IT systems support various institutional functions that have an impact on online learning:
- Administrative - course information, student information, staff information, tracking (analytics)
- Research - repositories, access to online research journals
- Learning and teaching - VLEs, e-portfolios, online assessments
If these were originally developed to support campus-based courses and learners, they may need adapting for online learning. Your institution should also make sure that online students have the right level of support to use them effectively.
You should adopt a strategic approach to IT developments and enterprise architecture (EA). Our guide offers practical guidance and tools to help institutions record and understand how the various systems, processes, people and operational mechanisms of an institution work as a whole.
Using EA to consider how to scale up online learning helps to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your institution. This kind of approach highlights resource implications; our costing technologies and services guide suggests tools and methods that can help institutions with this process.
Our cloud computing guide describes some of the benefits and risks of accessing networks, servers, storage, applications and services in the cloud. Services in the cloud can make content easier to access, and resources easier to discover, so have the potential to improve online learning provision to global audiences.
Our technology and tools for online learning guide considers the range of these available, along with some of the issues that your institution may have when integrating institutional and external services.
|Barriers||What you can do|
|IT services may be concerned about security and online students’ access to institutional systems||Involve IT staff in early discussions around proposed changes|
|Provide staff training in technical support for online students|
|Highlight the benefits of any changes for students and the institution|
|Make sure that institutional strategy and policy includes online learning, as this gives a clear signal of institutional commitment to change|
|IT services are reluctant to allow use of non-institutional technologies||Develop a policy document for online learning that articulates the benefits of using non-institutional technologies|
|Provide evidence (from initial pilots) of how these technologies enhance the student experience and how they might contribute to branding and marketing|
|Obtain senior management buy-in|