3.1 – Stages of E-Learning Integration

Bates (2007) argues that higher education institutions typically move through five stages as they introduce and ultimately integrate e-learning. This begins with “lone rangers”, 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 become a core activity and has been integrated into the institutional planning and budgeting processes. In between these beginning and end points, institutions provide progressively more support for e-learning, moving from “encouragement” to “chaos” and then to the penultimate “planning” stage when senior management finally begins to take e-learning seriously by starting to integrate it into the institutional planning process.

As the use of e-learning grows, it is becoming increasingly important for institutions to focus their efforts on moving from the early stages of e-learning development, which is characterized primarily by the efforts of individual faculty, to the higher levels of planning and sustainability, characterized by institutional support and integration. The critical ingredients are an e-learning strategy and the implementation of the strategy.

The Five Stages of E-Learning Integration in Higher Education (Bates, 2007)

Stage 1 Stage 2 Stage 3 Stage 4 Stage 5
Lone Rangers Encouragement Chaos Planning Sustainability
Early adopters
Individual initiative
No direct institutional support
Early adopters supported with small grants or reductions in teaching load. Increase in use of eLearning
Growing administration concerned about lack of coordination or standards, duplication and costs
Senior administration begins to address the “chaos” by setting standards, addressing need for faculty support and controlling costs and workload Stable eLearning system established that is cost-effective and scalable