After completing this unit you should come away with the following key points:
1. Approaches to Course Development
In most organizations, some combination of Lone Ranger and Project Management approaches is likely needed to allow for broad innovation and strategic implementation of e-learning. As you move from the left to the right across the e-learning continuum, from e-learning as classroom enhancements to fully online e-learning, you also move from the realm of Lone Ranger approaches to the realm of project management approaches to development. With the added complexity associated with fully online projects, a project management approach becomes essential in ensuring that developments are completed within agreed upon schedules and budgets. Without such managed approaches, it becomes more and more risky for an organization to undertake large-scale e-learning. Nevertheless, project management is not always the best or most cost-effective model.
2. The Project Team
When a project management approach is used, a project team is brought together. The following are the typical members of an online course development project team:
- Subject matter expert
- Instructional designer
- Web developer
- Project Manager
- Media designer
- Learner support specialist
3. Funding and Development Support
The funding approach and how development is supported in an institution will play a role in determining what kind of core project team can be brought together. In many universities it is common for project teams to be composed of people who are hired specifically for the project (typically on part-time or limited term contracts). This affects continuity, as it is difficult to retain those people who have gained experience working on a project year to year. Another common approach to supporting the development of fully online e-learning projects is to have them resourced using a combination of professors, whose time is acquired to work on a project through buy-out or course release, with the support of a professional development group from a centre that has long-term, permanent staff. By positioning such staff in a centre or unit to support e-learning development, an institution is able to maintain a consistent level of quality resources to support on-going development year-to-year. Such a resource, however, depends upon predictable, on-going funding from the institution.
4. Blended Learning
Blended learning holds a lot of potential for educational institutions as it allows for both new efficiencies in the organization of limited space on campuses as well as positive transformations in the manner in which students are asked to interact with content and with one another on-campus and online. In other words, blended learning can potentially help to solve bottle-necks relating to access to campus resources as well as provide creative and innovative approaches to enriching the learning environment.