Key words E learning project management distance education organizational

Key words e learning project management distance

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Key words: E-learning, project management, distance education, organizational culture, online learning, academic freedom Modern distance education occupies a curious position in conventional higher education be- cause it is industrial and managerial in nature yet it is embedded in institutions that are gener- ally characterized as collegial. Developing and teaching distance education courses has been likened to a manufacturing assembly line in which the process is broken down into compon- ent parts and each is handled separately (Peters, 1994). While this analogy may be a bit extreme, the general principle of division of labour does apply as does the generally managerial approach to organizing the work involved in developing and delivering distance education. This makes distance education an odd fit in conventional higher education institutions because this is an organizational context that generally resists management in the convention- al sense. Instead it values a collegial organiza- tional culture in which academics guard their autonomy and resist the notion of being man- aged or accepting direction. Distance education has thus always been a bit of a thorn in the side of higher education. Universities, in particular, have never been sure how it should be organized since it straddles disciplinary boundaries and the boundary between the academic and support worlds of the university. With the growth of e-learning, this issue has become even more critical. E-learning, with its much greater emphasis on the use of costly technologies, depends even more heavily on the use of careful planning and the use of a manag- erial approach. Thus the potential for tension and conflict between the two organization cul- tures is even greater. In this chapter I will ex- plore some of the issues that we face in attempt- ing to use a project management approach to develop e-learning in conventional higher education institutions. The E-Learning Continuum To begin, I would like to explain what I mean by e-learning, because it is a term that is used to mean different things to different people. Without a clear understanding of the term, it will not be apparent why I suggest that project management is essential for the effective devel- opment and implementation of e-learning. For me, e-learning is a broad term that encompasses
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170 a variety of educational contexts in which technology is used to enhance or facilitate learning. I find it useful to think of e-learning as a continuum, as illustrated in figure 1. Here we see fully face-to-face teaching at one extreme and fully distance teaching at the other extreme. E-learning describes all of these types of teaching and learning. As we move along the continuum from fully face- to-face teaching, more and more technology is used to replace the face-to-face elements.
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