Moving e-Learning Forward: A Study of the Impact of the Continual Changing Landscape of e-Learning

Moving e-Learning Forward: A Study of the Impact of the Continual Changing Landscape of e-Learning

Deb Gearhart
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0877-9.ch005
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The purpose of the chapter is to incorporate current research into a review of the administration of an e-Learning program at a traditional university. The study reviews the background for a strategic online administrator, reviews the challenges of integrating e-Learning in a traditional institution, and review models for developing the e-Learning program of the future. The research review demonstrates the need for a strong, strategic e-Learning administrator to champion e-Learning within the institution. Literature supports the need for enrollment growth, providing services to faculty and students, to deal with internal and external constituents and the need for continuous quality improvement. Models are provided to the readers.
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eLearning is an ever changing area of higher education. The chapter discusses how a traditional institution moves forward with developing an eLearning program. In this chapter, the emphasis will be on program administration of the areas to be covered by an eLearning unit, primarily the services to be provided to faculty and students, developing effective eLearning partnerships, addressing state authorization and federal regulations, preparing for accreditation, and using data for decision-making.

The goals of the chapter are to:

  • Provide the readers with models for strategic online administration of eLearning in a decentralized institution.

  • Address the challenges facing eLearning integration into a traditional institution.

  • Discuss developing and implementing an eLearning continuous improvement strategy.

  • Look at the future trends that will play a role in higher education and eLearning.


Strategic Concerns For E-Learning

In a recent keynote address, Gary Miller (2015) noted,

In today’s world, education is no longer about the one-way transfer of knowledge from teacher to student. Today’s world demands an education in which students actively seek out information, evaluate it, and turn it into knowledge, and then apply that knowledge to address problems or situations.” He pointed out “Online learning is not simply a new educational technology…but rather the way that higher education can adapt to the new demands that has arisen as the Information Revolution and matured in a Global Information Society (p. 5).

As eLearning programs have grown over the past decade, to meet the demands of the Information Revolution, institutions look to improve the quality of their online programs by mainstreaming eLearning in the institution. This is done through a strong eLearning program managed by a strong leader. In fact, according to Shelton and Saltsman (2005), in order for an online program to be integrated and accepted on a campus it needs a champion and strong leader. Research has acknowledged three types of distance education leaders: a transformational leader, a situational leader and a systemic. In Table 1, Shelton & Saltsman describe the three types of distance education leaders.

Table 1.
Three types of distance education leaders
Transformational leaderReaches major stakeholders, administrators and faculty, to explain how online works, the changes in teaching and learning.
Situational leaderAssesses and prepares an institution for online learning. This leader is adaptable and flexible, being able to work with stakeholders to bring online leaning to fruition.
Systemic leaderIs a relationship manager, taking a holistic approach to moving the institution forward in online learning.

(Shelton & Saltsman, 2005)

Key Terms in this Chapter

Student Support: Distance learning programs offer online student support services, such as online advising and registration, e-counseling, online textbook purchases, library services, tutoring, career placement, ADA support, among other services.

Faculty Support: Resources - staff, training, budgetary resources, equipment, software, etc. provided to faculty to support teaching, learning, research and assessment. In this chapter the teaching emphasis is on online and blended teaching.

Leadership: A holistic concept with many variations, however for the purposes of this chapter leadership is provided by person(s) with appropriate skills sets to lead institutions of higher education; who oversee the administration of the institution.

Strategic Planning: The process an institution uses to develop its direction and the plan developed to implement that direction; a strategic plan has inputs, activities, outputs and outcomes which are used to assess the progress and success of the strategic plan.

E-Learning: A synonymous term to distance education, online learning, distance learning.

Administration: University administration is the backbone of the institution responsible for the maintenance and supervision of the institution and separate from the faculty oversight, although some personnel may have joint responsibilities.

Models: A representation of a system using general rules and concepts; a representation of entities and relationships between them

Institutions: The term is used to cover colleges, universities and other postsecondary education establishments.

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