In this unit we have examined how e-learning should be organized and supported within an institution. As we have argued from the beginning of this course, there are no right and wrong ways of doing things. The most appropriate approach depends on the context and this means taking into account the stage of e-learning integration that the institution has achieved. E-learning typically progresses through a series of stages that begins with the enthusiastic early adopters who experiment with e-learning without any formal institutional support and culminates with the “sustainability” stage at which e-learning has been fully integrated into the institutional planning and budgeting processes. In between, institutions move from “encouragement” to “chaos” and then to the penultimate “planning” stage when senior management begins to integrate e-learning into the planning process.
The governance of e-learning is about how decisions are made, who has input and who makes those decisions. It also involves evaluating, directing and monitoring the use of e-learning. There several different ways of providing appropriate governance over e-learning. The most common is to establish some type committee to provide oversight and allow stakeholders to have input.
Equally important is where e-learning fits in the organizational and reporting structure of the institution. Is it located on the academic/educational side of the organization or on the technical or administrative side? The answers to these questions will tell us how seriously the institution takes e-learning.
How e-learning is supported can vary from having a fully integrated central support department that provides IT, instructional design, faculty development and technical media support to a fully decentralized approach in which each faculty or school has its own support units. The most appropriate model depends on the institution and the size of the faculties and the level of support within the institution and faculties.
Finally, how e-learning support is funded in the institution is as important, if not more, than how the support is organized. There are four basic funding models:
- Revenue generating
- Combined funding