Advancing E-Learning Policy and Practice: Influences on Academics' Adoption, Integration and Development of Multimodal E-Learning Courses

Advancing E-Learning Policy and Practice: Influences on Academics' Adoption, Integration and Development of Multimodal E-Learning Courses

Dawn Birch (University of Southern Queensland, Australia) and Bruce Burnett (Queensland University of Technology, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-358-6.ch005
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Tertiary education is increasingly a contested space where advances in Information Communications Technologies and their application to technology-mediated e-learning environments have forced university administrators and educators to dislocate themselves from traditional correspondence modes of student engagement. Compounding this paradigmatic shift within the traditional sphere of distance education pedagogy are multiple and conflicting pressures on academics to develop flexible, engaging, cost-effective and sustainable interactive learning resources that incorporate both multimedia and hypermedia. This chapter reports on a study that examined factors that influence educators’ decision to adopt and integrate educational technology and convert traditional print-based distance education materials into interactive multimodal e-learning formats. Although the broader study was conducted in a single Australian university and investigated pedagogical, institutional and individual factors, this chapter restricts its focus to solely the pedagogical motivations and concerns of educators. It is argued that findings from the study have significance at the institutional level, particularly in terms of developing an underlying pedagogical rationale that can permeate the e-learning culture throughout the university, while at the same time, providing a roadmap for educators who are yet to fully engage with the e-learning format.
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Advances in Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) and their application within e-learning have forced the university distance education sector to increasingly dislocate itself from traditional correspondence modes of student engagement. This transformation is multifaceted and has occurred not only in reaction to paradigmatic shifts in pedagogical and technical orientation, but has also occurred as a result of broader neoliberal economic adjustments that have seen e-learning increasingly commodified and interpreted within the narrow confines of flexibility and cost-effectiveness. This chapter centres on the experience of a major Australian distance education provider, the University of Southern Queensland (USQ), where in 2003, academics commenced the process of converting traditional static print-based distance education materials into multimodal courses that were heavily – though not solely – reliant upon e-learning technologies. This chapter examines this conversion process, and discusses factors that have influenced educators’ exploration and integration of new technologies within USQ’s distinctive distance education environment.

By analysing what influences academics’ adoption, integration and development of multimodal e-learning courses the chapter helps focus discussion on e-learning and its relationship to pedagogy. Explicitly, the chapter taps into individual educators’ understandings of pedagogy and tracks how such understandings are linked to the critical decision to integrate and embrace multimodal e-learning. Clearly the focus of the chapter is of benefit to practicing educators, however, the chapter has also been written in the hope it can be of use to policy makers who may be charged with the task of bringing onside resistant educators who remain sceptical about the benefits of e-learning. In line with these goals, the chapter can be used by educators to better contextualise their teaching within e-learning environments while also providing guidance for e-learning at the institutional policy level.

The chapter is based on an in-depth review of e-learning within the context the USQ, an institution that has historically been heavily reliant upon the provision of distance education. This institution’s transition from a predominately print-based distance education provider to its current blended format of virtual, print and face-to-face modes of delivery provides a unique window through which to view policy and pedagogical transformation. The qualitative study on which this chapter is based identified a range of pedagogical stimuli that influence academics’ development of multimodal courses including: catering to the learning needs of different students; improving learning outcomes, retention and progression rates; challenging students to become learner-centred, self-directed, resourceful and independent learners; replicating aspects of the on-campus experience; engaging students in the learning experience; revitalising the curriculum; and providing a rich learning environment for e-learning students.

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List of Reviewers
Table of Contents
Markku Markkula
Mark Stansfield, Thomas Connolly
Chapter 1
Lalita Rajasingham
This chapter contributes to the ongoing discussion on current best practice and trends in e-learning and virtual classes in higher education. With... Sample PDF
The E-Learning Phenomenon: A New University Paradigm?
Chapter 2
Yukiko Inoue
An important task of higher education is to assist students in participating in an increasingly global economy. This global economy is transforming... Sample PDF
Linking Self-Directed Lifelong Learning and E-Learning: Priorities for Institutions of Higher Education
Chapter 3
Lars-Erik Jonsson, Roger Säljö
The academic seminar can be seen as the core of university culture. In a seminar, claims to knowledge – presented in an essay and/or orally – are... Sample PDF
The Online Seminar as Enacted Practice
Chapter 4
Stefan Hrastinski, Christina Keller, Jörgen Lindh
The transition from learning on campus to e-learning presents many challenges. One of the key challenges is the organisational culture, which may... Sample PDF
Is E-Learning Used for Enhancing Administration or Learning? On the Implications of Organisational Culture
Chapter 5
Dawn Birch, Bruce Burnett
Tertiary education is increasingly a contested space where advances in Information Communications Technologies and their application to... Sample PDF
Advancing E-Learning Policy and Practice: Influences on Academics' Adoption, Integration and Development of Multimodal E-Learning Courses
Chapter 6
Gill Kirkup
This chapter argues that e-learning innovation is best done in an environment that allows for small scale experimentation and development and that... Sample PDF
Flying under the Radar: The Importance of Small Scale E-Learning Innovation within Large-Scale Institutional E-Learning Implementation
Chapter 7
Albert Sangrà, Lourdes Guàrdia, Pedro Fernández-Michels
This chapter presents the findings of an in-depth analysis through several qualitative research studies, pointing out the key issues in relation to... Sample PDF
Matching Technology, Organisation and Pedagogy in E-Learning: Looking for the Appropriate Balance Leading to Sustainability and Effectiveness
Chapter 8
Irene le Roux, Karen Lazenby, Dolf Jordaan
The University of Pretoria (UP) implemented a virtual campus in 1999. The measure in which and rate at which the virtual campus environment was... Sample PDF
E-Learning and Virtual Campus Development: From Innovation to Sustainability
Chapter 9
Morten Flate Paulsen
This chapter presents an analysis of 26 European megaproviders of e-learning which had more than 100 courses or 5000 course enrolments in 2005. The... Sample PDF
An Analysis of European Megaproviders of E-Learning: Recommendations for Robustness and Sustainability
Chapter 10
Mark Stansfield, Thomas Connolly
This chapter will outline a set of guiding principles underpinning key issues in the promotion of best practice in virtual campuses. The work was... Sample PDF
Guiding Principles for Identifying and Promoting Best Practice in Virtual Campuses
Chapter 11
Helena Bijnens, Ilse Op de Beeck, Johannes De Gruyter, Wim Van Petegem, Sally Reynolds, Paul Bacsich, Theo Bastiaens
The chapter first describes the concepts of virtual campus and virtual mobility and refers to several past and present projects and initiatives in... Sample PDF
Reviewing Traces of Virtual Campuses: From a Fully Online Virtual Campus to a Blended Model
Chapter 12
Ron Cörvers, Joop de Kraker
The main objective of this chapter is to highlight the importance of subsidiarity in the development of a virtual campus. Subsidiarity is the... Sample PDF
Virtual Campus Development on the Basis of Subsidiarity: The EVS Approach
Chapter 13
George Ubachs, Christina Brey
In higher education, international student mobility has become increasingly important for learners as well as for institutions. But today’s mobility... Sample PDF
From Virtual Mobility to Virtual Erasmus: Offering Students Courses and Services without Boundaries
Chapter 14
Yuri Kazepov, Giovanni Torris
Starting from the increasingly widespread need to develop effective teaching in complex transnational settings, this chapter presents an innovative... Sample PDF
Blending Virtual Campuses Managing Differences through Web 2.0 Experiences in Transnational Cooperation Projects
Chapter 15
François Fulconis, Thierry Garrot
In the restructuring and reforming of European education, e-learning has become one of the priorities of the Ministry of Education, Higher Education... Sample PDF
Network Organisation to Improve Virtual Campus Management: Key Factors from a French Experience
Chapter 16
Luca Botturi, Lorenzo Cantoni, Benedetto Lepori, Stefano Tardini
This chapter presents a successful Swiss experience in developing and effectively managing virtual campus projects: eLab, the eLearning Laboratory... Sample PDF
Developing and Managing an Effective Virtual Campus: The eLab Experience in the Swiss Higher Education Context
Chapter 17
Christoph Brox
In three projects funded by the European Commission (EC), European and Latin-American project partners have developed, improved, and successfully... Sample PDF
A Business Model for the Exchange of E-Learning Courses in an International Network
About the Contributors