The Centralisation Dilemma in Educational IT
Martin Weller (The Open University, UK)
Copyright © 2012.
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The trend with organisational adoption of virtual learning environments (VLE) seems to be cyclical. Initially, a decentralised approach was adopted, wherein each department implemented different learning environments or mixtures of technology, often developed in-house. The last five years have seen an increased centralisation of learning environment implementation, with most universities adopting a single VLE. However, in more recent times the proliferation of free, easy-to-use third party tools that fulfil a range of functions has seen a desire amongst some educators to return to a more decentralised model of technology provision, by supporting Personal Learning Environments (PLE). This paper examines the issues surrounding both a centralised and decentralised model. These include pedagogic, support, financial, reliability, data and technical issues. The conclusion is that although the fully individualised PLE may not be possible or desirable in higher education, maintaining separate, often inferior versions of commonly available software is not a sustainable position.