Institutional Planning for E-Learning


In this unit, we focus on institutional planning for e-learning. Appropriate planning is essential to the sustainable and cost-effective implementation of large-scale e-learning in higher education. However, as mentioned earlier, it is not a necessary precondition for all e-learning. It all depends on the context and the scale of the implementation. In many cases, more ground-up approaches may be appropriate such as seeding and promoting innovation by providing individual professors with incentives to experiment with e-learning. However, when organizations decide to make e-learning a core part of their business and implement it on a large scale, strategic planning for e-learning is essential. This means the plan must be nested within the institution’s overall strategic plan and it must look at the institutional requirements for e-learning and not just those of individual courses, programs or faculties.

In this unit we will look at the components of a strategic plan and the steps in the strategic planning process. There are many different approaches to strategic planning but most have some common characteristics. What we will show you is a fairly generic approach to strategic planning which you will be able to use to develop a strategic plan for e-learning for your own institution.

Learning Outcomes

After completing this unit you should be able to:

  1. Assess the benefits and limitations of strategic planning at an institutional level.
  2. Develop a vision for your own institution’s use of e-learning.

Guiding Questions

Use the following questions to guide your thinking as you study this unit:

  1. Is your institution organized in a way that is ‘fit-for-purpose’, with regard to e-learning? If not, what needs fixing?
  2. Using the goals on pp. 53-54 of Bates & Sangrà (at the beginning of Chapter 3, the subhead is: Strategic Goals for Information and Communications Technologies) and the criteria on pp. 71-74 (at the end of Chapter 3 before the conclusion, the subhead is: Criteria for Assessing the Success or Otherwise of Technlogy Integration), identify the main topics that would need to be covered in any strategic plan for technology-based learning for an academic department in your institution?
  3. What do you see to be the strengths and weaknesses of a strategic planning approach within your own context? Is it likely to work? If not, why not?

Unit Schedule

Try to work to the following schedule:

Week 8

  • Section 4.1
  • Unit 4 Discussion

Week 9

  • Sections 4.2, 4.3
  • Unit 4 Discussion