadcasting of it." You can rewind parts, pause and come back to it in your own time. You would lose the interactivity of a typical lecture, but would you learn any less? Would your experience be less rewarding than a live lecture? What if there was no other choice? (Say) if there was a powercut in 1 building or some other reason why the building was inaccessible, could the lecturer simply hook up his/her laptop in a seminar room and broadcast the lecture on the internet? The technology certainly exists, but would the teaching and learning be of the same quality/standard?

Thanks pete for your discussion!!!

- One comment Not publicly viewable

  1. Andrew Martin

    I think it would be an exaggeration to call CBS a significantly e-learning course. I agree that elements are there, but rather minor in the context of the whole course. Until a module or the whole course became formally deliverable in the different modes you discuss, I think we are at a very early stage. In part this is entirely deliberate as I believe we value the contribution of the real (as opposed to virtual) class environment. This can be challenged and more virtual elements included. The key catalyst would be if there were a strategic choice to go significantly in this direction.

    I wonder what impact the Singapore venture would have made, and indeed perhaps even more so now that the first proposal has been rejected?

    08 Nov 2005, 14:16

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