The Greek philosopher Aristotle indicated that learning is the outcome of both teaching and practice. Clearly, learning is not confined to classroom lectures exclusively. In the past several decades, educators explored the possibility of providing learning experience to remote students. With improvement in technology and the growing popularity of Internet usage, e-learning caught the attention of both corporations and educational institutions. However, traditional learning methodology began transforming when elite universities embraced the Internet as a vehicle for their degree programs (Forelle, 2003). Progress in e-learning has increased its popularity in the past decade (Levy & Murphy, 2002). Consequently, it is carving a new brand of universities, causing traditional schools to rethink their business model. Furthermore, some elite schools have developed specialized online degree and certificate programs. In doing so, these schools strive to compete on this new learning medium and create a new source of revenue, especially due to the declining enrollment and lower government funding resulting from the events on September 11, 2001 (Roueche, Roueche, & Johnson, 2002). This paper provides definitions of the eight key elements any institution should have to successfully implement self-funding e-learning systems.
In the past few decades, universities and colleges were facing growing demands to graduate qualified students. At the same time, however, universities and colleges were faced with increased demand by local communities and governments to provide more scholarships and financial aid for local students, in spite of the reduction in financial support allocated to academic institutions (Cusick, 2003). As a result, higher education administrators have been seeking to increase their overall revenues from corporate sponsors and investors by crafting specialized degree and certificate programs. Not surprisingly, universities and colleges have been relying on international students to compensate by admitting a large number of full-fee-paying foreign students (Surek, 2000). Since this has become such an important revenue stream, many business schools have gone beyond designing attractive specialized programs for international students and even collaborated with international universities around the world to create joint programs.
In the post-September 11, 2001 era, since some of the hijackers came to the United States (U.S.) on student visas, new tougher INS regulations were installed to control and evaluate the issuing of student visas. These new regulations dramatically affect the amount of international students seeking U.S. education. That impact is a result of a decrease in overall student visas issued by the INS and the sluggish process of new student visa seekers. At the same time, current international students already in the U.S. were forced to return to their home country and reapply for student visas under the new regulations, while waiting months on end for permission to come back. As a result, online learning programs have become an alternative solution for international students seeking U.S. academic degrees.
In the past few years, information and communication technologies (ICT), such as online learning, grabbed the attention of many higher education administrators. In the late 1980s, Canadian schools invested enormous amounts of time and resources to develop learning programs for a distance delivery. U.S. schools quickly followed, with some top business schools like Duke and Michigan implementing online learning programs in the 1990s. As the use of the Internet increased during the second half of the 1990s, many other U.S. universities – headed by their business and engineering schools – implemented online learning programs, where almost all include one version or another of MBA programs (Davids-Landau, 2000; Forelle, 2003).
Key Terms in this Chapter
E-Learning Support and Development Team: The team includes: program director, a program coordinator or assistant, instructional designer, system administrator(s), multiple developers/programmers, multiple support staff (for faculty and students), graphics and video production artist and marketing coordinators.
Over Tuition Fee: An assessed fee charged for certain classes on top of current state fees to cover the special expenses such a course or program accrued.
E-Learning System: The technological and management system that facilitates and enables students learning via the Internet.
Administrative and Institutional Support: All the benefits students enjoy when they are on campus, but in a format that is available via Internet or Web, beyond the access to e-learning courses and interactions with the professor. These include e-registration, e-financial aid, e-library, e-bookstore, e-advisors, e-student organizations and virtual communities.
E-Learning Program: The entire organizational, technological and administrative structure that enables students’ learning via Internet.
Quality Assurance of E-Learning Program: The inspection and maintenance of a high-quality program based on two major components: 1) the pedagogy aspect and the effectiveness of the learning experience; and 2) the technology aspect and the quality of the online course.
Policies and Procedures of E-Learning Program: A set of guidelines and requirements for faculty to be able to teach online and for students in order to learn online. These may include for faculty: teaching requirements, new faculty hire mentorship, new course development, facilitating an online course and student issues. For students: a minimum technical proficiency, new students’ orientation, grievance process and online student code of conduct.
E-Learning Program Strategic Plan: The blueprint of the e-learning program implementation process that also includes foreseeable problems and solutions to such challenges.