Megaproviders of e-learning in Europe

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Megaproviders of e-learning in Europe Edited by Morten Flate Paulsen



Megaproviders of e-learning in Europe Edited by Morten Flate Paulsen

Megaproviders of e-learning in Europe

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Š Megatrends Project 2007 1st edition. Publisher: NKI Publishing House, Hans Burumsvei 30, N-1357 Bekkestua, Norway P.O. Box 111, N-1319 Bekkestua, Norway Telephone: +47 67 58 88 00/ +47 67 58 89 00 Fax: +47 67 58 19 02 E-mail: fapost@nki.no Homepage: www.nkiforlaget.no Project Homepage: www.nettskolen.com/in_english/megatrends/ Copyright Š Megatrends Project 2007. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission. This publication was produced with funding from the Leonardo da Vinci programme of the European Commission. The sole responsibility for the content of this report lies with the authors. The Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained therein. ISBN 978 82 562 68184

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Megaproviders of e-learning in Europe


Table of contents Foreword .................................................................................................................................... 4 Introduction ................................................................................................................................ 5 The research ........................................................................................................................... 5 How the megaproviders were identified ................................................................................ 6 Criteria for nominations ......................................................................................................... 6 The megaproviders................................................................................................................. 7 Institutions that were not included ....................................................................................... 11 Distance education institutions................................................................................................. 13 NKI Distance Education....................................................................................................... 15 NKS...................................................................................................................................... 22 Dennis Gabor College .......................................................................................................... 28 Open Universiteit Nederland (OUNL) ................................................................................. 34 The Open University of the United Kingdom...................................................................... 41 Universitat Oberta de Catalunya .......................................................................................... 49 UNED - Universidad Nacional de Educaión a Distancia..................................................... 56 Universidade Aberta............................................................................................................. 62 Universities, Colleges and Consortia ....................................................................................... 69 Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria ....................................................................... 71 Universidad Politécnica de Madrid-GATE (Gabinete de Tele-Educación)......................... 78 The University of Leicester.................................................................................................. 84 The University of Ulster....................................................................................................... 91 Manchester Metropolitan University ................................................................................... 99 Staffordshire University ..................................................................................................... 104 Sør-Trøndelag University College ..................................................................................... 113 University of Tartu ............................................................................................................. 119 BI Norwegian School of Management, Distance Education Centre .................................. 124 Scuola IaD, University of Rome Tor Vergata.................................................................... 130 Bavarian Virtual University (BVU) ................................................................................... 135 Oncampus........................................................................................................................... 146 The Virtual Campus of the University of Liège................................................................. 152 Corporate training providers .................................................................................................. 165 Learn Direct........................................................................................................................ 166 CrossKnowledge ................................................................................................................ 174 EDHEC Business School Lille-Nice.................................................................................. 185 ÉLOGOS ............................................................................................................................ 192 Hungarian Telecom ............................................................................................................ 198 Concluding remarks ............................................................................................................... 204 About the authors ................................................................................................................... 206

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Foreword This is one of four books published as a result of the Leonardo da Vinci project “Megatrends in e-learning provision”. The first book, The Provision of e-learning in the European Union (ISBN 978 82 562 68177) presents data gathered from Norway and the 25 members of the European Union as an introductory overview of the provision of e-learning in Europe. The second book, Megaproviders of e-learning in Europe (ISBN 978 82 562 88184), includes 26 case study articles of European megaproviders of e-learning. The third book, E-learning initiatives that did not reach targeted goals (ISBN 978 82 562 68276), provides case study articles and analyses of nine prestigious European e-learning initiatives that did not reach their targeted goals. The fourth book, Analyses of European megaproviders of e-learning (ISBN 978 82 562 68191), presents important success factors identified by the in-depth analyses of both the megaproviders and the discontinued initiatives identified in the project. All four books, a comprehensive bibliography and a set of recommendations can be downloaded free of charge from the project’s web-site at: www.nettskolen.com/in_english/megatrends The partners in the ‘Megatrends in e-learning provision’ project are: • • • • • • •

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NKI Fjernundervisning (NKI Distance Education), Bekkestua, Norway Distance Education International, Dublin, Ireland Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (The Open University of Catalonia), Barcelona, Spain Eesti Infotehnoloogia Sihtasutus, (Estonian Information Technology Foundation), Tallinn, Estonia Norgesuniversitetet (Norwegian Opening Universities), Tromsø, Norway European Distance and E-Learning Network, Milton Keynes, UK Budapesti Műszaki és Gazdaságtudományi Egyetem (Budapest University of Technology and Economics), Budapest, Hungary

Megaproviders of e-learning in Europe


Introduction This book is a product of the Leonardo da Vinci project “Megatrends in e-learning provision.� The objective of the project was firstly, to identify the megaproviders of e-learning in the European Union, that is to identify e-learning systems which have achieved robustness, sustainability and critical mass to such an extent that one can confidently assert that they are lasting providers of e-learning in Europe that will not likely go away. The second objective was to carry out case studies of the successful institutions to identify how and for what reasons they had successfully matured as e-learning providers and had passed the stage of being a project and had achieved maturity today. The third objective was to write up the project’s findings on the megatrends and the megaproviders for the benefit of the European Commission and for the benefit of e-learning institutions and practitioners in Europe.

The research The project set out to identify the European megaproviders of e-learning using strict criteria for qualification. The outcome was that 26 institutions were identified as megaproviders, and in-depth interviews and case study articles were written for these institutions. The project then analyzed the 26 megaproviders on the causes of their robustness, sustainability and achievement of critical mass. The search for success criteria started with the success factors presented in the book: Online education and Learning Management Systems (www.studymentor.com). The hypothesis of the Megatrends project is that it is possible to detect specific conditions that increase the possibility of success and sustainability of e-learning programmes. Sustainability is defined as programmes being offered on a continuous basis and not phased out after a defined project period or after specific subsidies are terminated. The work undertaken within the partnership in the project application hence suggested the first important factors for robustness and sustainability. These factors were discussed and refined at the Megatrends project partner meeting in Barcelona, April 19 2006, and finalized at the project partner meeting in Budapest, September 26 2006, according to the experiences with the first case studies. The 26 case study articles and a first analysis of them are presented in this book. The results of the in-dept analyses are published in a separate book for the benefit of e-learning institutions and other providers throughout Europe.

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How the megaproviders were identified The megaproviders were primarily identified through: • • • •

European networks for e-learning The researchers’ personal networks The development of country reports A nomination form at the project’s website

The three important European networks for e- learning, EDEN (www.eden-online.org), EADTU (www.eadtu.nl), and EADL (www.eadl.org) were all approached. Requests for nomination were distributed to the EDEN members through the EDEN Newsflash in November 2005 and as an EDEN Request in September 2006. The participants at the EDEN conferences in Helsinki (2005), Castelldefels (2006) and Naples (2007) were also invited to nominate potential megaproviders. An invitation to submit nomination was e-mailed to the EADTU secretariat and the preliminary project results were presented at the EADTU annual conference in Tallinn (2006). A request for nominations was also distributed via the EADTU newsletter in the autumn of 2006. Further, a number of individual experts on online education were asked to suggest potential megaproviders. The experts were identified and chosen based on the researchers’ personal networks developed through many years of work with online education. The country reports developed by the partners are available in the book “The provision of elearning in the European Union”. The reports were primarily based on available documentation, contacts with ministries of education, official e-learning officers and leading e-learning experts in Norway and the 25 members of the European Union. The nomination form that was available at the project’s website was used to nominate several of the identified megaproviders as well as the six institutions listed in Table 3. This is an open project. The researchers look for and welcome clarification, correction or additional data. All the findings of the project have been published unpassworded on the project website from the start at www.nettskolen.com/in_english/megatrends/the_project.html with an invitation for readers throughout the world to contribute with corrections, precisions or commentaries. Many have already done so and their contributions have been included in the findings of the project. The results of the project thus far have also been distributed to the 850 members of the European distance and e-learning Network (EDEN), the leading grouping of European experts and stakeholders in e-learning, representing 350 institutions and 50 countries, with an invitation to provide correction or additional data. With the publication of this book we repeat this invitation. If you know of any mistakes in the research, omissions in the data, or valuable commentary that should be added to the report, please send it to the Megatrends Project at morten-flate.paulsen@nki.no.

Criteria for nominations The project has identified, surveyed and analyzed 26 European megaproviders of e-learning. The criteria for qualification were:

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• • •

It concentrates on e-learning situations with more than 5000 course enrolments per year or more than 100 courses on offer at any one time. It does not include corporate e-learning from a base outside Europe. It focuses on distance education and does not include the use of e-learning for oncampus students. At least 51% of a program must be online to qualify.

The last criterion was controversial and difficult to administer, because institutions and governments do not gather statistics that reflect the required data. It was included for two reasons: • •

Firstly, this is a distance education research project. Some of the project group (Rekkedal, Paulsen, Keegan for instance) have worked extensively in distance education and have made major contributions to the literature of distance education. Secondly, it made the project possible. If this criterion were not included the project would be impossible as there would probably be hundreds of institutions qualifying and the dimensions would be unmanageable.

The megaproviders This book comprises 26 case studies of European megaproviders of online education. Among them, there are 8 case studies characterized as distance education institutions, 13 as universities, colleges and consortia, and 5 as corporate training providers. Most of the case studies are based on interviews with at least two individual representatives from the institutions.

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Table 1. Institutions sorted number of course enrolments Rank

Institution name

For short

Country

Elearning since

Years with elearning

Category*

Public or Private

1

Learn Direct

Learn Direct

UK

1999

8

C

Public

2

CrossKnowledge

CK

France

2000

7

C

Private

3

UNED

UNED

Spain

2000

7

D

Public

4

Universitat Oberta de Catalunya

UOC

1995

12

D

Public

5

Open Universiteit Nederland

OUNL

1987

20

D

Public

6

ÉLOGOS

ÉLOGOS

7

Virtuelle Hochschule Bayern

BVU

8

University of Liège

Liège

9

Manchester Metropolitan University

MMU

10

Universidad Politécnica de Madrid

UPM

11

Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

ULPGC

12

NKI

NKI

13

Staffordshire University

Staffordshire

14

The Open University

OUUK

15

Oncampus, Fachhochschule Lübeck

Oncampus

16

BI

BI

17

Hungarian Telecom

T-Com

18

The University of Leicester

Leicester

19

Scuola IaD, Università di Roma Tor Vergata

ScuolaIaD

Spain Netherlands Spain Germany Belgium

2000

7

C

Private

2000

7

U

Public

2000

7

U

Public

1995

12

U

Public

2000

7

U

Public

2002

5

U

Public

1985

22

D

Private

1997

10

U

Public

1988

19

D

Public

1997

10

U

Public

Norway

1990

17

U

Private

Hungary

1996

11

C

Private

2000

7

U

Public

1998

9

U

Public

UK Spain Spain Norway UK UK Germany

UK Italy

20

University of Tartu

Tartu

Estonia

1995

12

U

Public

21

Dennis Gabor College

GDF

Hungary

2004

3

D

Private

22

EDHEC Business School

EDHEC

2000

7

C

Private

23

Sør-trøndelag University College

HiST

1986

21

U

Public

24

NKS

NKS

Norway

1987

20

D

Private

25

Universidade Aberta

Aberta

Portugal

2001

6

D

Public

26

The University of Ulster

Ulster

1997

10

U

Public

France Norway

UK

* D= Distance education institution, U=University, college, or consortium, C= Corporate training provider

Table 1 shows that the book includes case studies from eleven European countries. It is interesting to observe that there are six institutions from the UK, five from Spain, and four from Norway. The dominance of institutions from these countries may indicate that these

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countries provide good conditions for megaproviders to prevail. It may also indicate that the researchers have especially good knowledge of, and connections to, these countries. The institutions have experience with e-learning ranging from 3 years (Dennis Gabor College) to more than 20 years (NKI and Sør-trøndelag University College). Five institutions started elearning in the eighties, ten in the nineties and eleven after the turn of the century. One may argue that it is too early for Dennis Gabor College and Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria to claim that they provide sustainable online educations since the institutions only have provided e-learning for three and five years. Table 1 further shows that there are 18 public institutions (12 universities, colleges or consortia, 5 distance education institutions and 1 corporate training providers) and 8 private institutions (1 university, 3 distance education institutions and 4 corporate training providers). It is also interesting to observe that among the six top ranked institutions there are none universities, only corporate training providers and distance education institutions. Table 2 shows that 3 providers (Learn Direct, CrossKnowledge and UNED) claim that they had more than 100000 course enrolments in 2005. Only 6 of the 26 claim that they had more than 20000 course enrolments. There are 6 providers with less than 5000 course enrolments and qualify as megaproviders only since they have more than 100 online courses. The number of online courses range from 1000 (The University of Leicester and Manchester Metropolitan University) to 54 (BI). There are 3 providers with less than 100 online course enrolments and qualify as megaproviders only since they have more than 5000 course enrolments. Table 2 also shows that the number of enrolments per course range from 833 to 5. This is an interesting number to study in more detail for example related to cost effectiveness.

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Hungarian Telecom The University of Leicester Scuola IaD, Università di Roma Tor Vergata University of Tartu Dennis Gabor College EDHEC Business School Sør-trøndelag University College NKS Universidade Aberta The University of Ulster

17 18

Norway Portugal UK

Norway

Estonia Hungary France

Italy

Hungary UK

Norway

Germany

Norway UK UK

Spain

Spain

UK

UK France Spain Spain Netherlands Spain Germany Belgium

Country

www.nks.no www.univ-ab.pt campusone.ulster.ac.uk

www.hist.no

www.ut.ee www.gdf.hu www.edhec.com

www.scuolaiad.it

www.magyartelekom.hu www.le.ac.uk

nettstudier.bi.no

www.oncampus.de

www.nki.no www.staffs.ac.uk www.open.ac.uk

2200 * 1400 1300

2500

5000 4860 * 4157

5000

>8000 7000

8500

9386

12217 12000 11000

12237

14000

www.upm.es www.gate.upm.es www.ulpgc.es

15000

Course enrolments 400000 250000 100000 94000 44432 22700 20000 * 20000

www.mmu.ac.uk

www.learndirect.co.uk www.crossknowledge.com www.uned.es www.uoc.edu www.ou.nl www.elogos.es www.vhb.org www.ulg.ac.be/foreign

URL

104 60 222

148

135 76 903

120

150 1000

54

119

470 350 375

450

110

1000

Online courses 500 300 500 950 270 605 150 130

10

Megaproviders of e-learning in Europe

21 23 6

17

37 64 5

42

53 7

157

79

26 34 29

27

127

15

Enrolments per course 800 833 200 99 165 37 133 154

* The number represents student enrolments, not course enrolments. The number of course enrolments may be higher.

24 25 26

23

20 21 22

19

BI

Learn Direct CrossKnowledge UNED Universitat Oberta de Catalunya Open Universiteit Nederland ÉLOGOS Virtuelle Hochschule Bayern University of Liège Manchester Metropolitan University Universidad Politécnica de Madrid Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria NKI Staffordshire University The Open University Oncampus, Fachhochschule Lübeck

Institution name

16

15

12 13 14

11

10

9

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Rank

Table 2. Institutions ranked by number of course enrolments in 2005

16 full-time, 60 part-time 464 in 2006, 36 % were teaching staff 4024

3362 60 294 580 (academic staff 380)

65 full-time, 400 part-time 2000 4000 35 full-time, plus administrators and about 150 authors and lecturers at the universities 17 full-time, around 50 part-time teacher from academic staff 20-40 teachers teaching online 2000 1400 teaching staff approx. in the university

1554 teaching staff, 761 admin

465 full-time, 19 part-time 120 About 8000 lecturers and tutors 500 full time, 1700 part-time 585 full-time, about 115 part-time More than 250 12 full-time, one part-time 4000 2688 full-time, 813 part-time, 850 part-time lecturers 20

Number of employees


Institutions that are included, but may not qualify according to the definitions The partners have included case studies of a few interesting institutions which may not qualify as megaproviders according to the strict definitions set out by the partner. The cases are however included as interesting case studies that we all can learn from. These institutions are: • • • •

Universidade Aberta Manchester Metropolitan University Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED) Dennis Gabor College

Universdade Aberta has less than 5000 course enrolments and less than 100 courses and therefore it does not qualify as a megaprovider. It is however a major provider of distance education in Portugal, and according to the information provided by the Pro-rector for Innovation in Distance Learning, Universdade Aberta will become a megaprovider of elearning in the near future. The Megatrends in e-learning provision project's criterion that students enrolled should be distance education students has proved difficult to administer, because many institutions do not usually collect such statistics. The partnership is not confident that the statistics given for Manchester Metropolitan University is accurate, since the distance education students, either from the United Kingdom or from overseas, may be somewhat less than indicated. The figures for UNED are somewhat complicated and we can not really have a clear insight in how much of the virtual offer is taken on and how compulsory it is (in spite of them saying that all compulsory courses are now online). We do not know how much of the online courses are mirrored in conventional distance education scenarios. Dennis Gabor College has only provided e-learning since 2004 and one could argue that this is not long enough to prove that it provides robust and sustainable e-learning.

Institutions that were not included Initially, the project partners expected that the EADTU - European Association of Distance Teaching Universities was the most likely association to contact in order to find European megaproviders. It turned out that several of the megaproviders are members of EADTU, but it is also worthwhile to notice that several prominent EADTU members do not seem to qualify as megaproviders. This seems to be the case for: • • •

Centre National d'Enseignement à Distance (CNED) in France FernUniversität in Hagen, Germany Network per l'Universita Ovunque (Nettuno / UniNettuno) in Italy

Further, as shown in Table 3, the project received several interesting nominations which the partners followed up to determine whether they qualified as megaproviders. However, the

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partners were not able to reveal enough information about or establish the necessary contacts with, these institutions to include them in the study. However, the institutions may be interesting cases for further studies. Table 3. Institutions that were nominated, but not confirmed to be megaproviders

Institution name

Number of course enrolments in 2005

Number of online courses

Average number of enrolments per course

Country

URL

bit media e-learning solution

Austria

www.bitmedia.cc This data is a collection of the e-learning portals powered and operated by bit media www.lernportal.at www.bildung.at www.sbx.at

32000

126

254

University of Hradec Kralove

Czech Republic

www.uhk.cz

10000

150

67

Lund University

Sweden

www.lu.se

10000

100

100

CEPADE (Centro de Estudios de Postgrado de Administraci贸n de Empresas)

Spain

www.cepade.es

6000

250

24

Universitat de Barcelona Virtual (Universitat de Barcelona)

Spain

www.ubvirtual.com

21890 students

318

Riga Technical University, Distance Education Study Centre

Latvia

www.internet-uni.lv

5830

279

21

The partners also received information from several sources indicating that the two private distance education providers Leidse onderwijsinstellingen (www.loi.nl) in the Netherlands and Markkinointi (www.markinst.fi) in Finland should be on the list of megaproviders. The institutions did however firmly declined request to provide information to the researchers. So, one may speculate whether these private institutions consider this information as confidential information which they will not make available for their competitors.

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Distance education institutions Eight of the 26 institutions are categorized as distance education institutions. They have all been established for the purpose of providing distance education. The two Norwegian providers, NKI Distance Education and NKS and the Hungarian Dennis Gabor College are private institutions, the remaining five are public institutions.

Private institutions NKI Distance Education (NKI Fjernundervisning) provides courses and study programmes at higher education level, upper secondary level and within the vocational training field. The survey shows that NKI initiated its e-learning activities around 1985, which is earlier than all the other megaproviders. At the end of 2005, about 50 percent of NKI’s students were online students, the other 50 percent were correspondence students. The analysis shows that NKI can handle all correspondence courses as well as 450 online courses and 12237 enrolments in online courses with 65 full-time and 400 part-time employees. NKS is a provider of distance education that started as a correspondence school in 1914. Around 1987/1988, NKS launched a project using the computer conferencing system Portacom for e-learning at a distance. The institution handles correspondence students as well as 104 online courses and 2200 enrolments in online courses with 16 full-time and 60 parttime employees. The Dennis Gabor College is a private school founded in 1992 and one of the oldest institutions in the field of distance education in Hungary. It provides BSc and higher level vocational education. As many other institutions that provide education online, the roots of the college also reach back to paper-based distance education, distributed by surface mail. It has only provided e-learning since 2004 and is therefore the institution with the shortest time of experience among the megaproviders.

Public institutions Open Universiteit Nederland, founded in 1984, is the youngest university in the Netherlands. It is an independent government funded institution for distance learning at university level. The institution offers 270 online courses and reported 44432 enrolments in online courses. The institution has 585 full-time and about 115 part-time employees. The OUUK was established in 1969 to deliver high quality distance education to students and developed its supported open learning model (involving local tutors, feedback on assignments, centrally produced course materials). The OU is the UK's largest university, teaching 35% of all part-time undergraduate students in the UK each year. Nearly 21 000 OU students study outside the UK. The institution reports that it has 4000 employees and 375 Megaproviders of e-learning in Europe

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online courses. With 11000 enrolments in online courses, it is worth while to notice that it ranks only as number 14 of the European megaproviders. The Catalan government created Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) as an open virtual university in 1995. It is reported to have 500 permanent staff and 1700 part-time counsellors and tutors. It offers 950 online courses and reports 94 000 enrolments in online courses. The UNED is currently Spain's largest university with almost 180 000 students and about 8000 lecturers and tutors. Starting its activity in the early seventies in the field of traditional distance education, the UNED has experienced a spectacular growth in geographical presence and student numbers. The figures led to an increasing use of ICT and consequently to the installation of a virtual campus in 2000. It reported to have 500 online courses and 100 000 enrolments in online courses. Universidade Aberta was founded in Portugal in 1988 and started its activities as a distance education university using traditional technology like video, audio and print material in the year 1989/1990. The increasing number of students led to the first virtualization of the course offer in 2001. In 2006 Universidade Aberta provided more than 60 fully virtual courses to a total number of about 1400 students, but with these numbers it does not qualify as a megaprovider. It is however a major provider of distance education in Portugal, and according to the information provided by the Pro-rector for Innovation in Distance Learning, Universdade Aberta will become a megaprovider of e-learning in the near future.

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NKI Distance Education By Per Arneberg Name of institution URL of institution Country Number of employees Levels in the educational systems Number of course enrolments in 2005 Number of online courses in 2005 Persons interviewed

NKI Distance Education (a part of NKI AS) www.nki.no Norway 65 full-time, 400 part-time Tertiary, secondary and vocational training 12217 470 Morten Flate Paulsen, Professor of Online Education, Director of Development Torstein Rekkedal, Professor of Distance Education, Director of R & D

Introduction The NKI group is a nongovernmental education institution located in Norway and comprises NKI Distance Education (NKI DE), the Norwegian School of Information Technology (NITH) and the NKI Publishing House. The NKI group as a whole operates on a non-profit basis. Financial surplus is kept within the organisation for future development. NKI DE is recognised by the Ministry of Education and receives government grants covering less than 10% of operating costs. Consequently, NKI DE is largely dependent on student fees for its operations. This interview focuses on NKI Distance Education (NKI DE). NKI DE provides courses and study programmes at higher education level, upper secondary level and within the vocational

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training field. In 2005, 470 courses were offered and the number of course enrolments was 12 217. Generally, NKI DE does not employ full-time academic staff for tutoring. Rather, courses are based on part-time employment of tutors and subject experts from other education institutions, research institutions, public administration, business and industry. Therefore, the number of part-time employees (400) is rather high compared with the number of full-time employees (65). Full-time employees are for the most part administrative personnel and academic staff involved in development and research on various aspects of distance education. Thus, at NKI DE competence in the subjects being taught are bought from academics and scholars based at other institutions, whereas competence developed in-house is focused on the development, marketing, operation, research and quality assurance of distance education, i.e. how to be an efficient provider of high quality distance education. The research and development focus on distance education at NKI DE is broad and includes pedagogical, administrative and technical issues.

Contextual factors concerning online education in Norway Norway has a total population of 4.6 million with a common language. Thus the target group is mainly the Norwegian adult population. NKI reports to have online students in around 35 countries, mainly Norwegians living abroad. Efforts to market courses in English internationally or courses in Norwegian to the other Scandinavian countries (Denmark and Sweden with languages close to Norwegian) have so far not been successful. Penetration of technology for online learning is high. Over 50 percent of people in the main age target group have broadband Internet access at home, 75 percent of homes have PCs, 60 percent have Internet access, and nearly 60 percent of the population use a PC on a daily basis. It is assumed that because of the relatively high level of computer literacy in the population, and not least, governmental support for distance education in general over many decades and for online learning the last 15 years, both through legislation and financial support to students and institutions, market acceptance for online learning is high compared to most other European countries.

History NKI was established in Norway in 1959. To begin with, and before any online technology was available, distance education was delivered through traditional correspondence courses. Correspondence courses are still important, but a gradual development that started around 1985 has made online delivery increasingly more important. During the last years the number of correspondence students has declined steadily while the number of online students has increased (with total number of students being fairly constant, figure 1). In 2006 online students outnumbered correspondence students for the first time. In the future, NKI DE expects to stop providing correspondence courses and base all its activity on online teaching. The technical system for administration and delivery of online education at NKI DE has to a large extent been developed by NKI DE itself. This has been possible because of a close cooperation with NITH. As described above, NITH is another branch of the NKI group. The institution offers Bachelor and Master courses and degrees within information technology, and unlike at NKI DE, academic staff is employed in full time positions. Thus, high competence in information technology is available in-house.

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This also allowed NKI DE to start with online education early, already around 1985, when internet connection through simple modems became available. In addition, having its own systems has made it possible to let the systems undergo a gradual evolution, because improvements have been based on changing existing systems rather than introducing entirely new ones. This is different from a situation one might have had if systems were bought from commercial developers, in which case one might have to replace systems if a desired improvement could not be provided by the manufacturer.

Figure 1. Monthly variation in active NKI students

Another factor that has characterised the development of distance education at NKI DE, is that courses and other activities have been subject to thorough evaluation since the start in 1959. More thorough research has also been carried out since the NKI DE Research and Development Department was established in the early 70’ies. During the last two decades the research has mainly focused on online education. This appears to have been important for the build up of high competence in how to organise and deliver online education.

Technical issues Courses are generally based on widely used technologies that can be taken into use by students without requiring them to buy additional hardware or software. In principle, NKI DE has a potential for using fairly advanced technology, but has chosen not do so because one wants their courses to be broadly available. For example, materials based on complicated multimedia may exclude students with old computers unable to run them. Rather, the high competence in information technology at NKI is used to develop and integrate different systems. NKI has a number of self-developed and commercial applications that together make up a system for student support services and administration (figure 2). Integration of the systems is important for the total functionality, efficiency, and quality of student support services.

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A central component is the system for administering students, STAS. This has been developed at NKI DE over many years to satisfy a number of needs, including registration of assignments, monitoring student progression, distributing new learning materials and paying tutors. STAS is NKI DE’s master system and it is integrated with all other essential systems such as accounting, logistic, prospective and partner systems. STAS was initially developed for correspondence courses and bar code registration of assignments. Initially it was not suited for serving online students, as there were no connections between the Internet systems and the administrative systems. It was necessary to develop STAS further to handle online students efficiently. The integrated development of STAS and the LMS system for online learning, SESAM (Scalable Educational System for Administration and Maintenance), also self-developed, is taking place continuously. Both systems are designed to handle continuous student enrolments.

Figure 2. NKI’s integrated systems for online student support

Agresso (www.agresso.com) is a commercial accounting system that handles tuition fees, invoices, wages, etc. SYSA is a system for presentation of information about local partners that organize face-to-face classes as support for NKI DE’s courses. Onyx and Multi-Case are commercial purchased systems. Onyx handles marketing activities and requests from prospective students, while Multi-Case is a commercial logistics system for administration and shipments of textbooks and miscellaneous physical learning materials. When course enrolments are registered in STAS, Multi-Case automatically initiates shipment of the corresponding physical course materials. FEB is a self-developed business portal where all courses and programmes offered by NKI are presented. Prospective students may register or

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apply to courses directly via FEB. In addition to course information, FEB also includes a comprehensive database of articles with news, frequently asked questions, and more general information on distance and online education.

Courses The courses provided by NKI DE covers a range of subjects. For example, among the ten most sold courses, one finds interior design, psychology (a one year unit) and accounting. The courses can be classified into three categories, higher education (mainly introductory 1st year courses), upper secondary level and vocational training. Because academic competence in the subjects being taught are not kept in-house but bought from academics at other institutions, NKI DE can be more flexible in choice of subjects than traditional education institutions. Market considerations determine whether a course is developed or not. Courses may be 100% online or based on blended learning. Because blended learning makes courses more expensive for students (because they have to travel and also pay for face-to-face classes), it requires more from a market to develop such courses. Consequently, there is a tendency for developing courses within subjects that can be fitted easily to an online format. Still, a considerable number of the courses are based on blended learning. Most courses have flexible start-up and progression. As a part of this model, students are asked to make a plan for study progress. Students register their plan in a standardised format in the LMS. The LMS automatically gives teachers information on the progress of each student, and they can thus use this to stimulate progress if it fails. Courses must be finished within 2 years of start up. Courses based on blended learning typically have fixed progression. Teaching is largely based on asynchronous communication. Because progression is flexible, synchronous communication between students would be hard to arrange. Therefore, video and telephone conferences are not used. Chat is available in some courses for communication between students, but participation in this is strictly voluntary.

Management, strategy and attitudes The management of NKI DE is clearly supportive towards online education. Although parts of the organisation can be described as still living in the era of correspondence teaching, the leadership has clearly stated that the future of NKI DE will be based on online teaching. This is also stated in the strategy of NKI DE for the years 2005-2007. NKI DE has developed the following philosophy for online students: NKI DE shall provide opportunities for students to reach their learning goals through optimal individual flexibility in a community of learners where students are resources for each other without being dependent on each other. Employees are generally loyal to the strategy and decisions taken by the leadership, also those employees with strong ties to the fading correspondence model. This is different from an ordinary university or college, where academic staff members typically have a high degree of autonomy and where resistance to change is often strong. Quality assurance is followed up through a handbook where routines for this are described. In addition, a part of the integrated computer systems registers the time from a student submits an assignment till it is returned with comments from the teacher. If this response time gets

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long, students easily get dissatisfied. Keeping turn-around time for assignments short is therefore important. To stimulate teachers to handle assignments quickly, the system gives continuous information on his/her response time, how it has developed recently and how he/she is doing compared with other teachers. NKI DE also performs regular evaluation surveys among students based on web questionnaires connected with the course materials. About 10% of the students take part in these surveys. At NKI DE, staff members typically have highly specialised tasks, meaning that there is a clear division of labour. With a high number of courses, this is viewed by the organisation as a key factor for success as megaprovider. Teachers are paid for the number of student assignments they receive. Workload per student can therefore be predicted, because number of assignments is given from the study plan. If the number of students increases significantly in a course, additional teachers can normally be hired easily to deal with the increased workload. Consequently, teachers generally feel that they have both predictable and manageable workloads. Teachers are not paid to participate in discussion group, because this may generate unpredictable costs and work loads for the institution. NKI DE collaborates with a number of institutions. For example, most courses within higher education are formally offered in collaboration with a university or college which is academically responsible. Here NKI DE is responsible for and runs everything related to distance education itself, whereas the curricula are developed at the cooperating institution that also arranges exams. In addition, NKI DE cooperates with providers of education outside higher education, in particular concerning the arrangement of local face-to-face classes or seminars in courses based on blended learning. The institution describes its credibility with government and public administration as satisfactory. The interviewed person underlines that it is especially important for a nongovernmental institution to answer correctly to legislations and public regulations. Otherwise one might easily get a negative reputation.

Economy Around 95 percent of the revenue of NKI DE comes from student fees. This means that the institution has to be run with a high degree of cost-efficiency. It is therefore important to develop courses with a high potential for income. In addition, the fact that teachers are paid per student rather than per course means that expenses to a large extent are balanced against incomes. With continuous intake, changes in the market may also be detected early, allowing swift adjustments in activities. This ability of the NKI DE to adapt to a changing market (which is possible because of flexible employment) is seen as vital for the institution’s ability to survive as a megaprovider. A main challenge to the economy is public regulations. For example, vocational training programmes are now required to be approved by public authorities. This process may take up to two years per programme and drains considerable resources from NKI DE.

Conclusions These factors are seen as vital for NKI DE’s success and survival as a megaprovider of online education:

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• • • •

Flexible employment which makes it possible to adapt to a changing market – NKI DE is not tied to providing courses within specific subjects, because academic competence is not kept in house but is bought on an open and flexible market from academics elsewhere Flexible employment which balances expenses with incomes – teachers are paid per student rather than per course or hour to ensure this Highly specialised staff for different functions within the organisation – this contributes to cost effectiveness A large number of courses/programmes – gives stability over time as market interest changes between course and programme areas Highly integrated computer systems that provides effective workflow of and easy access to information

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NKS By Per Arneberg Name of institution URL of institution Country Number of employees Levels in the educational systems Number of course enrolments in 2005 Number of online courses in 2005 Interviewed persons

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NKS Distance Education www.nks.no Norway 16 full-time, 60 part-time Tertiary and secondary 2200 104 Dagny Blom, Director and rector Atle Schaatun, Development leader of distance education Anders Nome, Leader of pedagogy in distance education

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Introduction NKS Distance Education (NKS) is a non-profit private educational institution, accredited by the Norwegian Government. NKS offers courses at secondary and tertiary level to adults. The courses are aimed at the continuing and further education market, and to some extent also at students seeking an ordinary (basic) education and. NKS is a single mode distance education provider. It was founded in 1914 and is the oldest distance education institution in Norway.

Contextual factors concerning online education in Norway Norway has a total population of 4.6 million with a common language. The target group for NKS is mainly the Norwegian adult population. Penetration of technology for online learning is high. Over 50 percent of the people in the main age target group have broadband Internet access at home, 75 percent of the homes have PCs, 60 percent have Internet access and nearly 60 percent of the population use a PC on a daily basis. It is assumed that because of the relatively high level of computer literacy in the population, and not least, governmental support for distance education in general over many decades and for online learning the last 15 years, both through legislation and financial support to students and institutions, market acceptance for online learning is high compared to most other European countries.

History Since the foundation in 1914, NKS was, obviously, based on correspondence teaching for several decades. However, NKS has been in the forefront of using new technologies. For example, a few years after television broadcasting started in Norway, NKS started to produce education programs in cooperation with the Norwegian National Broadcasting (NRK). In the eighties, NKS participated in a consortium with several other stakeholders in the field, such as NKI and the national telecommunication company. Here the aim was to run test projects with different technologies, such as satellite communication. The consortium was terminated around 1990. Around 1987/1988 a project applying a predecessor of the Internet was launched. The system developed, called Portacom, was not applied broadly in the institution and can be viewed as a test project. Although considerable numbers of students used Portacom, teaching still relied largely on a first generation (correspondence) or second generation (radio and TV based distance education) model. Ordinary use of the Internet started around 1997/1998 when some of the courses were made available on the web. The first LMS, which NKS still uses, was introduced in 2000. This system is called “Luvit�, and NKS was one of the owners of the system (one of the other owners were The University of Lund in Sweden). With this, third generation distance education was established at NKS. Since then, the number of students in web based courses has increased steadily, and today numbers 3-4000 per year (6-8000 course enrolments). NKS still offers correspondence teaching. The number of correspondence students has decreased during the last years, and now numbers around 2000 students per year (around 4000 course enrolments).

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During the 80-ies and 90-ies, the total number of students decreased substantially at NKS. For example, in 1976 the institution had around 100 000 course enrolments. The high numbers were largely a result of cooperation with education organisations that organised face-to-face meetings in blended learning models. In addition, the government funded a large part of the course fees. The decline stopped after year 2000 and during the last few years number of students have been constant or increased slightly. The increases have been totally due to growth in number of online students. The long tradition in first generation distance education meant that e-learning (third generation distance education) could be implemented more easily than if the institution had been without this tradition. The same staff that ran correspondence teaching started to run web based courses. Because online and correspondence teaching share several basic features (in particular, they are both designed to stimulate and facilitate dialogue between student and tutor) it was not necessary to develop an entirely new online teaching pedagogy. Adapting existing (first generation) distance education pedagogy to an online environment was the only new issue for NKS. This had several positive effects. First, the transition was fairly easy for the staff and online teaching with high quality could be delivered very soon after Internet was taken into use. Second, existing competence in (first generation) distance education pedagogy made it easier for NKS to make the decision to switch to online teaching. In the early years of online education, several “prophets” meant that an entirely new pedagogy had to be developed for online teaching. If one believed this, one can easily imagine that an organisation could have been reluctant against moving to online teaching. Because NKS knew these “prophets” were not right (because of the existing strong distance education pedagogy), NKS was not influenced by their prophecies. In addition, a sober attitude to online teaching meant that NKS was neither hostile nor overenthusiastic towards the new technology, but had expectations that were more rooted in realities. Therefore, being able to build on strong competence in first generation distance teaching has been a key to success in e-learning based distance education.

Technical issues Competence in information and communication technology varies among different groups of staff. Each group has the competence needed to operate and utilise the systems they have at their disposal. For example, teachers and course developers have necessary competence in pedagogical systems, but they can not be considered leading experts of such systems. However, when it comes to connecting pedagogy with these systems, the competence must be considered high. NKS has an IT department with four persons which take care of system development and maintenance. Thus, in this department, general technical competence is high. NKS has developed its own student administrative system. Other systems are bought from commercial developers. The IT department works to make these systems operate together. How well are these various systems integrated? The answer depends on who you ask. For students, the systems are integrated well enough for them to experience smooth and seamless links between services offered by different systems. However, for the staff operating these services, the situation is different. Less than perfect integration, for example, means that functions located in one of the systems are not available through a common interface but must 24

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be operated through each system separately. This means that administrative routines are more resource consuming than they could have been if the systems were better integrated, and it means that NKS still has a way to go before they have perfect integration. Nevertheless, the interviewees believe that even this imperfect system has contributed to the success of NKS, because it, despite of the shortcomings, can handle large numbers of students and therefore contributes to cost effectiveness. From a student perspective courses are based almost exclusively on widely used technologies that can easily be used by students. Only very rarely are students required to buy additional software.

Courses In the courses, secondary and tertiary levels are covered in an approximately 50-50 ratio. Important subjects are management and administration, economy, media studies, journalism and various subjects in continuing education for teachers. However, an overriding principle is that subjects are chosen according to demands in the market. Through years of experience with distance education, NKS staff has learned that most subjects can be adapted to an online environment. In other words, most subjects are “onlineable”. Only major exceptions are subjects that require practical training. Thus, the degree of “onlineability” of a subject is generally not an issue when NKS considers whether courses should be developed within this subject. Rather, the most important issue is whether there is a market for a course. NKS has flexible start-up and progression to some extent. Students may start whenever they like, and study a course for as long as they want, but exams are arranged only twice a year. The most important form of communication is asynchronous communication between student and tutor. There are also possibilities for synchronous communication, but students show little interest in this. When synchronous (or near synchronous) communication has been tried out, for example through discussion forum and chat forum, students are often reluctant to participating. However, in some courses, such forum seems to get attention and participation from students.

Management, strategy and attitudes Because NKS is a single mode distance education, development of online education is what NKS focuses on and therefore what leadership builds strategies around. Strategies and plans are followed up loyally by all groups of staff. Thus, this differs from for example dual mode universities and university colleges, where they may be a schism between strategic goals of the institution to develop distance education and personal goals of individual academics to follow their own research careers. NKS does not have its own academic staff and must cooperate with other institutions or persons to get such staff. For higher education courses, a higher education institution has to be formally responsible. Thus, at this level, cooperation with an institution is necessary. On the secondary level, NKS can be formally responsible. Thus, here cooperation can be done with individuals. Cooperation is a key to success, because it allows NKS to be flexible in the courses it chooses to develop and thus makes it possible to follow demand in the market. The fact that teachers are signed in on projects also assures that they have positive attitudes towards teaching (unlike, again, what one might expect in ordinary universities and colleges).

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Teachers get a clear description of what their job is. Thus, they know what they have to do and therefore probably have manageable workloads too. In agreement with this, NKS generally does not experience any overload among tutors. They are paid per assignment students are supposed to submit. This payment should also cover all other communication with students, including participation in discussion groups. If such communication takes much more time than anticipated, teachers may be paid extra. Because almost all teaching is distance teaching, teachers can live basically anywhere. This makes it easier to recruit them, and therefore contributes to NKS’ ability to be flexible in choice of courses developed. NKS developed a system for quality monitoring of distance education fairly early. Around 1992, The Norwegian Association for Distance Education (NADE) developed a new system that NKS implemented. Focus on quality has been vital for NKS. Traditionally distance education has been an area of great interest from the government. As the first country in the world, Norway passed a law for distance education. Also, governmental funding was substantial for several decades and led to high recruitment to courses. Now this has declined, and today governmental money makes up only around 6% of the total revenue.

Economy Because government grants cover only a minute fraction of total costs, NKS operations has to be run with a high degree of cost effectiveness. Thus, cost effectiveness is vital for success and survival. Large numbers of students contribute to this. Although recruitment to single courses varies, overall level of recruitment is fairly stable over the years. After several years with severe decline in the 90-ies, recruitment has been stable for several years. Now, there is a small tendency of increase. However, to remain stable or increase, NKS must all the time try to understand what the market changes are and adapt to them. Because academic staff members are employed on project basis, staff costs can be controlled according to changes in the market. This is vital for cost effectiveness and survival, and is clearly a key to the success of NKS.

Other factors Good marketing is clearly vital for student recruitment and therefore success. NKS continuously work with marketing strategy, in particular searching for the optimal media to advertise in (which has changed substantially during recent years).

Conclusions These factors are seen as vital for the success and survival of NKS as a megaprovider of online education: •

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Long tradition and high competence in correspondence teaching facilitated establishment of e-learning based distance education because the two forms share several basic features.

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• • • •

Integrated (although not perfectly so) technical systems which allows NKS to handle large numbers of students effectively. Close monitoring of the market to identify courses that should be developed and terminated. Flexible employment of teachers which makes it possible to develop courses within a range of subjects (and thus act on market trends revealed) and control staff costs according to market changes. Good marketing to recruit large numbers of students.

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Dennis Gabor College By Ildiko Mazar Name of the institution URL of the institution Country Levels in the educational systems Number of employees Number of course enrolments in 2005 Number of online courses in 2005 Interviewed persons

Dennis Gabor College www.gdf.hu Hungary BSc and higher level vocational education 60 4860 76 Ms Anik贸 Balogh

History The Dennis Gabor College, a private school which financial management is based on commercial income, was founded in 1992. Therefore it is one of the oldest institutions in the field of distance education in Hungary. As many other institutions that provide education 28

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online, the roots of the Dennis Gabor College also reach back to paper-based distance education, distributed by mail correspondence. E-learning has been introduced to the DE practice of the college relatively recently (2004) to broaden the portfolio of the offerings. The transition is gradual; therefore the college staff has time to adapt to the new practices. The course designing activities of the teachers is assisted by technical professionals. The administrational tasks are carried out fluently, however somewhat more technical assistance in software and course development would improve the courses and help teachers’ work. The transition is a gradual, on-going process. The management intends to provide most of the courses electronically as well, while also keeping the original, paper-based versions. Note that the importance of online materials is continuously growing. The most sudden step in the progress was the introduction of the electronic administration system (ETR) and the learning management systems (LMS), called ILIAS. Every student and teacher has access to these integrated systems, but to what extent the users exploit their functions, is their free choice. To improve the quality of the e-learning courses and their delivery, the results of continuous internal evaluations (carried out within the institution by surveys, questionnaires and discussions at evaluation forums) are fed back into the operation. For the same reasons, the experiences of working with the electronic systems is introduced and discussed periodically at the ILIAS conferences – organised by the programme developers –, where the responsible staff of the College becomes up to date with advancements of the LMS, and can improve the system and its use based on what they learn at these conferences. The pedagogical experiences are shared at e-learning focused international conferences (such as the EDEN Annual Conferences), which also provide useful feedback for improvements.

Technical issues The academic staff still needs time to get used to the use of ICTs. At the moment, considerable reservation can still be observed. However, they are strongly encouraged to master these new competencies. If they need assistance, there is competent technical staff to answer questions and help with implementation of online courses. Tangible statistics (such as hours spent online in the LMS) prove that with time the teachers/tutors become more and more advanced and comfortable with the use of ICTs. Since the academic year 2006-2007, ILIAS is fully operational. The system comprises all courses and modules, including all electronically accessible materials, i.e. course descriptions and supporting documents, such as SCORM compatible e-learning modules, lecture ppt-s, self assessment tests and manuals. Most of the software programmes used in the College’s online education are widely used ones. In certain specific courses (such as “Basics of programming”) special software are introduced, but even in these cases instructions are given on how to download and install these programmes. In the case of large video files, where it is not the software itself but the speed of students’ Internet connection that may cause difficulties in viewing, the College provides a collection of these files on CDs for the students’ convenience. The administration system (ETR) is compatible with the LMS (ILIAS), however they are not single sign-on systems. Where necessary, the system administrator/project leader helps teachers transform data from one system to the other. Both systems have been translated into Hungarian, which ensures their accessibility for all students and staff. It is important to highlight the significant increase in the number of online users in the past 6-12 months, due to Megaproviders of e-learning in Europe

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the phenomenon that the LMS is working increasingly as a soft skills administrational and communicational platform as well, in addition to ETR. Both the administrative system and the LMS are very user-friendly. Their weakness originates from the human weakness of asking questions first, before reading instructions or the help menu. This, in case of so many users, means that considerable attention is required from the tutors and technical administrators, but it is not really a technical problem. The only real challenge is the technical motivation of the staff at the educational department, who is responsible for the administration. They are confident in the use of ETR, but they are not yet fully aware of the use of ILIAS which is gradually becoming more important as a platform for administrative questions. Therefore this should be attended by the educational department personnel too.

Courses The College’s main educational focus is informatics and economics. All of the courses are provided online, but they are also available through ordinary, paper-based DE materials. In principle, informatics and economics courses are equally well suitable for “onlineability”. The fortunate constellation of the nature of the courses provided and the DE background of the College enabled smooth transition of these courses from DE to online provision. The only minor obstacle in designing perfect content is the teachers’ relatively limited (but growing) IT competence. To overcome this handicap, there are SCORM and LRN compatible template sheets provided for the teachers with a definition of structural and formal elements of elearning documents, with respect to correct data linking, image and multimedia references. The online courses are partly flexible. Students start courses when the semester starts, but progress according to their own pace and finish as it suits them. The institution puts more focus on asynchronous than synchronous communication. The students have facilities to discuss amongst themselves in real-time as well, but only the asynchronous forum discussion are followed and moderated by the college staff. Regarding the latter, tutors have a 24 hours response obligation that keeps the forums active and lively.

Management, strategy and attitudes The long history of the institution can prove the success and sustainability of the college’s practice. The Dennis Gabor College is a credible, prestigious and rewarded institution. 15 years ago, at the beginning of its practice, the college gained a questionable reputation by mass-producing degrees, however by the last half decade it has gained back its credit and reputation. Handling such a large number of online courses and students is difficult but managed well. The project management is excellent, and pays very much attention to details. The administration system and its every-day use is becoming a natural instrument / practice in the institution’s life, and the management is trying to involve and motivate all of its staff from course administrators to teachers to the ICT professionals. The leadership is disciplinarily supportive and is actively promoting the use of ILIAS. Since the LMS has become so popular and increasingly used, the institution’s leadership has

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integrated the system into the everyday work schedule of the college and has drafted serious strategic changes that assign significant role to e-learning. As mentioned above, the teachers are quite resistant towards the use of ICTs, but have basic skills to properly facilitate the learning of their students. In the past two years, however, the changes in the staff’s attitude caused by the transition from DE to online education are noticeable and remarkable. All teachers are required to enrol in a course on the use of ILIAS and the basics of course design. They receive a DVD as well, where the video recorded during the course is available for future reference. The teachers’ online presence is also recorded (just like their students’). This allows the management to review the activities of the teaching staff and motivates teachers to remain active. The institution’s e-learning strategy has been agreed upon fairly recently (end of 2006), the printed document is brand new and is only available for internal use. What the greater public may know in general, is that the use of e-learning is considered to be a successful path in the future of the College, and that the top management will require its staff to actively use ICTs in their everyday teaching practice. The success of online education depends on quality in many respects. When selecting the LMS, for instance, the College set the following basic requirements: 1. Capability to deal with the school’s technical components; 2. Easy and efficient data exchange with the electronic administrational system (ETR); 3. Conformity with major international standards in field of e-learning (SCORM, LRN); 4. Easy content development tools; 5. High reliability for moderate price. To evaluate the success of the LMS before its official introduction, the examination success rate (carried out with the same conditions as those of the students participating in normal courses) is monitored and compared to the face-to-face rates annually. The overall success rate has constantly been increasing since the introduction of e-learning, and is now 87 %. The success rate of the traditional students is generally about 10 % higher. This difference could be explained with the dropping out of those online students, who cannot pay the tuition fees. The higher success rate amongst ordinary students can well be attributed to the financial governmental support that many of the face-to-face students can enjoy. An online students-feedback sheet, elaborated by an independent expert company, is also available in the LMS. The evaluation of students’ opinions is permanent. On the basis of students’ anonymous feedback, conclusions are drawn in respect to quality of content and quality of tutoring too. The survey results are fed back to operation immediately. It was found through internal evaluation exercises that even students enrolled in normal undergraduate courses often prefer electronic teaching objects to traditional documents. Compared to the old, traditional system, the online administration routines are considerably more effective, although somewhat more cooperation would be necessary between the different frameworks. The teacher workloads are, although uneven, both predictable and manageable, the only problem is that the staff is not very motivated to take special efforts in addition to their regular teaching practice. The other problem is that teachers are rewarded by the hours taught, that does not include time spent on research activities.

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The college is conducting research in the field of distance education and e-learning, and is a member of professional associations (such as EDEN), that facilitate: • •

keeping in touch with colleagues from other European countries as well as being updated with research results of other institutions with similar profile. The College is also always represented at the annually organised ILIAS conferences. The excellence of the College has been awarded by many means. Amongst others, it has received Socrates and Comenius prizes, and in the recent past a Dennis Gabor plaque was inaugurated in London for the honour of the scientist. The College has also received the Hungarian Quality Award in the e-learning category.

Economy At the Dennis Gabor College, in the beginning, it was thought that the introduction of online teaching would reduce teaching costs, but later it turned out that the production and maintenance of e-learning objects needs highly qualified permanent personnel with related overheads. Still, it is expected that in the long run e-learning will prove to be a cost-effective educational solution. The system, however, plays a major role in geographical areas where running of a local education centre with part time personnel would be more costly. Until recently, as it is a private institution, education at the Dennis Gabor College has been considered expensive, however by now, as other higher education institutions generally also charge their students, their prices can be seen as standard. An important characteristic of the College is that its tuition fees include the price of the course materials as well, which often contain quite expensive printed books. There are a few hundred regular students (out of the 5000) whose education is financed by the government, but the others are all paying tuition fees. The College (since it is a private institution) has to have reliable financial forecasts. The institution’s income is predictable; however, due to the decreasing number of enrolled students, it is declining. The College tries not only to adapt to the market changes, but also tries to meet EU requirements, by employing young and talented ICT-literate teachers, or – if necessary – even replacing staff that does not meet the internal requirements. The employees continue their professional education by attending trainings organised specifically for them, or working for their PhDs and receive support whenever they need. To be able to adapt to market changes and to be flexible are vital characteristics in higher education. The College is doing its very best to adjust its operation according to these changes, so far successfully.

Conclusions Overall the most important observation within the institution is that the introduction of elearning was a significant step in the life of the College and that it shall remain the main driver for success in the future as well. The College’s marketing aim is therefore that the students who study beside work or family or live in the countryside can utilize the online/distance learning facilities of the College.

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Since ILIAS has become fully operational, although it will take a couple of years to draw firmer conclusions from its use, the lessons learned are that (1) the LMS comprises all courses and modules, including all electronically accessible material, i.e. course descriptions and supporting documents, such as SCORM compatible e-learning modules, lecture ppt-s, self assessment tests and manuals; (2) even in ILIAS, which is only supposed to be a learning management platform, 50% of the administrational tasks are being dealt with and (3) the college staff can swiftly adapt to the use of the LMS. The change management is not a simple task, but slowly and surely the situation is consolidating. What is also contributing to the success of the College’s e-learning practice is that most of the software used in online education is widely used, and that both the administrative system and the LMS are very userfriendly. There are some important driving and breaking forces that are worth highlighting from the above analysis of the Dennis Gabor College: Based on the DE nature and long history of the College, the management has always supported innovation, encouraged the increasing use of ICTs and transformed traditional DE into online education. At the same time the college teachers still show considerable resistance towards the use of these technologies. The College, since it is a private institution, has predictable financial income from tuition fees. In addition, it is gradually reducing the course content creation and delivery costs by the introduction of e-learning. On the other hand, although the ratio of online vs. ordinary students has improved in the past few years, there is a general demographic phenomenon, that is the decline in childbirth, especially in the 70s and 80s. The administrational tasks are carried out fluently, however somewhat more technical assistance in software and course development would improve the courses and help teachers’ work. E-learning plays a major role in geographical areas where running of a local education centre with part time personnel would be more costly. Still, the production and maintenance of e-learning objects needs highly qualified permanent personnel with related overheads, although it is expected that in the long run e-learning will prove to be a cost-effective educational solution.

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Open Universiteit Nederland (OUNL) Torstein Rekkedal Name of institution URL of institution Country Number of employees Levels in the educational systems Number of course enrolments in 2005 Number of online courses in 2005 Interviewed persons

Open Universiteit Nederland www.ou.nl/ Additional information taken from: www.ou.nl/eCache/DEF/36.html The Netherlands 585 full-time, about 115 part-time University Level 44432 270 Dr M.G.M. Winnubst Communication advisor Marketing and Communication Department

Introduction Open Universiteit Nederland, founded in 1984, is the youngest university in the Netherlands. It is an independent government funded institution for distance learning at university level. The Dutch Government’s purpose in establishing and funding the institution was to make higher education accessible to anyone with the necessary aptitude and interests, regardless of formal qualifications.

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It is the only one in the country that provides open higher distance education. Its two other tasks as assigned by law are: contributing to the innovation of Dutch higher education, and to the solution of the shortage of teachers in Dutch primary and secondary schools. In addition, it aims to play a key role, both for the Netherlands and internationally, as the prime university for lifelong learning. OUNL develops, provides and promotes innovative higher distance education of top quality, in collaboration with networks and alliances. As the prime university for lifelong learning, it addresses the wide-ranging learning needs of people during their course of life, plus the need to achieve a considerable increase of the knowledge level of the community at large. OUNL seeks to be an institution that is strongly anchored in the Dutch higher education system through its educational, research and innovation activities, and that also operates successfully in the field of lifelong learning. It is a pioneer in open higher distance education and sees itself as a leader in educational innovation, both in the Netherlands and internationally. With a scope of activities that links up with the needs of the community, OUNL can count on broad interest, as reflected in the significant enrolment number for its educational offerings. It also offers a professional and result-oriented work climate that activates the competencies of its staff toward joint realization of objectives. www.ou.nl/Docs/English/Corporate_brochure_2006_UK_def.pdf The following information relates to figures from 2005: The total budget of OUNL was €61.4 million. The total number of staff was 732 (including 115 part-time employees). In 2005 the university had registered 18,474 active students, 51 percent female and 49 percent male. Course enrolments in 2005 were 44,432. (Statistics from 2006 shows a reduction, and ended somewhat over 38,000 course enrolments.) 8 percent of the students were in the age group 18 to 25, 35 percent between 26 and 35, 33 percent between 36 and 45, while 24 percent were over 45 years old. 44 percent of the students were working in full-time jobs, and half of the student population stated that the chose OUNL because of the university’s time- and location-independent study programmes. Over 40 percent (6,592 students) were categorised as “second-chance” students, i.e. students who have never completed a higher professional or university-level programme at a Dutch educational institution before (numbers not including Belgian students). Courses and programmes can be studied from abroad. Approximately 400 Dutch students were registered with addresses outside the Netherlands in addition to the 2,082 students (11%) enrolled at a Belgian study centre. OUNL operates 12 study centres in the Netherlands and 6 study centres in Belgium. In addition to the solutions for Dutch speaking people in the Netherlands, Belgium and internationally who can study in the Dutch language, the university cooperates with the

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British Open University e.g. by offering support to English speaking students in the Netherlands through its study centre in the Hague. www.ou.nl/eCache/DEF/71/482.html

Contextual factors concerning online education in the Netherlands The Netherlands has in spite of its size and dense population a long tradition of private distance education. The market for OUNL is primarily the Netherlands with 16 million inhabitants, but also Flanders with its 6 million inhabitants, as they speak the same language. The market includes Dutch people living abroad. The technology infrastructure for online distance education in the Netherlands is considered to be excellent, as broadband is available nearly everywhere. The actual use of broadband is also among the highest in Europe, and was 27 percent in September 2006, and use is growing rapidly. According to spokesmen for OUNL the acceptance for e-learning in the actual target groups is considered to be very good. Concerning digital literacy, already in 2002 more that 75 percent of the Dutch population had a pc at home, and over 60 percent had access to the Internet. Concerning national policy in favour of the development of online learning at OUNL, it is a task assigned by law that the OUNL shall contribute to innovation of Dutch higher education. At present, 2007, the national government has decided to channel the funds for educational innovation in higher education and e-learning through SURF, a foundation in which higher education and research collaborate on the development of ICT in the Netherlands. This may have a negative influence on OUNL’s prominent position as innovator of e-learning. SURF is the higher education and research partnership organisation for network services and information and communications technology (ICT). The mission of SURF is to operate and innovate a joint advanced ICT infrastructure, with the aim of fully utilising the possibilities of ICT to improve the quality of higher education and research, especially in situations where collaboration can yield results that transcend the possibilities of individual institutions. The SURF Foundation consists of a central office, which is responsible for formulating and executing a policy on educational innovation within higher education, and three central platforms which implement that policy: Research, Education and Organisation. Its two subsidiaries, SURFnet and SURFdiensten, are responsible for carrying out the policy on infrastructure facilities and software licences for higher education. www.surf.nl/smartsite.dws?ch=ENG&id=5290)

History OUNL was established in 1984. The OUNL actively explored the possibilities of online education from the very beginning. The Bulletin Board Systems of the early eighties were quickly superseded by the WWW. In 1987 the OUNL put its first electronic learning environment, Studienet, online. All courses and programmes were and are supported through Studienet. The platform was developed within the OUNL itself. Studienet was one of the first operational learning environments in the Netherlands. OUNL sees the use of ICT as a means to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and flexibility of distance education. It is not an end in itself. The education should be technology enabled, not technology driven.

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OUNL was from the beginning very active in the development of applications, but also in the development of standardisation. Educational Markup Language (EML) was developed at OUNL. In the internationally recognized IMS Learning Design, EML is today’s standard specification. To fulfil its mission of encouraging innovation in higher education the OUNL needed from its birth expertise in pedagogy and technology. At the Open University of the Netherlands, that expertise is channelled through the Educational Technology Expertise Centre (OTEC). OTEC has ambition to be a leading party, in the Netherlands and internationally, in the field of educational technology. This mission leads to the following core activities: • • • •

research in the field of educational sciences and educational technology the development of new educational technologies implementation of the latest insights in the field of education and educational technology in the courses and curricula offered by the Open Universiteit Nederland and her partners developing and offering educational programs in its own field of expertise: educational sciences and educational technology. Since September 2003 OTEC offers a MSc programme Active Learning (in Dutch). www.ou.nl/eCache/DEF/22/853.html

OTEC has long experience in designing, developing and implementing electronic learning environments. This means that systems, pedagogy and technology have been developed within the institution itself. Over 20 years of experience in the field has, according to OUNL, made OTEC one of the leading players in this field in Europe and internationally. The development of online learning has been characterised by an evolutionary step-by-step process. OTEC combines research, development and implementation. It has a solid reputation in the field of evaluation research and quality control. This is the result of its monitoring and evaluation activities within the OUNL. The results from continuous evaluation research constitute input for the research, development and implementation processes. OTEC also participates actively in European and national projects in the field of innovation of education in order to share and develop its expertise. The expertise of OTEC is also available for other institutions in collaboration projects.

Technical issues The competence in information and communication is by OUNLA described as above average to excellent. A programme for further developments in educational technology, The Learning Technology Development Programme (LTD) (2003-2008), was approved by the board of the OUNL in 2003. The programme concerns Learning Networks. It is the ultimate, long term aim of this LTD programme to develop a new approach towards e-learning, by searching for a coherent set of theories, models and technologies with the help of which one may establish and understand so-called Learning Networks. Learning Networks - as they are defined in this programme - use ICT networks to connect people, organizations, autonomous agents and learning resources to establish the emergence of ‘effective lifelong learning’. www.ou.nl/eCache/DEF/17/732.html

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Although OUNL is actively experimenting with the newest technologies, what is offered the students as structural e-learning is always based on proven technologies and standard hardware/software. Additional hardware should not be necessary. Additional obligatory software is provided from the university if needed in specific courses. When students are participating in innovative pilot projects, the hardware/software (when needed) is provided by OUNL. It is seen as quite a complex process to integrate IT systems used in online learning. There is a need from the view of cost-effectiveness to reduce the number of different systems. However, there is also a challenge to see which contributions new systems/new technology can provide to online-education. A strength of the OUNL is that online teaching and learning is integrated in one administrative system, called SPIL. At the same time it might be seen as a weakness that – because of this integration – changes require a complex process.

Courses The OUNL offers 6 different bachelor programmes and 13 master programmes on Management Sciences, Cultural Sciences, Law, Psychology, Environmental Sciences, Informatics and Educational sciences. Student support and tuition of all programmes and courses is mainly organized online. An ever-increasing number of courses consist of a textbook and an online workbook or online tasks. According to OUNL almost all subjects are suitable for online learning. Some – very few – exceptions are seen to be courses that include competencies such as argumentation, presentation, holding a plea (in law), defending a paper and similar areas. In these cases preparation and exercises can be done online, but at least once the students should perform the behaviour ‘in real life’ with real people as an audience or as adversaries. Most courses of OUNL are arranged with flexible start-up and progression schedules. OUNL is an open university in many meanings of the word, also concerning starting dates and flexible progression. In this respect, OUNL claims to be more flexible than e.g. the British Open University, as OUNL students generally can start a course at any time. As a result of the priority to flexibility, it is only natural that concerning communication between students and teachers and between students emphasis has to be put on asynchronous rather than synchronous communication media.

Management, strategy and attitudes The management of the OUNL is definitely very supportive towards online education an elearning. E-learning/online-education is one of the main working-themes within the Executive board. It is also a central theme in the new strategy-plan (2006-2009) in relation to lifelong learning. The different groups of staff also have a general and overall positive attitude towards online teaching. Positive attitudes and active involvement of both management and academic and other staff are natural and necessary as the OUNL was a dedicated distance education institution from the very start. OUNL claims to have a clear strategy for online education. The present strategy is outlined in the new strategy-plan for 2006-2009. E-learning/online education in relation to lifelong

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learning is the central theme of the document. By the end of 2009 the OUNL is supposed to be recognised as a key-player in the field of e-learning. By 2009 all courses should be digitalised and offered as online/ web-based education. At present, the strategy plan is quite new. The work to implement the strategy has just started (January 2007). In the process of writing the strategy plan several meetings were arranged, where the staff could contribute ideas etc. Within the phase of implementation, there will be a great number of staff-members involved. Besides that, communication within the OUNL regarding the implementation is seen as an important issue. Quality issues related to online education is seen as very important. In the Dutch higher education system there is a new system for quality assurance/accreditation. All institutions, OUNL included, are taking part in the new quality system. Within the OUNL the internal system for quality assurance has recently been renewed. One focal element within the system is the evaluation of courses by students. Comments etc. from students are used to update the courses. Overall, courses are being updated and revised every 5 years. The OUNL is known - in fact since the start in 1984 - for the high quality level of its courses. The formal continuous evaluation and revision system has, according to OUNL, definitely played an important role in the claimed success of the institution. Within the OUNL, OTEC has a specific responsibility for evaluation research. In general, the OUNL is satisfied with the effectiveness of its administrative systems and routines for administration of online learning. Regarding the development of online education, i.e. course development, workloads are considered to be quite predictable and manageable. However, student support and tuition for example, are less predictable and manageable, mainly because students are to a great extent free to choose courses according to their own study-plan. Students can also start with courses at a moment of their choice. In the past - and especially for the development of courses – the OUNL has collaborated quite often with other institutions. Over the last years the collaboration seems to have become less intense. For the next years OUNL sees that there is a need, especially from the viewpoint of cost-effectiveness, to extend the collaboration again. As a department within the OUNL, OTEC collaborates with other institutions for higher education, and also with institutions for adult education, companies and governments. OTEC participates in European and other projects in the field of innovation of education. As an institution established by the government, the OUNL has a high degree of credibility with the government and public administration. This has been very important because the OUNL is depending, for a substantial part of its income, on government funding. It is also important from the perspective of getting new tasks and new responsibilities from the government. Since the start in 1984 the OUNL has always been concerned about handling large numbers of courses, large numbers of students and large numbers of assignments. As a distance teaching university the OUNL has for quite some years experience and expertise in doing so.

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This experience and expertise has helped in the perspective of providing efficient online services.

Economy OUNL states that there is no data available on cost-effectiveness of its online courses. Concerning questions on stable and predictable income from the operation of online courses it is stated that data is not available. However, recruitment is seen as quite stable, and as the OUNL is financed mainly by state funds and less by income from student fees, this gives certain stability to the income level. Although the major part of the university’s income comes from state budgets, OUNL does experience some pressure to be flexible and to adapt to a continuously changing market. Specifically, OUNL is looking for measures to reduce development time and reduce the time it takes to launch new courses in the market. To be able to be flexible and adapt to market needs, reduce the percentage of “fixed” staff and increase the percentage of “flexible” staff, is an issue in the new strategy plan.

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The Open University of the United Kingdom By Desmond Keegan Name of institution URL of institution Country Number of employees Levels in the educational systems Number of course enrolments in 2005 Number of online courses in 2005 Interviewed persons

The Open University www.open.ac.uk United Kingdom 4000 University 11000 375 Dr P D Wilson

Overview The Open University of the United Kingdom (OUUK) is generally accepted to be the world’s leading provider of distance education. The OUUK was established in 1969 to deliver high quality distance education to students and developed its supported open learning model (involving local tutors, feedback on assignments, centrally produced course materials through a team approach). The OU is the UK’s largest University, teaching 35% of all part-time undergraduate students in the UK each year. Nearly 21,000 OU students study outside the UK.

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Since the first students were admitted in 1971, over 2 million people have studied with the OU, achieving over 550,000 awards. The OU promotes educational opportunity and social justice by providing high quality education to all who wish to realise their ambitions and fulfil their potential: 33% of undergraduate students have fewer than 2 A levels; 6% of undergraduate students have a disability; 9% of new students disclosing their ethnicity are from minority ethnic backgrounds; 17% of new students qualify for financial assistance. One of the OU’s greatest achievements was its success in the measurement of academic excellence in UK universities as measured by the UK government’s Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education. The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education of the British Government set up structures to measure academic excellence in more than 150 universities in the United Kingdom, including the Open University. To many people's surprise, the Open University was ranked in the top ten of British Universities in terms of academic excellence. When one realises that the average age of Open University students is about 40 years and more then 40 per cent of them do not have the required A-Levels to be allowed to study at any other British University, one can see that this is a remarkable achievement. It shows that distance learning has come of age and that excellence is now demonstrably achievable at a distance. The statistics placing the Open University in the top ten in Britain with Oxford and Cambridge have been repeated year after year for many years now and cannot statistically be explained as a fluke. Here is the listing of the leading British universities showing the Open University in the 10th position in the first division, with Oxford and Cambridge in the leading positions with York University. The British press chose to present these results in the form of football leagues and there are three other divisions besides the premier league presented here: The first division comprised: • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

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Cambridge, York, Oxford, University College London Warwick, London School of Economics Durham, Sheffield, Open University, Southampton, Nottingham, Lancaster, Bangor and St Andrews.

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The OU has been rated very highly for teaching quality. Of the 24 subjects assessed by the Quality Assurance Agency, 17 were placed in the top ‘Excellent’ category. This study seeks to present the success of the OUUK in the provision of electronic distance education (frequently called e-learning), side by side with the multi-media distance education on which its reputation was founded. Today 335 of the university’s courses have online components that students are required to study. This represents 65% of the university’s course provision. The OUUK with open access has gone for a very modular approach where courses are between 10 and 60 points (60 points is equivalent to 50% full time study) in value. Most other universities equate course with award – so if one is studying towards a degree another university would call that 1 course – at the OUUK the student would study between 6 and 12 courses (modules) to get a degree. The term ’online’ raises the issue – what percentage of the course needs to be studied online to meet the criteria, or is it just that there is any required online element? Also if one is looking at e-learning one shouldn’t just limit this to online – the OUUK has a number of courses where the university uses CDROM and DVDROM to deliver e-learning experiences – e.g. virtual field trips which would be too bandwidth intensive to study online. For the purposes of this survey the OUUK meaning of course (a 10 to 60 point module) is used and online is used to mean any course with a requirement to use a computer to study the course. The university’s number of e-learning students is 114000.

Historical context The OUUK first introduced e-learning using the IBM PC in three courses in 1988 (e-learning was used before this by using teletext terminals in study centres). These were what could be called ‘medium is the message’ courses – e.g. in computing and technology. Since then there has been a gradual increase in the use of e-learning mainly in the Technology, Computing and Business faculties, though with some good examples in other faculties such as Science. This meant that certain areas of the university were building considerable experience and competence, whilst in other areas competence in developing e-learning activities remained lower. It would have seemed odd not to be using a computer to support studies in Technology, Computing and Business, so the introduction of e-learning in these subjects kept the subjects up to date and relevant for students. With the introduction of asynchronous computer conferencing in 1992 the university was able to build on the benefit of greater communication to build learning communities for distance students and introduce different pedagogies such as group work and accessing digital library resources. There is evidence that provision of these tools helped with student retention. Development in e-learning was progressing in a step-by-step fashion at the OU, but in 2001 the university’s Teaching and Learning Strategy was published. This set some ambitious targets for the adoption of e-learning. It set out that the university would provide optional elearning activity on all courses from 2002 and all named degrees would contain some courses that contained e-learning elements by 2005. This was principally in target 6.5:

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Establish the critical baseline of IT provision for all students by 2002; build IT elements into programmes to achieve compulsory IT elements for all University degrees by 2005; increase Webfocused courses to at least 20 by 2002.

The 2004 Learning and Teaching Strategy took these targets further forward, for instance: There will be an increase in the numbers of courses where the use of ICT is required over the period 2006-07 and by 2007 around 60% of Level 2 courses and 75% of Level 3 Courses will have compulsory ICT elements.

Setting such targets and setting out a policy for e-learning as an institutional strategy brought about a step change in the pace of change. This introduction of e-learning was followed up by evaluation and research. The university has a large academic unit – The Institute of Educational Technology – which does institutional research evaluating student performance with e-learning. They are also responsible for academic staff development, so they can feed their findings back into staff development programmes. This has made a significant contribution to the quality of elearning materials and activities.

Technical issues Competence in information and communication technology at the OUUK can be interpreted at two levels: basic Information and Communications Technology (ICT) skills, or the skills to develop effective use of ICT in teaching and learning. For the former it can be said that all staff are competent in the use of ICT for word processing, email and information literacy. For the latter the OUUK has an increasing number of staff who are competent at designing e-learning activities. There is also a large media development unit, so as long as academics are skilled in specifying e-learning activities these can be realised through the technical teams. In general the OUUK tries to use standard browser technology so that the e-learning courses are based on widely used technologies that can be used by students without requiring them to buy additional hardware or software. Currently the main asynchronous communication tool (FirstClass) needs client software, but this is provided on a free applications CDROM to all staff and students. The multimedia simulations play on standard media players. The documents are transmitted in PDF format and Acrobat reader is free software and is also on the CDROM. If a word processor is needed then it is possible to use the shareware Star Office (also on the CDROM). So although students need to load additional software none of it needs to be bought. The integration between different IT-systems that are involved in e-learning in the institution is an area where the OU has suffered by being ahead of the game. The university has a suite of different systems/ applications performing different parts of the e-learning infrastructure. Integration is much harder than it would be if the university had adopted a single LMS (Learning Management System) or VLE (Virtual Learning Environment) - though that would probably have other downsides such as limiting pedagogic choices. The OU is about to introduce a VLE based on Moodle which will address some of these issues. The strengths and weaknesses of the e-learning administrative systems are as follows:

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Strengths: robustness, scalability, automated processes (imagine having to do manual workarounds for 180,000 students). Weaknesses: system was developed some time ago and it does not easily adapt to changes in business processes. For instance initially the system was intended for staff use on the campus network, now the university wants to provide more interactive services for students logging in from the Internet.

Courses The following table gives a breakdown of the percentage of e-learning courses in each faculty: Faculty Arts English/ languages Health & Social Care Maths & Computing Business Science Social Sciences Technology

% e-learning courses 31% 44% 41% 65% 94% 53% 27% 77%

This shows that even in faculties that have been lower on the adoption curve (Arts, Social Sciences) over a quarter of the courses incorporate e-learning. The obvious starting point in the choice of subjects for e-learning development was ‘medium is the message’ courses. The main driver has been that students have had to supply their own equipment, rather than the “onlineability” of the subject. So the university has introduced elearning faster in faculties where students have had better access to computers and the Internet. One factor that may change this in the future is that the OU is looking to enhance the opportunities that computer assisted formative assessment offers. Currently this is better suited to numeric than discursive disciplines. Do the online courses provided by the university have flexible start-up and progression? If this means that the students can start at any time and progress at their own rate, then the answer is no. Many courses have two presentations per year, but all the courses (for accreditation) run with cohorts of students to a given timetable. The university has found that pacing the timetable with continuous assessment provides a framework that motivates students. Also e-learning opens up the possibility of collaborative project work. This cannot be undertaken if one doesn’t have students at the same place in the course at the same time. The OUUK has now launched its open learn site http://openlearn.open.ac.uk/ which will provide: • • • •

Over 5,000 hours of online free learning material taken from Open University courses State-of-the-art learner support Tools connecting learners with learners and learners with educators Learning media and technologies on a large scale.

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Anyone is free to use open learn at any time they wish, they are not registered as students and they are not studying for credit. Both synchronous and asynchronous communication between students and teachers, and among students themselves, are considered very important in a distance learning context.

Management, strategy and attitudes As stated above, setting out a clear university strategy supported by senior managers was instrumental in achieving the university’s aims. Some faculty staff needed convincing of the need to change (and pace of change). The introduction of national benchmark standards in each curriculum area and the need to keep the quality, standing and value of the degrees in line with conventional universities has helped to make the case. For full time academic staff it is clear that the introduction of e-learning changes working practices within the institution. For instance the OU has run a successful model for 35 years which clearly separates course production from presentation, with course production being an intensive operation carried out in academic teams. The introduction of e-learning is blurring some of those boundaries between production and presentation and the university is adapting its systems and working practices to account for this. Some of the part time, home based, associate lecturers have been concerned about additional workloads that might arise with the introduction of e-learning. It is probably the case that the work is of a different nature, rather than simply taking more time, and that the difference introduces a learning curve which, initially, appears to increase workloads. It is true that the open-ended nature of some e-learning activities requires a greater application of time management techniques (this is true for both staff and students). The university’s strategy for e-learning is stated thus: Student-centred objectives The application of ICT-based methods of learning, teaching and student support should allow students to: 1. experience and benefit from a wide range of effective learning opportunities mediated by ICTs (e.g., collaborative learning, resource-based learning, group project work, computer-assisted formative assessment, online tutorial support, information search and evaluation, integrated multi-media assisted learning); 2. experience a graduated development of ICT skills and e-learning skills as they progress along a pathway to a named degree or other qualification; 3. achieve particular outcomes required by the University’s award structure or external body expectations: (e.g. programme-based learning outcomes, QAA benchmark statement objectives, criteria of “graduateness”, professional body accreditation requirements); 4. develop, through using ICTs in OU study, a range of modern work-related and independent-learning skills that enhance their employability in the knowledge economy and increase for them the pleasure and effectiveness of future learning experiences; 46

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5. achieve OU qualifications and more general learning outcomes that are the equal of those of other UK universities; 6. experience an enhanced sense of participation in a “community of learners” during their OU study. University Objectives To provide the learning materials, services and support that allow OU students to achieve the objectives set out above, and to deliver the tenets of the Vision Statement, the University should achieve the set of objectives set out below. 1. construct a OU-wide framework for the development of e-learning materials, services and support, which would achieve the following sub-objectives: i) ii) iii)

maximise the collective understanding of effective uses of e-learning; enhance information sharing about e-learning across units; move past ”lone ranger” e-learning development by individuals and course teams;

2. place pedagogic effectiveness and robustness as well as efficiency of delivery at the centre of our activities in e-learning creation and implementation; 3. assure delivery of learning outcomes for which e-learning provides the only, or the most effective, delivery mechanism; 4. ground present practice, to the greatest extent possible, in evidence from research, evaluation and successful practice; 5. learn from other e-learning providers (both the successes and the failures) in order to surpass the competition in levels of “learning excellence” and student appreciation; 6. deliver adequate levels of appropriate training to staff (central, regional and ALs) and to students; 7. provide the appropriate ICT infrastructure (VLE, the Enterprise Content Management System (ECMS), the Customer Relations Management System (CRM), digital assets, structured authoring) and assure its continuing development; 8. use the “OU Futures” strategic objectives (especially numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 9) to orient the development of the e-learning policy; 9. through OU-based research, evaluation and “horizon-scanning”, maintain informed awareness of pedagogic and technological future developments – bring from the “horizon” to the “operational” as quickly as appropriate. An action plan was drawn up to deliver these objectives and progress against the plan is monitored. To a large extent the OU has developed its own approaches to e-learning, rather than by collaboration with other educational institutions The OU is considered highly credible with the government and public administration and this is considered important for success. The university has been able to handle the large number of online courses and students by having robust and scalable systems in place to handle the business processes.

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Economy In some ways e-learning is more expensive than conventional models. It is the improvement in the quality of the student learning experience and the different modes of learning that are opened up for distance students (e g collaborative learning, access to digital library resources) that delivers cost-benefit- effectiveness rather than a simple measure of cost-effectiveness. Like all other institutions the OU experiences pressure to be flexible and to be able to adapt to a changing market. This is stated in the e-learning policy document thus: For both pedagogic and competitive reasons the OU now needs to expand and integrate the use of ICT-based teaching and learning support into its courses and programmes and to promote the development of learning communities of students and staff. In so doing, we shall assure our position at the leading edge of open and distance learning development and of online delivery of courses and programmes into increasingly competitive markets around the globe.

and again: learn from other e-learning providers (both the successes and the failures) in order to surpass the competition in levels of “learning excellence� and student appreciation.

Conclusion It seems clear that, side by side with its acknowledged excellence in multimedia distance education, the Open University is building its expertise in e-learning (electronic distance education) as well.

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Universitat Oberta de Catalunya Albert Sangrà Name of institution

Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC); Open University of Catalonia URL of institution www.uoc.edu Country Spain Number of employees 500 permanent staff, 1700 counsellors and tutors (flexible) Levels in the education system Higher education level Number of course enrolments in 2005 94000 Number of online courses in 2005 950 Interviewed persons Albert Sangrà Morer, Academia Director and Responsible for the Application of New Technologies Lourdes Guàrdia Ortíz, Responsible Teacher for the Postgraduate Program in ICT based Education

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Introduction In 1995, the Catalan government promoted the creation of a completely virtual institution in order to complement the Catalan university context with a set of academic e-programmes that aimed to respond to new educational needs in the information society. The UOC belongs to a number of international associations and participates in several international forums, contributing from its experience to broaden the knowledge about how virtual teaching and research universities could or should be managed. Examples of this include UOC’s affiliation with the ICDE (International Council of Distance Education), European Distance Education Network, Centro Internacional de Desarrollo Universitario and the Latin American Network for Distance Education. In addition, the UOC belongs to all the Spanish associations, networks and consortia related to its activities.

Contextual factors The UOC is a reference institution in the field of ICT based distance education that offers educational programmes not only in the whole of Spain but also in Latin America and, more recently, in the English speaking world. Until the creation of the UOC in 1995, the Spanish National Distance University was the sole distance education provider in Catalonia. However, Catalonia has a rich tradition of quality, higher-education institutions. A number of conventional universities can be found in the region, but none of them offered any real distance, or virtual, education programmes. For the Spanish national context it can be said that the total population of Spain is 40 million. Spanish is the common language in all 17 autonomous regions. Three of these regions have an own language which has official status within the region. Catalonia is one of them. As a result of migratory movements, many people from different Spanish regions live in Catalonia and are fully integrated. Catalan is understood by 99 per cent of the region’s population and 100 per cent can speak Spanish. There currently exist 70 universities in Spain, 48 of which are public. The total number of registered students in Spanish universities for the academic year 2004/05 was 1.535.626. The results of the European e-user-Project1 describe the diffusion of ICT in Spain unsatisfactory due to the low penetration of Internet in the households in comparison to the other EU members which could be related to the high prices of Internet connection. Broadband diffusion, however, has been comparatively fast in the last three years, in particular in the more developed and urban parts of the country such as Catalonia and Madrid. The same study reports considerably big disparities in access to and use of the Internet between sub-segments of the population e.g. genders, age groups, socio-economic groups etc.

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www.euser-eu.org

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The acceptance of e-learning within university students can be considered as relatively high. In spite of the lack of diffusion of ICTs and the disparities mentioned above, the large number of e-learning initiatives in Spanish universities indicates a satisfactory level of acceptance of the use of ICT in teaching and learning among the academic community. It can be assumed that digital literacy in the target group is relatively high. Spanish university students and teachers use computers and the Internet on a regular basis. However the percentage of the total number of Spanish people aged 16 to 74 that do not use the computer or the Internet is slightly higher than the same figure for the UE-25.2 Neither the central government nor the regional administrations are carrying out a specific policy in order to promote e-learning. The projects that are being undertaken are more generic and only have an indirect effect on the development of e-learning. Examples are the provision of equipments and access to ICT for schools, the development of Internet courses and training, the support of innovation and development in educational applications of ICT, the cooperation between Latin America and Europe in the area of ICT in education, projects supported by the government through the European Social Fund and through the Spanish Continuing Training Foundation FORCEM, the promotion of ICTs in enterprises that offer elearning courses through FORINTEL (a program created by the Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Commerce) or the “Plan España.es” that promotes accessibility to training and digital contents.

Historical context The Open University of Catalonia was created in 1995 by the Catalan government as a fully accredited distance education university with its headquarters in Barcelona and with the aim to complement the Catalan university system in the sense that it made university studies available to everybody, regardless of work, residence, age or other factors, by offering highly flexible courses and study programs through technology based distance teaching and learning. The Universitat Oberta de Catalunya was conceived as a global university rooted in a local context. Consequently it started its activities at regional level, in Catalonia, which made it easier to monitor its early development. In 2000, the institution started expanding to the national context (Spain) and the international Hispanic market. Recently the UOC has started to enter the international space of other languages, as English and Portuguese. Regarding the development of e-learning it is certainly difficult to compare the UOC’s case with the majority of institutions that offer e-learning scenarios. The UOC started with a very small number of students (about 100) and offered a material centred teaching and learning model that was partly inspired by the traditional distance education models. In the beginning, the virtual campus’ main function was material delivery. With time, the stress moved gradually from the material centred model towards a pedagogy that focussed much more on the student and on learning processes. The pedagogical model of the UOC as it evolved with time is the result of a development process in e-learning competences and an important factor for success. The development of the European Higher Education Area

2

DEMUNTER, Christophe (2006): “How skilled are Europeans in using computers and the Internet?” [Online article]. In: Statistics on focus. Industry, trade and services 17/2006. (Data retrieved on 30/10/2006). URL: http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/cache/ITY_OFFPUB/KS-NP-06-017/EN/KS-NP-06-017-EN.PDF

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according to the Bologna Declaration of 1999, is another factor that is having influence on the ongoing development of the institution regarding course design, definition of competences, production and distribution. Being a part of the Catalan public university system, the UOC’s quality and educational standards are coordinated by the Agency for the Quality of the University System3 in Catalonia. As there is no similar agency for the supervision of distance universities, the UOC is working with the Agency to establish indicators for measuring quality in a virtual learning environment. Quality criteria and indicators for the new Catalan and Spanish online programmes are also defined in collaboration with the Spanish National Agency for Quality and Evaluation.

Technical issues Competence in information and communication technology is very high due to the need of a competent technical team in the creation of a fully virtual university from scratch. Competence has evolved according to the changing needs regarding the maintenance of the virtual campus and the integration of new tools and functions. The technical requirements on the client side do not include any special items. The minimum equipment would be a Pentium-Based PC with 32 MB RAM (Random Access Memory), 1.2 Gb hard disk, a Windows 95 Operating System or higher. An Internet Browser and Connection to the Internet with minimum of 28 Kb/s is necessary. The Campus VirtualTM, which was developed by the Information Systems Department at UOC, is an Internet-based e-learning delivery and support system that uses a client-server web technology and common interface to integrate a wide set of services and applications. All functions of the Campus VirtualTM are applications that have been designed to provide an efficient environment for tele-cooperation and e-learning. The fact that the entire technological infrastructure of the university was designed as whole, integration of different IT-systems is not really an issue. The UOC’s main administrative issues are basically the same as those for other universities in Spain. The biggest issue the UOC needed to manage was its virtual character, and the underlying philosophy of permitting students to undertake all their studies from home, an objective that the UOC has been able to meet thanks to the described technological infrastructure.

Courses In an effort to provide an education that is complementary to what the other universities in Catalonia have to offer, the UOC has developed courses and degree programmes that are increasingly in demand, but that conventional universities are not proposing in sufficient quantity to meet this growing demand. The UOC’s offer focuses on an adult student population: people between 25 and 45 years old, who work and who have previous university experience.

3

www.agenqua.org

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In theory every subject can be delivered online and the ongoing development of new hardware and software makes such endeavour easier every day. But not everything that is possible is at the same time feasible in every context. The current situation in human resources and technical standards conditions the possibilities of success regarding the incorporation of determined subjects. The UOC always tries to cover the training and educational needs of society and reacts accordingly analysing the possibilities of including new subjects into its academic program if there is a clear demand for it. But at the same time it is obvious that some subjects would imply such a raise of costs regarding human resources and technology that it would be impossible to offer such courses at a reasonable price. The UOC does not offer flexible start-up and progression. There are fixed dates (normally two a year) for the beginning and the finishing of the courses. Flexibility or even a non-stop system would be too costly regarding the workload and duty periods that would be generated on the teacher side. The UOC teaching and learning model aims to overcome time and space barriers for education and training which is why the institution is opting for an asynchronous model with greater flexibility for students.

Management, strategy and attitudes The UOC has been conceived as a virtual university. Participating in the leadership of a virtual university and being supportive regarding e-learning are two sides of a medal. According to the staff, one can say that the attitudes towards online teaching are positive although some staff members still tend to move within face-to-face patterns due to their training and professional background. To minimize the negative effects of this phenomenon, the UOC offers special training units that help to assimilate the institution’s pedagogical model. The underlying principle of offering a fully online academic and administrative service in order to gain in flexibility leads to the development of the institutions online teaching and learning model that encloses a clear strategy of online education. The UOC tries to combine the best aspects of three different learning models, the media centred model, the teacher centred model, and the student centred model. It is considered that the balance can be found in a point that is closer to the student than to the teacher and closer to the latter than to media and technology which should remain a tool serving the other two elements. In a virtual environment it is vital to keep student’s motivation on a high point. One important aspect in this objective is the freedom given to the students regarding the organization and planning of their own learning strategies and working rate. Students need to feel involved in every aspect of their learning process. They have to be engaged in meaningful activities communicating and collaborating with their peers. However, inductive methods used by teachers, together with learning materials, provide guidance and orientation, enabling students to follow the right path, thus facilitating the teacher’s role of making things easier. Quality evaluation at the UOC seeks promoting internal self-improvement within the institution. It intends to better fulfil student needs and requirements and to evaluate student levels of satisfaction and their perceptions of the services received. It aims to validate the Megaproviders of e-learning in Europe

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UOC's specific pedagogical system and innovations that are periodically introduced. Student opinion plays an important role in the functioning of the university. A survey is conducted at the end of each semester in order to gather student opinions and improve the quality of UOC studies and services. All teachers are subject to an evaluation process that aims to better leverage their competencies and to identify areas that would benefit form professional and personal development in order to suggest suitable training activities. In addition, the virtual campus and the UOC itself are evaluated by means of surveys and open forums of debate conducted and evaluated by the UOC. The most current update of the technical infrastructure included a full consultation listening to the voices of users, technicians and external experts, and led to a new version of the UOC’s Virtual CampusTM with new applications and functionalities. The relationship between the UOC and its students with regard to administrative matters is almost perfect. For instance, students can consult their own academic record from home, in real time, whenever they want or need, and a back office will answer any questions they may have within 48 hours. Enrolment, delivery of teaching materials, assessment, evaluation, economical transactions, a virtual library etc. are some of the administrative services that take place entirely online. Their effectiveness is, at the time, totally satisfactory. There are full time teachers that work on a 40 hours contract basis. The “consultores” or emoderators work part time (12 to 15 hours/week) and have a flexible employment contract. Workload is widely predictable and manageable due to the fact that the teaching materials and the syllabus for every course are very well defined so that they can give clear indications about how much dedication is needed to fulfil the declared goals. Workload also depends on the number of assigned students for which there is a limit. The UOC has a clear and evident commitment to cooperation, believing that by helping other universities to develop high-quality virtual learning systems it will increase its own credibility. Hence, the UOC is launching a number of initiatives to offer universities interested in collaboration the opportunity to progress together, by benefiting from UOC’s good practices and avoiding its mistakes. The UOC further considers that it is very important to provide a framework for exchange between universities that offer virtual courses, so that they can offer more opportunities to their students. Cooperation is also an important issue in research. The UOC research institute – the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3) – is looking for partnerships with other similar research organizations in order to increase the efforts and importance of Information Society research. Finally, Campus for Peace is an initiative to provide an international and virtual university space for dialogue, cooperation and work to promote peace in the world. Established by the Catalan Government in 1995, the credibility with the government and the public administration is total. The UOC’s legal status is that of a non-profit private foundation, with the Catalan government as its main trustee. Other important trustees are key stakeholders in Catalan society, including the Chamber of Commerce, the Savings Bank Consortium, the Catalan Broadcasting Corporation and a number of publishing companies. On the basis of proposals made by the trustees, the Catalan government appoints the university Rector.

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Handling the large number of students is possible thanks to the organizational system of the university. There are two staff segments that can work independently from the number of students enrolled. These are the responsible teachers for each subject or group of subjects on one hand, and the authors of the teaching material on the other hand. Online teachers that have direct contact with the students and conduct or monitor the teaching and learning processes are usually part-time employees that can be employed in a flexible way according to the number of enrolments.

Economy Public grants for its activities in the Catalan language make up about half of UOC’s income. Student fees contribute a third. The university makes up the difference through revenue from consultancy services, managing other programmes, transferring its model to other universities and assessing other institutions. Income is fairly predictable in the sense that you can base your future enrolment expectations on statistical figures and market observation. The UOC depends 35% on student fees, and this is mainly the part of the income subject to fluctuation. Because of the institution’s commitment of covering the society’s needs in higher education and the objective to offer academic programmes that are strongly relevant regarding professional needs and clearly transferable to the working context, there is a lot of pressure coming from society demanding constantly updated programmes, from the government that needs to justify its financial support to the institution and, last but not least, from the students that are interested in high quality standards and a clear relation of the studied contents with their real needs. The way the UOC is organized allows it to respond to these demands in a flexible and efficient way: The University chose a new form of management and organization based on a Process Management System, the European Foundation for Quality Management1 model, and structured to be able to respond directly to fulfilling student needs. The UOC combines a fixed staff sector with part time workers in order to gain flexibility. Outsourcing is another factor that allows the institution to adapt in a more effective way to changes because it makes it less necessary to create expertise in every single aspect of the activity linked to the educational service it provides.

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UNED - Universidad Nacional de Educaión a Distancia Pedro Fernández Michels and Albert Sangrà Name of institution URL of institution Country Levels in the education system Number of employees Number of course enrolments in 2005 Number of online courses in 2005 Interviewed persons

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Universidad Nacional de Educación a distancia (UNED) www.uned.es Spain Higher education level About 8000 lecturers and tutors 100 000 500 Mr. Miguel Santamaría Lancho, ViceChancellor for Quality Mr. Timothy Read

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Introduction The UNED is currently Spain’s largest university with almost 180.000 students. Starting its activity in the early seventies in the field of traditional distance education, the UNED has experienced a spectacular growth in geographical presence and student numbers. The figures led to an increasing use of ICT and consequently to the installation of a virtual campus in the year 2000. The process of virtualization that aimed to provide all courses in an online format has recently concluded. The institution understands distance education as an opportunity to reach two important goals: a)

b)

Equal opportunities – distance education opens training possibilities to people with low income, remote place of residence or other difficulties. In this context, the institution has especially supported the incorporation of women into the university and the labour market. Flexibility – most of the students that enrol in the institution’s study programs need to combine work and studies. Distance education opens a second opportunity to those who are interested or in need of higher education and for some reason did not benefit from it before their integration into the labour market.

The UNED’s educational program provides studies in 26 degrees and over 500 courses in the field of lifelong learning.

Contextual factors concerning online education in Spain The total population of Spain is 40 million. Spanish is the common language in all 17 autonomous regions, three of which have their own language with official status within the region. There are currently 70 universities in Spain, 48 of which are public. The total number of registered students in Spanish universities for the academic year 2004/05 was 1.535.626. The results of the European e-user-Project4 describe the diffusion of ICT in Spain unsatisfactory due to the low penetration of Internet in the households in comparison to the other EU members which could be related to the high prices of Internet connection. Broadband diffusion, however, has been comparatively fast in the last three years, in particular in the more developed and urban parts of the country such as Catalonia and Madrid. The same study reports considerably big disparities in access to and use of the Internet between sub-segments of the population e.g. genders, age groups, socio-economic groups etc. The acceptance of e-learning within university students can be considered as relatively high. In spite of the lack of diffusion of ICTs and the disparities mentioned above, the large number of e-learning initiatives in Spanish universities indicates a satisfactory level of acceptance of the use of ICT in teaching and learning among the academic community.

4

www.euser-eu.org

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It can be assumed that digital literacy in the target group is relatively high. Spanish university students and teachers use computers and the Internet on a regular basis. However the percentage of the total number of Spanish people aged 16 to 74 that do not use the computer or the Internet is slightly higher than the same figure for the UE-25.5 Neither the central government nor the regional administrations are carrying out a specific policy in order to promote e-learning. The projects that are being undertaken are more generic and only have an indirect effect on the development of e-learning. Examples are the provision of equipments and access to ICT for schools, the development of Internet courses and training, the support of innovation and development in educational applications of ICT, the cooperation between Latin America and Europe in the area of ICT in education, projects supported by the government through the European Social Fund and through the Spanish Continuing Training Foundation FORCEM, the promotion of ICTs in enterprises that offer elearning courses through FORINTEL (a program created by the Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Commerce), or through the “Plan España.es” that promotes accessibility to training and digital contents.

History The UNED was founded in 1972 as a public university in Madrid. After an initial process of consolidation and growth in numbers of enrolment the institution started to deliver higher education to a population segment that lives in greater distance of the capital, by creating regional centres that introduced distance education into the rest of the peninsula and the Canaries, providing free printed teaching materials via postal service. The regional centres offered face-to-face guidance and consultancy to the students in need of such service. The next step was the internationalization of the services provided by the institution. The institution exported its pedagogical model to Latin America and became the leading member of the AIESAD, the Iberoamerican Association of Higher Distance Education. The UNED always used to employ different means to support study, such as radio and TV to deliver contents. In the nineties, videoconferencing tools helped to create a network between the 60 associated centres. Recently ICT has been identified as tools that can offer a medium through which the student can solve problems and doubts and that can help to provide additional learning materials. It can also make communication possible and reduce the feeling of isolation that characterizes the distance learning student. Finally, ICT improve coordination between teachers and tutors and make it more agile. On the background of these advantages and quickly increasing student numbers, the institution’s virtual campus started in the year 2000. According to a virtualization plan all the compulsory courses had to be digitalized and available online. This gradual process has now concluded, which means that the use of e-learning is now virtually compulsory although officially the institutions policy does not oblige any student to pick up the offer of online courses.

5

DEMUNTER, Christophe (2006): “How skilled are Europeans in using computers and the Internet?” [Online article]. In: Statistics on focus. Industry, trade and services 17/2006. (Data retrieved on 30/10/2006). URL: http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/cache/ITY_OFFPUB/KS-NP-06-017/EN/KS-NP-06-017-EN.PDF

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Technical issues The UNED’s e-learning courses are based on technology that is available to the general public. The technical requirements on the client side do not include any special items. Every student has to have a computer able to read multimedia resources and equipped with a CDRom player, apart form a reliable Internet connection. The institution’s virtual campus combines a WebCT/Blackboard platform with its own development (aLF based upon dotLRN). At this moment in time a high level of integration has been achieved between the online courses and the databases underlying the different IT systems in the university. This integration has proved to be a critical factor for the success of the online courses. From an administrative point of view, the e-learning systems work well, although there is currently no certification provided by them. They integrate data pulled from different databases and data sources. The overall competence in ICT in the institution cannot be described as balanced: There are two levels of users in the UNED: firstly, (typically the younger staff) who are able to use most aspects of ICT available (and are keen to learn new techniques and tools as they appear), and secondly, (typically older staff), who have difficulties using services that go beyond simple Web browsing and email.

Courses The range of e-learning courses offered by the UNED is certainly very wide as they belong to 29 different qualifications in the areas of Humanities, Social Sciences, Sciences and Engineering. Coming from a distance education context in which the use of ICT is just another means to enable teaching and learning within a context of physical separation, “onlineability” is not seen as a problematic issue, although the science and engineering subjects have problems with the correct use / presentation of mathematical symbols. At the moment, the UNED does not offer flexible start-up and progression due to the fact that the online courses use a rigid calendar based on enrolment deadlines, exam timetables, etc. Asynchrony is the main underlying concept for online communication and collaboration.

Management, strategy and attitudes The university and its governing team have assumed a clear compromise to incorporate ICT in the model of distance education, to which end, norms have been established regarding the incorporation of e-learning tools into the didactic process. The institution’s virtualization plan that started in the year 2000 with the aim to offer all compulsory courses online followed a mediated bottom-up approach in which teachers that wished to digitalize their courses were offered help by a specially created unit called USO-PC (which forms part of the Center of Technical Innovation and Development; CINDETEC). USO-PC, with its team of experts in the use of authoring and multimedia tools, provides guidance in the creation of adequate materials for the VLE or in the digitalization of already existing resources. At the same time, the unit is responsible for the administrative management of the VL-platform like enrolment and user management.

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The pedagogical framework of the courses that is based on the traditional pedagogical principles - customization (individualization and socialisation), activity, creativity and constructivism - is defined by the University Institute of Distance Education (IUED), an entity that has also been responsible for the edition of the “Guía para la Virtualización de las Enseñanzas Regladas” (Virtualization Guide for Official Education). The USO-PC follows the recommendations of the IUED but it is usually the teacher who finally decides the characteristics of his online course. Possibly as a result of this institutional support and guidance, the attitude of the lecturers and tutors has been generally positive. Most people recognised the advantages of these systems, but at the same time, noted that their use added to the work load. The strategy used in the actual course delivery can be characterized by the intensive promotion of communicative and collaborative activities in the course that are backed by an online tutor who is the main permanent reference for both students and specialized teachers of each course. The tutor is in charge of the correct and punctual development of the activities and deals with particular problems of every single student. On the content side, each module is moderated by one of the teachers, experts in the field covered by the module. The teachers are in charge of conducting the learning processes in each module. This system reflects a considerable amount of industrialization by separating two different components which are student/teacher support (offered by the tutor) and teaching (offered by the teacher). The UNED applies a variety of quality control models, some of which were generated at an international level. Others were designed at a national level and a third group represent internal proposals of the institution itself. The academic and administrative development and management is in charge of quality control processes based on interviews and questionnaires. Results are closely analyzed by management and the teaching board in order to apply findings in the following editions of the program. In addition to this, a questionnaire to determine the level of satisfaction of all implied parties is handed out every second edition of the Masters course. There are no explicitly defined quality standards for e-learning. The institution is working with recommendations and protocols focussed on the evaluation of materials and courses. Online teachers receive reports with suggestions based on the results of the mentioned evaluation which is undertaken by the Institute of Distance Education (IUED). The main pillars of the institution’s quality system are the following: a) b) c) d)

A precise pedagogical framework provided by the IUED Adequate training for the personnel attending the online courses Quality control applied by USO-PC (support unit for virtual courses) before publicizing the course Periodical questionnaires about student’s satisfaction

The additional effort made by the teaching staff that deals with online courses has been taken into consideration, and after an initial period of experience, the work load is calculated approximately. It oscillates around 20% of the estimated time available.

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The collaboration with other institutions is limited to certain postgraduate courses. The main benefit has been the enrichment of the range of courses that UNED can offer. As a public university, the UNED has full credibility with the government and the public administrations of the country. The method of dealing with the large number of students is based on a combination of human and technological resources. The UNED has approximately 1300 lecturers and 6400 tutors to attend its students via the online courses. At the same time there are a series of applications that connect to the institution’s data bases as part of the online courses.

Economy The UNED does not have additional income from virtual courses. The virtual courses are offered as one more tool or service among those that are already available through enrolment. The institution experiences pressure in the meaning of an increasing competition in the elearning market. More and more universities offer e-learning modules as a complement to their traditional course provision, so that a growing number of providers attend a shrinking market of students. According to contracting models, UNED does not consider flexible employment as an option at the moment although it may become one in the near future.

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Universidade Aberta By Albert Sangrà and Pedro Fernández Michels Name of institution URL of institution Country Levels in the education system Number of employees Number of course enrolments in 2005 Number of online courses in 2005 Interviewed persons

Universidade Aberta (Open University of Portugal) www.univ-ab.pt Portugal Higher education level 464 in 2006, 36% of which were teaching staff 1400 60 António Moreira Teixeira, Pró-Reitor Lucia Amante, Depatment of Educational Sciences

Introduction Universidade Aberta was founded in 1988 and started its activities in the year 1989/1990 as a distance education university using traditional technology like video, audio and print material. The increasing number of students led to the first virtualization of the course offer in 2001. In 2006 Universidade Aberta provided more than 60 fully virtual courses to a total number of 62

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about 1400 students. Although up to the present year online courses have not been very representative for the institution’s general educational offer, the academic year 2007/2008 is going to mark a change in the main characteristics of Universidade Aberta: All postgraduate courses and all new courses belonging to the graduate segment that match the requirements for the European Higher Education Area will be offered online.

Contextual factors With a surface of almost 92.000 square kilometres and a resident population of about 10 million, Portugal comprises a part of continental Europe and the archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira. Its population is irregularly distributed. A very large number of people live in the metropolitan areas of Lisbon and Porto and in the coastal strip between both cities. The southern coast - the Algarve - is also rather densely populated, whereas the population density in the interior of the country is relatively low. The interior has sometimes considerable communication difficulties, and there is even a worrying process of (relative) depopulation in the rural areas. Despite this demographical situation, e-learning is not yet consolidated enough in Portugal to offer a viable alternative to traditional educational structures. No national policy specifically addressing e-learning exists. Within the most relevant instrument, the Portuguese Action Plan for the Information Society (POSI), no reference of an e-learning policy can be found other than action 2.3.1 “Develop e-learning courses” of measure 2.3 “Lifelong Learning” of item 2 “New Competences”, which can hardly qualify as a structured policy. The two main distance learning providers in Portugal, the Open University – “Universidade Aberta”, and the Mediatised Basic Teaching, “Ensino Básico Mediatizado”, offer both a combination of traditional teaching methods with e-learning multimedia packages or video technology to provide basic and higher education services. In addition, some private sector training companies offer offline e-learning scenarios based on CD-ROM-deliveries. Main providers on the Portuguese market are CEAC, CCC and CampusEsine. Again, however, only one full e-learning course is provided by the Naval Centre for Distance Learning (Centro Naval de Ensino à Distância), which offers distance learning for Recurrent Secondary Education for a specific type of qualification: the Military Sergeants' Course.”6 “Despite the non-existence of a national strategy for e-learning, there is a public entity that carries out relevant work on the development and establishment of rules and standards for elearning services (including certification of enterprises in the field of training and e-training). The IQF (Institute for Quality in Training) is a public institute whose main function is to offer strategic support to institutions and trainers developing projects and partnerships in order to improve the existing training system regarding its structure and qualification."7 The acceptance of e-learning within university students can be considered relatively high. The following table8 shows the indicators for the use of Internet within the Portuguese population: 6

www.euser-eu.org/eUSER_eLearningCountryBrief.asp?CaseID=2251&CaseTitleID=1092&MenuID=117 www.euser-eu.org/eUSER_eLearningCountryBrief.asp?CaseID=2251&CaseTitleID=1092&MenuID=117 [last visit: May 24th 2007] 8 Information found in: www.eusereu.org/eUSER_eLearningCountryBrief.asp?CaseID=2251&CaseTitleID=1092&MenuID=117 Households with Internet access = Percentage of households that have Internet access at home 2004; Population base: 16-74; Source: Eurostat 2005. Broadband penetration: Number of broadband in 7/2004 7

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Information Society indicators Portugal 26 % Households with Internet access 6.4 % Broadband penetration 73.25 Price for Internet use basket ICT expenditure as percentage of GDP 4.6 % 27.3 Digital Divide Index

Ø EU15 45 % 7.6 % 49.57 3.2 % 53.0

Ø EU25 42 % 6.5 % 48.35 2.6 % 50.1

This information can be contrasted with the graph below showing digital literacy in the population of the 25 EU-members. Digital literacy in population Individuals not using computers on the Internet (2005)9 (as a percentage of the total number of individuals aged 16 to 74)

The table below shows data regarding the use of ICT in Portugal for 2006.

connections related to population; user group not specified; Source: Eurostat 2005. Price for Internet use basket: for 40 hours using discounted PSTN rates; Source: OECD 2004. ICT expenditure: Annual expenditure for ICT hardware, equipment, software and other services in 2004, as percentage of GDP; Source: EITO. Digital Divide Index: The DIDIX is a compound index comprised of four indices, and measures diffusion of computer and Internet access and use amongst the four identified 'at risk' groups along the dimensions gender, age, education and income in relation to the population average. The lower the Index value the more severe is the divide, with parity resulting in a value of 100. Based on SIBIS data from 2002/2003 ( www.sibis-eu.org ). EU25 average does not include Malta and Cyprus. See Hüsing, T. & Selhofer, H. (2004): DIDIX: A Digital Divide Index for Measuring Inequality in IT Diffusion, In: IT&SOCIETY, 1(7): 21-38. 9 DEMUNTER, Christophe (2006): “How skilled are Europeans in using computers and the Internet?” [Online article]. In: Statistics on focus. Industry, trade and services 17/2006. (Data retrieved on 21/05/2007). URL: http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/cache/ITY_OFFPUB/KS-NP-06-017/EN/KS-NP-06-017-EN.PDF

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The light blue bars (left) indicate the percentage of households with computers. The red bars (middle) show the percentage of households connected to the Internet and the dark blue bars (right) show the percentage of households with broadband connection.10

Historical context Universidade Aberta started its activity in the year 89/90 as a traditional distance education university providing mainly print materials, video and audio resources. In the year 2001, the institution started to offer the first online courses. In a three-year period, Universidad Aberta plans to make it compulsory to study all courses online. The increasing number of students led to an unsatisfactory situation regarding the adequacy of the teaching and learning methods used so far and Universidad Aberta was forced to look for a solution in the field of virtual distance education. Competence in e-learning has developed gradually throughout the last five years. By the means of collaborative interchange between teachers of the Education department from 2006 onwards, all teachers have voluntary enrolled in an online trainer’s programmes. In a step-by step process the institution started with short courses for online trainers in 2001/02 and in 2002/03. In 2003/04 one program belonging to the postgraduate segment (Educational Multimedia Communication) was transformed from a traditional format into an online program. Later, apart form this first program there are 3 more online degrees available: The postgraduate course in Pedagogical Supervision, and the postgraduate course in Information Management in School. In the year 2005/06 the course E-Learning Pedagogy was added. Now, the dissemination of this experience throughout the university followed a more abrupt approach since all courses will become online based, according to the new strategic plan approved in 2006. The active element in Universidade Aberta regarding online education was the Department for Educational Sciences. Research and experience have led to the final development of a proposal for a Pedagogical Model for online learning that has been approved by the institution’s management and will be applicable the coming academic year.

10

Inquérito à Utilização de Tecnologias da Informação e da Comunicação pelas Famílias – 2006: www.ine.pt/temas.asp?ver=eng&temas=I (Instituto Nacionla de Estadísitca Portugal) [site visited on May 24th 2007].

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Technical issues Competence is not homogeneous. The idea of online education has not been adopted without resistance in all the institution, but most teachers are very motivated and have developed a high level of expertise and excellence. The university uses the free open source platform MOODLE as the main VLE so that the technical requirements on the client side do not include any special items. Thanks to the virtual administrative system, the application process is less bureaucratic, because it is directly managed by the secretary of the pedagogical department and does not need to go through the administrative system. Nevertheless there are difficulties in articulating the processes controlled by the pedagogical secretariat on one hand (application) and the administrative services on the other hand (enrolment). In addition, enrolment fees can not be paid online, which is a contradiction to the philosophy of a wholly functional online campus. The administrative centre of the university is undergoing a transformation process in order to handle these contradictions and difficulties.

Courses Universidade Aberta offers 5 postgraduate programmes covering: • • • • •

Pedagogy of E-learning Information Management in School Libraries Pedagogical Supervision Educational Multimedia Communication Teacher Training

With duration of 4 trimesters, the courses are not yet adapted to the Bologna requisites. The programmes will be functioning according to the Bologna requisites from 2007/08. In the year 2007/08 the following courses or programmes are going to be included in the online offer: • • • • • • • • • • • • •

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Educational Technicians Online trainers and online tutors Environmental Citizenship Environmental Sciences Nature Consuming and Nutrition Applied Languages Studies of archaeological and architectonical patrimony Electronic Commerce and Internet Religion and Culture Graphic Expression Francophone culture, literature and society Lusophone culture, literature and society

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• • • •

American culture, literature and society Portuguese culture, literature and society English culture, literature and society Euroasiatic culture, literature and society

Universidade Aberta, as an experienced institution in distance education, does not see any difficulties in adapting its existing courses to the virtual medium. There are no possibilities of flexible start-up and/or progression. The timetables are organized based on trimesters and will be organized in semesters in order to match the Bologna requisites. Students are given 15 days to get used to the VLE. This acclimatising period is done in MOODLE. The pedagogical model underlying online teaching and learning in Universidade Aberta sees asynchronous communication as a fundamental tool in e-learning courses.

Management, strategy and attitudes The Department of Educational Sciences worked without any major support for the first years in which the implementation of e-learning scenarios was started. Since last year the institution’s leadership shows major involvement and commitment with e-learning issues. The initial group of staff committed with e-learning showed a very high degree of motivation and generated a very positive work dynamic. The lack of knowledge and/or the fear of not being able to cope with the workload or with the technical challenges create a certain resistance in some staff members. The implementation of e-learning is based on a strategic plan that consists basically in the following main actions: • • • • •

Definition of the educational model for online teaching and learning Advanced teacher training program Distance Education Laboratory (beginning to be developed) Creation of a multimedia resource repository Plan of collaboration with local governments and decision makers regarding the improvement of Internet access to students (Wifi distribution and others).

Courses are evaluated regarding quality through student questionnaires and through a coordinated evaluation protocol undertaken by the course directors. A general evaluation system on university level is being developed. Regarding workload for the teaching staff, there is no systematic approach that the institution has developed, but out of experience one can say that an online course generates more work than a traditional distance course. There is no compensation system to balance the differences in workloads because at the moment, there are not many online courses functioning. At the same time one has to say that the traditional distance courses generate a very low level of workload, so that the combination of traditional courses and online courses could lead to a sustainable balance.

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The courses are conducted by external tutors. One tutor can teach up to 50 students in one group, so that a number of 200 students can be taught by 3 tutors plus the responsible coordinator of the subject. Universidade Aberta cooperates with other educational institutions in specific face-to-face contexts. However, the university is planning several joint degrees with other institutions both from Portugal and other countries. As a public institution, its credibility with the government has always been total. Nevertheless the virtual branch of the educational program was sometimes not well accepted, a resistance that has recently disappeared, because of a general increase of e-learning provision. Universidade Aberta does not yet have large numbers of online students. For the near future, the institution relies on a system characterized by a centralized responsibility, a high level of industrialization in the processes of program design, material production and course delivery, a rigorous course planning, an effective administrative system, and the stability of MOODLE.

Economy Universidade Aberta is a public university, but students still have to pay fees. The costs for the 2nd degree are higher than the ones for the 1st degree. The fact that the course demand is always higher than the institution’s course offer makes income fairly predictable. The institution’s intention is to keep a balance between costs and income. At the end, the university’s activities always create certain economic benefits. In any case, the cost of developing online courses is very much lower than the cost for developing traditional distance education courses using video and audio material – this is especially important with an increasing number of courses and a decreasing number of students per course. Universidade Aberta reacts to the pressure to be flexible with a very centralized organization that makes it much easier to adapt quickly market changes. In this context the fact that the university is still a relatively small institution is a clear advantage. Flexibility is also achieved by the employment of external tutors depending on student numbers.

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Universities, Colleges and Consortia There are thirteen institutions in this category. The two German institutions, The Bavarian Virtual University and OnCampus, can be characterized as consortia. The Norwegian School of Management (BI) is a private university with a distance education centre. The remaining eleven institutions can be characterized as public universities and colleges.

Consortia Bavarian Virtual University (Virtuelle Hochschule Bayern) is an institute set up by all nine state universities and all 17 state universities of applied sciences in Bavaria. OnCampus is the e-learning department of Lübeck University of Applied Sciences (LUAS).

Distance education centre at private university The Norwegian School of Management (BI) is a non-profit private institution offering courses at higher education (tertiary) level and within vocational training. BI Norwegian School of Management, Distance Education Centre (BI DE) is, as the name implies, a part of this institution. Norwegian School of Management has about 340 academic staff members. A considerable number of these teach at BI DE. BI DE has about 8500 course enrolments per year.

Public universities and colleges At the University of Liège in Belgium, the Institute for Training and Research in Higher Education is in charge of the university's Virtual Campus. University of Tartu is a national university in Estonia which provides flexible learning and continuing education programmes through its Open University. About 100 distance education courses can be more or less fully completed online. The university’s e-learning strategy aims to have web-based support for all Open University (distance) curricula by 2010. Scuola IaD is a distance education academic institution operating within the in-presence educational environment of the University of Rome Tor Vergata in Italy. Sør-Trøndelag University College (HiST) is a dual mode publicly financed higher education institution with several departments. Largescale e-learning has mainly been done in one of these departments, Department of Informatics and e-learning (AITeL). Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM) is a public university in Spain. The interview focuses on GATE (Gabinete de Tele-Educación), a department attached to the Vice Presidency of New Technologies and Web Based Services. Megaproviders of e-learning in Europe

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Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (ULPGC) is one of Spain's 48 public universities. Online education in the ULPGC rose to a higher level in the academic year 20012002 when the institution offered its first full online degree. Since then online course provision has grown and become an important factor in the university’s academic program. Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) is a major university in the city of Manchester in the North West of England. Today the university has over 30000 students and over 4000 staff. Its leadership in e-learning is supported by its Learning and Teaching Unit. Competence in elearning has grown organically and over a long period since the first initiatives taken in 1995. MMU today has 1000 online courses and 15000 e-learning students. Staffordshire University has a long history of providing vocational courses to its local communities as well as to regional, national and international students. It has a history of elearning dating back to 1997. It reports to have 700 course modules online on its Blackboard Learning Management System (LMS). These courses are either e-learning for blended learning or e-learning for work-based learning or pure distance education. The university has between 5000 and 6000 e-learning students of whom 600-800 are pure distance education students. The University of Leicester is one of the older universities in the United Kingdom and claims to be UK’s largest provider of distance education after the Open University. Nearly 100 percent of the university’s courses are online, and the university policy is to embed e-learning throughout all relevant university departments. University of Ulster is situated on four sites in Northern Ireland. Its involvement in distance education was low key until 1998, but in 2000 the university’s Institute of Lifelong Learning was founded with a special responsibility to support e-learning.

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Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria Pedro Fernández Michels and Lourdes Guàrdia Name of institution URL of institution Country Number of employees Levels in the education system Number of course enrolments in 2005 Number of online courses in 2005 Interviewees

Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria www.ulpgc.es Spain 1554 teaching staff, 761 admin Higher education and vocational training 12237 450 José Juan Castro Sánchez Vicerrector de Planificación y Calidad (Vice-president in planification and quality) Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria Tel. +34 928 451019/458010 Fax. +34 928 457276

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Introduction The Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, one of Spain’s 48 public universities, started up in 1989-1990 as a consequence of a big social movement that happened in Gran Canaria Island claiming a reorganization of the academic structure on the islands in order to improve access to higher education. This movement finished when the Canarian Parliament passed the "Ley de Reorganización Universitaria de Canarias" (University Reorganization Law of the Canary Islands) on April, 26th 1989. The application of the mentioned law not only created the ULPGC, whose rectorate is located in Gran Canaria, but it also meant the integration of the Polytechnic University of the Canary Islands and the redistribution of the university centres existing at that moment in the archipelago. Online education in the ULPGC rose to a higher level in the academic year 2001-2002 when the institution offered its first full online degree. Since then online course provision has grown and become an important factor in the university’s academic program.

Contextual factors concerning online education in Spain The ULPGC is located in a geographically difficult area. Providing studies and training to a target group that is distributed over several islands is certainly a challenge due to the reduced mobility of the people. In the ULPGC, distance education is seen as a solution to this problem, apart from being a possibility of widening the caption area towards other regions like Africa, America and the rest of Spain and Europe. There currently exist 70 universities in Spain, 48 of which are public. The total number of registered students in Spanish universities for the academic year 2004/05 was 1.535.626. The results of the European e-user-Project11 describe the diffusion of ICT in Spain as unsatisfactory. This is due to the low penetration of Internet in the households in comparison to the other EU members, which could be related to the high prices of Internet connection. Broadband diffusion, however, has been comparatively fast in the last three years, in particular in the more developed and urban parts of the country such as Catalonia and Madrid. The same study reports considerably big disparities in access to and use of the Internet between sub-segments of the population e.g. genders, age groups, socio-economic groups etc. The acceptance of e-learning within university students can be considered as relatively high. In spite of the lack of diffusion of ICTs and the disparities mentioned above, the large number of e-learning initiatives in Spanish universities indicates a satisfactory level of acceptance of the use of ICT in teaching and learning among the academic community. It can be assumed that digital literacy in the target group is relatively high. Spanish university students and teachers use computers and the Internet on a regular basis. However the percentage of the total number of Spanish people aged 16 to 74 that do not use the computer or the Internet is slightly higher than the same figure for the UE-25.12

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www.euser-eu.org DEMUNTER, Christophe (2006): “How skilled are Europeans in using computers and the Internet?” [Online article]. In: Statistics on focus. Industry, trade and services 17/2006. (Data retrieved on 30/10/2006). URL: http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/cache/ITY_OFFPUB/KS-NP-06-017/EN/KS-NP-06-017-EN.PDF

12

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Neither the central government nor the regional administrations are carrying out a specific policy in order to promote e-learning. The projects that are being undertaken are more generic and only have an indirect effect on the development of e-learning. Examples are the provision of equipments and access to ICT for schools, the development of Internet courses and training, the support of innovation and development in educational applications of ICT, the cooperation between Latin America and Europe in the area of ICT in education, projects supported by the government through the European Social Fund and through the Spanish Continuing Training Foundation FORCEM, the promotion of ICTs in enterprises that offer elearning courses through FORINTEL (a program created by the Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Commerce) or the “Plan España.es” that promotes accessibility to training and digital contents.

Historical context The promoters of the e-learning initiative counted with a good initial situation to implement online teaching and learning. Some of the important pillars the current situation is based on are the following: • • • • • • • •

the existence of a Innovation Centre for the Information Society that introduced and translated WebCT when a large number of universities still did not know this platform the experience of having been offering some courses and postgraduate programmes through this platform for several years the fact of being very much involved in ICT as a university the high ratio PC/student the early provision of course programmes and some contents on the Internet the early possibility of online enrolment assessment management over the Internet online information about each student’s academic file etc.

The whole virtualization process is based on a step by step program established previously in the institutions strategic plan 2002-2006. In this sense we are looking at a top-down model that follows strategic decisions taken on a high level. The stated objective of promoting the online campus for the development of the academic studies is carried out following several strategies that trigger concrete actions. An example of a strategy is: •

To enlarge the provision of official studies by distance education in order to ease the access to higher education studies to those that can not participate in face-to-face courses at the university.

Two concrete actions triggered by this strategy would be: • •

To establish common actions with national and foreign organisations in order to offer online or blended degrees and courses, and to update the university’s provision of distance education working on already existing face-to-face degrees, as well as on new degrees and postgraduate degrees previously carrying out the necessary evaluation of feasibility.

Another important factor that characterizes the development of online education in the ULPGC is that courses, contents, methods and teachers are subject to evaluation in order to guarantee the quality of teaching.

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Every year workshops are held in which the latest experiences are presented and debated, as well as meetings where each course and the impact of the improvements that have been undertaken is evaluated. At the same time the participation in national and international congresses can be mentioned as opportunities to analyze the institution’s model. The courses and the applied innovations are subject to evaluation through surveys carried out among teachers and students. The results of these surveys are published.

Technical issues The ULPGC’s learning platform is based on MOODLE, a free license platform that can be used without major equipment. The only tools needed are a basic computer and an Internet connection. The university’s administrative routines like enrolment, grade management, information about programmes, contents, academic portfolios etc. are done or accessible online, provided by the university’s own systems. These systems had been developed for on campus students even before the institution started its e-learning project, which meant a real step forward and the creation of a good base regarding the requisites of the future, now present, distance education and administration. Eadministration is, therefore, a consolidated part in the organization. More than 99% of on campus students enrol themselves over the Internet. The other routines, for example the applications for the homologation of credits in open configuration contexts, are more and more done via Internet. Competence in information technology is very high. The institution can count on a team of technicians specialized on the university’s own technical developments. At the same time ULPGC has created an own enterprise “ULPGC-TIC” (ULPGC-ICT) that has started receiving contracts for external developments. Regarding technological development, resources and implementation, the ULPGC holds a position comparable to the rest of the country’s universities.

Courses The courses provided by the ULPGC cover a wide range of subjects and academic contexts, from graduate studies to continuing training for the staff, all including courses for open study configuration, own degrees in the field of graduate, postgraduate and doctorate programmes, academic extension courses (vocational) and lifelong learning. Over 50% of the postgraduate and continuing training programmes are online. Although the ULPGC considers all subjects potentially “onlineable”, the focus lies on those studies and types of knowledge that are especially liable to being transmitted and acquired online. These are basically studies related to social sciences, business, law and education. To a lower extend one can find biomedical sciences and technical courses in the context of graduate programmes, but these reappear in the context of postgraduates. Nearly all the courses have fixed start-up and progression in accordance with the f2f programmes.

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Most communication is asynchronous. Synchronous communication is optional and has more of a social function rather than an academic one. Only the language courses where teacher and students have to speak and see each other, synchronous communication is required at some moments.

Management, strategy and attitudes The involvement of management in e-learning is complete and reflected as such in the different strategic plans. It is entirely conducted by the highest institution and is not an experimental situation created by a group of interested teachers. Attitudes are very much in favour of distance education. The majority of the teaching staff (800 out of 1500) actively use the same platform (MOODLE) in order to enhance their faceto-face lessons. The strategy of online education in the ULPGC is defined by the institution’s strategic plan 2002-2006. The main objective in the field of teaching is: To enhance the use of the ULPGC’s Virtual Campus in order to develop the academic teaching processes fomenting an open and flexible pedagogical model that combines the intensive use of ICT with face-to-face assistance. In order to develop it, this objective is transformed into concrete actions. The following table shows the strategies and the actions that are related to the Estructura de Teleformación ULPGC (Distance Education Structure ULPGC). Examples for concrete actions under the stated objectives are: • • • • •

To offer the complete degree in psycho-pedagogical studies online, progressively incorporating both of its courses into the online context. To constitute a unit responsible for the implementation and maintenance of the technical systems on which the ULPGC’s distance education is based. To establish common actions with national and foreign organisations in order to offer online or blended degrees and courses. To update the university’s provision of distance education working on already existing f2f degrees as well as on new degrees and postgraduate degrees previously carrying out the necessary evaluation of feasibility. To negotiate the contracts with the local public administration in order to create multimedia rooms that support distance teaching and learning.

Another important focus is continuing training in order to present online learning as a possibility of effective preparation for the labour market. This lead to the creation of the ULPGC’s Centre for Continuing Training, and to an impulse of the training activities that cover the needs of different sectors and social groups. All courses offered through the ULPGC distance education programmes include materials that have been produced previously following a special guideline to guarantee a recognizable layout. These course materials are the base of the programmes and without them it is not possible to start the course. In the past years, counting only the graduate studies, over 100 handbooks were designed and edited, one for each course. These handbooks are also used by students that are enrolled in f2f courses. Megaproviders of e-learning in Europe

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Teachers are not obliged to work in distance learning. If they do so, they get an economical compensation. The ULPGC belongs to the national association of universities that use MOODLE through which it keeps lively contact with other institutions. The Canarian university system has not yet made a clear decision in favour of online education. The university had to charge all the costs on the students and did not receive any additional financial support for off campus education. The support by government and public administration has therefore not been essential for success. The teaching platform based on MOODLE, the internal developments in e-administration and the powerful ICT service of the institution, makes it relatively easy to manage large numbers of students. All this and the strong demand for off campus education in an intermittent territory and the strong institutional support given by management practically guarantee a successful result.

Economy Although the ULPGC is a public university, the price for distance education runs on a private basis. This means that the student pays 100 % of the costs. It is essential to avoid losses and the prices cover or are slightly above the costs. This cost-effectiveness has allowed the institution to accept new challenges every academic year. Income is stable and predictable because every year the number of students grows while the costs for material production, for example does not grow. It is true that the institution experiences certain pressure to adapt to a market that is in constant development. There is a constant effort in order to fulfil these requirements. One prove of this is actually our effort in online education as a response to real needs, as for example the claims for better access to the university for the inhabitants of the peripheral islands that do not have their own campus, expressed by the representatives of the smaller islands of our archipelago who are members of our Social Council. In the same way, the postgraduate studies, including the off campus branch, changes every year according to an evolving market. The postgraduate programmes have to be financed by external income and if that’s not possible or cost-effective, the programmes do not take place. This means that the “market” decides which courses are going to be carried out in the end. As a public entity the ULPGC is not entitled to contract personnel. It relies on its teaching staff but only on those who are prepared to accept the requirements of distance education. At the same time incentives for this kind of work are offered.

Conclusions These factors are seen as vital for the ULPGC’s success as a megaprovider of online education: • •

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Being a young university created on a strong social demand. Institutional support and planning based on a top-down approach.

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• • • • • •

Early experiences with online learning platforms and an early set-up of eadministration tools and procedures. High competence in technical issues. The need to reach the level of the more veteran universities as quickly as possible. The opportunity of not having to make the same mistakes as the other ones. The fact of not being tied to a consolidated team. The fact of being located in an intermittent territory (islands) with the need of distance education.

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Universidad Politécnica de Madrid-GATE (Gabinete de Tele-Educación) Pedro Fernández Michels Name of institution URL of institution Country Number of employees GATE Levels in the education system Number of course enrolments in 2005 Number of online courses in 2005 Interviewed persons

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Polytechnic University of Madrid (Universidad Politécnica de Madrid – UPM) GATE (Gabinete de Tele-Educación) www.upm.es Spain 20 Higher education 14000 110 Raquel Portaencasa, Head of the Gabinete de Tele-Educación (distance education cabinet)

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Introduction The UPM is a public university located in the capital of Spain. The majority of its centres were founded in the 18th and 19th centuries. Each of them maintained its independence until being grouped together to form the UPM in 1971. Being a public university, UPM operates on a non-profit basis and is integrated in the Spanish higher education system. The interview focuses on GATE (Gabinete de Tele-Educación), a department attached to the Vice Presidency of New Technologies and Web Based Services (Vicerrectorado de Nuevas Tecnologías y Servicios en Red). The main functions of GATE are: a) To provide support to teachers that wish to integrate ICT in their teaching processes b) To develop the university’s virtual campus in collaboration with the service for computer science c) To collaborate in different projects and initiatives related to distance education d) To develop online courses for graduate students (optional courses), continuing training courses and training courses for the university’s teaching and administrative personnel. The VLE used to deliver e-learning is MOODLE. In the year 2005, 110 different courses were provided and there were 14.000 course enrolments. The courses belong to the segment of higher education and to the field of continuing training in the case of the programmes directed to the university’s staff. Contextual factors concerning online education in Spain The UPM is a well known institution in the field of technical studies. Therefore it not only focuses on the wider area of Madrid, but also on the whole country. The total population of Spain is 40 million. Spanish is the common language in all 17 autonomous regions, three of which have an own language with official status within the region. There currently exist 70 universities in Spain, 48 of which are public. The total number of registered students in Spanish universities for the academic year 2004/05 was 1.535.626. The results of the European e-user-Project13 describe the diffusion of ICT in Spain unsatisfactory due to the low penetration of Internet in the households in comparison to the other EU members which could be related to the high prices of Internet connection. Broadband diffusion, however, has been comparatively fast in the last three years, in particular in the more developed and urban parts of the country such as Catalonia and Madrid. The same study reports considerably big disparities in access to and use of the Internet between sub-segments of the population e.g. genders, age groups, socio-economic groups etc. The acceptance of e-learning within university students can be considered as relatively high. In spite of the lack of diffusion of ICTs and the disparities mentioned above, the large number of e-learning initiatives in Spanish universities indicates a satisfactory level of acceptance of the use of ICT in teaching and learning among the academic community.

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www.euser-eu.org

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It can be assumed that digital literacy in the target group is relatively high. Spanish university students and teachers use computers and the Internet on a regular basis. However the percentage of the total number of Spanish people aged 16 to 74 that do not use the computer or the Internet is slightly higher than the same figure for the UE-25.14 Neither the central government nor the regional administrations are carrying out a specific policy in order to promote e-learning. The projects that are being undertaken are more generic and only have an indirect effect on the development of e-learning. Examples are the provision of equipments and access to ICT for schools, the development of Internet courses and training, the support of innovation and development in educational applications of ICT, the cooperation between Latin America and Europe in the area of ICT in education, projects supported by the government through the European Social Fund and through the Spanish Continuing Training Foundation FORCEM, the promotion of ICTs in enterprises that offer elearning courses through FORINTEL (a program created by the Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Commerce) or the “Plan España.es” that promotes accessibility to training and digital contents.

History The GATE (Gabinete de Tele-Educación) was created in 1991 in order to integrate ICT in the UPM’s educational program. The main activities of the cabinet are to coordinate the elearning courses offered in the university and to give support and training to teachers and staff that wish to provide online teaching to their students. This training includes technical as well as pedagogical aspects. However, online training started in 2000. Since then, the courses that are offered have changed considerably and the target group has grown. The growth of the project can be described with the following figures: • • •

Higher education courses: From 29 initially to 67 now. Continuing training courses: From 12 initially to 35 now. Courses for the university’s personnel: Started in 2005. Currently 12 courses.

The strategy is mainly based on carrying out experimental projects that are analyzed, evaluated and conceptualized by the GATE in order to make them extensible for general use. Hence, the development of e-learning competence relies to a considerable extend on individual initiatives that are gathered by the cabinet, in order to turn them into feasible projects applicable to the institution’s educative program. It can therefore be considered a slow process that moves forward step by step, driven by individual initiatives that are mediated and monitored by the GATE. It is possibly the bottom-up approach that has contributed to the success of the university’s e-learning activity so far. Thanks to this approach, new projects were more likely to cover real needs. A very important factor that characterizes the development of e-learning programmes by the GATE is evaluation, which has been a key instrument in the implementation and application process of e-learning projects and courses since the beginning of the cabinet’s activity. The teaching materials and particularly the teaching processes are evaluated continuously with the help of questionnaires for teachers and students and employing observers that follow the

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DEMUNTER, Christophe (2006): “How skilled are Europeans in using computers and the Internet?” [Online article]. In: Statistics on focus. Industry, trade and services 17/2006. (Data retrieved on 30/10/2006). URL: http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/cache/ITY_OFFPUB/KS-NP-06-017/EN/KS-NP-06-017-EN.PDF

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course activities and check the resources, the contents and the learning activities “in situ”. Obviously the learning process of each student is also subject to evaluation. The results of these evaluation routines are summarized in a report at the end of the term and handed out to the teachers so that they can work on it as a basis document that indicates possible needs of improvement. The evaluation activity as a whole has generated and is based on a book of good practice. In addition to the evaluation processes, GATE runs a technological observatory that carries out research on pedagogical and technical issues in the e-learning context. The observatory is an important instrument to keep the institution up to date. One interesting example is the evaluation of a large number of e-learning platforms undertaken by the GATE and the Department of Electronic systems and Control (SEC). The project’s results played a substantial role in the decision to choose MOODLE as the university’s VLE.

Technical issues The e-learning courses at UPM are always based on widely used technology in order to make sure that every student can access and run the courses without any special skills or additional hardware or software. The only item necessary to be able to follow a UPM online course is a computer with a standard configuration and an Internet connection. This form of accessibility is considered a key issue for success because it makes the institution’s courses broadly available. All e-learning activity that happens in and around GATE is based on MOODLE as the institutional VLE running in the institution. Although it is true that there are some own developments in the field of learning management systems within the university as a whole, like AulaWeb and ARFO, in the specific context of the distance learning cabinet it is certainly an advantage not having to deal with several different systems and the need to integrate them under a common purpose. The GATE decided to use MOODLE because it is a very comprehensive platform regarding the numerous resources it offers, and after having analyzed the results of the mentioned evaluation of e-learning platforms. It was considered important not to depend on the services of a commercial provider and to be able to introduce as many changes as necessary in the original configuration or code of the application in order to adapt it to the institution’s needs and requirements. Another factor worth mentioning is that there is an important academic community that uses and improves MOODLE constantly. The administrative system, and here we’re mainly talking about enrolments and registrations, runs with ORACLE. The integration of both systems, MOODLE and ORACLE, is not always easy and it was necessary to develop intermediate applications in order to ensure a correct communication between the two systems. Another complicated point is the certification process, particularly in continuing training courses.

Courses The courses offered in the UPM context belong to the field of higher education and continuing training. Nearly all subjects offered through the GATE are related to engineering and architecture. These very technical fields are certainly “onlineable” but sometimes require the development of special tools and applications that are used in the virtual laboratory. In addition to these technical challenges there are other difficulties that are more closely related to online teaching and learning itself: The GATE’s courses are largely based on

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asynchronous communication and characterized by an intensive use of virtual communication and collaboration tools, such as forums, WIKIs etc. It is sometimes difficult to find topics or problems that are open enough to be discussed and debated on. The very technical character of the subjects generates declarative and conceptual knowledge that is very little susceptible to debating and negotiating. However, the course design takes this difficulty into account and offers many complex learning activities like case studies and problem based learning in order to make a collaborative approach easier to be carried out. The intensive use of communication tools in online learning is considered a key factor for success. Communication and collaboration creates a group consciousness and supports a meaningful and efficient learning process. The UPM doesn’t understand e-learning as a form of ICT-based content provision. Not only the academic aspects of online activity are taken into account, but also the social perspective of togetherness in virtual environments, which can be an important and even decisive basis for a good teaching and learning performance. However, there is no flexible start-up and progression. A determined and structured time organization is considered a valuable help for the students in their task of managing their online learning experience.

Management, strategy and attitudes The unconditional support of the presidency of the university has certainly been decisive when it came to providing means, approve initiatives, create spaces and canalize projects towards the GATE. Thanks to the mediated bottom-up approach followed by the institution where the first initiative rests with the individual employee but which at the same time provides effective guidance, the attitude of the staff has changed from an initial scepticism to a considerable amount of interest and proactive approaches. Apart from the increased familiarity and even expertise with e-learning and its related issues, the reformation of the university’s study plans according to the Bologna process has certainly contributed to a higher degree of consciousness and acceptance of online approaches as valid tools to achieve the necessary changes in the system. The considerable increase of the workload by taking responsibility in an online course is a key issue that is addressed already at the design stage of the courses. The intention is to limit the teacher’s active role without jeopardizing the communicative approach. Every teacher that is interested in designing an online course receives an 80 hour training package in order to help them to make correct decisions and prevent them from designing learning experiences that might not be feasible due to the large amount of work they would generate. In the whole process of implementation and application of e-learning, quality is considered a key factor for success. GATE has a whole unit dedicated exclusively to quality. The aim is to achieve a progressive improvement of all aspects of e-learning through constant evaluation before, during and after the process or experience. There are mechanisms and institutions for internal and external evaluation. The effectiveness of the administrative routines can be described as satisfactory. As a key factor stands the fact that the routines and tools have been developed by the institution itself which certainly guarantees a high degree of adjustment to particular needs and requirements.

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The collaboration with other educational institutions is frequent, fluid and certainly positive under the aspect of mutual enrichment. Collaboration, benchmarking, exchange of ideas, sharing training, courses and experiences (for example with universities in Latin America) has clearly contributed to success. Being a public university, the credibility of the UPM with the government and the public administration is total.

Economy As a public university the UPM has to be considered a service that is not subject to economic parameters. However, the cost-effectiveness in the area of continuing training is certainly satisfactory, although the income is neither stable nor predictable due to the fluctuation of the number of registered students. The institution keeps a high degree of flexibility on the technical side in order to guarantee an ongoing validity of the created courses and resources. This is mainly undertaken by following the main standards that operate in the field of e-learning. Flexible employment is necessary in a field that does not allow exact prediction on volume and needs. The GATE keeps a flexible pool of part-time employees that can be activated according to the upcoming needs. Some of these needs are covered by trainees. Currently the “Gabinete de Tele-Educación” has 20 people employed, 11 of which have regular work contracts.

Conclusions The important factors for UPM’s success and survival as a megaprovider of online education are: • • • • •

The mediated bottom-up approach which leads to an online course provision that meets the real needs of the institution and implies teachers as an active part in design and implementation processes improving motivation and skills. The pedagogical approach based on communication and collaborative learning activities which helps to keep interest and motivation on a reasonable level and avoids student’s isolation in self-learning contexts that could lead to a higher drop-out rate. The use of an open source VLE which allows adapting the system to the specific needs of the institution at a very low cost. The strong support given by management. An efficient evaluation system which provides clear data allowing constant improvement.

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The University of Leicester By Desmond Keegan Name of institution URL of institution Country Number of employees Levels in the educational systems Number of course enrolments in 2005 Number of online courses in 2005 Interviewed persons

The University of Leicester www.le.ac.uk United Kingdom 2000 Higher education 7000 1000 Prof Gilly Salmon and Dr David Christmas

Introduction The University of Leicester is one of the older universities in the United Kingdom. Founded in 1921 with nine students, the fledgling college gained full degree-awarding powers in 1957 when it was granted its Royal Charter. The site for the University was given by a local textile manufacturer, Thomas Fielding Johnson, in order to create a living memorial for those who gave their lives in the First World

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War. This is reflected in the University motto “Ut Vitam Habeant” - so that they may have life. The university presents itself thus: Leicester has been ranked joint 1st for teaching quality and overall satisfaction amongst mainstream English universities for two successive years by the National Student Survey. Over two thirds of our subjects are in the top 10. The University has been shortlisted for the award of Higher Education Institution of the Year by the Times Higher Education Supplement. The 2006 shortlist of 5 universities reads "Leicester is not the biggest, richest or most famous university in the UK. But by any measure it is one of the best". Leicester was shortlisted for the same award in 2005 and is the only university shortlisted for two consecutive years. Leicester is a member of the 1994 Group of internationally renowned universities engaged in leading-edge research and high quality teaching. Our research strengths stretch across our five faculties. Over 90% of academic staff are research active. 13 departments gained the 5 or 5* ratings that indicate internationally significant work in the 2001 Research Assessment Exercise. Leicester is ranked 18th by the Times Good University Guide. The guide identifies Leicester as having the sixth highest completion rate amongst universities (95.6%) - narrowly behind Oxbridge. Leicester is one of just 21 UK universities to feature in the world's top 200 universities (joint 16th in the UK and 151st in the world in the Shanghai Jiao Tong Table) Over 19,000 students drawn from 150 countries study with us. We are the UK's largest provider of distance learning education after the Open University. E-learning at the University of Leicester is led by Professor Gilly Salmon, Professor of Elearning and Learning Technologies and Distance Education is led by Dr David Christmas. Nearly 100% of the university’s courses are online and the university has two Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs): Blackboard and Tribal. The university has 18.000 e-learning students, 95% of the student body. There are 6000 distance learning students. University policy is to embed e-learning throughout all relevant university departments.

Historical context Distance learning at the University of Leicester began in the faculties of management and law (MBA, MA law) as an additional revenue earner. It has flourished in post-graduate courses and professional development courses for 14 years. Most e-learning has been in on campus courses. It was a question of encouraging academics to participate. University departments don’t learn well from each other. Cross fertilization is difficult and expertise usually does not spread well. In an ideal world if you could design an e-learning system from scratch and buy in expertise it would be good. In fact the university adopted Blackboard five years ago. A few people were keen advocates of e-learning and got 2000 staff involved and provided practical help. All this Megaproviders of e-learning in Europe

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was campus based. Then two and a half years ago the university took a new approach and a scaling up took place with the appointments of Prof Gilly Salmon and Dr David Christmas, both formerly at the Open University of the United Kingdom, to head up the e-learning and distance education operations. Professor Salmon in an article with the imaginative title “Flying not flapping: a strategic framework for e-learning and pedagogical innovation in higher education institutions� writes of these developments: Leicester is typical of the traditional campus-based university keen to capitalize on the benefits of e-learning, while also having to move from twentieth-century distance learning to twenty-firstcentury online learning for its large-scale distance programmes. Late in 2004, I was charged with preparing a strategic framework for the development of elearning at the University of Leicester (www.le.ac.uk). Fortunately the university had recognized, prior to my appointment, that e-learning needed to be developed with appropriate pedagogical and customer-driven underpinnings. A Director of Distance Learning Administration was appointed at the same time as I was, with an agenda of administrative and systems developments. His strategy and actions were developed separately from the e-learning strategy, although each clearly underpins the other (Salmon 2005:210).

Evaluation and research publication has followed these developments through the university’s Beyond Distance Research Alliance and in liaison with the United Kingdom Higher Education Academy. Extensive benchmarking has taken place with the focus being on outcomes for student learning and implications for institutional change.

Technical issues The university uses the Blackboard VLE and has a second VLE called Tribal. Competence in information and communication technologies has benchmarked well in recent official surveys, though knowledge management would be poor when compared to the Open University of the United Kingdom. The university uses widely used technologies for e-learning that enable the students to take the courses without having to buy additional hardware or software. There is a requirement that every University of Leicester student must have regular access to the Internet, though this requirement can be met by students using machines in the university library. Leicester does not have integration between the different Information Technology systems, for instance there are no student records on Blackboard. This integration is regarded as desirable but not essential. The emphasis in e-learning is on pedagogy not on systems. Professor Salmon (2005:203) comments: Learning technologies are not transparent, their properties are not obvious and do not broadcast their utility. No VLE will ever be enough in itself to create great e-learning. However, teachers and designers frequently attribute the capacity for doing or achieving the learning to the technology. It just cannot be successful without appropriate, well-supported and focused human intervention, good learning design or pedagogical input and the sensitive handling of the process over time by trained online tutors.

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Courses E-learning courses at Leicester cover everything from hard engineering to languages or biomedics or genetics. Laboratory-based sciences are more difficult by e-learning, but elearning is good for the problem-based approach with the provision of databases of problems working well in e-learning. The university does not have a policy of converting everything to e-learning; it is rather a policy of adding e-learning to the teaching mix. For instance there are 12 research training materials for Ph.D. student support and support for Geologists on a field trip using varied learning locations. The university does not follow a policy of flexible start-up times and flexible progression for e-learning courses. The distance learning courses have four start bases at various times during the year and reasonable flexibility in progression. Flexible start-up dates for e-learning would imply no group work, would result in high drop-out and would reduce flexibility. Every course at the University of Leicester has some e-learning in it. The first MA course to be 100% on line is due to be launched soon. Asynchronous communication is more important that synchronous technologies and the elearning courses are designed for asynchronous work. The university does have some synchronous technologies like videoconferencing tutorials and podcasting. It is important to remember that the telephone is still a very valuable synchronous tool.

Management, strategy and attitudes The Vice Chancellor is forward looking and gives outstanding support to e-learning. The university management showed its commitment to e-learning by creating the position of Professor of E-learning and Learning Technologies and appointing to it an internationally known expert in e-learning who had written two best-selling books in the field, E-tivities: the key to active online learning (Salmon, G. 2002) and E-moderating: the key to teaching and learning online (Salmon, G. 2004) and who in the year 2006 gave no fewer than 56 invited keynote addresses at international conferences on the subject. There is a Pro Vice Chancellor for Learning and Teaching to whom the Professor of E-learning reports, but the responsibility clearly rests with the professor. The attitude of the various groups of staff to e-learning has been forged by collaborative development. Everyone is on Blackboard and podcasting is widespread. There were sceptics but the majority have now bought into e-learning convinced by the business model and the value of e-learning for student learning. Very few do not participate today. An acceptance by technology competent staff has moved to mass acceptance today. The University of Leicester has an e-learning strategy document. It states: This paper details the e-learning strategy for UoL for 2005-8. The strategy will promote the building of pedagogical innovation, increase the deployment of learning technologies and enable research into e-learning in a way that directly addresses business opportunities and imperatives. It provides for equivalent and enhanced learning and support experiences for all Leicester students. It offers a framework that not only develops and extends the range of services and approaches already in place but also looks to deepen understanding and

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deployment of learning technologies in the University. Strategic aims and targets are outlined. The key players, components and issues to ensure successful and achievable implementation are laid out. An agreed start up budget is specified. Benefits of E-learning for U of Leicester We can view e-learning and its associated innovative pedagogies as a continuum with entirely remoteness and distance at one end, through purposeful use for enhancing learning in blended or mixed modes, to the integration of e-learning into all teaching and learning experiences at the other. The key potential benefits of increasing the use of e-learning in the University are to: •

• • • •

meet the compelling requirement to continue to develop distance learning in a way that includes sound pedagogical and business models to an increasingly receptive and demanding educational market, and provides high quality learning and support to distance learners equivalent to that provided to campus attendees increase the flexibility, accessibility and personalization of provision for campus and distance students and enhance the capacity for integration of study with home, leisure, social and working lives integrate e-learning and teaching with the growing provision of e-business, eresources and e-support in the university so that each contributes to, and enhances, the others treat e-learning skills as normal, necessary and desirable in the 21st Century move towards a ‘balanced mixed mode’ learning provision with roughly equal numbers of campus and distance students - probably in a unique position in the UK.

A strategy based on our strengths will be more durable, and harder to imitate than ‘off-theshelf’ strategies or those based on traditional marketing approaches. For these purposes, we can identify our core capabilities as: 1. U of Leicester’s status as a major provider of post graduate distance learning 2. strengths in sectors which may lend themselves to e-learning approaches including archaeology, genetics, science and education 3. teaching fully informed by research 4. networked within region and FE 5. diverse and non-elitist 6. international 7. teaching excellence including acknowledgement of distance learning and e-learning plans (QAA) Quality in e-learning at Leicester is subject to the same procedures as any other teaching format. The same approval mechanisms, the same Quality Assurance Agency regulate it as other teaching strategies. E-learning is no different; it is just another way of teaching. Students exiting Leicester in the last two years have tapped all means for learning, including e-learning. Salmon (2004:208) comments: Despite the fact that e-learning (and its role as a change agent) figures highly, and sometimes even wistfully, in the aspirations of many policy-makers and senior managers, there is considerable

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evidence that most Higher Education Institutions are still struggling to engage a significant percentage of students and staff in e-learning, and real development beyond projects by innovators has so far been modest. Research is currently not providing answers to this problem and more models are needed to demonstrate the transferability and scalability of e-learning. The technology is now just about robust enough for attention to turn to business development and pedagogical innovation and away from technical ‘solutions’ and ‘fixes’. There are two main ways in which e-learning can be introduced into traditional teaching, whether on campus or at a distance. One is through large-scale centralization and provision of professional services. The second is more incremental, perhaps a little slower and more challenging, but gradually involving all members of staff to make their contribution. This involves the choice of easy-to-use technologies and investment in personal and departmental learning and development. The latter has the advantages of developing capacities for the longer term and keeping ‘ownership’ with the academics and their departments.

E-learning does have an impact on staff workloads. It can take more time upfront than oncampus teaching. One cannot prepare for the class half an hour before delivering it. One has to give lecturing staff an understanding of the workload in e-learning. The question of how the University of Leicester collaborates with other educational institutions in e-learning requires careful analysis. Competition is in vogue today. Collaboration can be seen as a criterion of failure, which adds complexity. The university does collaborate with other institutions in research, especially in the United Kingdom Healthcare Partnership for Online Nurse Education. The credibility of the University of Leicester with government and the public administration is very high. The university ranks in the top 20 of universities in the United Kingdom. The university is research focused and internationally recognised. The university’s credibility in elearning was greatly enhanced by the appointment of two British Open University recognised experts in e-learning and distance education and who were internationally recognisable names in the field. This gave added status to the e-learning programme. The question of how the University of Leicester is able to handle its large number of elearning courses and students is the wrong question. E-learning has made no difference to student records. It is a trivial task to scale up the servers. University policy is that e-learning is just another form of teaching which is fully embedded into the university.

Economy The cost effectiveness of e-learning is usually studied from business models but the outcomes the University of Leicester seeks to achieve from e-learning are not financially measurable. The drive at the University of Leicester is not for cost-effectiveness in e-learning. The university has its business model and it looks for student outcomes from e-learning. The question about whether income from e-learning is stable and predictable has no meaning for the University of Leicester. Again, it is the wrong question. The university has not added e-learning to its product lines. E-learning is just another form of provision. E-learning has, however, had a major impact on the university and Leicester is recognised today as the United Kingdom’s leading e-learning university. The University of Leicester went into the distance learning market because it is highly cost effective and that is the reason the university focuses on it. Leicester is one of the major Megaproviders of e-learning in Europe

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British universities, especially for distance learning and especially for South East Asia. As a result of this the university is getting a lot more applicants, especially from post-graduate students. It is important to realise that one does not sell courses by e-learning but one does retain students by doing it. The impact of e-learning on university staffing has been that staff roles have changed. There are more Information Technology people and there are 18 new staff in the area of the Professor of E-learning and Learning Technologies. The goal at the University of Leicester has been to integrate e-learning into what the university is already doing. The role of the Professor of E-learning and Learning Technologies has been to drive the development of e-learning. Having a high profile person with an international reputation in the position has helped the process. Professor Salmon (2004:215) concludes: The e-learning and pedagogical innovation framework at Leicester provided an appropriate platform for the hundreds of formal and informal discussions needed to develop an e-learning strategy for the university. The strategy was adopted by the University Senate, with a detailed costed implementation plan in July 2005. Implementation has commenced and evaluation processes are in place. I hope that it will provide an example of an attempt to capture the complexity of developing and implementing an e-learning strategy and that it will contribute to the understanding of change processes in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) associated with the introduction of Information and Communication Technologies in learning and teaching. It is also intended as a pointer away from the technology-driven focus on e-learning to date, which has clearly resulted in flapping not flying. New approaches are so much needed if e-learning is to succeed in becoming successfully embedded in HEIs to the benefit of learners and teachers alike, and within a climate of promoting e-learning and teaching research.

References Salmon, G. (2002) E-tivities: the key to active online learning. London: Taylor & Francis. Salmon, G. (2004) E-moderating: the key to teaching and learning online. London: Routledge. Salmon, G. (2005) Flying not flapping: a strategic framework for e-learning and pedagogical innovation in higher education institutions. ALT-J, Research I Learning Technology. Vol 13, No 3, pp 201-218. Salmon, G. (2005) University of Leicester E-Learning Strategy. Leicester: University of Leicester.

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The University of Ulster By Desmond Keegan Name of institution URL of institution Country Number of employees Levels in the educational systems Interviewed persons Number of course enrolments in 2005 Number of online courses in 2005

The University of Ulster http://campusone.ulster.ac.uk United Kingdom 4024 Higher education Dr Alan Masson 1300 222

Context The University of Ulster is situated on four sites in Northern Ireland. The sites with brief descriptions are: Belfast campus The Belfast campus, part of the city’s up and coming Cathedral Quarter, is traditionally considered the home of the School of Art and Design, though other disciplines are increasingly being taught there. The campus is situated near the city centre and is close to plenty of shops, bars, cafes and clubs.

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Jordanstown campus The Jordanstown campus is located a few miles north of Belfast on the shore of Belfast Lough. It is a large complex of modern and seventies buildings with views of the Belfast Hills, the Mourne Mountains and County Down. Coleraine campus The Coleraine campus was developed as a university campus in the late 1960`s and is today a large complex of modern and original buildings set in mature parkland. It is the administrative headquarters for the University and located a short distance to the north of the town. Magee College, (London)derry The Magee campus, Londonderry, is a mixture of historical and new buildings and modern and traditional facilities. It is a short walk along the River Foyle from Derry’s city walls. In many of the listings of the campuses of the university, a fifth campus is given. This is called Campus One and is the centre of e-learning for the whole university. The development of Campus One and of e-learning at the University of Ulster is given thus on the Campus One website: October 1999. The idea behind Campus One originally spawned from the success of the inclusion of online material in the Biomedical Science course in 1999. Summer 2002. The official launch of Campus One occurred in 2001. This is a screenshot showing how the website looked when we first had an identity. Winter 2002. New staff, fresh ideas and changing technology meant we never stood still and by the Winter of 2002 a brand new look had been launched for the website. Summer 2003. By this stage we had over 20,000 students hooked into our system (800 fully online) and a completely new, user friendly and fast site was required. Spring 2004. A small freshen up is never a bad idea. This one was a necessity due to the burgeoning numbers of courses we were hosting. Summer 2005. In 2005 we began aiming different sections of our website at our different types of key users with this quick redesign. Summer 2006. The latest, most colourful version of Campus One has seen the website develop fully into a portal based approach, targeting our key users with only the information they require.

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Figure 1. This figure shows the locations of the campuses of the University of Ulster and the network served by Campus One.

An official University of Ulster publication, with the title Utilising institutional e-learning services to enhance the learning experience describes the evolution of e-learning at the university thus: The University of Ulster is committed to delivering an enhanced, student-centred approach to learning by applying the most effective, flexible and appropriate teaching and learning technologies. The University has embraced the potential of e-learning to improve access, widen participation and support an increasingly diverse student base. In 1999, the University organised a workshop that brought together early e-learning pilot projects and key stakeholders such as IT departments, Librarians and academic staff developers. This workshop examined the opportunities / barriers for e-learning to impact on the learning and teaching experience and on institutional support departments and business processes. Following this workshop, a strategic institutional approach to the implementation of e-learning technologies and pedagogies was adopted. In 2000, the University created an Institute of Lifelong Learning with a specific remit to strategically lead and facilitate the embedding of e-learning across the institution. Funding was utilised to establish an appropriate pedagogic support and technology-enabling infrastructure. In October 2001, the University launched its virtual campus – Campus One (www.campusone.ulster.ac.uk). Currently, the University offers 17 full online masters programmes and over 250 fully online modules covering the following broad subject areas; health and biomedical sciences; engineering; education; environmental studies; business and social sciences. A further 3 masters programmes are under development. The University currently has the largest portfolio of online masters programmes in the UK. The adoption of an institutionally holistic approach to e-learning with a teaching and learning focus and the promotion of user-centred, cross-departmental initiatives has been referenced by sector research and are consistent with recent and emerging Best Practice recommendations.

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Supporting both on- and off-campus students via technology has a high priority throughout the institutional Teaching and Learning Strategy. The University, via its Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) and Library systems, provides enhanced learning opportunities, added value services and improved access and flexibility to students on and off campus programmes. In the academic year 2003/04, all five Faculties utilized WebCT extensively to support student learning. Over 550 active WebCT modules were recorded with 16,000 active student participants and over 2000 modules have a Library hosted on-line resource list. Significant online flexible student support packages have been developed including study skills packs on plagiarism and online search skills. A highly innovative student induction package for online students has been developed and evaluated and is automatically made available to new enrolments. The availability of a centrally supported and developed e-learning environment comprising highly integrated VLE and Library related tools and services has enabled course teams and academics to explore new pedagogical and androgogical approaches. Novel mechanisms for engaging and communicating with students have also been developed. New assessment strategies are beginning to emerge and opportunities to explore and support diverse learning styles are now available. The University has in place extensive expertise in the areas of e-pedagogies, content creation and the integration of e-learning systems. This team consists of Learning Technologists, Staff Developers, Librarians and Systems Engineers, supported by Graphics / Multimedia Developers, Accessibility Specialists and Programmers. These extensive resources underline the University’s commitment to the development and maintenance of a world-class e-learning infrastructure and provide an opportunity to further develop institutional e-learning services and approaches that positively impact on the learning experience.

History The University of Ulster’s involvement in distance education was low key until1998. In the period 1997-1999 there were a number of e-learning initiatives especially in Biomedical Sciences and in Education. In 1999 a new Vice-Chancellor brought the initiatives together and gave e-learning a new priority. In 2000 the university’s Institute of Lifelong Learning was founded with a special responsibility to support e-learning. The university installed a new Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) WebCT. The official launch of Campus One occurred in 2001. More than 300 computers were placed in the university’s Learning Resource Centres (LRCs). Competence in e-learning was developed in looking after e-learning behind the scene. This was an institutional development and was not focused on a niche group. The focus was on user support, studying online and student orientation. Competence was developed in three areas: technical, user support and staff development. Access to library resources was considered crucial to the success of e-learning and the library service was integrated into the VLE. This integration of the VLE with library services is described: The University of Ulster was granted funding from the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) to further develop a working model upon which to fully integrate its VLE and library systems. This work was undertaken in 2002/3 to provide WebCT users with personalised contextual linkages to library resources and services along with seamless access to protected resources. The 4i Project (Interoperable, Institutional, Integrated, Implementation), builds on preliminary development work undertaken in 2001/2 and has scaled up these activities in order to assess the impact of an institution wide VLE-Library system integration on library business processes and the user experience. It also seeks to inform further development of technical integration methods to facilitate better interoperability between diverse systems and platforms.

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The Institute of Lifelong Learning provides consultancy and staff development and makes learning technologists available, especially in curriculum development and in the use of tools. The fully online e-learning programme uses a course team approach with a focus on content and communication. The e-Moderation initiative of Professor Gilly Salmon resulted in eModeration being a priority at the University of Ulster. The university has a global reputation for its e-learning systems and provision. It is one of 28 global WebCT Institutes, and has actively supported the development of e-learning standards and systems. One feature of the University of Ulster’s approach to e-learning is its focus on providing learner centred services. This seeks to package and contextualise information from a learner’s perspective to achieve maximum relevance and understanding. Key components of the e-learning initiative have been the development of learner support services, pedagogic support for academic staff / course teams and the development of innovative e-learning systems and services, in particular, the integration of an effective library service within the online classroom.

Figure. 2. The University of Ulster e-learning portal today.

Technical issues From the view of information and communication technologies, e-learning has been, since 2000, seen from an institutional perspective. With the very large scale developments there was a need for resilience and scalability. There is full linkage from e-learning to student enrolment and the library services. E-learning, library and staff development are integrated services. Course development for widely used technologies underpins all the university’s e-learning activities. Students should not need to purchase additional hardware or software. The general requirement is for a reasonable specification to make use of the availability of broadband. Some statistical packages are on CD ROM.

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Every module has its module space on the VLE. Student e-learning accounts are created at enrolment. There is complete integration between the student record system and course enrolment. In each module space there are deep links to the library. Students have automatic access to all library resources, databases and journals and need no additional credentials to access these resources. The library service is integrated into the enrolment system. There is an immediate link from the university homepage to the library and to the subject librarian’s homepage.

Courses Currently, the university offers 17 full online masters programmes and over 250 fully online modules covering the following broad subject areas; health and biomedical sciences; engineering; education; environmental studies; business and social sciences. A further 3 masters programmes are under development. The university currently has the largest portfolio of online masters programmes in the UK. Students can click on a course and can take a single module at a time. Students are encouraged to take a credit bearing module first and then later decide on the course or the programme. Flexible start-up and flexible progression are not available from the University of Ulster. Elearning courses run every semester starting in September and January. All are post-graduate courses. Compulsory modules lead to optional ones. Students enrol in a credit bearing module first and then in the programme. Campus One offers tools in both synchronous and asynchronous communication and encourages both. Education courses use synchronous communication and an extra 15 students per module means another e-tutor.

Management, strategy and attitudes The Vice-Chancellor says e-learning is important. There are 1.500 fully online e-learning students. 50% of MAs are online. There is rapid growth in fully online students. There are different drivers for different groups of staff, some groups of staff are very keen on e-learning. The fully online programme is well supported and staff are enthusiastic. A dwindling part-time course enrolment means that staff are keen on e-learning. Attitudes can differ but because there is a strong scaffolding around the e-learning courses, they are better prepared. Some staff develop their courses in a different way. The University of Ulster has an e-learning strategy which is linked into the corporate plan. All teaching at the University of Ulster is treated the same from the point of view of quality. The same quality processes apply to e-learning as to face-to-face. Many of the university courses are also subject to professional accreditation and this gives a second control. The university has a vested interest in quality control because if it has good quality it can compete with others. The effectiveness of administrative routines in online education is affected by face-to-face enrolment and flexible options which can be a problem and cause tensions in administrative routines. Campus One starts the online courses a week later than other course commencements to help solve this problem.

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We have tried to address the question of workloads in e-learning. The business model and time line is 12 months in advance. E-tutors are appointed for 10-15 students per module. The University of Ulster runs a few joint ventures, nearly all hosted on its own system. These have been with Flinders University of South Australia in maritime education, Rochester University, USA, another in Hong Kong and another with Regis University, Colorado, USA. The University of Ulster is very credible with government and public administration but this has no influence on the development or success of e-learning. The university is not doing elearning because of the government but for educational reasons. The university is proactive about support induction and orientation of students. There are welcome packs and an orientation course on access to the VLE. The university takes a proactive role in community building and focuses on awareness rather than training. Campus One concealed all the e-learning problems behind the scenes. The library resources and journals are automatically available to all students and this contributes greatly to success.

Economy Cost-effectiveness in e-learning is difficult to calculate, it is a question of how you allocate resources, how good the business predictions are. The university has a pump-primed central unit, the Institute of Lifelong Learning, with permanent staff which exists to support elearning. The courses generate money. However, the university is in danger of being geographically marginalized. Income from online education has been growing nicely, especially the growth in fully online student enrolments. The enrolment is nicely flat and stable now but it is a very volatile market. The university is trying to be flexible and to adapt to the market. It is a question of not putting all one’s eggs into the same basket.

Additional factors It is a fact that e-learning is delivering students to the university who would not otherwise have come. Supporting over 1.000 full-time e-learning students with success is not risky any more. The enthusiasts came first. Now there are good practitioners in teaching and learning and not from a technology focus any more. The official University of Ulster publication, with the title Utilising institutional e-learning services to enhance the learning experience concludes thus: The University recognised at an early stage that effective methods of user support would need to be developed to assist learners’ transition to learning in an online environment, ability to participate effectively in online courses and activities and understanding of how to best use the tools and systems utilised in online courses. This has led to the development of a suite of learner support tools and resources that was informed by emerging best practice, feedback from students

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and the specification that any institutional support should be learner centred and integrated with the overall student experience. The model adopted is one of supporting student transition throughout the student application and enrolment process. Students enrolling on fully online course are provided with appropriate transition support as they progress through the course enrolment and registration processes. A full learner support package accessible via the VLE examines and develops the key topics identified as critical to the success of such online programmes. These topics include “Orientation and training in the use of VLE tools”, “Study Skills”, “Self Management”, “Online Searching and Evaluating Internet Resources” and “Plagiarism”, with the topics being explored from a student perspective. Using the VLE to deliver the learner support package enables learners to familiarise themselves with e-learning within a realistic context. It also provides a “just in time” level of support and guidance as they can revisit key sections during their studies. In the academic year 2003-04 this learner support package was further developed and released to all new students of the institution (over 10,000), with the service actively promoted to fully online students. The University has evolved its course approval process to identify courses that will utilise significant proportions of e-learning and to ensure such courses are developed to provide a high quality learning experience. This is promoted through the provision of an institutional Learning Technologist from the Institute of Lifelong Learning and by an appropriate Subject Librarian to work closely with the course development team. This broadening of the course development team is in line with sector best practice. The Learning Technologists support course development teams to identify and utilise appropriate pedagogic approaches and promote the full utilisation of available institutional and external resources and services. This ongoing consultation role is supported by exposure to exemplar courses, relevant case studies and research articles and by staff training in the use of online learning tools and pedagogies. Learning Technologists are supported by a team including, among others, course developers and graphical designers who have extensive experience in the production of engaging online educational resources that meet relevant accessibility standards. This input from instructional design staff and other e-learning domain experts has greatly assisted the integration of appropriate learning support strategies to online courses. A focus on establishing effective learning communities and promoting effective communication and feedback mechanisms has led to the introduction of focused staff development support in the flexible use of e-learning communication tools and in a formal e-moderation short course that is compulsory for all staff teaching and supporting learners on fully online courses. This embedding of good practice has proved to be highly effective and well received by learners.

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Manchester Metropolitan University By Desmond Keegan Name of institution URL of institution Country Number of employees Levels in the educational systems Number of course enrolments in 2005 Number of online courses in 2005 Interviewed persons

Manchester Metropolitan University www.mmu.ac.uk United Kingdom Full-time 2688 Part-time 813 Part-time lecturers 850 Higher education 15000 1000 Robert Ready

Overview Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) is a major university in the city of Manchester in the North West of England. The university began its life in 1824 as the Manchester

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Mechanics Institution for Technology Art and Design and as the Manchester School of Design which started in 1838. Manchester Metropolitan became a Polytechnic in 1970 and was constituted as a university in 1992. The main university campus is in the Manchester City Centre and there are six other campuses. Today the university has over 35.000 students and over 4000 staff. Its leadership in e-learning is located in a Managed Learning Environment Management Group. Implementation and staff development are supported by its Learning and Teaching Unit which today is led by Robert Ready who has a full-time staff of 8. The university has made a major commitment to the WebCT VLE (Virtual Learning Environment) or LMS (Learning Management System) and describes it thus As part of its plans to transform learning at MMU, the University is making a major investment in its Managed Learning Environment (MLE). The first phase of this project involves the implementation of WebCT Vista in several departments across the University. The new WebCT Vista package is an updated version of the existing WebCT Campus software which has been used by a growing number of staff across the University for the last eight years. You will find links to specific resources for both WebCT Vista and WebCT Campus Edition on the university website.

Staff use of WebCT is presented thus: Pedagogic design • • • • •

Ensure that the objectives of the on-line elements are clearly defined and that students understand how the on-line elements are aligned to the unit learning outcomes. Think about whether and how your on-line materials offer opportunities for interaction and communication: student to student, student to tutor and student to content. In WebCT consider using page tracking to see how individual students are progressing. Consider providing alternative types of activities to enhance student learning other than text-based materials. (But remember to take account of those students who have accessibility/disability problems) Aim to provide activities to help students develop critical thinking and problemsolving skills.

MMU today has 1000 online courses and 15.000 students who use e-learning as part of their study.

Historical context MMU does not have a history of major distance education provision and would not consider distance education to be a major driver of its e-learning provision. It does not consider that success in distance education is a prerequisite for success in elearning as MMU is not an institution with a long history of distance education. What has come to the fore in recent years is the importance of blended learning and e-learning is an important part of the blended learning package.

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Competence in e-learning at MMU has grown organically and over a very long period. The first initiatives occurred in 1995 and quickly a single platform on a proprietary VLE was chosen. This was WebCT version 1.1 and the university still uses WebCT. The development of e-learning at MMU was neither Top-down or Bottom-up but From the middle out. This means that it was neither imposed by senior management (Top-down) nor demanded by staff (Bottom-up). It was From the middle out, this means that it was developed by a group of professionals at the middle who recommended it to both management and staff. Finally, in the period 2003-2004 a new phase was achieved in which e-learning was adopted and led by management due to huge demand from staff and students. This evolution of e-learning has been followed up by evaluation and research. One of the levers of change since 1997 has been the Learning and Teaching Fellowship Scheme, whereby a number of Fellowships for work in e-learning were awarded. Since then more robust research has been undertaken in the field with 45 people doing Learning Development projects leading to the production of a journal Learning and Teaching in Action. This work is presented thus: This database has been set up for MMU staff to share information about their learning and teaching projects. The aim is to encourage people to share what they're doing and to exchange ideas and good practice. All projects are of interest: they can be externally funded or done in what passes for your free time; they can be cross-departmental, concerned with curriculum development, changes in assessment practice, use of technology, key skills, support for part-time students… the list is endless.

The aims of this database are: • • •

to register all kinds of research and development in learning and teaching - this will be useful for the Unit in planning staff development and support at both faculty and institutional level to enable staff to share ideas and experiences, and to identify similar projects across the institution to help the Unit to encourage dissemination of good practice - for instance, by suggesting seminars, papers for Learning and Teaching in Action, conferences or appropriate other publication routes.

The Learning and Teaching Unit will monitor the database and endeavour to make links, identify themes and provide project-specific support.

Technical Issues It has taken time to forge a relationship between e-learning and the university’s information systems. The university now has competence in its information systems, but this was not available during the From the middle out stage. The university now has full capacity of information systems for e-learning based on robust systems and an established platform. This established platform is the WebCT Campus Edition which is, at present, being upgraded to the WebCT Vista Suite.

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The e-learning courses are based on widely used technologies which are available to students at no extra cost. The main requirements are for compatibility with the WebCT browser and any student with a reasonably current PC or laptop will have this at no extra cost. The e-learning administrative systems needed to respond to the vast take-up of e-learning in the university. The systems needed to be scalable and were not integrated. Now, the installation of WebCT Vista will sweep all aside. It will give the university a fresh start, a whole new scalable system. Allied to this is a new student records system which will be fully integrated with the VLE. The system will be driven by new web forms which have been designed from scratch.

Courses MMU has a wide range of 7 faculties and 40 departments in fields like Art and Design, Health, Law, Humanities, Food Science and Hospitality. There is e-learning activity in every one of these areas, some are more evolved than others but all are participating. E-learning is very important in Law, Education, Health, the Sciences and Business. In general the courses run to a fixed pattern and are not available for flexible start-up or progression. In the development of e-learning courseware the university tends to be tolerant in its design philosophy. Courses are designed to the faculties’ needs and therefore all kinds of design features are possible, including both synchronous and asynchronous communication. Many courses use message boards, discussion areas and other forms of asynchronous communication but this does not rule out synchronous communication. Some courses, for instance, use chats or online clinics.

Management, strategy and attitudes The role of institutional leadership in the promotion of e-learning has changed in the last two years with the appointment of a new Vice-Chancellor. The Vice-Chancellor has brought a new vision for learning and a focus on the managed learning environment is a cornerstone. Previously this argument had to be won. Now there is a new direction and a new focus on flexibility and on the provision of a high quality learning experience using information and communications technology in the context of the development of knowledge structures. The attitude of staff to e-learning is based on a 10 year experience of and exposure to online learning. There is a maturity in a large number of staff who see it as a normal activity. There are a large number of seasoned practitioners whose cascading leadership has brought a large number of others on board, so that e-learning has embraced whole departments. Nevertheless, there are still some uncharted areas for e-learning as MMU is a very large institution. The university has almost reached a ceiling in the take-up of e-learning, but with some hundreds of staff still inactive in terms of the institutional Virtual Learning Environment.

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The university does not have a specific e-learning strategy document, but the strategy is contained within the university’s Learning and Teaching Strategy. From the point of view of collaboration in e-learning with other universities, MMU has loose links with other WebCT users and forms part of the North-West Forum for WebCT users. From the point of view of the government and public administration, MMU is always seen as a capable university, a safe pair of hands. It does well in audits by the Quality Assurance Authority for Higher Education and did very well in a recent audit of university governance. Financially the university is sound and this contrasts with a number of universities which are in debt. Thus the university is well regarded by the authorities – but this has no bearing on its success in e-learning. The rapid growth in demand for e-learning has led the university to commit to a significant capital development programme. This programme secures the required scaling of the enterprise in technical, administrative and staff development terms. Hence, the importance of the present initiatives to rescale the e-learning administrative systems.

Economy Up to this point cost-effectiveness of e-learning has not been a central priority for the university. The university has concentrated on adding value and developing new approaches to learning. It is envisaged that with scaling and maturity, cost benefits will accrue. The university Vice-Chancellor is interested in flexibility, in meeting the needs of the modern student, in re-inventing the learning infrastructure and in making the best, informed decisions about learning design in a context in which the costs of all kinds of provision are an important factor. On the question of income from e-learning one must remember that the university does not have a focus on revenue based e-learning. It uses e-learning in a blended learning approach for full-time face-to-face students. There is a large and sharpening pressure from the market place towards flexibility. There is going to be acceleration in student requirements and tastes. The new Vice-Chancellor talks about the model of the learner, about designing for learners who exist today, about the learning of the fee-paying student. MMU is not a typical 18-21 year old student institution. Many of the students are older than the norm. Very many have to work to be able to pay the fees for their studies. The impact of e-learning does not create employment issues at MMU because all the elearning work is done by staff as part of their duties. There is some indication that as elearning provision matures, administrative and e-learning support staff of various kinds are contributing to the overall effort.

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Staffordshire University By Desmond Keegan Name of institution URL of institution Country Number of employees Levels in the educational systems Number of course enrolments in 2005 Number of online courses in 2005 Interviewed persons

Staffordshire University www.staffs.ac.uk United Kingdom 2000 Higher education 12000 enrolments from 5500 students 350 Prof Mark Stiles

Context Staffordshire University has a long history of providing vocational courses to its local communities as well as to regional, national and international students. The university was established from the Staffordshire Polytechnic in September 1992 which, itself, had been formed from the merger of its well-established colleges: the Staffordshire College of Technology in Stafford; the Stoke-on-Trent College of Art; and the North Staffordshire College of Technology based in Stoke. The original name at merger was North Staffordshire Polytechnic which became Staffordshire Polytechnic in September 1988. 104

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The major work of the university has been concentrated on the Stoke and Stafford campuses until 1995 when the Shropshire and Staffordshire College of Nursing and Midwifery was integrated into the university, with bases at Stafford, Shrewsbury, Telford and Oswestry. In 1998, in partnership with Tamworth and Lichfield College, the University opened a newly built campus at Lichfield. The university has always had a strong working relationship with its local colleges in Staffordshire and Shropshire and in 2000 formed the Staffordshire University Regional Federation (SURF). This was one of the first consortiums of its kind in the UK and provides Higher Education courses at 9 Colleges in Staffordshire and 2 Colleges in Shropshire with a number of progression routes through to the University. Staffordshire University has a long history of e-learning dating back to 1997. Today it has 700 course modules online on its Blackboard VLE (Virtual Learning Environment) or Learning Management System (LMS). These courses are either e-learning for blended learning or elearning for work-based learning or pure distance education. The university has today between 5000 and 6000 e-learning students of whom 600-800 are pure distance education students. 18% of total enrolments are in the SURF colleges and the vast bulk of this is offcampus with attendance restricted to one or two half days per week. Masters degrees are offered by e-learning worldwide with a strong niche market in Sustainable Development.

History Stiles (2003) in his Embedding e-learning in a Higher Education institution gives a detailed history of the history of e-learning at Staffordshire University. He writes: This study discusses issues of ‘embedding’ E-learning in a UK University. For this purpose, Elearning will be considered embedded into an institution when all policies, procedures, roles and responsibilities pertaining to its use are fully integrated –not just with each other, but with those applying to normal practice. Whilst an institutional map could be produced for E-learning, it would be done by extracting the information from policies, etc., covering the institution holistically, rather than as a special set of E-learning statements. Embedding also implies that Elearning is part of the culture of the institution, and is seen by all as part of normal working practice, and as part of the normal portfolio available to facilitate learning by teachers and learners. In the majority of universities, E-learning has begun with the introduction of a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE),a system focused on the delivery and support of learning opportunities. Institutions whose use of VLEs is relatively mature are moving towards the establishment of Managed Learning Environments (MLEs) which include all of the wider features of enrolment, course options, management, student record and profile keeping, the wider management, interchange and publication of content, and the features needed to allow learners to move or progress between courses and institutions. E-learning at Staffordshire University developed as a component of a wider Learning and Teaching Strategy ‘Building a Learning Community ’ (BLC) which arose from senior management recognition of the need for the organisation to be distinctive in a changing and competitive UK HE sector. BLC emerged in 1996 from a Vice-Chancellor led process, facilitated by external consultants, and coordinated by the then Head of Education Development. The nascent strategy saw the University as a learning community, valuing collaboration and peer support, where people felt welcomed and included. This student-centred change process was driven from the top down and the bottom up, with the Vice-Chancellor and Executive emphasising that buy-in to the strategy was not optional, and that the process would be resourced. Senior management, academic, and service staff suggested contributions to the implementation of the strategy 4. A first round of top-sliced funding was used for schools and services to run projects aimed at learning and

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teaching innovation. Many were technology related and typically carried out by enthusiasts. These projects, whilst producing some good outcomes and localised change, did not have widespread impact and revealed weaknesses in an enthusiast driven approach.

Stiles (2005) summarizes these developments: The process of change leading to the introduction of e-learning at Staffordshire University began in 1996 with its ‘Building a Learning Community’ strategy revised in 1998 to include the institution-wide introduction of a Virtual Learning Environment. These initiatives brought about a focus on issues of learning, and by 2000 the use of e-learning was widespread across the institution. However, a number of problems still existed, in particular a content-centric view of elearning, coupled with a failure by teaching staff to recognise the need for associated pedagogic development. In addition, quality processes reflected this content-centric view and had resulted in a lack of ownership of quality assurance for e-learning by teaching staff. Last, developments had been piecemeal across the institution and staff were not learning from each other’s good practice. Around this time, the development and introduction of complete distance-learning e-learning awards highlighted the need to address issues of course design, delivery and support more aggressively, as did the inception of SURF’s Foundation Degrees, which also highlighted problems of cross-institutional working and cultural differences between further and higher education. This led to a rethink of development processes and the introduction of ‘Integrative Development’ with staff development and pedagogic design built into a managed team working approach where a learning technologist works as project manager with an academic team, drawing widely on expertise and support across the institution.

Stiles (2003) continues the narrative: Late 1997 saw a move to large scale adoption of distributed learning, centred on the adoption of the Lotus Learning Space and a university-developed VLE COSE, to increase the rate of change and provide a University-wide focus to BLC development. Large-scale pilots of Lotus Learning Space were chosen by competitive bidding, judged against BLC and Schools ’ own learning and teaching strategies. Later, this changed to a system where schools submitted plans and were allocated funding to support them once approved. Developments were approved before funding was allocated and released against progress. School appointed managers to drive BLC activities and form a central group to drive dissemination of good practice. Central initiatives were also funded in particular areas. Staff development in E-learning was embedded in the process. Accounts for VLEs were allocated conditional on the undertaking of centrally provided training or verification of local cascading. Central staff development had pedagogic issues embedded into the technical training; this was found to be more acceptable to teaching staff, as they were less likely to take up purely pedagogic offerings. By mid 2002, BLC could be viewed as an overall success. The initiative had succeeded in joining up many University strategies and had received direct commendation from the UK HE Quality Assurance Agency. Also, all QAA teaching quality reviews since 1998 had received excellent scores. In terms of cultural change, BLC was successful in bringing teaching and learning into mainstream discussion amongst faculty. Some School BLC managers had received advancement as a result of their work and other staff had received Learning and Teaching fellowships. This helped to get staff to see excellence and innovation in learning and teaching as an area worth personal effort. In Elearning there had been considerable progress: • • •

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Several hundred teaching staff had undertaken training in the use of the VLEs: Some two hundred modules were making use of E-learning Full distance learning “ e ” awards had been developed and were proving successful

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• • • •

As part of its HEFCE funded HE/FE consortium, Staffordshire University Regional Federation (SURF), the first Foundation Degree had been developed, making significant use of a VLE Generic modules in careers development and information skills had been developed and used VLE and MIS systems had been linked for student enrolment Progress had been made in the provision of eResources for learners from eLibraries and eAggregators

This narrative shows that those who claim that a successful history of distance education is needed for success in e-learning are not correct. Staffordshire University does not have much of a history of distance education. It had a history of delivering overseas distance education courses in places like Hong Kong or Singapore but no detailed distance education offering. The development of competence in e-learning as described by Stiles is a fairly distinctive story. Staffordshire University has a very long history of e-learning going back to 1997. The university entered e-learning as a means to make the university distinctive. It wanted to achieve this by learner-centeredness and this led to e-learning. E-learning at the university had an institutional focus from the start. The Lotus Learning Space VLE was installed in 1998 and the university focused on a learner centred approach and blended learning. The university had a Learning Development Centre, today the Learning Development and Innovation Team, to drive the process. Senior management stated that success in e-learning was not optional – the project had to succeed. The university followed a classical roll-out strategy but this made little impact. It then turned to funding projects in faculties to contribute to the corporate pattern. A lot of organizational change occurred in the period 1998 to 2002. This included the change of VLE from Lotus Learning Space to Blackboard – a traumatic experience but necessary to scale up e-learning to an industrial level. By 2002 the university had a very good spread of expertise in e-learning but there were holes in it. The university developed an Integrative Approach to Staff Development. This embedded e-learning into quality control and academic planning. Workshops at regular intervals worked with staff on validation and quality assurance. The latest developments involve workplace modules in e-learning for which 30 credits towards a Masters degree are offered. Acceptance of this credit towards a Masters degree is optional. Since 2002 there is a focus on competence in e-learning based on delivery workshops for development. The goal is to connect the right support staff with the academics at the right time. All this has been driven by a stable Learning Development engaged in Research and Development for many years. The development of e-learning at Staffordshire University has been followed up by evaluation and research as the list of references appended to this report testifies. The university does research in nationally funded projects, especially those funded by JISC, the United Kingdom’s Joint Information Systems Committee. Stiles (2005) explains: The reuse and repurposing of electronic content is seen as major factor in spreading the effective use of e-learning and embedding it in educational practice ( UK Department for Education and Skills/ DfES 2005). In 2002, the Staffordshire University Regional Federation (SURF) was successful in bidding for funds from the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) under its Exchange for Learning Programme. The programme focused on the reuse and repurposing of existing electronic resources across Further and Higher Education, and the deposit of ‘new’ resources in a formative national repository called JORUM (Jorum is a JISC-funded collaborative venture in UK Higher and Further Education to collect and share learning and teaching materials,

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allowing their reuse and repurposing, and standing as a national statement of the importance of creating interoperable, sustainable materials). The project partners were Staffordshire University, and two of the SURF partner colleges: Stoke on Trent College and Shrewsbury College of Arts and Technology. SURF is a directly Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) funded consortium of nine Staffordshire and two Shropshire Further Education (FE) colleges and Staffordshire University, created in 2000 to develop a strategic partnership approach to the provision of higher education through FE colleges in the region.

Stiles (2003) describes further research initiatives thus: Staffordshire University benefited from being active in initiatives, locally and nationally, including development of a VLE, work on interoperation of VLEs, interoperation of VLE and MIS systems, accessibility in E-learning, reuse and repurposing of content, work with eAggregators, and PDP. The author has contributed articles and briefings, including a section on Embedding for the JISC MLE Development InfoKit. The InfoKit draws on expertise from across the UK and reinforces many of the experiences and conclusions covered here. JISC funded a study of MLE activity in 2002/3, surveying a significant sample of UK institutions and detailed case studies of a small number. This revealed the vast majority were now using a VLE and that 73%were involved in some degree of MLE development, with the following main drivers for development: • • • • • •

Enhancing the quality of teaching and learning Improving access to learning for students off campus Widening participation/inclusiveness Student expectations Improving access for part-time students Using technology to deliver E-learning.

Technical issues Staffordshire University was doing research and development in e-learning with JISC as early as 1996 and developed its own VLE, known as COSE. This work has been stable over the years and the university is quite well known and has been constantly at the front end of elearning development, both pedagogic and technical. The university has always used basic VLEs and the COSE system, its own development so that nothing extra had to be bought by students who possessed a basic PC or laptop. The university migrated from Lotus Learning Space to Blackboard and put considerable work into integrating systems in Blackboard. It has been a pioneer in the academic use of eBooks and today has access to 100.000s of eBooks and online databases. The integration of IT systems in e-learning is regarded as very important. The VLE has direct links to the Management Information System and to the library, but has not yet installed facilities for e-enrolment. The student records system is directly linked into the VLE, as are the quality assurance and academic planning systems. A weakness is that the administration is not well linked to e-learning and that the course catalogues and prospectuses are not online. The university wants to be able to aggregate all the e-learning course descriptions in the UK in an online database, for example all the e-learning biology courses from all the universities in the UK. The approach has been to use the IMS specifications (the IMS Global Learning Consortium develops and promotes the adoption of open technical specifications for interoperable

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learning technology. Several IMS specifications have become worldwide de facto standards for delivering learning products and services). The university was one of the first UK institutions involved in contributing to the IMS and to defining IMS web based services.

Courses Most subject areas at the University are now involved in e-learning: • • • • • • • • • • •

Computing Studies (mostly blended e-learning) Engineering and Technology (some work-based, some blended, some distance education) Health Education (some blended, some distance education) Sciences Forensics Biology (mostly blended) Psychology Law Social Care and Advice Business Studies Ceramics, Art, Media and Design (distance education).

There are no subject barriers to e-learning. It is a question of choosing the right tool for the right job. An early department to take up e-learning was English Literature, who used elearning very successfully for problem based learning. Mathematics at university level has not been very successful with e-learning; neither has Computing Studies for which the norm is traditional distance education rather than e-learning. An important aspect for the university’s course profile is the SURF regional federation which links the university with 11 colleges. They teach 18% of the university’s EFTSs (Equivalent Full Time Students), with the technological element being mainly e-support and e-work-based learning. A particular case was the Geography department which was faced with closure, as not many wanted to get a degree at a ‘New University’ in Geography. They made the move to elearning and today have hundreds of Master Degree students studying Sustainable Development at a distance by e-learning. The university’s business processes do not favour flexible start-up, continuous enrolment and individual progression. The university treats its e-learning students as cohorts like its ordinary students. In general the bulk of the communication in e-learning is asynchronous rather than synchronous. In pure distance education courses some have weekly chat sessions. These are optional and appear to work. In general, the tutors choose synchronous or asynchronous mechanisms according to taste and subject matter.

Management, strategy and attitudes E-learning at Staffordshire University was completely driven by the university leadership and this played a significant role in its success. The university Vice-Chancellor championed elearning from 1996 onwards and impressed on staff and management that failure was not an option. E-learning had to succeed. All the e-learning work since then has been integrated into policy at corporate level. Developments at faculty level as well have been integrated into university policy. Thus e-learning was supported from the start at both Vice-Chancellor and senior administrative level. Megaproviders of e-learning in Europe

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There are no differences in attitude to e-learning by different groups of staff. In all departments there are those who stick to their ways and those who are innovative. It is not discipline specific. Some are keen on e-learning, some are not. It is not a major issue. The Geography department was very keen because it had a strong external motivation. The university has a policy on e-learning – the first university in the UK to have one. It is a policy and not a separate strategy. The university has embedded e-learning in university assessment. The university has embedded e-learning in the University Business Plan. The policy is that by 2010 one will stop talking about e-learning and regard it as normal provision and this will be the proof that e-learning has been embedded as a normal component of university provision. If staff see e-learning as something separate then e-learning is in trouble. Stiles (2003) summarises: Embedding requires an understanding of how E-learning fits into organisational strategy, departmental and other operational plans. A shared understanding of how it forms part of the learning and teaching experience is an equally important facet which requires a perception by all staff that E-learning is part of normal practice. The cultural changes required affect teaching, support, administrative and management staff, and require recognition of the symbiotic relationship between culture and policy and procedure. Staff development linked only to strategy will not achieve the changes required, but needs to be embedded in the production process and the processes of changing policies and procedures. This will enable changes in roles and responsibilities to be embedded culturally as well as functionally. Administrative and management staff must be involved fully in this process with senior management commitment to real change at both strategic and operational levels. The process for working towards embedding at Staffordshire, with its inclusive approach, has proved to be a major staff development and cultural change activity in its own right, by causing disparate groups of staff, and particularly managers and administrators, to engage with the issues and each other in the context of E-learning.

The university is a UK leader in the embedding of quality into academic planning. In the university the quality of the intended learning experience is justified and repeated each time the course comes up for consideration. Some staff like this, some don’t claiming that ‘Nobody asks me to quality assess the notes I give out or the slides I use!’ The effect of e-learning on staff workloads was anticipated by distance education which challenged the nature of staff contracts. The university now focuses on ‘student hours facilitated’ rather than ‘student hours delivered’. An issue from day one in 1998 was that of a staff member who used e-learning to reduce her contract hours by 80 %. She was given an extra course to teach. The university now works with service level agreements; e-learning has changed the nature of teaching. From the point of view of cooperation and collaboration in e-learning with other institutions, it is clear that its regional federation is important to Staffordshire University and is an important source of recruitment to it. This federation is directly funded by the government HEFTE, and the federation is much stronger than a franchise operation. 18 % of university enrolments come from it. The university and the federation bids for research funding together and the university undertakes many JISC funded projects with other universities.

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The relationship of the university with government and the public administration is that of a typical modern UK university. The university is the same as the other UK universities but has high credibility in e-learning. The university is able to handle its large number of online courses and students by being well organised. It has achieved e-learning robustness and sustainability and has moved from one VLE to another. The university is now moving to a Learning Object Repository where one can find the content, reuse it, reformulate it and make it available to all. This type of portal service is not facilitated by our present VLE.

Economy The university has recognized the need for a costing model to enable decisions on the pricing of e-learning courses to be well-informed. The problem is far from simple as pricing is often contextual: according to type of client, mode of attendance, need to break into a new market etc. However, the lack of a common shared model could result in inconsistent charging (even to the same client!) or unintended losses. The cost-effectiveness of e-learning is unquantifiable. It is money in, money out. There are cost benefits like enhanced retention and better recruitment. Distance education can be costeffective. Blended learning is not cost-effective but it could be cost-efficient, if one was losing 30% of the student body and e-learning reduces this. Income from e-learning is just as stable and predictable as income from on-campus education. A new course either succeeds or it doesn’t. The ability to sustain a course is the same as in any other form of provision. If it is rubbish it will not succeed, it does not depend on whether it is e-learning or not. The Geography department now has 600 post-graduate e-learning distance education students – showing that e-learning provision can be stable and predictable. One has always to be aware of market pressures. At present the university is piloting new 2year degrees. The model is to run 3 semesters a year instead of 2 – one of these is usually a distance education semester. This is known as the Pathfinder project. The university is also piloting smaller course units and lower levels of granularity. The university does not use flexible employment strategies for e-learning. It is all full-time or part-time staff, the same mix as all the rest of the on campus provision. E-learning has the effect of blending distance education and on campus provision.

References BLAKEMORE, S. 2005. SURF X4L _/ the Stoke story. Staffordshire University. Available as: www.staffs.ac.uk/cose/x4l/stokestory.pdf (accessed 17 December 2005). BOOTH, R. and SHEARAN, S. 2005. Surf X4L _/ the Shrewsbury story. Staffordshire University. Available as: www.staffs.ac.uk/cose/x4l/shrewsburystory.pdf (accessed 17 December 2005). KLEMM, W. R. and SNELL, J. R. Enriching computer-mediated group learning by coupling constructivism with collaborative learning. Journal of Instructional Science and Technology, 1(2) www.usq.edu.au/electpub/e-jist/docs/old/vol1no2/article1.htm (accessed 3 September 2005).

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CLARKE, E. A. 2005. SURF X4L _/ reuse and repurposing of resources for content exchange, including technical considerations on interoperability. Staffordshire University. Available as: www.staffs.ac.uk/COSE/X4L/X4Ltechnical.pdf. (accessed 10 December 2005). DFES 2005. e-Strategy harnessing technology: transforming learning and children’s services . Nottingham: DfES, pp. 32, 44, 60, 83. OUTRAM, S. G. 2003. Building a learning community. In A guide to staff and education development, edited by P. Kahn and D. Baume, Falmer: Routledge. STILES, M. J. 2000. Developing tacit and codified knowledge and subject culture within a virtual learning environment. International Journal of Electrical Engineering Education, 37(1): 13_/25. STILES, M. J. 2002. SURF consortium _/ interoperability between COSE and MIS systems used across the consortium. JISC, January 2002, 41 pp, available online as: www.jisc.ac.uk/uploaded_documents/rep-surf.pdf. (accessed 1 November 2005). STILES, M. J. 2003. Embedding eLearning in a higher education institution. Keynote paper for ‘At the Interface _/ 2nd Global Conference on Virtual Learning and Higher Education’, 12_/13 September 2003, Mansfield College, Oxford. Pre-print available at www.staffs.ac.uk/COSE/cosenew/ati2stilesrev.pdf. (accessed 10 November 2005). STILES, M.J. 2005. Reuse and repurposing of content in the context of the introduction and embedding of elearning. New Review of Information Networking, Vol 11, No 2, 235-252. STILES, M. J. and ORSMOND, P. 2002. Managing active student learning with a virtual learning environment. In Educational development through information and communications technologies , edited by S. Fallows and R. Bhanot, London:Kogan Page. STILES, M. J. and YORKE, J. M. E. 2003. Designing and implementing learning technology projects _/ a planned approach. Workshop paper for ‘EFFECTS _/ Embedding Learning Technologies Seminar’, University College, London, 8 April 2003. Available at www.staffs.ac.uk/COSE/cosenew/eltfinal.doc (accessed 23 August 2003). STILES, M. J. and YORKE, J. M. E. 2004. Embedding staff development in eLearning in the production process and using policy to reinforce its effectiveness. Paper for 9th SEDA Conference, Birmingham, November 2004. Available at www.staffs.ac.uk/COSE/cosenew/embedding.pdf. (accessed 10 November 2005).

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Sør-Trøndelag University College By Per Arneberg Name of institution URL of institution Country Number of employees Levels in the educational systems Number of course enrolments in 2005 Number of online courses in 2005 Interviewed persons

Sør-Trøndelag University College (Høgskolen i Sør-Trøndelag) www.hist.no Norway 580 (academic staff 380) Tertiary 2500 148 Thorleif Hjeltnes, Vice Dean Geir Maribu, Assistant professor and Per Borgesen, Dean

Introduction Sør-Trøndelag University College is a dual mode publicly financed higher education institution consisting of several departments. Large scale e-learning has mainly been done in one of these departments, Department of Informatics and e-learning (AITeL). This has been

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done more or less independently of processes in the other departments at the institution. Therefore, it is the model applied in AITeL that is described here.

History Distance education as e-learning has been supplied by the predecessors of AITeL since 1986. From the start, development has been done in close cooperation with an organisation named TISIP. TISIP is a private research foundation that does research and development work and offers courses for businesspeople, public institutions, universities and colleges. From 1986 to 1990 TISIP was involved in developing the first software in the world that should allow learners to operate through a graphic interface. Although this project was not sustainable, AITeL and TISIP gave technical and other support to several national distance educational networks at university college level during these years. During the years 19921995 AITeL and TISIP took part in the JITOL project (Just In Time Open Learning in the Delta programme). In the project, educational software and two courses were developed. Development of large scale e-learning started with the NITOL project in the years 1994-1995. The project was funded by the government and developed by the NITOL group, a formal cooperation between four Norwegian Higher Educational Institutions (Sør-Trøndelag University College, Norwegian University for Science and Technology, Agder University College and Stord/Haugesund University College). A central component of the project was to develop a number of online courses. In addition, the NITOL group also supplied a complete business model and the necessary infrastructure to run the courses. TISIP acted as the common course secretariat for the group, and also developed software for student administration and organised a common web site where sales information, access to the courses, student administration etc were organised. This was important, since the student administration and learning environment systems used for on campus courses at the participating institutions were not built to handle distance education. The courses became popular and by the year 2001 AITeL, who was the largest supplier of courses, had 5745 enrolments. In 1999 organisation of the courses was handed over from NITOL to a new organisational unit called The Network University (NVU). Each institution in NVU took responsibility to develop activities further. After some years administration of courses was left with the member institutions, and AITeL together with TISIP continued to develop and sell courses on a stand alone basis. By autumn 2005 AITeL also took over the responsibility for the course administration, but still used the software developed by TISIP. TISIP is still responsible for the developing digital learning resources. The number of course enrolments has decreased during the last years, and was about 2500 in 2005. An important reason for the decrease was the fall in the ICT market, since most of the offers are ICT courses. Because informatics and e-learning are the subjects for research and teaching at AITeL, competence in e-learning is a natural component of the competence of all academic staff members. Thus, the competence has been innate in the organisation since the e-learning field emerged, and the competence has developed gradually as the field itself has developed. In addition, every academic staff member has to take at least one formal pedagogic course that lasts half a year. Some of the topics in this course are related to e-learning. Almost all academic staff members at AITeL give e-learning courses.

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A standard model for e-learning is used in most courses. However, continuous development is going on, and some courses use more advanced technology than others. For example, some courses use online conference tools for synchronous communication and document sharing, tools for giving lectures using slides in combination with audio and video or tablet pc’s with handwritten formula development. Experiences from these trials are used to identify new ways of designing standard courses and thus further develop the e-learning model and increase competence among teachers. Research has been and still is central in these processes. For example, current e-learning activities are direct consequences of research done in the JITOL and NITOL projects in the 90-ies. Both AITeL and TISIP have been continually involved with research activities and both have been partners and coordinators of EU Socrates e-learning projects and projects under the e-learning and Leonardo Programme. AITeL has also had several engagements with the governmental agencies for e-learning and distance education in higher education (Norway Opening Universities and its predecessor SOFF – The national agency for flexible learning in higher education). The research and development work has been and still is important to be able to take part in international research in the field, and to further develop the e-learning model of the institution. In addition, all courses are subject to thorough evaluation. Complete evaluations are done for each course every second year and provide a basis for upgrading and adjustments. The evaluations rely on student feed back. Focus is on course content (for example whether it is relevant and up to date), learning activities, administrative systems and routines.

Technical issues Earlier AITeL had a single system to administer the whole process starting with the student buying the course until the exam was finished. This worked well and provided the necessary efficiency to run large scale distance education in a cost effective manner. However, requirements from the top management of the institution (not the leadership of AITeL, but of the entire university college) changed all this. All the e-learning activity must now be put into the procedures and systems used for the rest of the students, i.e. the on campus students. This means that AITeL now runs with four systems that are not well integrated. The systems are: 1) A web shop for buying courses, 2) An accounting system for invoices, payment through credit cards online etc., 3) A student administrative system to register the student at correct study programme, organise the exams, etc and finally 4) A learning management system for all the learning activities. Not only are these systems poorly integrated, they are also not prepared or intended for elearning students. The main problems that have resulted from this are that data has to be transferred manually between systems, that the systems do not support flexible start up, progression and exam dates, and a number of problems with the LMS used (for example that there are no open areas where potential students can take a look at learning material and activities in courses they consider to enter). While an integrated single system was a key to success earlier, the disintegrated systems that AITeL is forced to use today is a severe threat to survival of the operations. Thus, although technical competence is (of course) high at AITeL (because informatics and e-learning is the subject for research and teaching), organisational changes have left AITeL with a poor technical solution. Megaproviders of e-learning in Europe

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From a student perspective, all courses are based on widely used software and do not require students to buy additional software or hardware (in addition to a standard computer).

Courses Information technology is the subject for about 90 % of the courses. The rest are about economy, marketing and entrepreneurship. To begin with, courses were designed in a way that allowed students to download material and work largely offline. Now, activities increasingly demand online presence because of activities such as chats, video conferencing and streaming video. This is possible because most students now have broadband connections. However, large proportions of the learning activities are normally still possible to do offline. Courses have fixed start-up and exams twice a year. Between the start-up and exam there is some flexibility in progression. It is also possible for the students to continue a course in the next semester if they are not able to complete the course as planned. Most communication is asynchronous, for example discussion forums, mail, downloading learning materials, deliver exercises and other work, looking at slide presentations with video and multiple choice tests. But activities in some courses rely on synchronous communication, in particular chats in relation to project discussions and guidance for groups of students.

Management, strategy and attitudes Sør-Trøndelag University College has been through several organisational changes from 1986 to 2006. The institution was established in 1994. Before that, distance education activities were located at Trondheim Technical College. In 2002 there was a drastic organisational change, where five autonomous departments were dissolved and replaced with seven smaller departments with less autonomy and a stronger central administration. The responsibility for further education is formally still under the administration of the departments, but, as described above, the departments are now obligated to use the same LMS system and the same student administrative systems, even if they are not well suited for distance education. This has also resulted in the termination of the contract between TISIP and AITeL. Parallel with this, AITeL has experienced that the leadership has changed it’s attitude from being very supportive and willing to understand the mechanism involved in running a large externally financed e-learning activity, to becoming a lot more formalistic and in favour of “one size fits all” thinking. As mentioned above, this has already lead to less cost efficiency and there is a real danger that large scale online distance education will come to an end as a consequence. Locally at AITeL, a payment model for teachers has been developed where the salary reflects extra work for developing digital resources and organising and carrying out the new elearning activities. The staff is generally very positive towards e-learning, and the payment model is clearly one of the crucial factors for the success of AITeL. Student assistants are used to handle large student groups. This makes the work loads quite predictable for the teachers. TISIP has employees specialised at taking care of all student matters related to distance education courses. There are also personnel working with marketing, technical support,

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software development and so on. This is important for two reasons. One is that the e-learning activity is the main task and not an occasional extra task. Second, the systems surrounding the e-learning activities are customised to support selling, student administration and learning activities in an optimised way. However, the organisational changes at Sør-Trøndelag University College may make it difficult to use these procedures together with AITeL. Despite lack of support by the top management at Sør-Trøndelag University College, the institution still has a strategy for online education. In the strategic plan for 2005 – 2010, it is stated that the institution wants to be a central partner in the field of further education by developing decentralised and flexible courses both on and off campus, and develop sustainable technological based solutions. Several concrete actions have been designed to achieve this, including developing technological infrastructure and extending the use of elearning both on and off campus. However, there is apparently a discrepancy between these aims and the lack of support for the large scale operations from the top management. Sør-Trøndelag University College has developed routines for quality assurance in education. These are also applicable to the field of online education. In addition AITeL has developed special routines for e-learning, as described above. AITeL see good quality as important to keep satisfied students over time. In surveys, more than 60 % of the students answer that they want to take another e-learning course by AITeL, and as much as 96 % answer that they will recommend AITeL courses to others. The institution has high credibility both in the Ministry of Education and Research and among students and the public. For example, the institution is well known among potential students and has (as indicated above) a good reputation among its customers. Regarding government and public administration, there were some initial problems, for instance lack of approval of student loans. This was solved by raising the matter in the Norwegian Parliament. AITeL was also allowed to have the first full-time, online education, study programme financed through the institutional budget by the Ministry of Education and Research.

Economy An important contribution to cost effectiveness is that payment to teachers is proportional to the number of students following a course. Other costs are shared among all the courses, like administration, development of digital resources, marketing etc. Courses are priced quite low compared to many other distance education providers. The philosophy of AITeL is to serve many students at low cost rather than few students at high cost. About 1/3 of the students pay for their courses themselves and 2/3 have the courses paid by their employers. As mentioned above, another important contribution to cost effectiveness was the former unified and integrated technical system that could handle students from enrolment to completion of a course. The loss of this system has led to a 30-50 % loss in efficiency in operation of important routines. From 2001 to 2006 there has been a gradual reduction in enrolments by approximately 10 % per year as a consequence of the fall in the ICT market. The combination of a high cost technical solution with reduced number of students is actually a big threat to the survival of large scale distance education at AITeL.

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Additional factors As AITeL sees it, producing learning material (texts, lessons) of high quality is crucial for obtaining sustainability and a critical mass of students. Producing such material introduces issues on copyrights. There is an ongoing discussion at AITeL on how to handle these issues.

Conclusions These factors are seen as vital for the success and survival of AITeL as a megaprovider of online education: • • •

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Funding of a large project by government money was important for establishing a model for large scale e-learning based distance education. Research has been and still is important for developing efficient models for e-learning based distance education. Integrated technical systems allowed the institution to run operations with a high degree of efficiency and this was an important factor for sustainability. Now the institution is experiencing the flip side of this. The integrated systems have been abandoned and replaced with less efficient (and not integrated) systems designed for on campus operations. This has lead to loss of efficiency and may threaten survival of the large scale operations. Moderate prices on courses contribute to recruitment. Teachers are paid per student and are helped by student assistants if needed. This ensures that teachers have manageable workloads and this is important for motivating them to work with online education. It also contributes to cost effectiveness in the organisation by balancing expenses with incomes.

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University of Tartu By Jüri Lõssenko Name of the institution URL of the institution Country Number of employees Levels in the educational systems Number of course enrolments in 2005 Number of online courses in 2005 Interviewed persons

Tartu Ülikool, University of Tartu www.ut.ee Estonia 3362 Higher education 5000 135 Lehti Pilt, Anne Villems, Aune Valk

Introduction As a national University, the University of Tartu is proud to maintain and promote Estonian culture and shape the international image of Estonian science. Following good academic traditions, this one and only classical Estonian-language university offers research-based graduate and postgraduate degree programmes and deals with both fundamental and applied research. Catering to the current needs of society, the university does pioneering work in application of innovation to its training and research.

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The competitive ability of the University’s graduates both at home and abroad, as well as the continuously growing body of foreign students, speak of the high quality of instruction given at the baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral levels. 70 % of all Estonian Ph.D. degrees get awarded in Tartu. Through its Open University, owing to modern technological facilities, the university now offers new flexible learning and continuing education programmes.

Contextual factors concerning online learning in Estonia University of Tartu focuses mostly on the Estonian market. The population of Estonia is 1.4 million and the predominant language is Estonian which is spoken as a first language by 70% of the population. Currently there are 68 000 students in Estonian higher education, about 10% of which study in distance education and continuing education. It is foreseen that the number of on campus students will decrease significantly in the coming years but a slight and steady increase is expected in other forms. Estonia is certainly one of the best of the new European Union member states and close to the Scandinavian countries when it comes to using ICT and the availability of technical infrastructure. According to statistics, 60% of the population aged 6-74 uses Internet, 35% of the same age group uses Internet daily. 39% of the families have Internet connection at home and this figure is constantly increasing. Thus ICT skills of the people of Estonia are quite high and the readiness for online education is present among the target groups. Unfortunately development of online education has not generally been a priority within the management of universities and also lack of financial support at the national level can be regarded as a drawback.

History The year 1995 may be considered to be the beginning of e-learning at the University of Tartu when the first e-mail based course was delivered for the students of the Faculty of Mathematics. In 1998 the Multimedia Centre obtained videoconference facilities with the support of the PHARE Multi-country Project in Distance Education and the first web-based course in the WebCT environment was developed and delivered. In January 2000 the University Council stated in its decision that ICT-based teaching and learning is strategically important. In February 2003, the University of Tartu initiated in cooperation with other universities, the Ministry of Education and Research and the Estonian Information Technology Foundation (EITF) the Estonian e–University, which has grown into a consortium under EITF to support the universities and coordinate the development of elearning. At the end of 2005 University of Tartu approved the e-learning strategy for 20062010. It is clear that gradual step by step increase of online education requires competent staff. At the moment the university offers several pedagogical and technical training courses for teachers in which ca 300 teachers have participated during the last few years. In addition to training courses, educational technologists offer individual counselling to teachers. The support from educational technologists and media specialists is very important for teaching staff. Regarding research activities, most of the developments are being carried out together with other institutions under the umbrella of the Estonian e-University consortium. In 2004-2005 a thorough analysis was made among different student groups about the role of ICT –based

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teaching and learning to students’ learning approach (deep or surface) (ETF grant No 5838, How to support deep learning at university level).

Technical issues The University of Tartu has used learning management system WebCT for developing and delivering e-courses since 1998. Only in very few cases special software is needed (e.g. Mathcad, APSTest). Videoconferencing or Horizon Wimba tools are also available to the staff and students, the latter being integrated to the WebCT environment. As for other similar integration processes, the learning management system is not integrated with the study information system (separate authentication, no data exchange between LMS and SIS). ITsystems integration with LMS is the activity the institution has to deal with in the near future. WebCT server management and course administration is accomplished jointly at the Estonian e-University consortium level which is certainly a strength, saving necessary human and financial resources for these tasks at the institutional level. At the same time LMS management and administration at the consortium level makes it more difficult to integrate the different IT systems. For example every consortium member university has different SIS and this makes it complicated to integrate LMS and SIS of each particular institution. When concentrating on the particular skills of the staff, most of the teachers are competent in using PowerPoint, web for information searching, e-mail, university study information system etc. More complicated skills are not so widely spread, for example creating web pages, recording audio and video files, creating animations and designing courses in LMS.

Courses The University of Tartu has been using web-based courses for 8 years. Today the number of web-based courses has grown to approximately 400 and the teaching staff of almost all faculties has experience with the WebCT environment. Most e-courses have been registered by the Faculty of Economics (53), Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Sciences (50), Pärnu College (44), Faculty of Philosophy (38), and Faculty of Social Sciences (32). E-courses are used in the Open University as well as in stationary education and in-service training programs. The courses in these cases are usually not 100 % web-based, but e-learning is used in combination with face-to-face sessions in classrooms to support independent work of the students. Most of the e-courses are in Estonian; there are currently only 6 courses in other languages. There are currently 70 curricula at the University of Tartu offered in distance education. All of them have some ICT support, but in most cases it is difficult to follow how much the courses are supported by web-based materials, discussions and other learning opportunities. Currently around 100 courses that are taught in distance education can be more or less fully completed online. E-learning strategy aims to have web-based support for all Open University (distance) curricula by 2010. Communication-wise in the case of totally online courses, asynchronous communication is more widely used than synchronous communication. The discussions board is the main tool for asynchronous communication. Private communication is taking place through course mail or regular e-mail. In some courses synchronous communication is taking place as well using

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chat, Horizon Wimba live classroom (integrated with WebCT) or outside tools (MSN, Skype, videoconferencing system).

Management, strategy and attitudes Leadership has been supportive towards e-learning, but more passively than actively supportive. The last 5-6 years have been very busy due to the implementation of the Bologna reform, implementing programme-based teaching (programme managers and councils for all curricula) and internationalization. Thus, there have been clearly other - wider and more important topics at the centre of the attention of leadership. University teachers have generally a positive attitude towards online teaching, but teachers have described the following problems related to online teaching: • • • • •

Not enough supporting personnel (educational technologists, multimedia specialists, tutors) Teaching staff is mainly interested in learning technical skills, not e-learning methodology and instructional design. That is the reason why they do not have knowledge of how to organize the learning process in e-learning courses Teaching staff is very busy and if they participate in training courses, they often drop out and do not finish the course Older persons have difficulty learning new skills (especially technical skills) for elearning Problems with determining workload of teachers and tutors

All the issues raised in the previous paragraph will hopefully be solved with the implementation of the new e-learning strategy 2006-2010, which was approved by the Council of the University of Tartu December 23, 2005. According to the strategy, the aim of the University of Tartu in developing e-learning is to create a modern, flexible and internationally open educational process supportive of efficient and independent learning. In order to achieve the established objective, the University of Tartu sets itself the tasks in developing e-learning in 3 categories: 1. Support high-quality studies centred on the student and involvement of new target groups 2. Increase the e-learning competence of the teaching staff, students and assistance personnel and develop cooperation models for e-learning 3. Ensure high level of infrastructure and support services for e-learning Attention has been paid to staff development and the support for developing ICT-based teaching through the following activities: 1. ICT-based teaching courses for using different technologies in teaching have been provided. Since 1999 the courses in ICT-based teaching have been focused on both technical and methodological skills for elaborating Internet-based courses, planning the learning process and assignments, student support, motivation and activation of students in case of self-instructional learning. 2. In addition to seminars and courses for the teachers, the technical and methodological support in elaborating web-based courses is offered by the 8 educational technologists.

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3. At the moment the development of a system for ensuring and auditing the quality of elearning courses (incl. quality criteria for e-learning, continuous internal evaluation of the courses, quality signs, etc.) is taking place at the Estonian e-University consortium.

Economy Since the University of Tartu relies largely on the on-campus students, there are no exact calculations as to the income and profitability of online education. Secondly, as developments in this area are supported significantly by project funding, the decisions are not always made on financial basis. On the other hand, this situation will change due to the shift in the balance of the market. As ca 2/3 of the students pay for their studies and about 1/3 of students are Open University students (they study besides work and family) university has to consider seriously their needs. In addition, the number of secondary school graduates will decrease rapidly in Estonia in coming years, which means even stronger competition between institutions and therefore pressure to meet the needs of the market.

Conclusions The prevailing factors of success in online education at the University of Tartu: • • • •

Very well developed ICT infrastructure, high digital literacy and readiness to use online learning among the target groups Support and centralised services offered by the Estonian e-University consortium The university is not solely dependent on the success of its online initiatives, thus providing flexibility and quick decision making Skilled support personnel

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BI Norwegian School of Management, Distance Education Centre By Per Arneberg Name of institution URL of institution Country Number of employees Levels in the educational systems Interviewed persons Number of course enrolments in 2005 Number of online courses in 2005

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BI Distance Education Centre www.bi.no; www.bi.edu Norway 17 full-time, around 50 part-time teacher from academic staff Tertiary and vocational training Tone Lømo, Director, Distance Education Centre Tormod Lunde, Head of studies, DE Centre 8500 54

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Introduction BI Norwegian School of Management is a non-profit private education institution. BI Norwegian School of Management, Distance Education Centre is, as the name implies, a part of this institution. Norwegian School of Management is recognised by the Ministry of Education and receives government grants covering around 10-15 % of operating costs. Consequently, the institution is largely dependent on student fees for its operations. This interview focuses on BI Norwegian School of Management, Distance Education Centre (BI DE). BI DE provides courses at higher educational level and within vocational training. BI DE does not employ full-time academic staff for tutoring. Rather, courses are based on part-time employment of academic staff members from the main branch of the Norwegian School of Management. Therefore, the number of part-time employees is rather high compared with the number of full-time employees. BI DE develops both courses aimed at an open market and courses tailor-made for corporate partners.

Contextual factors concerning online education in Norway Norway has a total population of 4.6 million with a common language. The target group for BI DE is mainly the Norwegian adult population. Penetration of technology for online learning is high. Over 50 percent of people in the main age target group have broadband Internet access at home, 75 percent of homes have PCs, 60 percent have Internet access and nearly 60 percent of the population use a PC on a daily basis. It is assumed that because of the relatively high level of computer literacy in the population, and not least, governmental support for distance education in general over many decades and for online learning the last 15 years, both through legislation and financial support to students and institutions, market acceptance for online learning is high relative to most other European countries.

History BI DE was founded in 1989. The first students were enrolled in 1990, and from the start operations were based on distance education using electronic communication. Thus BI DE has no history with (first generation) correspondence based distance education, but went straight to a second generation model based on electronic communication. The technical systems for delivery and administration of online education at BI DE, has to a large extent been developed by the institution itself. To begin with, system development was done in close cooperation with the IT department of the main branch of BI (Norwegian School of Management). An example of a system that was developed is the first electronic communication system, was called BIT (BI Teleconference System). The system was used up to 1996. After this, all courses were Internet based, and BIT was replaced by the in house developed LMS “Apollon”. By this time, BI DE had established its own IT staff, and “Apollon” was developed largely by this staff. Today, the in house developed systems that form the back bone of the operations of BI DE are refined and improved by the IT staff of BI DE.

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This model has given BI DE several advantages. First, because of high technological competence in house, BI DE could start with large scale online teaching fairly early (1997). Second, the fact that systems are developed and refined in house allows BI DE to adjust them to their changing needs. This is different from a situation one might have had if the systems were bought from commercial developers, in which case one might have to replace systems if a desired improvement could not be provided by the manufacturer. Both the ability to start early with online teaching and the flexibility that in house developed systems allow are seen by the institution as vital for their success. Since the start, courses have been subject to thorough evaluation where students, cooperate partners and faculty members participate. BI DE has not carried out systematic research on distance education, but has kept an open eye on experiences made by other online education institutions and companies.

Technical issues Seen from a student perspective, courses are generally based on widely used technologies that can be taken into use by students without requiring them to buy additional hardware or software. From the institution’s perspective, there is a strong focus on integration of different systems. For example, the administrative module of the LMS is well integrated with the student administrative system. This allows administrators to easily enrol students and establish virtual classrooms, student groups and so forth. Students have easy access to both pedagogical and administrative services. For example, students may enrol themselves for exam in a self service module. The ability to provide such integration while the various systems are being constantly refined is greatly facilitated by the fact that the systems are mostly developed in house (as indicated above). BI DE believes that integration of IT-systems is an essential factor for success, and expects this to be of even greater importance in the future for those institutions that want to succeed in the e-learning market.

Courses BI Norwegian School of Management is a business school covering a wide range of subjects within finance, administration and management, from bachelor to doctorate level. The Distance Education Centre offers these subjects mostly on the bachelor level to adult learners and businesses. In addition, BI DE provides courses within vocational training. Within this portfolio, no particular group of subjects is significantly more important than others in generating course enrolments and income for BI DE. Similarly, BI DE feels that most of the subjects in the portfolio of BI Norwegian School of Management are suitable for online teaching. In other words, there are no substantial differences in “onlineability” among the subjects that BI DE can offer. The only exception is mathematics, where “onlineability” is limited by lack of effective means of expressing symbols and formulas electronically. Rather, the two factors determining whether a course is developed and offered or not is market considerations and the need to be predictable within some subjects areas. According to changes in the market, courses may be added or removed. In areas where students follow

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larger programs, for example bachelor programs, courses must on the other hand be provided continuously in order to make it possible for students to finish degrees they have started on. BI DE has flexible start up and progression in courses. Exams, on the other hand, are arranged at predetermined dates, often twice a year. Thus, there is a high degree of flexibility in time for students, only limited by fixed dates for exams.

Management, strategy and attitudes The decision of establishing the distance education unit was decided by the top management at BI and the management has been supportive throughout. However, BI DE is a business unit that has to be self sustained, and support from the top management can therefore only be counted on if the income at least balances expenses. Throughout its history, this condition has been met, as BI DE has had sufficient income to pay its own expenses and in addition provided a profit for the main branch of BI. Incomes are largely based on student fees and a small support of government money. BI DE has a business strategy with an action plan that is evaluated yearly within the business unit, covering the following fields: study program development, pedagogical and technological development, marketing, administration and organization. The strategic plans are in general followed up loyally by employees of BI and BI DE. In addition, BI DE assists with general implementation of ICT in the on campus teaching at BI. This is organised through an e-learning centre that is located at BI DE and serves the entire organisation. The unit is responsible for developing content, following up e-learning projects and giving input to BI strategies. More flexible education in the regional schools, as well as the central business school in Oslo, is the main goal. Teachers and e-moderators are recruited from the academic staff at BI. They are either paid extra for this or they get reduced teaching loads at BI. The attitudes among the e-moderators that have been recruited by BI DE are very good. There has always been a focus on information and development of the teaching staff through participation in conferences, seminars and workshops. Many of the teachers have been engaged since the establishment of the Distance Education Centre in 1989-90. Still there is a continuous need for onlineteaching-discussions and follow-ups – both individually and in groups. It is important for BI DE to know what the teachers find necessary to improve or develop. BI DE therefore pays careful attention to their needs. Once a year BI DE arranges a so-called “Pedagogical Inspiration Day” together with the Bachelor program department. There, all teachers can share experiences and ideas in the field of online learning. Although a significant proportion of the academic staff at BI is unfamiliar with or sceptical about distance education, BI DE has not had problems with recruiting members of this staff for distance education. Many teachers regard the online teaching job as part-time work that comes in addition to their regular job. The workload may vary, but the online teaching contracts are always carefully discussed with each teacher so that they should be properly aware of the total work. Incentives are given according to workload or tasks so that the teacher may choose between distance education work and teaching full-time students. BI DE regards this as very important. The tasks are predictable, but sometimes the amount of students may vary. The teacher is always guaranteed a lump sum for teaching online – and with larger student groups he or she is paid extra per head.

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Quality is monitored through evaluation and student feedback. Thus, academic staff members know that they are monitored. At BI DE, one feels that this is an important stimulus for teachers to do a good job, and that quality monitoring therefore is one of the keys to the success of BI DE. As part of BI, BI DE follows the quality systems laid down in EQUIS (a well-known European quality and accreditation system of business schools) and NOKUT (The Norwegian organization for quality and accreditation), but also rely to a certain extent on the quality system developed for distance education in Norway – maintained through the work of NADE (Norwegian Association of Distance Education). BI Norwegian School of Management has a high credibility both formally and informally with the government and public administration. BI differs, however, from the public universities and colleges in Norway in the sense that it is a private non-profit institution with some financial support from the government. Governmental support covers about 10-15 % of total costs.

Economy Because BI DE has had to been economically self sustainable since the start, and because governmental funding is and has been modest, cost effectiveness has always been vital for survival. Income from online education has depended and still depends on a number of factors, in particular the market and marketing activities. There has, however, up to 2005 been a growing and steady demand for online learning. In this situation, there has always been a certain pressure to be flexible and able to change rapidly. Thus, courses may be added or removed according to market requirements. However, a large number of the study programs are not changed. Because students are in these programs for several years, the programs must be offered continuously. Teaching contracts are made per term to allow for market changes. There is, however, a large stability in the teaching staff, and a relatively large continuity with regard to the study programs offered.

Additional factors Being part of a larger institution allows for stability in the recruitment of staff, as well as students. The administrative staff has many years of experience in the field of distance education and the teaching concept is based on well-functioning pedagogical knowledge. The fact that BI is a well-known brand in Norway is also of importance. Many of the students are adults who know the institution well – or are told by colleagues or employers about the programs. Many campus-students or adult evening class-students, who cannot follow the normal progression in their study programs, find it convenient to finish their studies by distance education. Market orientation is also an important factor in order to obtain success. The study programs are therefore continually revised and developed and content is always based on the latest research. It has also been of particular importance to continually develop the technology used for online-teaching.

Conclusions These factors are seen as vital for the success and survival of BI DE as a megaprovider of online education:

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• • • • • • •

Early start with online teaching, which was possible because of high technological competence in-house, has been vital for success later. High degree of integration of different IT-systems, which has been possible because many of the systems have been developed in house, is important for efficient operation of procedures and thus contributes to cost effectiveness. Teaching is monitored closely for quality and the teachers know this. This is seen as important for keeping quality of teaching at a high level. Teachers are paid according to their work load. This is seen as important for having motivated teachers. Being part of a large and well known (in Norway) institution contributes to stability in recruitment of staff and students. Market orientation and continuous revision of study programs top keep them up to date with latest research has been important for success. Continuous development of technology for online teaching has been important for success.

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Scuola IaD, University of Rome Tor Vergata By Pedro Fernández Michels Name of institution URL of institution Country Levels in the education system Number of employees Number of course enrolments in 2005 Number of online courses in 2005 Interviewed persons

Scuola IaD, Università de Roma Tor Vergata www.scuolaiad.it Italy Higher education 1400 teaching staff approx. in Università di Roma Tor Vergata 5000 120 Andrea De Dominicis

Historical context Before dealing in depth with the issues in focus, we urge to highlight that Scuola IaD is a distance education Academic Institution operating within a in-presence educational environment (University of Rome Tor Vergata is the mother Institution).

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Since its start-up, Scuola IaD’s inspiring principle and purpose was to re-run those same steps that have characterized the history and the evolution of distance education on a wider spacetime scale, with reference to the development of the information and communication technologies used within the educational activities. This implied for us passing from the former use of the mail medium, through CMC (computer mediated communication), up to the full achievement of the e-learning technologies, exploited both as self-learning and as cooperative learning. The evolution of the technological support, which we never conceived as self-aimed, allowed the educational models’ improvement and enrichment in a synergic relation, which structured our competence over the years. In our experience, competence is built on the praxis-theory-praxis dialectics: a former praxisapproach (field-experience and experimentation) rose to questions, the answers to which gave birth to the building of scientific theories, also through the support of former field literature. The scientific acquisitions achieved, subsequently set the conditions for further experimentation, and so on. Such a way of operating and building know-how obviously matches a gradual and step-bystep development of competence, which is exactly what historically connoted our institution. In our experience, evaluation and research also have been fundamental and chronologically grounding elements: Scuola IaD arises in 1996 formerly as CoFoDi, a multi-discipline committee set up with an exclusive quality-control purpose, where the quality control issues in matter were the training processes delivered by another institution (BAICR). In 1998 IaD launched its first own specialization course. If evaluation and research historically characterize our institution’s origin, the awareness of the intimate and synergic relation between these, on one hand, and the educational elaboration and offer, on the other, remain one of our operative cornerstones.

Technical issues As for competence within our institution’s information and communication technology system, we have always aimed to keep within the forecasted international standards. Nevertheless, as we already mentioned, we never conceived our institution’s ICT performances as self-aimed. In particular, the information technologies are, in our experience, basically exploited to gain customers’ confidence in the enrolling phase, and to assure this is maintained throughout the educational delivery and certification phases. What we firmly refuse is an “imagine-aimed” use of the information technologies. As for the communication aspect, we analogously aim to use the technological mean by constantly paying attention to the educational aspects and specifically to the improvement of the integration between the different communication codes.

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Our students don’t need (in the current third generation distance learning phase) - and never needed throughout the former phases - the aid of any additional hardware or software, which means that they don’t need and never needed to personally face any additional cost. What we unfortunately must highlight is that the integration between the different IT systems cannot be considered currently satisfying. We believe that within the landscape of international distance education institutions, what appears to be fairly inadequate is the “technical mean” itself. By “inadequate” we mean ‘unable to recreate, while improving it, the same level of cognitive, emotional and relational students-trainers and students-students integration which characterizes presence education environments’. A weakness that specifically characterizes our institution, although framed within the historical delay of the Italian administrative systems, is the way the certification processes are managed, due to the damaging complexity and continuous changes of the administrative procedures. Such administrative operating style causes unpleasant delays of the certificates’ mail delivery. While admitting our weakness, we also wish to highlight our strength, which we believe to be in the strong ability we developed over the years and regularly perform, to welcome our “customer” in a way that appears more suitable for the individual user and/or individual circumstance. Our availability to answer to any request our customer feels he/she needs to express and satisfy is another strength.

Courses As for the subjects covered by IaD’s educational offer, our courses deal with a wide, potentially not bordered, range of subjects. The largest request is directed to the humanistic and strictly scientific area (mathematics, physics, statistics...). Our availability to the experimentation within any subject may be requested or perceived as needed by any particular audience and this matches with our belief that no subject can be considered not “onlineable” by default, given some obvious limitation due to the applicative connotation of some particular sectors. But, on a theory basis, we believe no border should be raised. As a matter of fact, we are compelled to circumscribe our educational offer to those subjects with reference to which we concretely find trainers’ availability to the distance teaching challenge. Analogously, we set up courses regarding only those issues which, in our purpose, represent an answer to what, time by time, appears to us as concrete learning needs and requirements. In accordance with IaD’s sharp attention towards the audience’s confidence towards the training process, we are able to define our courses’ start-up and progression as definitively flexible. As for the courses’ modality, although we are aware that the synchronous way allows a more efficient ‘teacher-students’ and ‘students-students’ integration, and despite the huge request for synchronous distance learning courses, about 70 % of our educational offer is asynchronous.

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This is basically due to three factors: trainers’ scarce availability to be involved within asynchronous education narrower manageability; a huge presence of working students among the applicants; several limits within the institution organization’s current structure.

Management, strategy and attitudes One of IaD strengths is the involvement and regular support from its institutional leadership (the Tor Vergata University) and specifically from the Rector, which, since the beginning, has strongly contributed to its success. As for the attitudes displayed by the different groups of staff, we previously wish to highlight that our HR organization never has been rigidly structured and managed. This implies that not only roles and positions are set, modified and eventually eliminated within the organization according to the needs urging time by time, but also that the same individual is regularly moved from one position to the other, still in accordance with what in a given moment appears to be more suitable and effective for the achievement of the institution’s objectives. Given this preliminary remark, we can describe the staff groups’ attitudes passing from a former suspiciousness towards what appeared to be new and unpredictable, to a gradually increasing participation and involvement, certainly encouraged and supported by the growing number of goals achieved by IaD, and by the increasing confidence from both the Institutional leadership and the applying audience. There is certainly a precise strategy grounding our institution’s success, which we rather feel as a “dream” to constantly guide our activity: we aim to replace the traditional lectio, structured and conceived as an ‘ex cathedra’ lecture (equal to the “one-way” education process) with the medieval quaestio (equal to the two-ways education process), implying direct involvement and active participation by learners and dialectical trainer-learner relation. What we also consider fundamental and constantly pursue is our courses’ quality issues, for the achievement of which we are “double-checked”: by the students giving feedback through anonymous questionnaires, which they always fill in before their examination (to avoid being influenced by their performance); and by the ISO9001 control quality protocol, which represents an ‘objective’ guarantee. Unfortunately, some weakness in our organization is due to the existing gap between the administrative procedures, basically still conceived and fit for presence education environments, on one hand, and the reality of distance education offer and delivery, on the other. The main trend aims to the conservation of traditional processes and to the maintenance of restrictive rules, even though we are thankful to the Athenaeum for having generally approved what wasn’t forbidden. Our organization always forecasts predictable and manageable teacher workloads, by accurately planning this in detail and due advance. This, together with the use of many different platforms and with the articulated composition of our staff (teachers plus 36 operators between tutors, educational managers, network administrators, developers and others) currently allows us to manage a huge number of courses and students.

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Something we are also proud of and that, in our opinion, proves our strategies and operating style to be successful are the synergies achieved with other educational institutions, and moreover with public and private organizations. We are aware that the complexity and variety of these synergic relations gives credibility to our institution at a national (government and public administration) and international level.

Economy In general, the cost-effectiveness of the online education activities run in our institution can be described as satisfying. We are able to offer cheap courses, which generally allow the achievement of a huge number of applications. In our experience, online education income is predictable on a triennial basis, while the comparison between contiguous three years blocks regularly marks a slight increase. We believe that, in order to reach success and regular incomes, it is fundamental to be flexible and adaptive towards the ever-changing market features and requirements. Flexibility is also necessary within employment strategies, which urges us not only to the use of temporary contracts on a nearly exclusive basis, but also to a mobile management of stuff and functions, as already highlighted above.

Other factors A further factor we believe to have strongly contributed to our success in terms of sustainability, robustness and achievement of critical mass, is Tor Vergata University’s prestige and good reputation. It is not only a matter of image, but also of concrete involvement of our Athenaeum within our structure: IaD’s Committee is in fact chaired by the Rector and composed by six professors from all the Faculties.

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Bavarian Virtual University (BVU) By Paul Rühl, Godehard Ruppert and Morten Flate Paulsen Name of institution URL of institution Country Number of employees Levels in the educational systems Number of course enrolments in 2005 Number of online courses in 2005 Interviewed persons

Virtuelle Hochschule Bayern www.vhb.org Germany 12 full-time and one part-time employees 20000 155 Paul Rühl, Managing Director of the BVU Godehard Ruppert

Blended learning at the macro level – the experience of the Bavarian Virtual University (Virtuelle Hochschule Bayern)

General facts In Germany, education lies within the exclusive jurisdiction of the 16 states (“Länder”). This was particularly emphasised in respect to higher education by the Federal Constitutional Court in 2005. The Free State of Bavaria, the second largest of the 16 German states, encourages and promotes the use of ICT at all levels of the education system. As part of this

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policy, a “High Tech Offensive” was launched in 1999. The initial funding (€11 million) of the Virtuelle Hochschule Bayern (VHB) came from this programme. The VHB was set up in May 2000. Its emergence was the result of the work of promoters of e-learning in the Bavarian universities and of a decision by the Ministry of Higher Education (Bayerisches Staatsministerium für Wissenschaft, Forschung und Kunst) that these efforts should be coordinated in the best possible way. Among the founding universities were all nine state universities and all 17 state universities of applied sciences in Bavaria. A further ten universities in Bavaria outside the jurisdiction of the Bavarian Ministry of Higher Education have also become members, e.g. the University of the Armed Forces (Universität der Bundeswehr) and the Film and Television Academy (Hochschule für Film und Fernsehen) in Munich, the Catholic University in Eichstätt and the protestant Augustana Hochschule in Neuendettelsau. The work of the VHB is regulated by a special ordinance of the Free State of Bavaria15. The aim of the VHB is to complement the programmes of the traditional universities, not to replace them. With the help of the VHB, students can earn credit points in individual courses, but they obtain their degrees at their home universities as the VHB does not offer complete study programmes. The activities of the VHB should not be confused with the distance education programmes offered by some of the member universities. These courses of study (generally including face-to-face elements) mainly serve the further education needs of people in employment. In the academic year 2005/2006, 183 different courses were available. Most courses are offered each term (semester), but some courses are offered once a year. In both terms of the academic year 2005/2006 combined, 329 courses in total were held. There were 44,500 enrolments by 15,000 individual students on these 329 courses. The VHB helps its member universities to provide high quality education for a growing number of students, in times when state funding does not grow proportionally. VHB helps the students to organise their individual studies in a more flexible way. This is especially valuable for non-traditional students. It also helps students to complete practical courses and training, as well as studies abroad, without extending the duration of their studies. In addition, by studying through VHB-courses students develop e-learning literacy, thus enhancing their employability. The VHB employs neither academic staff nor tutors. Teaching is offered by professors of member universities who work within the VHB either as part of their workload or in addition to it. For day-to-day course work, professors usually employ tutors. The remuneration of the tutors is subsidised by the VHB. Full-time employees of the VHB are administrative and technical personnel. Until now, the VHB has been financed almost exclusively from state funds and member universities have contributed indirectly through their infrastructure. From the summer of 2007, member universities will contribute financially in relation to the number of students they have.

15

www.vhb.org/dokumente/downloads/verordnung_vhb_2005.pdf

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Contextual factors The degree of digital literacy within the general public in Germany and Bavaria is difficult to assess. According to the latest research16, 66 % of the German population has access to the internet. For those who have completed secondary education, the figure is 85 %. It is assumed that digital literacy in the target group – students – is relatively high. The large majority of students use computers and the internet on a daily basis. Among university staff, various attitudes towards online teaching can be found. The majority of university teachers do not use online teaching. This does not necessarily mean downright rejection; there is often just a certain diffidence towards technology. This seems to be the case in the Humanities in particular. It is hardly surprising that in Science and in Business Sciences a larger proportion of the staff is active in online teaching. However, it should be emphasised that there has been a noticeable shift in attitudes over the past years. Today, fewer professors regard online teaching as “un-academic” or even as a threat to their position, but the readiness to use e-learning still differs significantly between individual departments and disciplines. At the same time, the euphoria with which some enthusiasts advocated online teaching as a panacea for all the problems of university teaching has vanished. The VHB focuses on member universities and their students as its “market” for online education. At the moment, the member universities have about 250,000 students. This figure is expected to rise to about 320,000 by 201217. Students of the member universities use the VHB courses without paying fees. Students from other universities and persons interested in lifelong learning can also be admitted on payment of a fee. Universities and students use online technology on a large scale, but traditionally distance education plays a minor role in Germany, compared, for example, to the USA, Canada or the Nordic countries. The network of higher education institutions is quite dense in Germany, and the social factors of face-to-face learning play an important role for most students and teachers. It seems likely that a large-scale replacement of face-to-face learning by e-learning would be rather unpopular with the majority in both groups. On the other hand, the growing number of students in times of strained state budgets necessitates the restructuring of university teaching. This need for change is intensified by the Bologna Process, with its focus on modularisation, and with the increase in the number of examinations required by the new degrees. In addition, within the framework of the new Bavarian University Law18 and with the help of global budgeting, the universities acquire more room for manoeuvre. In this situation, various combinations of web-based and face-to-face learning (“blended learning”) go some way to meeting the current challenges. Within the VHB, blended learning at the macro level plays a key role.

16

ARD/ZDF-Online-Studie 2006, 06.09.2006, www.daserste.de/service/ardon106.pdf cf. Wissenschaftsland Bayern 2020 – Empfehlungen einer internationalen Expertenkommission. Munich: im Eigenverlag des Bayerischen Staatsministeriums für Forschung, Wissenschaft und Kunst, 2005 18 www.stmwfk.bayern.de/downloads/hs_hochschulgesetz_hschg_gvbl102006.pdf 17

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Cost-effectiveness and macro-level blended learning What do we mean by “blended learning at the macro-level”? After the initial e-learning euphoria had passed, “blended learning” became the common term for the integration of computer- and web-aided elements into teaching and learning. By “blended learning”, many experts mean the combination of face-to-face teaching and web-based teaching within a single course. We call this type of blended learning “micro-level blended learning”. While microlevel blended learning has many pedagogical benefits, it does not necessarily make full use of the economic effects of e-learning. Professors who use single e-learning elements in their courses do not necessarily gain additional teaching time, and micro-level blended learning is hardly a remedy for, e.g., a shortage of lecture rooms, which many universities have to face. For the students, this type of blended learning offers only limited flexibility. In many cases, especially when the e-learning elements concerned are exploited by only one professor at one university, micro-level blended learning seems to offer higher quality or added value only at additional cost. In contrast, the VHB concentrates on macro-level blended learning with the aim of offering high-quality teaching at a lower cost than face-to-face teaching. We understand macro-level blended learning to be the integration of single online or elearning courses into courses of study or curricula which otherwise mainly consist of “traditional” face-to-face courses. Thus, students can earn some credits in online courses, but not a full degree. This combination of face-to-face courses with courses that are delivered completely online (with the possible exception of the final examination which has to be held face-to-face) allows the students much more flexibility than micro-level blended learning. At the same time students enjoy all the benefits of traditional face-to-face university teaching. Therefore, macro-level blended learning minimises the dangers of social isolation often associated with e-learning. Moreover, if online courses are developed once at one university, but exploited at several universities, the comparative cost-effectiveness is obvious. Universities can “import” courses from other universities, even including student support from tutors of the “exporting” university. In contrast to micro-level blended learning, this kind of import also helps universities to compensate for a possible lack of teachers as well as eventual room shortages. Macro-level blended learning combines the social and pedagogical benefits of face-to-face teaching and learning with the economic effects of e-learning, and it is therefore one of the responses to the challenge of growing student numbers in times of strained public budgets. The cost effectiveness of macro-level blended learning, in turn, is the major motivation for the Bavarian Ministry of Higher Education to finance the necessary structures and the development of new content. However, it should be pointed out that neither Ministry nor VHB see macro-level blended learning as a means of reducing the overall cost of education. On the contrary, investment in education will have to be increased considerably, and face-toface teaching and learning will continue to be dominant in higher education. Macro-level blended learning is a means of limiting the additional costs of better education for more students. To achieve the goal of cost-effectiveness, courses must be developed to meet the demand of the universities. To develop new courses exclusively according to the pedagogical and other preferences of individual professors would not ensure the amount of student enrolment necessary for a noticeable contribution to the total teaching load of the Bavarian universities. 138

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This in turn would seriously challenge the use of the VHB for both the state and its member universities, that is, for the institutions on which the funding of the VHB depends.

Technical issues As the VHB can draw upon the cumulative ICT competence of its member universities, the central service unit employs few technical staff of its own. In the VHB, with its more than 30 member universities, a variety of learning and content management systems (LCMS) are in use. This variety is a consequence of both the amount of subjects taught, and the history of the VHB, which in the year 2000 started with 36 courses prepared by different universities for different subjects. No central server is used; all courses are on the servers of member universities, and they are administered by the persons responsible, i.e. by professors of the member universities or by members of their staff. It has been argued that this may not be the most effective solution, but as far as can be judged from the students’ evaluation, this plurality of LCMS and platforms does not constitute a problem for the students. Critical remarks by students related to specific features of specific systems (which were then improved) were not related to the fact that a variety of systems is used. Besides, the transfer of the existing courses to a single system would not be economically sound. The gradual introduction of a central LCMS was discussed at a conference of the member universities in December 2006, but the vast majority was not in favour of such a solution. While unification of LMS or CMS does not seem to be an urgent issue, the establishment of an authorisation and authentication infrastructure (AAI) is on the agenda. As a first step, a system of data exchange has been established with all important member universities that makes direct online registration with the VHB possible. Data on participation in examinations and on the results are sensitive issues. These data are exchanged directly between the examining university and the students, and between the students and their home universities, not via the VHB. It is necessary for all course developers to ensure that students equipped with ordinary (not high-end) hardware and software can use the VHB’s courses. The interpretation of what can be regarded as “ordinary” may vary between the disciplines, e.g. most students of engineering will have at their disposal software which may be unknown to most students of law. For the course catalogue and for registration, a central system (“FlexNow!”, developed by the ihb-institute of Bamberg university) is in use. The second generation of this system is in preparation and is scheduled to replace the existing version by the end of 2007.

Courses In the winter semester 2006/07 (September 2006 to February 2007), the VHB offered courses in the following fields of study (the number of courses is given in brackets): • • • • • •

Business Sciences (24) Computer Science (17) Engineering (25) Health (27) Key Qualifications (26) Law (20) Megaproviders of e-learning in Europe

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• •

Social Work (12) Teacher Training (16)

The relative importance of these fields of study (measured in terms of student enrolment) has varied over the years. In its first three years, the VHB offered courses in Business Sciences, Computer Science, Engineering, Health and Key Qualifications. Initially, the highest demand was for courses in Key Qualifications and Health. Later, the demand for courses in Business Sciences rose significantly. In the academic year 2005/06, Law courses were most popular. The new groups of Social Work and Teacher Training have not yet fully developed their potential. The following graph shows the overall development of student enrolment:

50.000 45.000 40.000

Course Enrolment

35.000 30.000 25.000

44.578

20.000 15.000 19.823

10.000 5.000 0

2.107 00/01

3.170 01/02

9.156

4.808 02/03

03/04

04/05

05/06

Academic Year

The question of the “onlineability” of different subjects has occasionally been raised. Within the VHB, successful online courses have been developed for various subjects and with different pedagogical concepts. Of course, some subjects appear to be especially suitable for online treatment (as opposed to traditional paper-based distance education) because of the additional pedagogical benefits which electronic communication and multimedia elements provide. On the other hand, the economic benefits of offering courses online instead of paperbased or face-to-face solutions can be just as significant and important. The decision to develop and offer an online course should be based on pedagogical as well as economic considerations. As far as course schedules are concerned, the question of flexible start-up and progression to, or synchronisation with, face-to-face courses at the member universities has been decided individually for each course, depending largely on the requirements of the given discipline. Courses in Health and Law generally have flexible start-up and progression. This is possible due largely to the regulations of the traditional “Staatsexamen” (state examination) where the system of credit points does not apply. In most other subjects, students have to earn their credits by passing a face-to-face oral or written examination at the end of each course. These examinations are offered once each semester, and this in turn influences the flexibility of the start-up and the progression.

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Moreover, for many courses where intensive individual tutorial guidance is required, it would be too costly to employ tutors throughout the year, and professors are not generally available for teaching purposes outside the normal teaching periods. As synchronous communication places severe limits on flexible start-up and progression, teaching and learning on most of the VHB’s courses is based on asynchronous forms of communication. The courses of the VHB are developed at individual universities; there is no central production unit. Generally, within the universities (or within their institutes which provide online education) there is a clear division of labour. Content is usually provided by professors, who then employ skilled staff for the transformation of that content into an online course. In some cases (mostly at universities of applied sciences), professors also take part in the technical implementation. The workload of university professors is defined by state regulation. University professors have to teach nine academic hours a week, professors at the universities of applied sciences have to teach 19 hours. By regulation, up to 25 % of this workload may consist of online teaching. It is within the competence of the individual university to decide whether online teaching is actually credited to the workload of the individual professor. In practice, there are many cases where professors conduct online courses in addition to their workload. State law makes the remuneration of this additional work difficult, but the VHB finances tutors.

Quality management Evaluation and quality assurance play central roles in the VHB’s overall concept. Before it is accepted by the VHB, every new course is evaluated by experts from Bavarian and other universities. The students evaluate their courses every semester. On average, 15 % - 20 % of students take part in these surveys. Any problems pertaining to tuition can usually be solved by contact between the VHB Office and the individual teacher. If the maintenance of quality requires additional investment in either content or software, the VHB provides the necessary funding, provided that the course is still in sufficient demand. Moreover, every course is evaluated again by experts from outside Bavaria after five semesters, i.e. 30 months. For all evaluations by experts, a standard evaluation sheet19 is employed. This elaborate and effective quality management has contributed significantly to the success of the VHB. Pedagogical research on e-learning is conducted by individual professors on the basis of their courses. In 2005, the VHB was evaluated by an international group of experts. Furthermore, the VHB supports competence development by financing courses for online tutors. The courses are organized by Munich University’s Institute of Pedagogy. All tutors working on VHB-courses are encouraged to take part in these courses.

Organisational structure At the outset, the VHB’s structure was modelled on the German Gremienuniversität, which comprises a variety of assemblies, boards and committees. Over the years it transpired that 19

The evaluation sheet can be downloaded from www.vhb.org/dokumente/downloads/vhb-QSKriterienkatalog_Englisch.pdf.

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this model constricted the ability to act quickly and effectively, an ability which is pivotal in the world of online teaching and learning. Since the end of 2005 a new organisational structure applies. The main body of the VHB is now the Assembly of Member Universities, in which each member university is represented by a commissioner, who in turn is the key person for all VHB affairs within her or his home university. The commissioners are usually members of the governing body of their university. The Assembly elects the Steering Committee and the Programme Committee. The Steering Committee consists of three members. Both the President and the two Vice Presidents are presidents or rectors of member universities and in this function represent the VHB in the Conference of the Rectors and Presidents of the Bavarian Universities and the Conference of the Presidents and Rectors of the Universities of Applied Sciences. The Programme Committee consists of eight members, five of whom must be Vice Presidents responsible for the areas of teaching and studying at their respective universities. While all offices mentioned so far are held by professors as part of or (mostly) in addition to their ordinary workload, the Managing Director and the employees of the Office work fulltime for the VHB. In the Office, 16 employees work in the areas of finance, project management, public relations, student registration and technical support. The following diagram gives an overview of the organisational structure as it is today:

Member Universities delegate commissioners to

Assembly of Member Universities elects

elects

makes suggestions to

appoints

President

Programme Committee

Steering Commitee

Managing Director

Office

Once again: Economy Up to now, no universally accepted method or standard exists to measure the costeffectiveness of higher education. What is the output of education? To what extent should the large costs of the universities’ infrastructure be taken into account, how should these costs be attributed to teaching and to research? What can be undertaken (with some limitations) is a comparison of online and face-to-face education. As far as university teaching is concerned, online teaching can be more costeffective than face-to-face teaching, at least if it is organised on a level larger than the individual university. If universities use online courses provided by other universities, they can use some of their teaching capacities for subjects which help them to shape their specific

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profiles. Also, they can provide their students with teaching on subjects not covered by their own staff. Professors can, to some degree, concentrate more on subjects they prefer to teach face-to-face. A prerequisite for the economic soundness of this approach is strict orientation to the demand of the universities, i.e. a new course is funded only if a sufficient number of universities are willing to replace part of their face-to-face teaching with this course. To meet this demand, the member universities are encouraged to form groups for those individual courses for which there is a demand, and to apply for the funding of these courses. Corresponding to the means at its disposal, the VHB then chooses which courses to finance and offer. The VHB has succeeded in cutting down production costs for online courses by about 60% per unit since 2000. This is partly due to the general influence of the learning curve, partly to a more realistic view of the use of multimedia effects: some cost-intensive multimedia elements have proven to be “nice to have”, but not “need to have”. The VHB is financed by the state and by its member universities. The state budget is passed biannually by the state parliament. This mode of funding provides a stable and predictable financial basis for the operation of online education for the main target group, i.e. students of the member universities. Income from other sources (individual users and licensing by other institutions or companies) plays a minor role. The structure of the VHB permits maximum flexible employment. As stated above, the VHB does not employ teaching personnel. At the level of professors or lecturers, teaching is performed by personnel of the member universities. Tutors for the courses are employed by the individual universities on the basis of contracts for work and labour. Thus, no new permanent jobs have to be created. This facilitates quick adaptation to change, e.g. in the possible case of a future decrease in the number of students due to demographic development. This policy also minimises possible hardships, because tutorial work is attractive mainly to senior and post-graduate students and is not intended to provide long-term or permanent employment.

Conclusions The VHB has achieved the position of megaprovider of online education within the framework of public higher education and intends to enhance this position by serving the needs of four target groups: students, professors, universities and the state. Students profit from the flexibility of online teaching. Flexibility is especially important for “non-traditional” students. Therefore, the VHB concentrates on asynchronous forms of communication. Students of the member universities do not have to pay fees, and they should have no additional costs when using the VHB courses. The quality of our courses is assured by a three-step system which makes the quality of online teaching much more reliable than the quality of face-to-face teaching. The possibility of developing e-learning literacy, while studying a subject which is part of the curriculum, enhances the employability of the students without requiring additional effort.

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Professors experience a wider range of pedagogical possibilities. Many of them also appreciate the possibility of reaching more students with their teaching. Where online teaching is accepted as part of the professors’ workload, they also profit from the flexibility online teaching permits. By offering teaching on standard subjects online with tutors, professors can concentrate on face-to-face teaching of more advanced or specialised subjects. This can be both more demanding and more satisfactory for the teacher. Working within the VHB network is also attractive for professors because of the grants with which the VHB funds the development of online courses and their improvement, and because of the financing of tutors. Hopefully, the involvement of professors in the work of the VHB will be taken into account in the new remuneration system for professors which is gradually being introduced. Universities profit from the VHB in several ways: By setting up the VHB as a common institution and by using its courses jointly, universities considerably enhance their teaching capacities. Not only can they offer additional subjects, they can also release teaching capacities which may be used for other purposes, e.g. for teaching subjects less suitable for online teaching. Generally, universities are facing a time of greater competition. But this does not exclude cooperation. On the contrary, in order to survive in a world of growing competition, universities will have to cooperate not only in research, but also in teaching. The VHB is an excellent means of establishing and developing such cooperation. One of the most important aspects of this cooperation is the establishing of common quality standards for online teaching. From the point of view of the state, the situation can be characterised by the following considerations: 1. Public budgets will continue to be strained, because debts and deficits must be reduced. 2. The number of students will rise considerably, at least until 2012. Later, demographical factors indicate a gradual decline. On the other hand, Germany needs to boost the proportion of her population with university-level education, and wants to attract more students from abroad. This could also mean growing numbers of students after 2012. 3. As far as we can see, higher education will continue to be basically state funded. The fees introduced from 2007, with a maximum of ₏1,000 p.a. per student, will not fundamentally change this situation. 4. Therefore, additional high-quality education must be provided in a cost-effective way. The development, with public money, of similar online courses in different universities would be economically unwise (and would probably be criticised by the Bavarian Court of Audit). 5. Online education which is financed, organised and exploited at a level that encompasses all universities within the responsibility of the Bavarian Ministry of

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Higher education, appears to be an appropriate and necessary response to these challenges. (Of course, it cannot be the only response). To achieve its present position, the VHB had to concentrate on the following key factors, and it will carry forward this policy in order to continue its successful development: • • • • • • • • •

continuous improvement of courses and of administrative processes in order to reach maximum userfriendliness strict orientation to the demand of the member universities cost-effectiveness priority given to quality, not quantity close cooperation with universities and the ministry drawing upon the competence in the member universities, using their infrastructure as much as possible transparency in all decisions, especially in funding lean organisation, simple structures flexibility with regard to the development of the course programme, to the development of personnel and to the use of teaching and learning software

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Oncampus By Dipl.-Betr. (FH) Farina Steinert Name of institution URL of institution Country Levels in the education system Number of employees

Number of course enrolments in 2005 Number of online courses in 2005 Interviewed persons

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oncampus www.oncampus.de Germany Higher education (bachelor and master degrees) and continuing education 35 full-time e-learning professionals at e-learning department of LUAS, plus employees of consortia universities (administrative personnel and about 150 authors and lecturers) 9386 119 Prof. Dr. Rolf Granow

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Introduction oncampus has provided online academic education since 1997, mainly based on networks of German Universities of Applied Sciences and universities around the Baltic. The core of oncampus is located at Lübeck University of Applied Sciences, Germany. Its subsidiary company oncampus GmbH cares for professional and standardised development, production, operation and marketing of online courses.

Contextual factors with regard to the spread of online education oncampus offers online programmes and particular courses in continuing education both in German and English language. The present focus is mainly on the German market. However, due to the flexibility of e-learning methodology the market potential is considerably higher, as 51 % of the EU-citizens are English-speaking and 32 % of the population older than 15 years disposes of German language skills. Of course, it has to be taken into consideration that the adoption of e-learning requires an affinity to the application of multimedia devices. In this context it has to be mentioned that the proportion of internet accesses in German households is only 44 %. However, this is above EU-25 average (40 %). In addition the top of the ranking shows countries with a large proportion of English-speaking population (Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Luxemburg, Finland, and United Kingdom). Distance education is still playing a minor role in Germany. However, according to general prognoses, the acceptance of distance learning in Germany will increase. This is caused by raising complexity and decreasing half-period of knowledge in the world of employment. E-learning methodology could play an important role in this context. Another beneficial factor is that prospective students in higher education consider ICT usage as self-evident. Practical experiences show that students get along with ICT without any difficulty as opposed to teachers. German national policy actually does not provide funding for e-learning applications per se. The reason is missing sustainable results in the past. However, e-learning is still accepted as methodology to increase the impact of economy and social cohesion.

History The history of oncampus is based on large third party projects, with Lübeck University of Applied Sciences (LUAS) as leading partner. The projects “Virtual University of Applied Sciences” (VFH), “Baltic Sea Virtual Campus” (BSVC) and “Portal to future” (PnV) have dealt with online distance education, provided by university networks. The aim has been to attract more target groups for higher education by part-time study programmes. All e-learning activities of LUAS and all activities with relation to the consortiums VFH and BSVC are today bundled under the name “oncampus”. Actually about 35 professionals are full-time employed at LUAS, working as the core of oncampus. They care for development, implementation, operation and marketing of programmes as well as for the project administration. Approximately 150 persons have been involved part-time as authors and teachers. oncampus actually runs 145 e-learning modules (online material). At the moment, 480 courses are being offered and 5.300 course enrolments are registered. More than 1.300 students have been enrolled in study programmes since 2001. All activities concentrate on the development and operation of online study programmes on the basis of the oncampus methodology. Collaboration with universities or other partners is Megaproviders of e-learning in Europe

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essential to manage the e-learning business. Every online mentor involved has been prepared in special trainings. Within this context, evaluation has been an important factor for the present range and alignment of oncampus study programmes. As evaluation tools serve surveys amongst students and mentors, automatic feedback functions integrated in course material and reviews within the content production process.

Technical issues Key competence of oncampus is the development and implementation of online distance study programmes. For this purpose it follows an integrated production process. The tailormade authoring tool oncampus-factory and the oncampus-portal database for course management oncampus-portal help to manage this challenge. Furthermore the open source learning environment SAKAI was implemented in October 2006. oncampus-factory and oncampus-portal have been brought to a certain maturity. Thus, oncampus is actually bringing them as derivates into the market of business solutions. The oncampus e-learning material (“modules�) belongs to the category of high voluminous content. It is independent from any learning platform. Its features provide high quality and flexibility regarding customising and usage. The access to oncampus learning environment and embedded modules is provided on basis of widely used technologies. The production and delivery of oncampus online study programmes takes place within a harmonised technical framework. The interfaces to the university administrations could be, however, more integrative and broadened. The administration of oncampus features tailor-made technical tools. For example oncampusportal matches with the requirements of a professional distance study course management, SAKAI learning platform provides a very high scalability and the oncampus e-learning material is flexible for customisation purposes and usage.

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Figure 1: oncampus technical framework (oncampus 2006, Jun.)

Courses oncampus offers online study programmes in Industrial Engineering, Computer Science, Transregional Management and Health Management. All subjects are of the same strategic importance for LUAS and its consortiums, because the aim is to attract new target groups. The programmes were therefore implemented after market analysis and after analysis of their applicability for online education. All subjects are very appropriate for online studies, due to the possibilities regarding didactical design. Management topics are also very adequate as media competence/virtual collaboration skills are quite relevant for expected jobs. Because the online mentoring and presence phases that are binding part of the programmes, oncampus courses regularly start twice a year (summer and winter term). As opposed to regular distance learning online collaboration is one unique selling proposition for online distance study programmes. Thus, both synchronous and asynchronous communication between students and teachers is a fundamental part of oncampus methodology.

Management, strategy and attitudes The support of LUAS leadership in terms of quick decisions, risk affection, reliability, flexibility and mutual trust have been a key factor for the success of oncampus activities. One fundamental step was the establishment of oncampus GmbH, subsidiary company of LUAS. That outsourcing has lead to a sustainable implementation of e-learning activities due to independency from faculties. oncampus programmes depend substantially on the close cooperation with authors and mentors. The involvement of adequate professors or teachers is, however, mainly selfmotivated. This situation makes it difficult to incorporate actors. Besides, it is worth mentioning that oncampus e-learning methodology hasn’t merged into the face-to-face university business as much as possible. Megaproviders of e-learning in Europe

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The oncampus strategy is to strengthen and broaden core competency: the development and provision of online distance study programmes. Every process is focussed on this objective. Certainly, quality is estimated as an important success factor. Hence, oncampus study programmes are accredited. Furthermore, oncampus department of LUAS itself is preparing for an official quality certification. Furthermore, the effectiveness of the administrative routines is of high relevance for the professional operation of online distance study programmes. As already mentioned above, oncampus developed a tailor-made database named oncampus-portal for this purposes. Another complex administrative task is the management of third party funding. As oncampus has year-long experience in project management and the projects are large-sized, related administrative processes have an efficient structure. The workload of oncampus teachers and mentors is predictable and manageable, because the student groups are about the same size and the courses start only twice a year. One of the most important factors for the success of oncampus is the collaboration with partners. Only networks lead to manageable development and implementation of online programmes. Furthermore, credibility has been of very high relevance for the success of oncampus. It has mainly been caused by sustainability; the programmes are being developed on basis on funding, but their operation is financed by the universities of the network. The handling of the large number of online courses and students is also a big challenge. It is being managed by tailor-made administration tools and the legwork of the university administration departments.

Economy Even though a large part of oncampus activities (development and production of course material) will always be supported by funding, all processes are continuously being reviewed in terms of cost-effectiveness. oncampus activities could only be implemented on that condition by the networking principle, the separation of learning material from teaching/multiple use of material and its platform strategy for all processes (development, production, programme operation, marketing, project management), where its core is located at LUAS. All in all the expansion of university programmes by oncampus online study programmes was approximately 30 % cheaper than expenditures in buildings would be. Students pay a fee for the access to oncampus online courses. As oncampus reviews programmes and methodology regularly in view of quality and demand, the number of students is in some degree predictable and stable. Flexibility is a main factor for competitiveness, because oncampus acts as e-learning full service provider. Besides, funding determines the character of activities. Hence, oncampus applies a strategy of flexible employment. The latter is very important for efficiency within the production process.

Conclusion The success of oncampus mainly derives from structural factors. On the one hand, e-learning was used as methodology to attract new target groups for higher education. For this purpose its online programmes were integrated as regular university programmes. On the other hand

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the collaboration in networks is one of the lifelines of oncampus, because it provides manageable effort for all activities incurred. In this context, win-win-situations for all partners ensure sustainability, based on sophisticated business models. One additional important factor was the establishment of oncampus GmbH, a subsidiary company of LUAS. This provides continuous legitimation of e-learning activities, independent from the authority of faculties. Last but not least the success of oncampus has strongly been driven on by some selfmotivated individuals and the activities have reached high political reputation.

Sources European Commission 2006, Jan. Special Eurobarometer 249, E-Communications Household Survey. European Commission 2006, Feb. Special Eurobarometer Survey 64.3, Europeans and Languages. Forum Distance Learning 2005. Fernunterrichtsstatistik 2005. oncampus 2006, Jun. Internal evaluation results.

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The Virtual Campus of the University of Liège By Prof. Marianne Poumay, Director of LabSET, University of Liège, Belgium Name of institution URL of institution Country Number of employees Levels in the educational systems Number of course enrolments in 2005 Number of online courses in 2005 Interviewed persons

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University of Liège www.ulg.ac.be/foreign Belgium Liège 20000 students 130

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Introduction At the University of Liège, L’Institut de Formation et de Recherche en Enseignement Supérieur (IFRES) (The Institute for Training and Research in Higher Education Teaching) is in charge of the university’s Virtual Campus. The internal operator of the Virtual Campus is the Laboratoire de Soutien à l’Enseignement Télématique, the LabSET (Laboratory for the Support of Telemathic Teaching), which coordinates the university’s provision of online education and also the support to teaching staff, not only for increasing the quantity of this online provision, but also, and more importantly, for improving its quality. The teaching staff access their online courses via a portal named eAgora (www.elearning.ulg.ac.be) which provides them with guidance, educational tools, and a series of services linked to the teaching community (discussions, FAQs, news, demonstrations…). The students, on the other hand, access their online courses via another portal, reserved to students and called MyULg (https://my.ulg.ac.be).

Figure 1. www.elearning.ulg.ac.be

There are 178 courses on the Virtual Campus of the University of Liège. As this number is in constant evolution it is important to state that this was the total on 1 March 2007. One should note as well that this only represents the courses developed on the WebCT platform, and thus does not represent the full offer of the University of Liège because certain staff members choose to use their own tools. In such case they do not benefit from institutional support in the development of their courses. Of the 15.000 students at the university, 18 % could be said to be distance education students, defined as students who do at least 50.1 % of their programme online. It is to be noted that most of the students spend some of their time working online, even if they continue to come on-campus. The 18 % of distance education students are usually in their first year and have more than half of their courses composed of a large amount of online content and activities.

Historical context What came to be known as e-learning at the University of Liège was born from the Service de Technologie de l’Education (STE) (The Educational Technology Service) directed by Professor Dieudonné Leclercq. In 1998 a small group of 4 people was started, whose objective was to study the existing tools and services, to evaluate the importance of the emerging market and the added value that e-learning might bring to the university. Megaproviders of e-learning in Europe

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This group separated from the STE and from its faculty in 2000 to become an entity in its own right, with its own management and financial autonomy. At that time it had 10 staff members and was called LabSET (Laboratory for the Support of Telemathic Teaching). In this title the word ‘laboratory’ emphasises its basis in research and the word ‘support’ shows an engagement to work alongside teaching staff. Seven years later LabSET has 34 staff working both on internal projects (for the benefit of the university and financed by it) and on external projects. External projects represent 75% of the activity of the centre and 75% of its financing. There are local projects, European projects, international projects and projects with all kinds of partners, but always focusing on the development of concepts and tools for quality in e-learning. Parallel with this evolution, the university grouped together all the entities which focused on the quality of teaching and pedagogical innovation. In 2006 it created IFRES (The Institute for Training and Research in Teaching in Higher Education) and naturally included LabSET within it. This restructuring of support services for teaching strengthened the institutional visibility of each one of these services and gave them a new confidence in their capacity to contribute to the quality of teaching and thus to student success. A developing competence Competence in e-learning at the University of Liège developed in three ways. Firstly, the lecturers introduced innovations on a voluntary and individual basis, making use of the elearning tools and adapting their courses to the new possibilities. Secondly, LabSET developed and, thanks to external funding, became a competent adviser on large and small scale initiatives. Thirdly, the university adopted an e-learning platform and placed it in the Service General d’Informatique (SeGI) (Central Computing Service), permitting the teaching staff to concentrate on the pedagogy, and to trust the robustness of the technical solution. In this way many areas of competence reinforced each other and thus defined growing areas of expertise. For LabSET, projects external to the university were an important factor in the development of expertise. The experience of being confronted by multiple realities and the development of large scale solutions for very different audiences produced a refocusing, a change of view and a degree of reflection which was beneficial. These target groups demanded employment which went beyond university qualification and reached all types of target groups in professional training. In this way, for example, the coordination of the ICT training of 20.000 employment seekers per year, the animation of large communities of practice for trainers, or again the annual development of online courses for dozens of trainers in all disciplines, allowed the LabSET team to develop competences, models of action, learning content and learning tools usable afterwards in their own institution. On the other hand, the availability of hundreds of students in a wide range of disciplines made possible reflection on research questions which would be difficult to address without a ‘captive’ public. Thus, internal and external projects contributed in a spiral fashion to improve and continually develop the competence of this support team. It is also important to note over time the creation of varied training solutions both for the teaching staff and for the ‘development mentors’ of LabSET, both online and face-to-face, both internally and externally (conferences), together with reflection circles and other methods of accompanying pedagogical innovation, accompanied by developing internal

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evaluations. All these solutions contributed, each in its own way, to a constant improvement of competence of those in charge of e-learning. One such initiative that may be mentioned is the creation of the Masters Degree in the Pedagogy of Higher Education (Formasup) (60 credits) and its e-learning option, which enrols 20 staff participants annually. This initiative contributes, on a small scale but with great depth, to improving the competence of organisers of e-learning within higher education institutions. These staff members then become advocates of e-learning solutions, participating in the dissemination of practices which reinforce the quality of student learning.

Figure 2. Master Complémentaire en Pédagogie de l’Ensegnement Supérieur (Formasup)

Rapid evolution We consider that the development of e-learning in our institution was rather rapid, because this type of activity, almost unknown 10 years ago, is today an activity of each student at the university. Clearly one can identify different plateaus in this evolution, elements which have rapidly and significantly modified the volume of courses developed, like the adoption of an institutional platform or the development of a unique identification for each student and for each staff member, thus bringing together the administrative and pedagogical computer systems of the university. Evolution of the number of online courses at the University of Liège, from Dec 2003 to Feb 2007 2007 (February)

174

165

2006

2005

112

2004

68

2003

40 0

50

100

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Figure 3. Evolution of the number of online courses.

In the illustration, we present the evolution of the number of online courses between 2003 and 2007, bearing in mind that the year 2007 has already seen the creation of 9 new courses in the month of January alone.

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Research. A valuable tool at the service of the Virtual Campus Since its creation in the year 2000 LabSET has always combined service activities with projects oriented to research or teaching. More recently the theme of ‘Scholarship of Teaching and Learning’ has accentuated our determination to link closely teaching and research, thus transforming the teaching staff into researchers, both practitioners and real partners of educational research. Evaluation, naturally, has its place in this structure where every pedagogical action is associated with research on proofs of its efficacy, of its balance and of its effects on student motivation or on any other factor judged pertinent by the teachers in their own context. ‘Class research’ forms part of the practice evaluated, notably by the Masters Degree in Higher Education, known as ‘Formasup’. A special number of the International Journal of Technologies in University Pedagogy (RITPU), presents 7 articles which illustrate the concern to produce observable data, to analyse the impact of an e-learning course and to always go further and further in ‘class research’. Poumay (2007) introduces these articles by a presentation of the structure of Formasup, within which this research work has been produced by teaching staff from many institutions. This orientation of research linked to teaching contributes to the recognition of the IFRES (The Institute for Training and Research in Higher Education Teaching) and of the LabSET centre by the staff of all the university’s faculties. In fact, in a university context where research is the key to all internal promotion, to consider teaching as a totally valid field of research, can only contribute to its value in the eyes of university staff and this contributes to a change of status within the university. The effects of this change, in Belgium for instance, have resulted in the creation in 2006 of a new community commission charged with financing research into university pedagogy. The credits awarded to the university by this commission contribute to the establishment of university pedagogy as a new research discipline and, as a consequence, give added value to activities of research in e-learning. Within LabSET, the research produced by e-learning activities goes well beyond the dimensions of the university. European projects facilitate the development of models and tools, which in turn contribute to the development of services offered to staff within the university. Thus there is an important synergy between internal services and external research.

Technical issues As a public institution the University of Liège has to furnish each student with access to recent computing materials within its faculties. For those who possess their own computer, no payment for software installation is necessary. The teachers generally give lists of plug-ins free of charge, in order to enrich the learning content and the activities proposed by the learning platform provided by the university. The costs of the platform are not borne by the students. The technical competences of staff are no longer an obstacle At the University of Liège the use of standard ICT equipment no longer poses problems for anyone. The staff (teachers, assistants, people in charge of practical work or other ‘mentors’) all use the internet, have an email address (provided by the university) and are competent in the use of the basic administrative computing tools. The students are familiar with the technologies and possess their own equipment which is becoming more and more widespread and powerful. In some faculties (Applied Sciences, Economics and Management) about 90% of students have a personal computer (either a desktop or laptop) connected to the internet. In 156

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other faculties they are less well equipped but have access to university computing laboratories. On the other hand, the teaching staff have diverse competences when it comes to mastery of the e-learning platform, or of tools for developing html pages or videoconferencing. LabSET, therefore, works on the mastery of these types of technological competences by assisting staff who want to progress in these areas. The emphasis is always put on the pedagogy; technological mastery is only introduced from the point of view of practical realisations. It is important to note also that the teaching staff work generally in a team with an assistant, a representative of UDI (a decentralised computing unit) and a colleague. It is envisaged that there will be installations for ‘Pedagogical Initiatives Posts’ in each department in 2008 in order to facilitate local mastery of advanced technological tools, always for use in a pedagogical project. A necessary integration of pedagogical and computing systems The University of Liège has chosen a single e-learning solution for all its teaching staff. The existence of this single system has facilitated dialogue between the administrative databases (student lists, staff lists, course lists) and the pedagogical tools (e-learning platform, student portal, staff portal). Today this integration is complete with each user having a unique log-in to all the services he or she needs. In 2006, however, our university amalgamated with a Business College which up to that time existed separately and had its own e-learning system. The integration of this Business College is administratively complete but two e-learning platforms remain and it is difficult to imagine us providing this double service to the teaching staff. The intention is to continue with one, the more efficient one, in order to reduce the costs of support to staff and students while maintaining quality of service. Strengths and weaknesses One of the strengths of our system is undoubtedly the integration of administrative and pedagogical data. Freed from routine tasks and tedious administrative tasks, our support services to the teachers can focus on the quality of the online courses and on the constant search for solutions to the pedagogical problems. The richness of online learning can be seen as a strength which flows from what is gone before with a range of actions in rapid and constant development. One can regret that our e-learning system has not yet achieved full online certification even though this is a subject of discussion within the university. The students’ grades still pass by the secretaries of the faculties because nothing can at present be written to the administrative databases for reasons of computer security. Technological evolution will quickly solve this present weakness.

Online courses At the University of Liège e-learning addresses all disciplines equally. Within faculties and departments it is the individual wish of the faculty member that decides on online development and not the nature of the discipline. As an illustration, we have 49 online courses in the faculty of psychology and educational sciences, 14 in Applied Sciences and 28 in medicine. The staff members who embrace e-learning, whatever their discipline, generally extend their e-learning offerings to many of their courses.

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Figure 4. Online courses at the University of Liège

One can group online courses independently of their subject matter but one cannot do the same with the methods used in online learning. In fact, the learning scenarios put in place by teachers are, in part, the results of pedagogical currents found in their faculty or department. So, for example, the online courses of the Faculty of Medicine are based on problem based learning (PBL) and those of the Faculty of Applied Sciences use the principle of ‘pedagogical half-time’. The teaching staff, more and more and independently of the subject matter in question, choose to group themselves to design common online courseware, either addressing a grouping of course materials in order to identify the competences which a student ought to be able to demonstrate as a result of the course, or conceiving transversal applications in many different course materials on the same subject. The content of a course in any case never constitutes a block to its online development. Flexible complements to conventional courses as an aid to success The majority of our online courses are supports for student success. They are course supporting materials (essentially printed materials and PowerPoint presentations) but there are also animations, formative evaluations, self-correction exercises or explanatory videos. Some of these materials contain learning activities, either individual or group-based, which replace face-to-face courses or modify their presentation, but the majority of them are complementary to conventional courses. The materials have great flexibility and allow all students to work on their individual difficulties. Precise diagnostic tests often allow students to identify their position with regard to competence mastery and learning objectives, and then to address the lacunae identified by means of specific activities. Predominantly asynchronous technologies Only a few of the online courses do not have a discussion forum for asynchronous communication. On the other hand, synchronous communication is generally reserved for short, usually organisational, interventions, as, for example, the composition of project groups and their choice of study theme, or else a brief session to verify if instructions have been understood. An exception to this essentially asynchronous functioning is the case of international courses. These courses, of necessity, need regular contacts by videoconferencing to facilitate the constitution of learning groups and synchronous communication between students in different countries is necessary. Even if this type of course today represents only a minimal proportion of our Virtual Campus (less than 10 %), we have strong reasons to believe that their numbers will increase in the years to come.

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As for communication between students, it is sometimes necessary to allocate forums to learning activities, in collaborative or group activities. It is also always a recommendation that teachers plan a free forum (sometimes called ‘a café’) which allows students to communicate freely among themselves. Non-supervised ‘chat forums’ are often added to those that the teacher supervises for interaction analysis.

Institutional strategy Institutional confidence is one of the keys to success of a Virtual Campus. The great confidence which our university authorities accorded to the developing e-learning initiative allowed flexible solutions to be put in place. These were always adapted to student needs. This creativity would not have been possible with a rigid administration. The administration then supported the choice of a central technical platform (WebCT) which brought considerable saving of time. The e-learning team focused on the methods for getting the maximum power from this solution and did not have to consider already developed solutions in individual departments. In fact, in the year 2000 the university departments did not have their own solutions so that we were able to set out into a territory that was clearly pedagogically rich, but which was virgin territory technically with regard to an integrated e-learning system. At the beginning, the only thing that was necessary for our first experiments was financial support. Then institutional support was crucial for the status of e-learning. Today it is the evaluation of e-learning initiatives that is the central question, because the majority of the university staff are convinced about the importance of e-learning but they have difficulty in making the necessary time available for an innovation that has less status than university research. The most recent decisions made by the university, the creation of the IFRES institute (The Institute for Training and Research in Higher Education Teaching) and the budgets allocated to it, establish obligatory pedagogical training for each new staff member from 2007 onwards, and also the evaluation of pedagogical initiatives as a criterion for career advancement. Both these measures send out a positive signal to staff. We can already see the results. Teaching staff at the centre of evolution The teaching staff, when they are well informed, are quite favourable to accompanying their courses with online elements, and then, quietly, replacing face-to-face activities by online activities and even sometimes replacing their face-to-face courses by courses entirely online. If one can notice today the multiplication of online courses, this is because the teaching staff are themselves promoters to their colleagues not only of general information about e-learning, but also by their own achievements. E-learning spreads by ‘contagion’ and attitudes are changing because information about the added value of e-learning is today much better than it was 5 years ago. The efforts of the support centres now take the form of spreading e-learning rather than persuasion about it. Choices made: liberty and free provision The University of Liège has made the choice of respecting students’ preferences. Students have total freedom to use e-learning or not and, if they choose to use it, they have freedom of choice on the amount of e-learning that they wish in accordance with their own objectives and constraints. In addition the university offers incentives to e-learning: the financing of a support centre (LabSET) and of its Virtual Campus, both of which aid teaching staff free of charge; the organisation of a Masters Degree in the Pedagogy of Higher Education for 60 Megaproviders of e-learning in Europe

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credits and its availability online, which allows staff to get a university degree and to undertake an e-learning project; compulsory training for young staff members, comprising an e-learning module. Soon there will also be an evaluation of their pedagogical efforts, especially in e-learning, in an individual portfolio which will be taken into account at the time of nominations and for advancement in their teaching career. It is too early to measure the quantitative and qualitative success of these initiatives but it is clear that we are moving towards a higher evaluation of the teaching function, even though the university retains its research orientation. Staff have clearly understood that the emphasis of this university is to favour e-learning. The University of Liège has also made the choice to make available both face-to-face courses and online courses at the same price. The enrolment process is identical, whether the student chooses to access the e-learning activities or not in his or her chosen course. In addition, the university does not distinguish the payment of teaching staff for the type of support they give to students: conventional teaching or online support or a combination of the two. Online course quality: a factor in success and in the extension of the campus LabSet has established a list of quality criteria for e-learning. This list is made up of 22 criteria and is used in the Masters Degree in the Pedagogy of Higher Education and in all documentation for staff. It is of great value for teaching staff who want benchmarks and who want their results to be as successful as possible for students, because they put a great deal of energy into their online courseware development. Our list of criteria is based on justifications and is matched by bibliographical advice and by illustrations taken from existing online courses. It serves to establish our pedagogical credibility to staff but also, and above all, to the improvement of the courses developed. Teaching staff who have developed quality courses and who have acquired a good level of critical reflection are also excellent spokespersons for the support centre and are good ambassadors of an e-learning provision centred on student learning. The multiplication of their numbers contributes to the success of e-learning at the university. These professorial staff are invited to share their experience with their colleagues by presenting their online courses to seminars organised monthly by LabSET. This quality appears to us to be an excellent driver of success. Although the existence of quality online courses is considered an asset for student success, the development of these courses is still not recognised enough by the university. On a daily basis, the workload of staff who teach online courses is neither more nor less predictable than those who teach face-to-face. Those who teach large classes, with hundreds of students, generally employ online activities which are automatically corrected and do not require too much attention. Group activities or online tasks can be corrected by assistants, just as for the face-to-face classes. On the other hand, the initial conception of a course and its development provide a considerable workload for the staff member concerned and this is still insufficiently recognised today. Coordination of institutional tasks: a daily difficulty Putting in place a Virtual Campus requires excellent coordination between the student support services (in our case LabSET), the university computing services and the central administration, responsible for the student and staff databases. This coordination is not yet

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perfect at the University of Liège. Administrative delays remain, as do difficulties in the decision making sequences which affect the life of students. Progress is needed in this area. On the other hand, the computing management of the e-learning platform chosen by the university (at present WebCT) is today well under control: there are back-ups, the creation of spaces for the courses and computerised student enrolment, with daily updating of the databases to take in the new enrolments and their choice of options, opening of online courses specifically for staff support, treatment of divided courses etc. International collaboration: an important scientific opportunity The University of Liège collaborates with many other institutions, both in research and in teaching. Collaboration contracts are signed each year; exchanges of both students and staff are organised; research projects allow teams to collaborate on important themes. In e-learning we are the subject of many requests from the south to access our online content, but the university has not made a global authorisation for this. Individual staff members, therefore, cooperate on an individual basis with foreign colleagues but these north/south e-learning collaborations are not specifically coordinated at institutional level. LabSET, through many of its members, is present in many international networks on university pedagogy (AIPU, ICED, EDEN, POD, HERDSA) both in Europe and overseas, which gives a scientific opening to world advances and international research currents. This opening, plus participation in numerous conferences, contributes to the success of the Virtual Campus of the university as it is nourished by international experiences and multiple partnerships. External credibility: a driver of internal recognition In the field of e-learning the University of Liège relies on the reputation of LabSET and the success of important projects entrusted to it by local public authorities like the Region of Wallonia and the French Community. This external success was, in the year 2000, one of the important contributions to the university decision to finance internally the Virtual Campus and to entrust it to LabSET. In the field of e-learning, internal developments were preceded by external realisations, which are always on the increase. The extent of our projects, PMTIC (training of 20.000 job seekers per year and coordination of over 200 trainers), Formadis (putting online more than 50 development and training courses for selected e-learning personnel) and eCole (online learning for students of 10 - 14 years of age in the French Community of Belgium) gives the university an important visibility. It also gives LabSET a credibility which affects both its own recognition within the university and also the image of the university itself. In addition, we often use illustrations from these external projects to nourish our course content, both internal and external. Also, at the scientific level the external and internal data complete each other in our research projects, furnishing matching points of view on complex realities.

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Figure 5. External projects at LabSET

The extension of the Virtual Campus: towards a decentralisation of student support The Virtual Campus team is growing and so is the whole LabSET team. The equipment is more and more sophisticated, the servers and the platform are robust, the e-learning teams talk to each other more and more, which solves a part of our problem with the growth of our Virtual Campus. In addition, the Pedagogical Initiative Posts will soon be established in all faculties, with the purpose of supporting the actions of the teaching staff within their departments and on passing on the central initiatives of LabSET and of other support services. Bringing together the increase of our central team plus the creation of decentralised posts ought to enable us to be able to confront whatever the size of the development of the Virtual Campus is. We are also counting on the training of the personnel either through our Masters Degree in Higher Education Pedagogy or through our more precise training offerings. This training, because of the critical reflection it develops, contributes to assisting correct decision making by the teaching staff and their organisation of quality online courses, even for large groups of students. Today, because of institutional amalgamations, colleges are joining us that have their own technical e-learning solution, their own e-learning platform. This poses multiple problems and is becoming a considerable financial investment for the university. It introduces the hosting of new servers for the maintenance of a second platform, the development of courseware for a second platform and the need for new technical expertise for new teaching staff. Communication about the differences between the available tools and adapting programmes which permit dialogue between the new tools and the existing administrative databases, are the constraints which are unfortunately linked to the arrival of a second technical solution. The university envisages either maintaining the original unique solution, or the cohabitation of the two solutions, or again migration to a third tool, which would be more flexible and more powerful, for the year 2010. The university has to make its choice in full realisation of the investment needed for multiple platforms, without forgetting that even if the tools do not determine their use, pedagogical quality can depend, to a certain extent, on the richness of the functionality inherent in the platform.

Economic aspects A non-commercial vision at the start The University of Liège has not tried to establish precisely the internal cost-effectiveness of elearning. On the one hand, it seems evident to us that the demands of the teaching staff, of students and of external evaluators should be responded to and, on the other hand, that quality

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e-learning is without doubt a contributor to student success. The loss of not having developed e-learning would be much higher than the cost of today’s investments. We put the emphasis, however, on faculty assistance, on semi-collective training ( groups of 6 – 12 students) and on self-training web locations, all of which reduce our efforts and save money on student support, all the while focusing on quality and on the involvement of large numbers of students. The University of Liège does not have a truly commercial approach to e-learning. Online activities are offered to face-to-face students without any increase in the cost of their course. Even courses that are available totally online are not subject to special charges: they are offered at exactly the same price as the face-to-face courses. E-learning is clearly considered as an added value for the students, as an aid to success, rather than as a new commercial niche offering. This will clearly evolve over the next 10 years to respond to the demand for lifelong learning. New prospective markets The growth of our Virtual Campus is foreseeable, at least for the next 10 years. On the other hand, the strictly financial benefits that this can generate are difficult to establish, if only because the new market perspectives that open up to us cannot be, in general, attributed to elearning alone. Both internal and external evaluations lead education towards flexibility and to making it achievable in situations where partnerships are more and more diversified. Inter-university competition and the prospective of institutional groupings to reach significant size at the European level are important drivers of change. The pursuit of levels of performance pushes university staff to make known the quality of their research, something they have always done, but also to make known the quality of their courses, which is a more recent development. The Virtual Campus benefits greatly from this new realisation of the importance which pedagogical quality plays in these inter-institutional comparisons. The demand for lifelong learning is becoming more and more pressing. European organisations, the local public authorities and our partner institutions wish to see the doors of the universities open to more extensive provision of continuing education. A new market is opening up for e-learning which our university will not fail to meet. Reduce the costs of student support services, while remaining vigilant During the course of the last 10 years, the University of Liège, like the majority of its sister institutions, has seen an increase in the proportion of temporary staff in comparison with fulltime staff. ‘Assistants’ take on more and more of the tasks of student support services and the students have less direct contact with full-time teaching staff. This situation is caused by the increase in the number of students which has not been matched by a parallel increase in public funding to the universities. The universities work in a ‘closed envelope’ and therefore address the increasing numbers of students by employing staff that are less costly but are in a more fragile professional situation. In this context, it may be that the new services of online training and the finances associated with them may be susceptible to contributing to guarantee the quality of education in spite of the reduction of government subsidies to student support services. It is our responsibility to remain attentive to quality and to denounce the possible reductions, like, for example, that of reducing e-learning to a tool for the massification of education to the detriment of student

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learning. These caricatures are false advocates of e-learning. We wish rather to promote practices which give students responsibility, which develop students’ reflective practices and which extend the choice of learning paths which are offered to them, while informing them diagnostically of their progress and their weaknesses.

Conclusion The Virtual Campus of the University of Liège has 178 online courses today. All the 15.000 students of the university are involved in e-learning. E-learning sets out to propose to them assistance in learning and therefore assistance towards success, thanks to the online courses which complement the traditional course offering. Students respond positively to e-learning, they see it as in their interests. For their part, the teaching staff train themselves and acquire competence in critical pedagogical reflection in addition to their disciplinary expertise. They develop their professionalism in teaching practice and are more and more conscious of the interest that the Virtual Campus, provided for them by their university, represents for their students. New practices are emerging, new tendencies are appearing. For example, among the indicators of institutional performance one finds today, on the one hand, a willingness to appreciate pedagogical involvement and, on the other hand, there is investment in support for teaching staff and research on pedagogical quality. At the University of Liège e-learning has, quite naturally, a place of choice.

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Corporate training providers The institutions in this category are quite diverse. Except from Learndirect, they are all private institutions, and except from EDHEC, they focus on vocational training courses. Learndirect, CrossKnowledge, and ÉLOGOS are all among the six institutions having most course enrolments. Learndirect is the brand name of the University for Industry (Ufi) in the United Kingdom. The Ufi was set up by the United Kingdom government in 1998. It is of special interest since it with its 400 000 course enrolments is the largest megaprovider in this study. The institution has 465 full-time and 19 part-time employees. Businesses, voluntary organisations, colleges and community centres run Learn Direct centres on behalf of Ufi. There are centres in shopping malls, schools, colleges, football clubs and prisons. The Learn Direct network works alongside further education colleges, with many centres providing a place to learn for people who are reluctant or unable to attend their local college. CrossKnowledge is an international company founded in France. It was founded in 2000 and has had an 80% annual growth rate since. It provides remote development of managerial skills using new technologies. With 120 employees, 300 courses and 250.000 e-learning students in 2007, it is one of Europe’s leading providers of e-learning. EDHEC Business School Lille-Nice (École De Hautes Études Commerciales du Nord) launched its first e-learning modules in 2000 for 40 students and 10 professors in its Executive MBA program. Since 2001 all the programmes (and thus all the students) took on e-learning. The school reports that it has 294 employees, 903 online courses and 4157 students. ÉLOGOS is a private company in Spain that offers training and e-learning consultancy, training outsourcing and the development of e-learning courses, technical know-how and solutions, a virtual learning platform (educalogos), instructional design services and a considerable variety of online courses. It has more than 250 employees and reports to have 605 online courses and 22700 course enrolments. Hungarian Telecom started experimenting with e-learning in 1996 by introducing a rented WebCT Learning Management System. By 2005, the Hungarian Telecom had above 8000 enrolments for about 150 courses, and between 20 and 40 online teachers. Presently, the timewise distribution of online and face-to-face courses taken by the company’s learners is about 50-50%.

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Learn Direct By Desmond Keegan Name of institution URL of institution Country Number of employees Levels in the educational systems Number of course enrolments in 2005 Number of online courses in 2005 Interviewed persons

Learn Direct www.learndirect.co.uk United Kingdom Full-time 465 Part-time19 Vocational training 400000 500 Darren Sidnick

Introduction Learn Direct is the brand name of the University for Industry (Ufi) in the United Kingdom The Ufi was set up by the United Kingdom government in 1998. Today Learn Direct is the largest provider of e-learning in Europe with 500.000 students per year. Learn Direct has been evaluated by the Office of the United Kingdom Auditor General (www.nao.org.uk/publications/nao_reports/05-06/0506460es.htm). This is a very severe evaluation process, and the Auditor General states:

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Many adults with low levels of skills, who failed to learn at school, are reluctant to engage with formal learning, for example at further education colleges. The Department created Ufi in 1998 to develop people’s skills and work with employers to increase employees’ capabilities. In seven years it has grown from an idea to an organisation providing 500,000 learners a year with the opportunity to improve their skills at either one of 2,400 Learn Direct centres, or work or from their home computer. Of the 2,400 learndirect centres, 1,600 are main centres that provide a wide range of learndirect services, while a further 800 are link centres that provide access to basic services and refer people on to main centres. Since 1998 to the end of July 2005, Ufi and the learndirect service have received £930 million of education funding, including £218 million expenditure in the academic year 2004-05.

Learn Direct now has the largest number of students of any educational organisation outside China. It is one of the largest e-learning networks in the world and there are no similar organisations – most other e-learning networks in the UK and elsewhere are associated with university education. Businesses, voluntary organisations, colleges and community centres run Learn Direct centres on behalf of Ufi. There are centres in shopping malls, schools, colleges, football clubs and prisons. The Learn Direct network works alongside further education colleges, with many centres providing a place to learn for people who are reluctant or unable to attend their local college. In 2003, Learn Direct took on responsibility for co-ordinating the network of 6,000 UK online centres located across the country in libraries, internet cafes, community centres and village halls. These centres offer a range of services linked to IT and learning, and encourage people to use the internet to find information and advice. They do not offer the range of supported learning available at Learn Direct centres. Around 90% of the population in England lives within 40 minutes’ walk of a Learn Direct or UK online centre. The service provided by Learn Direct is described thus:

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The Auditor General provides these statistics: Awareness of Learn Direct brand name among adult population Awareness of Learn Direct services for businesses

74% 37%

Total number of Learn Direct students (to July 2005) 1.700.000 Total number of Learn Direct course takeups (July 2005) 4.000.000 Learners who had not done any learning in past three years 65% Learners progressing to other Learn direct courses 59% Learners qualified below level 2 progressing to level 2 9% SMEs that have used Learn Direct 200.000 Number of courses taken by learners from SMEs 600.000 Learn Direct information and advice calls (to July 2005) 7.300.000 Learn Direct website information and advice (to July 2005) 18.100.000 Percentage of calls progressing to e-learning 63% Number of Learn Direct users a year 500.000 Number of Learn Direct new users a year 200.000 Percentage of Learn direct students progressing to further learning 19% The Auditor General provides this commentary: 168

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The Department set up Ufi, which is unique in the world, as a company under the publicprivate partnership model so that it could focus firmly on its objectives. Ufi has achieved much in the seven years since 1998. It has: •

established and developed the Learn Direct national telephone Advice Line and website, which provide comprehensive information to help people decide what, where, and how they want to learn – the supporting database holds details of over 950,000 courses; commissioned partners to set up a uniquely extensive network of accessible centres where people can go to learn – in April 2005, there were some 2,400 Learn Direct centres, of which 1,600 were main centres providing a wide range of Learn Direct services, and a further 800 were link centres providing access to basic services and referral to main centres, and Ufi also oversees the 6,000 UK online centres; and developed a wide range of courses and support to meet diverse needs of learners and employers.

Ufi has pushed the boundaries of learning methods by making innovative use of technology to help make learning much more flexible. Ufi has developed courses and the technology to enable learners to learn in ‘bite size’ chunks at home, at work or at a Learn Direct centre. People can learn at a pace that suits them and at times that fit in with work and personal commitments. The combination of learning materials and tutor support result in a positive learning experience for many learners, which is improving further as Ufi learns from people’s experience of its products. Developing learning to support some groups of people, such as those with sight problems, has taken longer but good progress is being made. Learn Direct is a well known and visible brand. Ufi has applied consumer marketing techniques to develop a good understanding of what people need and want, and to direct its marketing activity. In summer 2005, awareness of Learn Direct stood at 74% of the adult population. Over half of people with a literacy or numeracy need and those who have not undertaken learning for some years are aware of Learn Direct. The level of provision to learners in Learn Direct centres was 110 % of planned provision in 2004-05, funded partly from overhead savings. This represented a considerable improvement from earlier years, when services to learners fell short of the Learning and Skills Council’s planned performance for Learn Direct. Ufi, Learn Direct and UK online have attracted learners who might otherwise not have taken up learning. Learn Direct provided around 6 million advice sessions in 2004-05, 1 million by phone and 5 million via the website. Just under half of all callers to the National Advice Line Service, and a third of website visitors, have not done any learning in the last three years. Over half of callers to the National Advice Line Service have gone on to undertake training or learning. Half a million people are using UK online centres every year. Many had never used the internet before, almost two-thirds are from the 2,000 most deprived and geographically disadvantaged communities in England and 80 per cent are from key disadvantaged target groups.

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1.7 million people have taken over 4 million courses through Learn Direct. Two-thirds of learners (at summer 2005) had not done any learning in the last three years. Learn Direct is attracting increasing numbers of learners with lower than level 2 qualifications (pre-level 2 learners) – in 2004-05, 60% of learners were pre-level 2. Currently, over 70% of learners are completing courses and over 50% are achieving their goals.

Historical context Learn Direct was a new foundation. It came straight to e-learning and had no distance education background. It was set up for the first time in the academic year 1999-2000. Learn Direct got a lot of help from Government in its early stages. Many of the staff that were appointed had a good background in distance education skills and this was an important factor in early successful development. The development of competence in e-learning at Learn Direct was essentially due to the fact that it had some of the best people available in relevant areas: e-learning content development; e-learning standards; instructional design; technology skills. The choice of the right LMS (Learning Management System) was central to success. The Learn Direct LMS is internally developed and maintained. A further development that was crucial for success was the creation of 790 Learn Direct Centres across the United Kingdom. These Centres have tutors for assisting learning, machines for student use and motivational factors for encouraging students to continue with their studies. Early research studies at Learn Direct had highlighted the importance of focusing on contacting hard-to-reach learners and Learn Direct set out on the path of providing access for hard-to-reach learners. Research at Learn Direct is government-backed and uses both the public and the private sectors. A major focus is the United Kingdom’s Quality Improvement Agency (QIA). Much of the research is comparison of Learn Direct’s activities with elearning best practice. Pedagogical research is focused on the Learn Direct way of doing things. We learned by our mistakes. At present we are developing a manual of best practice in e-learning.

Technical issues Learn Direct has 100 people with high expertise in information and communications technology. This expertise allows half a million students a year to study by e-learning at Learn Direct. The Learn Direct LMS is internally developed. It is robust and has a reliability rate of 99.98%, that is a downtime of only three minutes a week. It handles online chats, tutor reports and student qualifications. However, because it is a home developed system, some courses developed elsewhere or purchased can be non-compliant. Learn Direct students do not have to purchase software to do Learn Direct courses. The hardware requirements are low standard, compared to even three years ago. All Learn Direct students have three study options: they can study at home, or at the office, or at a Learn Direct Centre. The Learn Direct Centres are available for use for those who need them. There is a Learn Direct Centre available nearby for every student. Only McDonald’s has more locations

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in the United Kingdom than Learn Direct. Learn Direct Centres are friendly places with a welcoming atmosphere and biscuits available for students. The integration between the different Information Technology systems at Learn Direct is good. Although complete systems integration is of value, the focus at Learn Direct is on robustness and scalability. The goal is that the system does the basic things well all the time. This is essential for a system that runs 500.000 students a year.

Courses Learn Direct has three main types of courses: • • •

Information Technology courses Leadership and Management courses Basic Skill courses – Numeracy and English.

Additional courses are available in Health and Social Care, Customer Services, Food Hygiene and Health and Safety at Work. The courses provided by Learn Direct have flexible start-up and progression timings. This is because the Learn Direct goal for student access is ‘Any time, Any place, Anywhere’. Students like and want flexibility and this is a great attraction in Learn Direct courses. Statistical research shows a 92% student satisfaction rate with access at Learn Direct. This is a unique feature, when compared with university and college classroom structures. Learn Direct offers full qualifications to students by e-learning and has 60.000 fully online assessments. Learn Direct maintains a balance between synchronous and asynchronous communication in its courses.

Management, strategy and attitudes The Learn Direct philosophy is learning by doing. Things have changed greatly since five years ago and management leadership has been very important. It is vital for Learn Direct to have the right people. Learn Direct has five different directorates as its management structure There are no attitudes of different groups to e-learning. This culture just does not apply. Learn Direct employs 400 people full-time and 1500 are employed in total. All of these use elearning all the time. This culture of the company is believed in by the staff, especially the elearning dimension. If they did not believe in e-learning and in reaching out to those who need the courses and who do not want a university culture, they would not work for Learn Direct. This is central to staff satisfaction at Learn Direct. The policy of Learn Direct is based on the fact that it is an e-learning institution and elearning is central to all that is done. The Learn Direct goal is to improve quality all the time. Learn Direct is organised in 5 year phases for quality control. The focus is on actually improving the quality, rather than talking about doing it.

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The effectiveness of the administrative routines is amply demonstrated by the handling of half a million student enrolments a year. Predictable and manageable workloads for staff working in e-learning are guaranteed by the Centres working like retail shops by predicting and providing the right number of staff at the right times. The Centres have trainers and tutors and have a ratio of one tutor/trainer to 10 to 15 students The Centres operate in different ways but a basic structure would be that 50 % of students book their time at the Centre in advance and 50 % just visit the Centre. The goal is to have the correct ratio of tutors to students at the busy times. Collaboration with other educational institutions is shown by Learn Direct working closely with a lot of colleges. Learn Direct has a network of 60 to 100 colleges who use Learn Direct courseware and embed it in their programmes or have local Learn Direct Centres on their campuses. Learn Direct also works with 10 to 15 universities with whom it has 50/50 joint ventures. Learn Direct also cooperates with small, private sector providers who average less than £1 million per annum turnover. Learn Direct’s credibility is very good. The Government started it up and the Department of Education and ministers, like the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, have been very supportive. It has been labelled by Government as ‘the best innovation’ and Members of Parliament have been delighted by its performance and attend its functions. The University for Industry (UfI) is the Holding Company and Learn Direct is the brand name. Learn Direct is able to handle its half a million students because its technology platform is robust. The platform has a 24 hour a day support line for any technical issues and a 60 second response time to all technical issues.

Economy E-learning is a lot cheaper than other forms of provision. It is cheaper to supply training by elearning than by other methods. The Learn Direct model shows that on average e-learning is cheaper. How could one provide quality training to half a million people by any other model? The Leitch Review on Post 16 Education in the United Kingdom showed that the shape of the future is online learning. There are two categories of students enrolled in Learn Direct: • •

Students who pay fees Students who do not pay fees – these are students without a GCSE who get Learn Direct courses free of charge.

Income is stable. Learn Direct is trying to employ more sales people. It wants to set up a new team who will sell training in bulk to large employers. The facility to adapt to a changing market is necessary because politicians have changing priorities. One day the government wanted bite sized courses, then it wanted full qualifications with full assessment. What is important is that Learn Direct can meet these changing targets more quickly than other providers. Learn Direct can achieve a 7-9 months turn around time on changed priorities.

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Central staff at Learn Direct in Sheffield are all full-time staff. The Centres all over the country have more staff turn over. The tutors in the Centres mirror the sector average – there is more turnover and pay is not great. Learn Direct has developed a 15 module course for prospective staff called ‘How do you teach in e-learning?’. All applicants have to study this. There is then a second qualification on ‘How to teach a particular subject by e-learning’. This course was also developed by Learn Direct.

Conclusion Other factors which have contributed to success include successful lobbying with government, emphasising why the Learn Direct model is unique and describing how its experience is spread. The Learn direct brand is vital for success. It is now the second biggest educational brand in the United Kingdom after the Open University. Research shows that 82 % of the UK population recognises the Learn Direct brand. The Learn Direct marketing department is composed of retail brand people and Learn Direct advertises online, on news programmes and on TV and uses brand positioning. The goal is always to get students who have never successfully studied before into e-learning.

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CrossKnowledge By Desmond Keegan Name of institution URL of institution Country Number of employees Levels in the educational systems Number of course enrolments in 2005 Number of online courses in 2005 Interviewed persons

CrossKnowledge www.crossknowledge.com France 120 Vocational training 250000 300 Estelle Milosavljevic

Context With 250.000 e-learning students in 2007, CrossKnowledge is one of Europe’s leading providers of e-learning.

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CrossKnowledge was founded in 2000 and has had an 80% annual growth rate since. 40% of its budget is assigned to Research and Development. CrossKnowledge has its headquarters in Paris, France and branches in London, United Kingdom, Madrid and Barcelona, Spain, Montreal and Toronto, Canada, Gent, Belgium, Shanghai, China and Tokyo, Japan.

Figure 1. Number of users benefiting from CrossKnowledge solutions (more than 1 million at June 2006).

CrossKnowledge presents its aims thus: Skills have become a key asset for companies. In a globalised economy in which, more than ever, the ability of an entire organisation to carry out the strategy makes the difference, CrossKnowledge offers increased performance and development of company leadership through new learning technologies. Firstly, by thinking globally and by multiplying the number of development programmes at all levels of the organisation. Business universities addressing a handful of managers with expensive programmes no longer have a monopoly on leadership. With new learning technologies, these leadership programmes can now be deployed throughout the organisation. Secondly, by targeting efficiency and measurement. How many alignment and awareness programmes have been deployed at great cost – and immediately forgotten? With new learning technologies, large-scale training may be individualised, measurable and long-lasting, demonstrating a real return on the investment. CrossKnowledge tries to apply these principles in a pragmatic way with its clients, more than one hundred multinationals who now place their trust in the company. It does this by thinking in terms of the specific issues of each of these companies, providing them with a dedicated solution which can be offered at all levels, and by capitalising each time on best practice to continue providing the best possible value for its clients. By giving its consultancy experience in creating HR-training operations and by guaranteeing project support through a number of services, CrossKnowledge now opens up prospects for skills development actions that thus far have been inaccessible in terms of teaching effectiveness and economic efficiency.

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CrossKnowledge allows best advantage to be taken of new learning technologies to put them at the service of company performance. This is the CrossKnowledge website:

Figure 2. Www.crossknowledge.com

Founded in 2000, CrossKnowledge is the European leader in distance learning for management education. A French company with a strong international presence, CrossKnowledge designs, develops and markets the fullest catalogue on the market, with almost 300 multilingual training modules, tackling all management topics. The high added value content, compliant with the AICC and SCORM international e-learning standards, is created by leading authors, academics and Management professionals in Europe, and integrates equally well into blended (multi-mode) training as well as 100% distance learning. A recent (late 2006) development shows CrossKnowledge forming alliances with other leading e-learning providers: CrossKnowledge, the European leader in distance learning for management education, has announced that it has strengthened its presence in graduate-level management education by signing new partnerships with four leading international business schools: Manchester Business School (UK), Open University (UK), the European School of Management and Technology (Germany) and Brandeis University (USA). Today, business schools are faced with a new set of challenges: globalisation, the growing importance of research and increasingly demanding students and corporate partners. In particular, working executives, whether junior or senior, want a high-quality learning 176

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experience that will help them meet their career goals, but that is also flexible and adapted to their personal situation and projects. Faced with this changing environment, business schools need to find new ways of teaching local and international students. Consequently, they have been turning their attention to e-learning. CrossKnowledge is a member of the EFMD (European Foundation for Management Development), the global authority for management education. The EFMD has developed and provides EQUIS accreditation for business schools, CLIP accreditation for corporate universities and CEL accreditation for e-learning. CrossKnowledge was the first EFMD member from the world of ITC and e-learning. CrossKnowledge offers a uniquely innovative learning experience: an international network of renowned authors, content approved by business schools, the latest "rich media" e-learning technologies, and personalised learning modules. Thanks to this expertise, CrossKnowledge has become a leading partner of major business schools, first in France with HEC, ESSEC, ESCP-EAP, Euromed Marseille and the Grenoble Ecole de Management, and now internationally with four new strategic alliances.

Historical context Since the year 2000 CrossKnowedge has passed through three stages of development: • • •

Learning portals from 2000 until 2002 Blended learning from 2002 until 2005 Distance instructor-led training from 2005 until 2007.

Its latest development is to set up alliances with Manchester Business School (UK), Open University (UK), the European School of Management and Technology (Germany) and Brandeis University (USA). Competence in e-learning has developed with each innovation being market tested in vitro and in vivo before its global roll-out. CrossKnowledge hires external consultants and invests a lot in existing staff. The development has been abrupt. E-learning is growing at an annual rate of 60 % over the last 5 years. From its foundation in 2000 CrossKnowledge has grown to 250.000 e-learning students per year by 2006. Evaluation and research are continuous. Every year CrossKnowledge conducts surveys with its clients on two levels: • •

Corporate satisfaction and needs Learner satisfaction and needs

Its clients are involved in Research and Development through deployment steering committees and e-learning research and development. This is a key to success.

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Technical issues CrossKnowledge brings together a strong blend of competences in order to address the whole e-learning information and technology value chain and to integrate the different information technology components: •

• • •

E-learning modules: CrossKnowledge intensively uses Flash animations and videos for the new generation of e-learning modules. CrossKnowledge does not develop all elearning modules in-house but has the required competences to integrate these new technologies with the e-learning platform. User interface: the new generation of Player is displaying the e-learning modules using the latest Ajax and Flash technologies. Web-based and database-driven applications: in order to design scalable e-learning applications, CrossKnowledge has competences in designing Web-based applications that efficiently access databases. Networks and performance: it has internal consultants that help its customers adapt their network parameters in order to optimise the delivery of CrossKowledge’s Rich Media content.

The e-learning solutions are Web-based and only use open standards (HTML, Javascript, Ajax architecture) or widely used multimedia plug-ins (Macromedia Flash Player) for animations, video and audio files. These Web-based applications can be viewed using Explorer but also Firefox, the Open Source browser that runs on Microsoft, Apple and Linux machines. CrossKnowledge has built strong integration links between the front office and back office systems, in order to speed-up the delivery of new modules and of new training courses. The project managers can very easily roll-out new courses with few parameters, using the powerful back-office CrossKnowledge Deployer. The main technical strength of the e-learning administrative system lies in the speed of delivery of the projects: • • • •

The CrossKnowledge Deployer system allows the project managers to deliver new courses quickly and efficiently New learners can be enrolled very quickly either through massive enrolment lists uploaded with back office or with automated connections through powerful Web Services Learners can link directly from their Corporate Intranet environment to the CrossKnowledge LMS without again entering their login and password, thanks to the SSO interface (Single Sign On) The powerful LRM system (Learner Relationship Manager).

CrossKnowledge does not offer certification services and processes today.

Courses CrossKnowledge self-training sessions are 30-minute long asynchronous training sessions covering key concepts, practices or managerial behaviours.

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CrossKnowledge currently offers close to 300 sessions in seven different languages (French, English, Spanish, German, Polish, Chinese and Japanese) organised in almost 50 distance training programmes in three main fields: • • •

Management fundamentals: marketing, finance, management control, strategy and human resources; (40 % of training programmes); Management techniques: employee and team management, project management, customer management and negotiation/sales; (40 % of training programmes); Personal management skills: personal effectiveness, personal development and communication (20 % of training programmes).

Intended to pass on fundamentals, they are based on internationally recognised concepts and techniques (e.g. mutual gains bargaining), allowing their use in any company and any culture. CrossKnowledge Solutions are based on an exclusive teaching format tested by thousands of learners in more than 40 countries, with an average level of satisfaction and perceived usefulness greater than 80 % and a learning effectiveness that has been proven by pre/post training measurements: • • • • • •

use of one or more voices that guide the participant; massive use of video to demonstrate good and bad practices; inductive teaching that promotes discovery as opposed to "top-down" methods; alternating between case studies, contributions and practical exercises, like in a training room; thorough feedback that does not judge or penalise the participant; frequent interactivity to pace training and keep users active; systematic practical exercises to check that know-how is really being acquired and not just presented.

Organised in a modular fashion, CrossKnowledge SessionsTM enable: • • • • •

individualised training on demand; training of geographically remote groups; provision of a training programme that is common to an entire group; training of large groups in shorter timeframes by using a pre-existing catalogue; optimisation of classroom training: better preparation and less time spent in the classroom because concepts and techniques were taught beforehand.

To provide a comfortable learning environment and to motivate and support learners, distance training programmes are all coached by CrossKnowledge tutors whose degree of involvement is determined beforehand with the customer. Individualised tutoring CrossKnowledge distance training programmes can be followed through individualised tutored itineraries. In this case, CrossKnowledge implements an original educational approach based on a personal action project. A CrossKnowledge tutor with professional experience and a college degree helps the participant outline his or her project and monitors its implementation through regular

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feedback. Training resources such as CrossKnowledge Self-Training Sessions are therefore used actively through immediate application, the best way to ensure effective learning and assimilation. The tutor acts as a coach who supports the participant's growth in skills. Collective tutoring CrossKnowledge distance training can be followed via collective itineraries that harness the power of collaborative work. In these collective itineraries, followed entirely through distance training, CrossKnowledge tutors give the participants problems to be solved and lead work groups through phone conferences, forums and chats. Work on performance and the beginning of behaviour change is facilitated by group discussion, just as in a classroom. Problem-solving concepts and techniques are conveyed through CrossKnowledge Selftraining Sessions. CrossKnowledge tutors propose the work to be accomplished, lead the groups and stimulate discussion. This educational engineering represents the state of the art in distance training. Training support Participants experiencing difficulties understanding the material can e-mail their questions to the CrossKnowledge training team, who answer in English or French within 24 to 48 hours, depending on the difficulty of the question. Training support is provided with the help of the experts who contributed to the content of the CrossKnowledge training programmes. Thanks to CrossKnowledge self-assessments, each programme is individualised. Used in distance training, CrossKnowledge assessment solutions enable you: • •

prior to training, to give motivating feedback to each participant on the main areas requiring improvement and if necessary, to prescribe individualised programmes based on the level and needs of each learner; after training, to measure what has been acquired in terms of both knowledge (measured immediately after the training session) and effective practices (measured several months after the programme);

The main original feature of these questionnaires is that they measure not only knowledge but effective practice as well, through questions that are focused on observable behaviour. The CrossKnowledge Self-Assessments solution therefore allows you to measure the learner's development of operational skills and not just his/her acquisition of theoretical knowledge (which is not always put into practice). The role or importance of synchronous and asynchronous communication between students and teachers and among students themselves is: •

synchronous communication represents, on one hand, training in a classroom and, on the other hand, groupings in a conference call or in a virtual class, generally at the beginning and at the end of the programme. This adds up to approximately 60 % of the total course. • asynchronous communication serves 2 roles: (i) to make everybody at the same level in an individualized way before training in the classroom (ii) to transfer techniques / process / concepts before the training in the classroom so as to be able to concentrate the groups on the application. 180

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With 100 % distance learning courses, synchronous communication consists of phone points with the tutor, or of virtual classes, and represents 10 % of the total course. CrossKnowledge actually launches programmes in which the asynchronous part (e.g : forum between students) will represent 30 to 40 % of the programme. CrossKnowledge consultants make recommendations on the type of training system to be implemented and the balance between synchronous and asynchronous communication, on-site and remote, and individual or collective training.

Management, strategy and attitudes Like any other change, the introduction of new distance training methods first requires thinking about the best way to manage this change. CrossKnowledge helps its customers define a change management plan that includes very precise actions as well as: • • • • •

a marketing and communication plan for executives and sponsors an outline of the participants and identification of the sponsors to be called on; for the HR network, awareness initiatives (demonstration portals, presentations, case studies, newsletters, etc.) and training / certification in the new learning methods; for end users, push marketing and loyalty development initiatives (company executive videos, multimedia presentations for the launch, connection kits, goodies, promotional e-mails, etc.); study and feedback systems for completed projects (on-line surveys, focus groups, etc.).

Top management is necessary and key. Good products and services are also indispensable and key to deliver what has been promised. Every e-learning project has to be transverse and involve staff from different teams: R&D, technology, content, tutoring, consulting, and marketing. CrossKnowledge has a clearly identified strategy for online education: 50 % distant training and 50 % face-to-face on average, for both hard and soft skills. This is already being achieved successfully. Quality in e-learning is measured after each course through “hot assessment”. Then four months after, a “cold assessment” is made to check retention and changes in practice.

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CrossKnowledge also includes the following items in the reports: • • • • • •

extent to which target populations are covered extent to which the needs of operational customers are met; rate of effective access to training; total hourly cost of training (training, logistical and human costs); implementation time; scalability on a world level.

The effectiveness of the administrative routines in online education are shown by the fact that all processes have been organised in the Learning Management System. The equivalent of three full-time employees has been freed from administrative routines. The Learning Management System organises planning with a three-month advance for distance coaching interviews or seminars. Tutoring online is organised on a yearly basis. CrossKnowledge collaborates with other educational institutions as follows: More than 30 partnerships have been signed. Today, CrossKnowledge is the partner of the top three French colleges (HEC, ESSEC, ESCP) that use distance training solutions in their MBA and Masters programmes and of a growing number of regional schools. CrossKnowledge was also chosen as the main solution by Manchester Business School (United Kingdom), Brandeis University (United States) and ESMT (Germany). CrossKnowledge also co-develops training programmes with one of the leading universities in distance education worldwide: The Open University of the United Kigdom. The leading names in classroom training have chosen CrossKnowledge as their distance training solution, offering the market blended learning programmes. Familiar with the CrossKnowledge approach, they are completely at ease with the blended educational

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engineering philosophy. CrossKnowledge develops part of its Training Sessions catalogue in conjunction with some of them. Some partners that work with CrossKnowledge on an international scale include: • • • • • •

Mercuri International; Krauthammer International; Tea Cegos (Spain); MS Cegos China; BCon Japan; BCon USA.

These partnerships allow CrossKnowledge customers to deploy blended learning programmes in more than 30 countries throughout Europe, North and South America, and Asia. This is key to getting “labels” of acceptance and to legitimate the quality of distance education. Credibility of the institution with government and public administration is shown because in France, CrossKnowledge has been audited and found to comply by the rules of distance education. This is a key criterion for the integration of the cost into the legal constraint to be spent by companies on training (1.8 % of payrolls). The way CrossKnowledge is able to handle the large number of online courses and students is with three data centres in Europe, America and Asia and 10.000 replicated servers throughout the world. The CrossKnowledge SIGAL® Learning Management System is the core of CrossKnowledge's technological platform. It combines ease of use, flexibility and power. Its advanced features allow mass customisation and quick deployment of customised training itineraries. Ease of use The interface is accessible through a standard Web browser and its user-friendly ergonomy enables it to be used without any training required. The screens were designed based on the training itinerary creation processes. Flexibility The deployment models designed by CrossKnowledge make it quick and easy to adapt training itineraries to the training objectives of each customer, in compliance with their graphic guidelines. The new blended learning features make it flexible and easy to organise blended training itineraries by integrating all the distance and on-site training methods into a single management tool. Power The CrossKnowledge SIGAL® LMS platform is designed to support massive e-learning solution deployments for populations of several tens of thousands of learners without affecting response times.

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Economy CrossKnowledge uses these measures for the cost-effectiveness of e-learning: • •

Blended learning is 20 % less expensive than equivalent face-to-face seminars. Distance training is 50 % less expensive than equivalent face-to-face seminars.

Income from e-learning is highly predictable: CrossKnowledge has a 50 % annual growth rate. Costs are defined by investment (80%) and by recurring expenses (20 %). E-learning is an always changing market and flexibility is key. 40 % of the revenues are invested in Research and Development every year. CrossKnowledge recruits about 20 new staff every year representing 25% of new entrants. It also invests 7% of payroll in internal training and develops a “CrossKnowledge Academy”.

Additional factors Additional factors that have contributed to sustainability, robustness and the achievement of critical mass are: • •

• •

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International development: CrossKnowledge solutions are available in 6 languages (French, English, Spanish, German, Polish, Chinese and Japanese) and will be available in the year 2007 in German. A range of services with high added value to support human resources and training departments and help them successfully deploy distance training: upstream consulting to match skills development systems with the organisation's critical needs, educational engineering of training systems, change management planning, project management, back-office management, etc. Simple and powerful technologies for integrating and distributing distance and on-site training procedures: platform, tutoring tools, virtual classrooms, training site creation wizards, etc; High investment on quality and R&D.

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EDHEC Business School Lille-Nice By Desmond Keegan Name of institution URL of institution Country Number of employees Levels in the educational systems Interviewed persons Number of course enrolments in 2005 Number of online courses in 2005

EDHEC Business School www.edhec.com France 294 Higher education Bernard Curzi 4157 students 903

Context In 2007, EDHEC Business School has: • •

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• • • • • • • • • •

102 permanent faculty 800 guest lecturers 40 visiting professors 783 international students 76 nationalities 41 % non-French professors 93 universities on 5 continents 10 international courses 903 online courses 98% of students have a mix of face-to-face and e-learning.

In December 1951, HEC Nord became EDHEC (École De Hautes Études Commerciales du Nord). At that time, EDHEC had 169 students. A competitive entrance examination was introduced in 1954, with two sessions, one in June and one in September. Students could enter after obtaining the baccalaureate and the programme included compulsory subjects such as French, mathematics, at least one foreign language, etc. In 1956, EDHEC left the protective wing of the Catho' and moved to what was then known as the EDHEC Hotel at 67, boulevard Vauban, Paris. EDHEC presents itself thus; The goal is to train the talent and develop the knowledge that moves the world forward. Firms are increasingly looking for people who can manage projects and multicultural teams in an international environment to drive their development. Our mission is to shape this talent by transmitting the know-how and the people skills that are needed. This implies developing a clear vision of tomorrow's world. EDHEC’s ambition is to move businesses, society, and the world forward. We aim to do this by developing the talent and the values in our future alumni that will take them towards excellence and ensure they are the builders of a better world. At the same time, by creating an added value that is useful to everyone, thanks to the research conducted by our teaching faculty. EDHEC’s values are the values that drive the world forward: • • • • •

Commitment: to a mission that drives both EDHEC and its community. Commitment, the key virtue in great leaders. Conviction: because no one can successfully lead a project they don't believe in. Culture: because it is essential to understand others and to understand the key issues and challenges in today's world. Solidarity: an EDHEC value for over a century, it underpins our students' deep-seated humanity. Independence: which allows us to make our own choices and to act freely in the governance of the school, and independence in the spirit of our alumni which enables them to tackle any issue that may arise with great open-mindedness.

EDHEC’s aim is to be the first choice business school for European firms by 2010 It is the market that will express this preference. It is the market that will express business organisations' demand for our students, our programmes and our research because the market

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appreciates the force of our values, the fit between our courses and their needs, and the quality of responses offered by our research to the new challenges that the business world and society must confront. The progression in the provision of online courses to 903 today is shown below: Number of online courses:

903

The progression in the number of e-learning students is shown below: Number of e-learning students:

4157

Historical context With the creation of a new campus at Nice in 1991, EDHEC needed to guarantee its pedagogical identity with regard to courseware, evaluation and the range of methodological Megaproviders of e-learning in Europe

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processes. The professors, the administration and the students quickly got the habit of exchanging and sharing information by email and Intranet links. In 1999 the head of the Executive MBA programme wanted to go further than just offering course assistance online. His objective was to organise students’ work outside the monthly week of course sessions and to encourage cooperation at a distance between professors and students and between the students themselves. In 2000 EDHEC launched its first e-learning modules for 40 students of this Executive MBA and for 10 professors. In 2001 EDHEC wanted to facilitate the integration of students returning directly to their second year at EDHEC after obtaining a university degree or diploma. According to their records these students needed to upgrade their levels for example in Finance, Law or Accounting. EDHEC therefore developed new e-learning modules for them, as soon as their enrolment was confirmed. Since 2001 all the programmes (and thus all the students) took on e-learning. There were online course supports, foundation courses by e-learning, revision packages and self evaluation packages. The important thing is that EDHEC’s e-learning strategy allows it to improve the learning processes. There was no resistance to change in the Information Technology culture at EDHEC. Information and training was given to all the users: a range of very simple applications to the professors, allowing them to become autonomous in producing their own content. But the foremost factor in the success of e-learning at EDHEC was the support of the Group Directorate General. E-learning is a major strategic channel for the Group. E-learning was a natural development of the pedagogical practices, nevertheless, EDHEC proceeded gradually. It acquired experience for one year with the cohort of students in the Executive MBA and with a small number of professors. From that, e-learning spread to other programmes year by year. There is no link between the developments in e-learning and the different fields of research of the professors at EDHEC.

Technical issues EDHEC is not more competent in the use and integration of the new information and communication technologies (ICTs) than any other French Grande Ecole. On the other hand there is an ITC culture at the institution that is spread by the e-learning courses and services. All the courses are accessible to students without the need for purchasing specific hardware or software. The e-learning materials contain printed documents and ‘rich content’ in FLASH. The e-learning platform is directly linked to all the websites of EDHEC. The students’ identification criteria are the same for accessing all the services (email, sessions, international services, use of time and e-learning). On the other hand, it was desirable that the platform and all the e-learning policy decisions were controlled by another service other than the Computer Centre. E-learning is first and 188

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foremost a methodological and pedagogical sector. We did not want the technical teams to impose their view or their course formatting. The strengths and weaknesses of the e-learning administrative systems are: Strengths: autonomous organisation directly supported by the Director General. Very strong support for all requests for the creation of new accounts and new course enrolments. Weaknesses: not having enough internal resources; the pedagogical approach is not always precise enough; collaborative working could be more developed; few examples of online assessment (as opposed to self correction).

Courses With more than 900 online course modules, all the disciplines in management and administration are well covered. One could consider that, in proportion to other areas, Computing, Law and Marketing are well covered. The programmes offered are: • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Full time Theseus-EDHEC MBA Edhec Grande Ecole EDHEC-CAMPUS Executive MBA Master in Management (MIM) Master of Science in Finance Master of Science in Risk and Asset Management Master of Science in Marketing Master of Science in Strategic Management Master of Science in European Business Master of Science in Research for Business Administration PhD in Business Administration ESPEME Executive MBA Cycle Supérieur de Management (CSM) CEVE (Conseil en Investissement financier)

At present there is no limit to online development in any subject other than the availability of the professors. One could consider that Human Resources courses are not well represented. The majority of the e-learning modules form part of the pedagogical structures of the face-toface courses. It is better not to speak of flexibility of progression because the e-learning modules usually deal with the fundamentals of a discipline, and the face-to-face courses can, therefore go much further into the topic than the e-learning provision. The discussion forums that are in certain modules are used principally by the students and the professors before examination periods to facilitate revision and to ensure that themes are only done once. For the distance education students, that is those who are studying between two face-to-face sessions, the forums and collaborative working groups constitute elements which cannot be neglected and which are much appreciated. From the point of view of satisfaction, the students greatly appreciate these ‘learning communities’ which are therefore supported. Megaproviders of e-learning in Europe

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From the point of view of the professors, the forums constitute FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) which can be used year after year.

Management, strategy and attitudes The Director General of the EDHEC Group supports the e-learning developments because he knows that the world is changing and that educational practices are evolving. He knows also that new e-learning products can lead to new students and to new resources. More importantly, this support of senior management has a direct effect on the activity plans of the professors who can get recompense at the end of the year for the e-learning modules they have developed. Thus course development is easier. Finally the Director of e-learning has budget responsibility for equipment and organisation. The attitudes of different groups of staff towards teaching online depend on the importance elearning plays for a particular course. One can say that now all the teaching staff in the EDHEC Group have a role in e-learning. This goes from the most basic (online course support with organised access) to the most complete (course enrolment, self evaluation and interaction). The administration is also involved in e-learning (International services, organisation of sessions). Rather than a success, this is a cultural impact of e-learning which is of direct interest to all in the EDHEC Group. At the beginning e-learning allowed EDHEC to improve the learning processes of the regular courses, assuring in distance learning the provision of basic concepts, revisions and self evaluation. Now the institution envisages the provision of diploma and degree courses using the ‘blended learning’ methodology. Success is not measurable. From the time when the e-learning developments brought clear responses to the new situations that were indicated, EDHEC supported it. The effectiveness of the administrative routines is shown by the facilitation of the interchanges between the administration and students. Documents are now permanently available and the flexibility of the communication tools has reduced response time. The question of staff having predictable and manageable workloads will depend on decisions which will be taken in a short time about diploma and degree qualifications by blended learning. For some years EDHEC has collaborated with numerous colleges and universities in France and overseas and with some large business corporations in France. The aim is to share experience and to promote the exchange and adaptation of e-learning content. This comparative and constructive approach allows EDHEC to be a global player in e-learning, with a reputation in the environment in which it operates. In 2003 EDHEC received an important European Commission subsidy for the installation of the e-learning operation and again in 2005 a further subsidy from the Regional Council of Provence-Alps-Cote d’Azur. Two large French administrative agencies entrust their online personnel training to EDHEC. While EDHEC does not have interaction with the national government, the regional government is well aware of the activities. Therefore EDHEC has credibility in the field of e-learning.

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The Director of e-learning is responsible for the training of the users (instructors and students), for the creation of new courseware and for the creation of course enrolments. The professors are fully autonomous in the creation and running of the courses, with the help of assistants in the teaching departments. It is the same for the administrative services. Departmental assistants, professors and e-learning administrators combine efforts when replying to questions, animating the forums and taking care of eventual technical outages.

Economy The investments in materials and computing are considerable but EDHEC considers that they are compensated for by the enriching of the training, by the services to students and by the good reputation the institution gains from these investments. The e-learning provision has enabled EDHEC to gain a number of contacts for training in businesses. But this question for EDHEC is closely linked to the development of training diplomas and degrees by blended learning. Experiencing pressure to be flexible to be able to adapt to a changing market is inherent in the business model. The specific function of the French Grandes Ecoles is to anticipate the needs of the market by proposing new programmes and new training methods. At present, a lot of e-learning modules are administered at a distance by professors who are not employed by EDHEC and who only come to give a few hours of face-to-face courses. The pedagogical organisation is growing greatly outside the walls of EDHEC. To provide the best organisation possible for the diploma and degree programmes in e-learning, and to be able to respond in a very short time to students located in all time zones, EDHEC needs to demonstrate its effectiveness by probably accepting the recruitment of pedagogical and technical assistants located throughout the world.

Additional factors An additional factor that contributed to sustainability, robustness and the achievement of critical mass in the institution was the availability of a professorial staff that had no resistance to change nor to the adoption of innovations in information and communication technologies.

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ÉLOGOS By Pedro Fernández Michels Name of institution URL of institution Country Number of employees Levels in the education system Number of course enrolments in 2005 Number of online courses in 2005 Interviewed persons

ÉLOGOS www.elogos.es Spain More than 250 Professional, vocational, lifelong training and learning 22700 605 Alfonso Alvarado Planas Vega Pérez-Chirinos Churruca

Introduction ÉLOGOS is the result of the fusion between FYCSA and the DOXA-group. It can look back on over 15 years of presence in the field of consultancy and training in institutions and companies aimed at managers, engineers, postgraduates etc. FYCSA, a content provider offering tailored online courses, the DOXA-group, a solution provider dealing with training outsourcing and the development of e-learning courses, and Educadoxa, Spain’s first e-learning portal, merged into a company that has always been the state of the art and succeeded in keeping its position as a leading company in Spain.

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Contextual factors The total population of Spain is 40 million. Spanish is the common language in all 17 autonomous regions. Three of these regions have an own language which has official status within the region. Due to the characteristics of the business segment covered by ÉLOGOS it is of special interest to highlight the Spanish market regarding outsourced e-learning activities. The following figures give a rough description: Private companies: outsourced market 560 millions of € * 11 % e-learning = 62 millions of € Public administration: outsourced market 158 millions of € * 7 % e-learning = 11 millions of € Social sector: outsourced market 500 millions of € * 12 % e-learning= 60 millions of € Other public administration programmes alongside social agents (“Forintel”, a National support program for training in telecommunication technologies within the ESF (European Social Fund): = 10 millions of €. TOTAL: 143 millions of € en 2006 ÉLOGOS covers about 20 % of this market. The results of the European e-user-Project20 describe the diffusion of ICT in Spain unsatisfactory due to the low penetration of Internet in the households in comparison to the other EU members, which could be related to the high prices of Internet connection. Broadband diffusion, however, has been comparatively fast in the last three years, in particular in the more developed and urban parts of the country such as Catalonia and Madrid. The same study reports considerably big disparities in access to and use of the Internet between sub-segments of the population e.g. genders, age groups, socio-economic groups etc. The acceptance of e-learning within companies and the public sector can be considered relatively high so that the advantages of virtual teaching and training no longer have to be proved beforehand. As indicated by Eurostat, in 2003 Spain maintained a high number of enterprises connected to the Internet (85 %), the same as the average for the most technologically advanced, old member States. The e-learning market is evolving rapidly: 95 % of large companies in Spain have at least some e-learning strategy, and two thirds of them already implement a training scheme, even if it only involves traditional training delivery methods. However, it has been noted that the more companies become committed in training of their staff, the more they choose blended elearning solutions.21

20 21

www.euser-eu.org www.euser-eu.org

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However the percentage of the total number of Spanish people aged 16 to 74 that do not use the computer or the Internet is slightly higher than the same figure for the UE-25.22 Neither the central government nor the regional administrations are carrying out a specific policy in order to promoting e-learning. The projects that are being undertaken are more generic and only have an indirect effect on the development of e-learning. “Following the e-learning initiative launched by the European Union in 2000, the Spanish government has developed a set of policies and initiatives to promote e-learning. The main points of this policy are: • • • •

providing all schools with the equipment and facilities for accessing ICT; developing Internet courses and training; setting up an observatory and laboratory concerned with the educational applications of ICT, thereby supporting innovation and development in such applications; strengthening cooperation between Latin America and Europe in the area of ICT in education.

Moreover, several plans and projects are dedicated to e-learning for vocational purposes. These are supported by the Spanish Government through the European Social Fund, and through FORCEM (Continuing Training Foundation). It is indicative of the situation that 30% of all training plans presented in 2002 were related to e-learning. Moreover, the Ministry of Industry Tourism and Commerce has created FORINTEL, a program to promote the use of ICTs in enterprises, which offers e-learning courses. Currently, the Spanish government has launched the Plan España.es for the period 2004-05. One of the action points of the Plan is the promotion of accessibility to training and digital content.”

Historical context In 1990 the company was approached by the National Employment Office (INEM) in order to design, produce and manage the institution’s distance training programme about The Management of Small and Medium Companies. ÉLOGOS established a personalized and flexible teaching and learning system for the required disciplines (finances, marketing, taxlaws etc.) of about 4000 participants over a period of two years. In 1992, ÉLOGOS took part in the project “500 años después” (“500 years later”) directed by the “Sociedad Estatal del Quinto Centenario” (State Society for the Fifth Century). It consisted in computer controlled multimedia stations that provided, on CD-I, information in different languages about five centuries of Ibero-American, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish history. This contract was given to ÉLOGOS after having developed a prototype for an interactive videodisc (CD-I). In the first half of the nineties ÉLOGOS carried out the project “LETRA”, part of the ATENEA-program of the Ministry of Education. In this case, the advantages of the CD-ROM were widely exploited. Its educational content concentrated on Spanish and Latin-American literature of the 20th century and the information was offered in a hypermedia structure.

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DEMUNTER, Christophe (2006): “How skilled are Europeans in using computers and the Internet?” [Online article]. In: Statistics on focus. Industry, trade and services 17/2006. (Data retrieved on 30/10/2006). URL: http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/cache/ITY_OFFPUB/KS-NP-06-017/EN/KS-NP-06-017-EN.PDF

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ÉLOGOS developed new multimedia systems for distance education aimed at computer engineers, computing service specialists and specialists in auto-edition (MILTINEM-Project, 1994). The Distance Education Project for the “Federación Española de Hostelería” that reached over 5000 professionals of the Spanish Hotel business and the gastronomic sector. ÉLOGOS developed extensive multimedia based training material that covered different aspects of the sector’s management (marketing, quality, accountancy, nutrition, equipments etc.). ÉLOGOS also delivered the corresponding tutoring and monitoring services. ÉLOGOS has traditionally taken part in European R&D projects, particularly in projects that belonged to European programmes for the research and development of training technologies. Since the company participated as a coordinator in the Latin Project of the COMETT program, its consultants have cooperated in many more programmes like IMPACT, RACE, DELTA, EuroPACE, ADAPT, NOW, YOUTHSTART, LEONARDO and EUROTECNET. Around the year 2000, ÉLOGOS started to concentrate on e-learning developing innovative solutions that lead to the strong growth the company is having this year (60% above the sales in 2005, a trend that is going to continue in 2007). E-Learning as a decisive element in the company’s program has been developed gradually undertaking continuing investments in innovation that have grown year after year, while the demand became more mature. ÉLOGOS avoided making strong investments in the first part of this decade when the market was still incipient.

Technical issues The company has solid experience in the use of technology. In addition, ALCATEL, one of the former owners of the company was simultaneously one of the main clients which made it necessary to have a large number of expert consultants in ICT at disposal. This has undoubtedly contributed to define the technological profile of the internal team of consultants. In this sense it is day to day practice to use technology in projects and teams that deliver training and consultancy services to the clients. The tools and applications developed by ÉLOGOS itself and the ones ordered from third parties have to fulfil certain requirements regarding usability, compliance with the market standards and easy handling. Clients and students can access the company’s courses and platforms using standard browsers. Also, the contents designed for clients follow the SCORM standard in order to be able to incorporate them into SCORM compliant platforms. Due to the ability and competence of the company’s team in the field of technology, the possible problems derived from processes of integration of contents and applications in different environments that might even be incompatible are usually solved efficiently and to full satisfaction of the clients. The administrative systems have evolved, based on the company’s own developments, focussing on the clients’ needs (access to administration, data-tracking, new functions…) on one hand, and covering the needs of improvement in the business processes, optimizing the Megaproviders of e-learning in Europe

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activity chain on the other hand. The latter produced an improvement in the processes of student contact, enrolment and data capture, programming, monitoring processes and tutoring, reporting, notifying and evaluation of students’ progress, quality control of the training process, emission of diplomas and certificates etc. The current result is an efficient system that provides information and support to the administrative side of the training and allows guaranteeing the efficiency of the training cycle with an optimized use of resources.

Courses The training fields covered by ÉLOGOS are: • • • • • •

Soft Skills: Interpersonal communication and presentations, leadership, teamwork, personal efficiency and productivity … Sales Skills: sales techniques and commercial negotiation, client services and winning over the client, commercial management and accounts management … Business Management Skills: Project management, marketing, finances, quality … Information and Communication Technologies: Programming languages, software engineering, systems and webs, IP technologies and mobiles… Computer technology in the office: Operation systems, office programmes and e-mail. Languages: English, French, German, Italian and Spanish.

Although every single area has its specific weight, the management skills, the commercial field and the languages tend to be especially important. Regarding “onlineability” of subjects, ÉLOGOS chooses the most adequate tools and environments for teaching and learning for each context. Certainly there are subjects that are more difficult to handle in a totally virtual environment, whereas others can be taught especially well with ICT. ÉLOGOS works with a range of different scenarios that include blended learning, distance learning, distance learning based on materials delivered on CDROM and others. Courses provided by ÉLOGOS always have flexible start-up and progression. The company uses synchronous and asynchronous communication in all its programmes. Communication takes place via e-mail and forums as well as through programmed events that are carried out in a chat-like environment.

Management, strategy and attitudes The company leaders have clearly supported the idea of using technology in training processes. This has been vital for the success of the company’s strategy. According to the staff, there is a wide consensus regarding the growing importance of online education for the success of the company. Nevertheless, ÉLOGOS does not see technology as an objective in itself, but as a medium in order to achieve improvements in the learning processes, in the administration of these processes, in the teaching methods and in the final results. Regarding the company’s strategy, it is considered that online training stands as an additional channel that provides important advantages regarding the problems an organisation might 196

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have to face. Therefore the consultant businesses that are able to integrate the necessary contents in an adequate way in order to offer the services the clients ask for will place itself in a privileged position. ÉLOGOS obtained the ISO-2000 certification in 2001 regarding all of its internal processes and external services. This shows that quality policy is not only based on the permanent evaluation of the courses run by ÉLOGOS, but also on the guaranteed quality of the company’s processes. Effectiveness in the administrative routines can be described as very high. The company’s experience in the development of online contents and in the development and the authorization of online plans allows it to estimate in a relatively precise way the probable workload of each of the contracted projects, so that the implication of the consultants involved can be planned adequately. The recent fusion between FYCSA and GRUPO DOXA is one of the most visible consequences of collaboration between institutions. In addition ÉLOGOS cooperates with other institutions of the field through the “Circulo de Consultoras” and with other educational institutions like the BRITISH COUNCIL. Experience and curriculum facilitates the company’s credibility with the public administration, which in many cases has shown its confidence by asking for services (AENA [public company that manages the country’s airports], CORREOS [postal service], Comunidad de Madrid, local entities and councils all over Spain). Key factors for the ability of handling large numbers of students are very powerful management skills and competencies and the possibilities offered by the use of technology for automatic and optimized business processes.

Economy The cost effectiveness in ÉLOGOS’ online education is very high. The administrative systems are highly optimized which allow to use important economies of scale due to the big investments undertaken during the last years. As a consequence, ÉLOGOS obtains high effectiveness thanks to controlled costs. The possibilities of predictable income depend on the ability of each organisation to generate contracts and attract students (demand). And it depends on many other factors, some of which are not controlled by the organisation itself (economic situation, rules and regulations…). ÉLOGOS is a private company and does not have any other sources of income apart from its clients. It is, therefore, subject to the pressure of the competitors in the market, which is enormous and forces to constant innovations and the adjustment of the offered solutions according to the evolutions of the market. In those activities that are easy to externalize, that have a low added value and that have very little or none impact on the client, policies of flexible employment are partly applied.

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Hungarian Telecom By Ildikรณ Mรกzรกr Name of institution

Hungarian Telecom, Training and Knowledge Management Directorate URL of institution www.magyartelekom.hu/english/main.vm Country Hungary Number of teachers teaching online in 2005 20-40 Levels of education systems Vocational training Number of course enrolments in 2005 >8000 Number of online courses in 2005 150 Interviewed persons Miklรณs Krivรกn

History The institution started experimenting with e-learning in 1996 by introducing a rented WebCT Learning Management System (later, based on their experiences with this, the company developed its own LMS) and creating e-contents/e-books and interactive help, but its e-

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courses did not become fully operational before 1999. By 2005, the Hungarian Telecom had above 8000 enrolments in about 150 courses. Presently, the time-wise distribution of online and face-to-face courses taken by the company’s learners is about 50-50%. The first online interdisciplinary training, entitled “Media-engineering”, that consisted of about 35 30 hours long modules had been carried out in cooperation with the Budapest University of Technology and Economics between 1999 and 2001. The user group was 30 post graduate students selected from about 60-80 candidates. Their motivation to enrol was the new experience and the chance to earn a postgraduate degree. All 30 learners finished the training successfully. Although not all modules had been accredited at last, but certain courses of the training are still run by the University. This obviously justifies the quality and success of T-Com’s pilot initiative. The initiation was internal. T-Com has a so-called E-Team that is an 8 person e-learning group responsible for specific tasks such as methodology advancement, operation support and development. 3 people are responsible for multimedia and pedagogy, 2 for project management and another 3 for operation and its development. The E-Team works on a oneto-one project basis, often involving external contractors when specific objectives and tasks make it necessary, by this enabling any required competence to be present in their endeavours. Hungarian Telecom’s e-learning development has been a well considered and constructed process rooting in a perfectly timed start. Their general pilot experiences and the feedback collected via different ways of assessment had been and are still being fed back into the operation and strategies periodically, by this continuously improving the company’s online educational practice – it is a series of methodological milestones in their e-learning development, that T-Com collects anonymous feedback every quarter year both from its staff (including external tutors) and learners. The company keeps up-to-date with pedagogy and technology just as well. It is interesting to note that after an unsuccessful experimentation with synchronous communication supported e-learning at the beginning, recently T-Com has given another try to this means of collaboration. The extensive availability of broadband Internet connection opens up new ways of using synchronous communication tools. The company is also trying to integrate such innovative elements into its study design as gamebased learning. The gradually growing number of online students is also a quantitative proof of development. Evaluation is an important and strong contributor to T-Com’s success in online education. As mentioned above, the company collects feedback every quarter year via different ways of assessment. Direct research typically only plays essential role in the development of the company’s IT applications, such as their LMS and synchronous/asynchronous communication tools. It is more peculiar to T-Com to conduct trend analysis and benchmark their practice with other EU member countries’ (Deutche Telecom, Macedonian, Czech and Slovak TCom).

Technical issues The ICT competence of the above described E-Team (an 8 person e-learning group responsible for specific tasks such as methodology advancement, operation support and development: 3 people are responsible for multimedia and pedagogy, 2 for project management and another 3 for operation and its development) is very high – after all the

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success of T-Com’s online education is seriously dependent on their knowledge and performance. T-Com avoids the application of proprietary solutions, they use standard web programmes and technologies exclusively (Adobe Flash, Windows Media Player, etc.), so that the learners would only have to use their web browsers to access the course contents. All learning related IT systems are compatible with each other and the corporate HR interface, therefore the management and exchange of data is easy and simple. This plays a quite important role in the smooth running and success of T-Com’s e-learning practice. Definite strengths of the company’s administrative systems are their tailor-made characteristics, how the method of creating online material suits the work of teachers/tutors. The methodology is very fine, containing multi-faceted elements, allowing personalisation and scheduling. The online assessment developed is professional. Regarding T-Com’s online educational weaknesses, they still have a lot to improve on their blended learning courses. However this is yet in a premature stage, the gradual improvement is visible.

Courses T-Com partially is working on a project basis, contracting for the development of courses on demand. Most typically (at least until recently) the company has mainly developed procuration administrational, technological and basic security type courses and e-learning modules, but also courses on traffic regulations and sales fundamentals. Any type of subject matter can be transferred into e-learning material with a professional, creative and well paid staff. It is of utmost importance to make the courses interactive and colourful, including lots of multimedia elements, and to ensure that the learner remains motivated throughout the entire learning cycle. It is not always possible to completely exclude face-to-face sessions from an e-learning course, but it is important to try to minimise their presence. The courses provided by Hungarian Telecom are completely flexible both by start-up and progression. (NB these courses are only provided internally for T-Com staff and partners.) In the late nineties T-Com experimented with the use of synchronous communication in their “distance teaching” practice, but these initiatives failed. Now, with the exploitation of broadband access, new perspectives have arisen, however it is expected to remain a relatively minor part of e-discussions. The company’s findings show little willingness of their learners to communicate with each other, especially in real time. In fact, it would be possible to trigger student-to-student communication (by synchronous platforms) with assignments where they must collaborate, but that would have a bad influence on learner centredness and flexibility. The use of asynchronous communication tools is still deterministic.

Management, strategy and attitudes The institution’s leadership is not only supportive but, in fact, has been the initiator of the educational transformation by the introduction of e-learning. This, inevitably, is an important success factor.

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Deputy leaders and teachers were quite resistant towards the use of e-learning at the beginning. In the nineties, the general attitude of deputies was the warm welcoming of elearning (as a phenomenon) with the additional statement that it is the individual’s (i.e. their employees’) responsibility to find time for the accomplishment of the courses they enrol in. Nowadays it is almost natural that T-Com colleagues consider these courses as an important part of their work and professional development, and study during office hours. As the teachers/tutors are contracted externally, it is a pre-condition that the contracted party is willing and able to use the LMS. T-Com’s e-learning strategy is a strong part of its training strategy. One of its main focuses is cost efficiency. With the introduction of online education, the company’s training costs have decreased significantly. Due to their characteristics, e-learning courses cost the fourth of their face-to-face equivalents. Usually the knowledge on demand is transferred in about 3 hourlong modules. When such trainings are demanded, the supply must come promptly. Online courses are easier (and cheaper) to maintain and keep up to date. Also, the learners save not only travel costs, but a relatively high number of working hours by not having to travel anywhere for 3 hours of training. T-Com’s strategy therefore includes the aim to keep the cost efficiency of e-training provision, supply them on demand and just in time, and to achieve that 40 % of their training courses are provided online. Hungarian Telecom uses ISO 2001. Quality, on one hand, is assured by benchmarking the company’s practice with other EU member countries’ (Deutche Telecom, Macedonian, Czech and Slovak T-Com) and, on the other hand, a more bottom-up approach, that is surveying the players and beneficiaries of online education (i.e. company leaders, learners and tutors). Both face-to-face and online learners are invited to fill in an anonymous questionnaire after finishing each of their courses, and every half year. Although statistics show that quite few online learners (5 %) fill in these questionnaires (vs. 30-40 % of traditional trainees), their contribution to course evaluation seems more valuable than that of face-to-face learners. The company’s administration system with its well developed and continuously improving routines is working very effectively. The administration system is compatible with the LMS and the staff in concern is competent in the use of these systems. T-Com applies a flexible contracting approach, however, for determined educational engagements, with its tutors (N.B, the number of teachers teaching online in 2005 is 20-40). These assignments are casual, but the volume and nature of their jobs are clearly communicated towards the contracted educators. The tutors are paid by hours. The hourly rates depend on different factors, such as the nature of the online course tutored, the professional background/expertise of the contracted party and their physical location (labour from Budapest is more expensive). N.B the latter consideration has a positive consequence regarding the unbalanced employment rates of the capital vs. the countryside. The tutors have certain obligations, such as responding to learner inquiries within 24 hours. Their online activities, like number of sign ins and time spent in the LMS are monitored, recorded and later evaluated for quality assurance purposes. Hungarian Telecom has a rich portfolio of institutional cooperations. Its relationships with fellow Telecom companies in other EU countries has already been mentioned and described earlier. T-Com participates in EU funded projects and has bilateral agreements with higher

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educational and adult training institutions and the government. Essentially, the nature of these collaboration initiatives depends greatly on the other party. With the Eötvös Loránd University (an old and prestigious university) the common initiatives are focusing on social sciences, while with the Budapest University of Technology and Economics (one of the oldest and most prestigious technical universities) the target is rather technological. Telecom is a prestigious international company. Hungarian Telecom has a long history and has always been acknowledged by the government and public administration. The company has a sufficiently large pool of potential tutors, who can be contracted in case of necessity. The IT support system, the administrative- and learning management systems are highly developed and are very user-friendly. These conditions enable swift and efficient handling of fluctuating number of online courses and students at any time.

Economy Cost effectiveness, as mentioned above, is a key consideration in Hungarian Telecom’s training (and embedded e-learning) strategy. Generally there are about 3-4 face-to-face and 34 e-learning study days a T-Com employee enrols in each year. The deviation from this mean figure is not significant; in case of every employee there is a minimum of 1-2 days spent with internal training and there is not more than a maximum of 10 learning days applicable for some colleagues. Since most of the company trainings are relatively short, their “onlineability” is a serious financial factor. For instance until about 50 persons it could be more cost effective to hold a seminar face-to-face, while above that number a web seminar would definitely cost less in total both financially and time-wise. Keeping that in mind, the use of synchronous or asynchronous communication forums for different sizes of learning groups can further cut the training costs. It is also important economically to choose the best facilitators for each of the company courses, as the tutors’ hourly fees vary in a quite broad range (from about 8 to 60 €). As most of the company’s courses have been developed for internal use by employees, there is no tuition fee contributing to T-Com’s training budget. There are, however, a fair number of external projects for online course provision. These contractual incomes and the company’s in-house accounting scheme facilitate the internal course developments. NB a kind of virtual financial monitoring system enables the measurement of the training operations’ cost efficiency that (as mentioned above) is consistently assured. Flexibility, these days, is a key characteristic of a corporate company, which keeps it in competition and enables it to adapt to the market changes. This pressure is handled and responded to successfully. As it has been stated earlier, the company has a sufficiently large pool of potential tutors, who can be contracted in case of necessity. In addition, there are collaboration agreements with the government and universities that, as a strategic element, also ensure valuable sources in this respect.

Additional factors The growing importance of adult education justifies the widespread use of e-learning, but at the same time, learning abilities and attitudes have a strong impact on its success. The

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(learning) cultural background in Hungary is not so supportive in this respect. Today’s adults are too much used to formal education and are not autonomous enough for planning and progressing their personal learning paths. E-learning requires different social and communicational abilities and debating skills that are missing from the middle aged Hungarian society (they are used to and prefer only receiving instead of sharing knowledge). Yet, these skills and abilities are more and more present in the younger generations. Tomorrow’s adult learners do not insist to have face-to-face elements in their education and are very comfortable with the use of technology and technology enhanced learning.

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Concluding remarks This book comprises 26 case study articles based on interviews which are available at the project web-site. In-depth analyses of the interviews are available in a separate book titled Analyses of European megaproviders of e-learning. Therefore, there are no in-depth conclusions presented in this book. However, the following observations should be of interest: The 26 megaproviders represent quite a large range of different institutions. Among them there are: • •

•

8 providers of distance education o 5 public providers o 3 private providers 13 universities, colleges or consortia o 10 public universities o 2 university consortia o 1 distance education centre at a private university 5 providers of corporate training o 1 public provider o 4 private providers

The analyses include case studies from eleven European countries. There are six institutions from the United Kingdom, five from Spain and four from Norway. The dominance of institutions from these countries may indicate that these countries provide good conditions for megaproviders to prevail. It may also indicate that the researchers have especially good knowledge of, and connections in, these countries. Three providers (Learn Direct, CrossKnowledge and UNED) claim that they had more than 100000 course enrolments in 2005. Only 6 of the 26 claim that they had more than 20000 course enrolments. It is interesting to observe that among these six top ranked institutions there are none universities, only corporate training providers and distance education institutions. There are also 6 of the 26 providers that have less than 5000 course enrolments which therefore qualify as megaproviders only since they have more than 100 online courses. The number of online courses range from 1000 (The University of Leicester and Manchester Metropolitan University) to 54 (BI). There are 3 providers with less than 100 online course enrolments which therefore qualify as megaproviders only since they have more than 5000 course enrolments. The number of enrolments per course range from 833 to 5. This is an interesting number to study in more detail for example related to cost effectiveness.

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The institutions have experience with e-learning ranging from 3 years (Dennis Gabor College) to more than 20 years (NKI and Sør-trøndelag University College). Five institutions started elearning in the eighties, ten in the nineties and eleven after the turn of the century. One my argue that it is too early for Dennis Gabor College and Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria to claim that they provide sustainable online educations since the institutions only have provided e-learning for three and five years. All in all, this book presents a unique selection of in-depth case studies that should be of interest to practitioners and decision makers who would like to learn more about how it is possible to provide large-scale, robust and sustainable e-learning.

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About the authors Per Arneberg holds a PhD in biology and has worked as a lecturer and scientist at the University of Tromsø in Norway for a number of years. He has published several papers in highly ranked international scientific journals and has led development of distance education in biology. During the last years he has worked in Norway Opening Universities, a governmental agency established to stimulate development of distance education and general application of learning technology in higher education. Arneberg has written articles, conducted surveys and edited a number of books in this field. These are available at www.nuv.no. Lourdes Guàrdia is lecturer of the Department of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Open University of Catalonia (UOC). She is professor of the Master’s Degree in Education and ICT (e-learning) at UOC. Since 1996 she has being working at UOC with different roles; as the Head of Multimedia Instructional Design Department for six years, as the educational and innovation project’s coordinator at the Educational and Methodological Innovation Strategic Area for two years, and as a lecturer the last three year. She’s currently involved in the Ph.D. programme in Educational Sciences at the Universidad del País Vasco. She’s also got a Degree in Linguistics and Master in Train the Trainers for second language acquisition at the Universitat de Barcelona. Her focus interest in research is instructional design, educational technology and e-learning. She participated in several innovation and research European and National projects. Desmond Keegan was the foundation Chief Executive Officer of the Italian open university system, the Consorzio per l’Uiversità a Distanza. Today he is managing director of Distance Education International in Dublin, Ireland. He has designed, administered and brought to a successful conclusion more than 20 European projects. He has contributed extensively to the literature of distance education, e-learning and mobile learning including: • • • • • •

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Sewart D, Keegan D and Holmberg B (eds) (1983) Distance education: international perspectives. London and New York: Croom Helm. 446 pp. 2nd printing: Routledge 1985. Keegan D e Lata F (eds) (1984) L'università a distanza. Riflessioni e proposte per un nuovo modello di università. Milano: Angeli. 173 pp. Keegan D (1986) Foundations of distance education. London and New York: Croom Helm. 282 pp. Second edition: Routledge, 1990, Third edition: Routledge 1996. Keegan D (ed) (1993) Theoretical principles of distance education. London and New York: Routledge. pp 272. Harry K, John M and Keegan D (1993) Distance education: new perspectives. London and New York: Routledge. pp 348. Keegan D (ed) (1994) The industrialization of teaching and learning. Otto Peters on distance education. New York and London: Routledge. pp 260. Keegan D (1997) Distance training in the European Union. Brussels: The European Commission, 100pp. Weidenfeld G and Keegan D (eds) (1999) L'enseignement à distance à l'aube du troisième millénaire. Poitiers: CNED. 360 pp.

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Keegan D (2000) Distance training: taking stock at a time of change. London: Routledge, 152 pp. Keegan D (2002) The future of learning. From eLearning to mLearning. Hagen:FernUniversität (ZIFF) 176 pp.

Jüri Lõssenko is a project manager of the Estonian e-learning Development Centre where he is involved in developing, supporting and implementing e-learning initiatives in Estonian higher and vocational education. His responsibilities include coordinating national e-learning projects financed by the European Social Funds and several Community programme projects as well as participating in numerous national and international working groups and organisations. Ms. Ildikó Mázár graduated at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics in 2002 as bio-engineer, and in 2002 she completed a distance educational course entitled “Course development, learning management”. Since September 2002 she has been working at the European Distance and E-Learning Network (EDEN) as Project Manager (earlier Project Co-ordinator). Pedro Fernández Michels is researcher in the Open University of Catalonia (UOC) and teacher for German as a foreign language. He has been working in the field of education and language acquisition since 1990 and started implementing virtual learning environments for language courses in 2004. He holds a B.A. in German and Spanish Philology, a Postgraduate Degree in Didactics for German as a Foreign Language and a Máster in E-Learning, specialized in instructional design. Morten Flate Paulsen is Professor of Online Education and Director of Development at NKI Distance Education in Norway. He is currently member of the Executive Committee of the European Distance and E-learning Network (EDEN). He has worked with online education since 1986 and published many books, reports and articles about the topic. Many of his publications and presentations are available at his personal homepage at http://home.nettskolen.com/~morten/. His book Online Education and Learning Management Systems is available via www.studymentor.com. Marianne Poumay is the Director of LabSET at the University of Liège. LabSET is the Support Laboratory for Telematic Learning (Laboratoire de Soutien à l’Enseignement Télématique) which targets the deployment of e-learning at the University of Liège and also at partner organisations in Belgium and Europe. She has a staff of 35 engaged in research and development of e-learning. She is the coordinator of the Masters programme in Higher Education Pedagogy and specialises in higher education instructional design, innovations and e-learning. She has a Ph. D. in Education from the University of Liège in 2006, a Postgraduate Diploma in Educational Technology (2001) a Teaching degree for higher education: Agrégation de l’enseignement supérieur pour les disciplines psychopédagogiques (1987) and a Masters in Educational Sciences (1987). Torstein Rekkedal is professor of distance education and Director of R & D at NKI Distance Education, Norway. He has worked in distance education research since 1970. He has produced a stream of research publications in the field of distance education and online learning. He has chaired the research committees of the European Association for Distance Learning (EADL) and the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE). In 2003 he was conferred honorary doctor of the British Open University for his research work in the field. He is presently chair of the standing committee for quality of the Norwegian

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Association for Distance and Flexible Education. Home page: http://home.nettskolen.com/~torstein/ Godehard Ruppert is President of the Otto-Friedrich-University Bamberg and President of the Bavarian Virtual University, Germany. Before he was elected as President he was professor for religious education at the universities of Hanover and Bamberg. He is presently chair of the Advisory Board of the German Higher Education Information System Company and Member of the Standing Committee for New Media and knowledge transfer of the German Rectors Conference. Home page: www.uni-bamberg.de/praesident/ Paul Rühl has been the Managing Director of the Bavarian Virtual University (vhb) since it was founded in 2000. From 1978 – 1986 he worked as chief lector in the field of self-directed studies and from 1978 – 1986 as a researcher in Education and Eastern European Studies. He holds a doctor’s degree in Linguistics/Foreign Language Acquisition. Albert Sangrà is full professor at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC), where he has been director for Methodology and Educational Innovation (1995-2004), in charge of the educational model of the university. He is currently the academic director of the Official Master s Degree in Education and ICT (e-learning). His main research interests are the use of ICT in education and training and quality in e-learning. He has played the role of consultant in several virtual training projects in Europe, America and Asia. He is currently member of the Executive Committee of the European Distance and E-learning Network (EDEN) and also member of the Advisory Board of the Portugal s Universidade Aberta. He got a Degree in Education at the Universitat de Barcelona, a Postgraduate Degree in Applications of Information Technology in ODE at The Open University of the UK and a Diploma on Strategic Use of IT in Education at Harvard University. Farina Steinert graduated in business administration. She has worked at the e-learning department of Lübeck University of Applied Sciences since 2005. She is project developer and responsible for the acquisition of third-party funding for e-learning activities. Her focus is on university re-engineering by means of development and operation of online study programmes. Furthermore, e-learning knowledge transfer to the private sector is current scope of activity. In this context, she is responsible for the conceptualisation of e-learning projects, the elaboration of proposals and public relations activities towards political stakeholders. She has given presentations at national and international e-learning conferences and disposes of comprehensive experience in project management.

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