There may already be small pockets of online learning happening in your institution. Some departments may be further ahead than others and may have already developed policies to support online learning.
Online learning audit
An institutional audit can help to determine what online learning models currently exist. It will highlight which curriculum approaches have been adopted, what technologies are being used, and how departments provide student support. The audit should also consider the impact on staff and identify what kinds of training and support are needed.
This also provides an opportunity to recognise and reward good practice. Identifying 'champions' of online learning within your institution is a useful way to engage other staff.
Institution wide approach
To scale up online learning effectively, your organisation will need to adopt an institution-wide approach. It should take account of market intelligence and external factors, and then develop a coherent plan towards implementation.
Taking an institution-wide approach doesn't mean that all courses should be online, but refers to the planning and decision-making process. Your institution's market intelligence should highlight which online learning models are most appropriate for different markets.
Engage in conversations
Once your institution has decided which models are most appropriate, it will need to engage in conversations across departments and central services to make everyone aware of the implications that scaling up online learning will have on their activities.
The hierarchical nature of educational institutions can hinder an institution-wide approach, as traditional communication channels may limit cross-departmental conversations.
To ensure that online students have a high-quality learning experience your institution may need to consider changing existing support structures and services. Our guide to technology implications of mergers and restructures considers ways to facilitate structural changes that will result from taking new strategic directions.
There is likely to be a need to develop new partnerships within the organisation as well as new relationships with partners outside the institution.
Online learning offers an opportunity to work with external partners on course design and activities. This engagement will mean the institution will need to consider and clarify issues around content ownership, teaching and support roles.
Your institution will have to consider the following aspects to ensure a planned approach to scaling up online learning. The first nine areas are discussed in this guide; the last two are covered in our two accompanying guides.
- Understanding the market
- Selecting appropriate and sustainable business models
- Adapting or developing strategies and policies to support online learning
- Providing equitable and high quality educational and support services for both online and face-to-face students
- Identifying how online learning impacts on current resourcing, particularly staffing
- Legal aspects, particularly issues around ownership and licensing
- Managing risks around innovation
- What kinds of new relationships might emerge
- Planning for changes to operational and administrative systems and services
- Considering curriculum approaches for online learning, whilst accepting that different subject disciplines may require specific methods
- Identifying how existing institutional technologies and services support online learning and balancing these with external web-based and cloud technologies
|Barriers||What you can do|
|Poor institution-wide dialogue and collaboration||Create institution-wide forums for discussion and sharing|
|Establish collaborative approaches across faculty and departments|
|Facilitate cross-faculty staff engagement activities|
|Aim to get senior management buy-in and support|