Higher Education, usually very slow in adopting changes, has become, in recent years, more receptive to them due to such external factors as expansion of the Internet, emergence of a new student body, and continued decline in government subsidies (Forlkers, 2005). E-learning is defined as the transmission of knowledge whereby the instructor and/or the student participate in the learning process from different places and/or different times (Henry, 2001). Many organizations have adopted e-learning with a hope to make learning process faster and better (Roshan, 2002, Needham & Thomas, 2005). However, recent studies have revealed that about 85% of students participating in e-learning and distance education fall short of completing their program. Low completion leads to low retention, which leads to low performance (Land, 2002). The problem, exacerbated by rapid changes in Information Technology, affects both the universities and the students. The university faculty attempts to deal with these radical technological and managerial changes by scaling instructions down to merely an automated text lectures with primary focus on the delivery of instructional materials ignoring other students’ needs. For students, e-learning may result in a limited experience coupled with little-known technologies for which they need extra guidance and ongoing support. The fundamental challenge is how to employ this new technology to provide students with the help they need when they need it (Gordon, 2003; Roberts, April, 2001; Sherbon, November, 2005).
Background: Change Management
Change is the driving force of progress, but peoples’ reactions to change are often irrational and defensive. Thus, change management is an essential part of business evolution and advancement. According to Fred Nickols (2004), change management should focus on the following three issues:
The task of managing change is internal but usually triggered by external factors. Changes prompted by implementation of e-learning practices must be anticipated in advance. However, universities often do not have any planned responses.
E-learning is a highly specialized customer-oriented business, which requires methodological support; one important aspect of such support is to have a planned change management.
A body of knowledge needs to have content and process. It is one thing, for instance, to introduce e-learning courses for professional advancement or continuing education in a corporate center or at a Continuing Education division. It is quite another thing to introduce a linked set of e-learning courses with pre-requisites in an online university. It is, yet again, a different one to introduce a blended e-learning and traditional curriculum with pre-requisite courses being either online or traditional type.
Generally, the scope of organizational change may vary from organization-wide to a narrow departmental or group level. Examples of organization-wide changes include modification of the organization’s mission, restructuring of the operations, and introduction of new technologies and programs. E-learning should be viewed as an organization-wide transformation.
Usually the most significant changes in the way a higher education institution operates are motivated by factors such as substantial cuts or infusion of funding, technological innovations, actions by competitors, and need for dramatic increases in services.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Core Groups: Core groups stands for the repositories of knowledge, influence, and power in organizations.
Information Technology: Information Technology is defined as the use of hardware, software, services, and supporting infrastructure to handle and deliver information using voice, data, and video.
Curriculum: A comprehensive overview of what students should learn, how they will learn it, what role the instructor is playing, and the framework in which learning and teaching will take place.
Change Management: Change Management is an organized application of knowledge, tools, and resources that helps organizations to achieve their business strategy.
Strategy: It is an elaborate and systematic plan of action to achieve a goal or objective.
Methodology: The theoretical analysis of guidelines, measures, and rules appropriate to a discipline.
E-Learning: E-learning is the transmission of knowledge whereby the instructor and/or students participating in the learning process are in different places and/or located at different times.