Guiding Principles for Identifying and Promoting Best Practice in Virtual Campuses

Guiding Principles for Identifying and Promoting Best Practice in Virtual Campuses

Mark Stansfield (University of the West of Scotland, UK) and Thomas Connolly (University of the West of Scotland, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-358-6.ch010
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This chapter will outline a set of guiding principles underpinning key issues in the promotion of best practice in virtual campuses. The work was conducted as part of the “Promoting Best Practice in Virtual Campuses” (PBP-VC) project that is aimed at identifying underlying issues and examples of best practice in providing a better understanding into virtual campus development and sustainability. The PBP-VC project was a two year European Commission Education Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA) co-financed project running from March 2007 to February 2009. The PBP-VC project team have worked with key stakeholders from virtual campus projects across Europe and globally in identifying and exploring key issues relating to best practice. The importance of developing a practical set of guiding principles for identifying, evaluating and promoting best practice in virtual campuses and e-learning can be demonstrated by the significant number of high profile e-learning and virtual campus failures that have occurred over the last decade both within Europe and globally at great financial cost. This chapter will highlight key enablers and inhibitors to success, provide a description of the different elements comprising the guiding principles in the promotion of best practice, as well as describing a tentative four level model aimed at illustrating different levels of virtual campus maturity in the achievement of sustainability and organisational transformation.
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Within the context of the European Union, over the last 5 years there has been a significant increase in the growth of virtual campus projects and initiatives that have been co-financed by the Education Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). In total there have been more than twenty virtual campus related projects covering areas such virtual mobility, teacher training, the economics of e-learning and the reuse and sharing of e-learning courses. Whilst there is no universally accepted definition of the term ‘virtual campus’, the EACEA (2006) consider a virtual campus to encompass cooperation among a number of higher education institutions in the field of e-learning in relation to the design and development of joint curricula that are based on online and traditional learning methods. A virtual learning environment by itself or the provision of an e-learning programme within a single higher education institution would not be defined by the EACEA as a virtual campus. To qualify as a virtual campus, the initiative would have to include a number of partners which could comprise higher education institutions, as well as other teaching and learning related organisations who through a partnership agreement, cooperate in the development and implementation of joint curricula based on e-learning or blended learning delivery. Although virtual campus projects and initiatives may differ in terms of their model of delivery, e-learning issues such as those relating to e-learning technology and e-learning pedagogy play a key role in the development and delivery of joint curricula provided by a virtual campus (EACEA, 2006).

In terms of e-learning and virtual campus-related initiatives more generally, at both European and global levels there have been a number of problems and weaknesses that have beset high profile initiatives that have led to their ultimate failure. Keegan et al., (2007) identify several high profile e-learning initiatives across the world that received significant external funding but failed to reach their targeted goals. Such initiatives included the UK E-University which ran from 2000-2004 with an expenditure of £50million, the Alliance for Lifelong Learning (US and UK) that ran from 2000-2006 with an expenditure of $27million, and the Competence Network of Norwegian Business and Industry (NKN) that ran from 2000-2002 with an expenditure of €7-9million. Common issues that led to the downfall of such large-scale initiatives were identified by Keegan et al., (2007) as including overly ambitious plans in relation to the potential student market, a lack of financial planning in relation to revenue and expenses, and a lack of planning in relation to the management of both education and business activities.

In relation to European Commission co-financed virtual campus related projects, the EACEA (2005) identified certain key issues that they consider influence a successful outcome. It was felt that virtual campuses generally have very little contact and interoperability with each other due to a lack of awareness about other virtual campuses, as well as a lack of self promotion/dissemination activities by virtual campuses. As a result it was recommended that more support be provided for a systematic critical review of existing virtual campuses and a greater sharing of know-how, particularly in supporting the dissemination of replicable solutions for establishing virtual campuses and bringing together a community of decision-makers involved in setting up virtual campuses. It was with these recommendations in mind that in 2006 the ‘Promoting Best Practice in Virtual Campuses (PBP-VC)’ project was developed and subsequently received co-financing from the EACEA.

Complete Chapter List

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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
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