When you’re planning online courses, the first thing you’ll need to consider is the type of technologies your institution can provide.
One of the benefits of using institutional technologies is that central services are already set up to help staff and students with training and technical support, although these may need adapting for online learning.
Your institution may have already invested in new technologies because they support a number of functions, including data management, recording student activity and achievement, and compliance with legal requirements.
Importantly, these technologies may also have been chosen and implemented to support campus-based courses. Teaching departments may be under some pressure to use them to support online learning too.
It may be difficult to use some institutional technologies in an online context without extending student support activities, for example across time zones or to cover out of office hours. Decisions relating to curriculum design may conflict with existing policies and services that support institutional technologies.
For example, online students or industry professionals may not be able to easily access institutional technologies requiring authentication.
Institutional technologies for online learning and any associated content also belong to the institution. This can be a problem because students may not be able to access their work once they have finished their course.
This is a particular problem for e-portfolio systems and alumni professional development portfolios. Your institution will need to strike a balance between the potential costs and benefits of adapting existing policies, technical systems and support services.
Plymouth University, for example, made several adaptations to their systems to create a seamless digital learning environment1.
Adopting a strategic approach
When implementing online learning it is important to adopt a strategic approach to IT developments. Enterprise architecture (EA) offers an approach to help senior managers achieve business and organisational change. EA offers a way to record and understand how the various systems, processes, people and operational mechanisms of an institution work as a whole.
Our enterprise architecture guide offers practical tools to help institutions adopt this kind of technique.
Scaling up online learning offers a perfect opportunity for institutions to use EA to identify strengths and gaps. This kind of approach also allows for consideration of resource implications in terms of cost and human resources.
Our costing technologies and services guide offers tools and approaches that can help institutions with this process.
For online learning, the “cloud” offers a shared pool of configurable computing resources (eg, networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can offer a range of benefits. Our cloud computing guide highlights the potential benefits of the cloud for educational institutions.
It can support them to:
- Make new services available and adopt them quickly to allow institutions to respond to user needs in an agile way
- Provide flexible, on-demand services any time, any place, any device
- Reduce cost, and benefit from shared services
- Reduce energy consumption.
It also considers some of the risks associated with cloud computing.
Our report on the future of cloud computing considers the implications for educational institutions and offers some success stories.
|Barriers||What you can do|
|Staff lack the skills to integrate new technologies into teaching practice||Provide staff training and support|
|Offer staff mentoring|
|Students lack the skills to integrate new technologies into their learning||Incorporate digital literacies into the curriculum|
|Incorporate digital storytelling and digital identity aspects into the curriculum|
|Provide additional support to online learners.|
- 1 A seamless digital learning environment at Plymouth University - http://www.digitalstudent.jiscinvolve.org/wp/files/2015/01/DS14-A-seamle...
- 2 Bloomsbury Media Cloud Project - http://www.jiscinfonetcasestudies.pbworks.com/w/page/47398018/Bloomsbury...