Building an Online Undergraduate Module from a Graduate Module: A Case Study

Building an Online Undergraduate Module from a Graduate Module: A Case Study

Paul Darbyshire (Victoria University, Australia) and Geoffrey A. Sandy (Victoria University, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1655-4.ch021
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The challenge for the School of Information Systems is to develop successful alternate programs of study for the growing minority of students who require the flexibility that these programs can offer.
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Organization Background

Victoria University is a relatively new university, being formed as recently as 1992 from the merger of two former Institutes of Technology. The recent addition of the Western Melbourne Institute of Technical and Further Education, which was previously involved primarily with industrial training, has made Victoria University into one of Australia’s largest universities. It is one of only five dual-sector universities catering to a wide range of tertiary students from the central and western suburbs of Melbourne. Victoria University has over 50,000 students and over 3,000 staff, along with more than 2,300 international students studying both offshore and onshore.

The School of Information Systems conducts undergraduate and graduate courses in a diverse range, including the core Bachelor of Business (Information Systems), Electronic Commerce, and specialist joint degrees in Arts Multimedia, Music Industry and Electronic Commerce, Marketing/ Electronic Commerce, and Law/Electronic Commerce. Graduate degrees include the Master degrees in Information Systems and Enterprise Resource Planning. Within these degrees, the school offers a very diverse range of subjects. Some are quite technical in nature while others are much more generally business-related. On average, students tend to mix electives across both ends of this spectrum. The latest technology is used in all information systems degrees and joint degrees.

As a new and rapidly changing technological institution, Victoria University has been very conscious of the need to continually reevaluate its curriculum, and to look for new ways of best providing for the needs of its students and the business community that it serves, in a cost-effective manner. The location of the University and the general demographics of the students undertaking study often mean that many students, including full-time students, are engaged in part-time employment. Anecdotal evidence previously suggested a changing profile for undergraduate students, where many continue to work part-time while studying. However, the increasing level of student employment is now documented as a wider trend in the community (ABS, 2004). There are also many mature-age students returning to study to gain an undergraduate degree. Thus, the changing profile of the student population dictates a need for more flexibility.

Victoria University does not yet have a coherent approach to online learning. The University does have a Center for Educational Development and Support (CEDS) that has a small team promoting online learning initiatives throughout the University. However, at the ”coal face,” most efforts by academic staff are hybrid efforts consisting of traditional face-to-face teaching supported by Web sites with posted downloadable files, or further learning materials. This is not an indictment on the staff, but a reflection on busy schedules and the wider lack of penetration of online learning into undergraduate teaching.

Victoria University is currently engaged in a number of activities through CEDS (Center for Educational Development & Support) to promote and incorporate online teaching into the undergraduate curriculum. A number of small internal University grants were established to promote these activities, and the efforts described in this case study are a result of one such grant.

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