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Does “e” Stand for Everything? Maggie McPherson University of Sheffield Department Information Studies Outline of Session Introduction eLearning Discussion of Issues Workshop Debate Focus group activity Summary & Conclusions Introduction Background Personal experience of e-Learning

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Does “e” Stand for Everything?

Maggie McPherson

University of Sheffield

Department Information Studies

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Outline of Session

  • Introduction

  • eLearning

    • Discussion of Issues

  • Workshop Debate

    • Focus group activity

  • Summary & Conclusions

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  • Personalexperience of e-Learning

  • Involved in Distance Ed for over ten years

  • Currently doing ongoing research in e-Learning

  • Collaborative work with Dr Miguel Nunes

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Issues to be addressed

  • Define Critical Success Factors in Context

  • Organisational and Management Issues

  • Technological Issues

  • Curriculum Development Issues

  • Educational Systems Design Issues

  • eLearning Delivery Issues

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Definitions of CSFs:

  • “Critical success factors are those handful of things that within someone’s job must go right for the organisation to flourish. They are factors that the manager wishes to keep a constant eye upon.”

    Robson (1997 p.155)

  • “Critical success factors are those components of strategy where the organisation must excel to out perform competition.”

    Johnson and Scholes (1999 p.192)

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Critical Success Factor (CSFs) Analysis

  • An established management research method, first proposed by Rockhart in 1979, as a means ofidentifying the factors that are requiredfor an organisation to thrive.

  • In this session, however, this means looking at CSFs for eLearning identified by participants in previous workshops and attempting to reach a concensus on what the key factors might be

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Organisational Setting

  • Organisational Strategists and Policy Makers

  • Senior Managers and Administrators

  • Dept. Heads and Administrators



  • Computing Services (MLEs, VLEs, CMC)

  • Technicians to Support Teaching and Learning

Curriculum Development

  • Academic Staff

  • Educational Specialists

  • Subject Matter Experts

Educational Systems Design


  • Academic Staff

  • ICT Specialists

  • Educational Specialists

  • Academic Staff

  • Researchers

  • Tutors

  • Students

HEIs: E-Learning Stakeholders

McPherson & Nunes, 2004


Institutional Involvement




Academic Involvement

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eLearning Organisational Challenges

Strategic Issues at Cultural/Managerial Level:

  • Decisions for positioning of university

  • Need for explicit eLearning strategies

  • Lack of expertise in creating strategies

  • Human resources - opportunities and constraints

  • National funding - competition vs. co-operation

  • HE competition worldwide (e.g. US, Australia)

  • Corporate eLearning providers emerging

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eLearning Organisational Challenges

Implementation Issues:

  • Staff motivational issues need to be addressed

    • Customs and practice - barriers to change

    • HE Reward systems not aligned with teaching

    • Overcome academics “wariness” of new methods

    • Academic contracts may impede innovation

  • HE systems slow to change

    • Senior staff may lack “change management skills”

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eLearning Technologies

  • Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs)

  • Managed Learning Environments (MLEs)

  • Computer Medicated Communication (CMC)

  • Specific Teaching andLearningTools

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Learning Environments

  • Learning Environments are developed to:

    • address an identified learning need

    • resolve a particular educational problem

  • Learning Environments should be :

    • linked to the solution of the problem

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Learning Environments

  • Learning Environments are essentially constructs that promote learning by supporting interactions between:

    • the tutor

    • the learner and her/his peers

    • the subject matter, and the

    • learning materials

  • These interactions may, or may not, be computer mediated

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Virtual Learning Environments

VLEs should be conceived, designed and implemented using an appropriate Educational System Design (ESD) framework that ranges from curriculum design to course delivery

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Considerations for Development of VLEs, MLEs, and e-Learning Tools

  • In designing and developing these environments you need to consider:

    • Information, Communication Technology (ICT) vs. Face-to-Face (F2F) components

    • Technical issues, e.g. security

    • Educational and subject matter specialisms

    • Staff and support issues, e.g. IP

    • Strategic needs of the Institution

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Curriculum Development Tools

  • A curriculum can be defined as a“planned educational experience”

  • It is likely to involve:

    • Academic Staff

    • Educational Specialists

    • Subject Matter Experts

  • Designing a curriculum involves:

    • doing a needs analysis

    • deciding on initial team

    • analysing all stakeholders

    • deciding on learning objectives

    • allocating resources

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Curriculum Design Processes Tools

  • Designing an e-Learning curriculum involves:

    • doing a needs analysis

    • assessing suitability for eLearning

    • deciding on initial team

    • analysing all stakeholders

    • deciding on learning objectives

    • allocating resources

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Select a Suitable Pedagogical Model, e.g. Tools

  • Explicit Learning Materials

  • Course Materials

  • Case-Studies

  • Links to relevant Web Sites

  • Learning Activities

  • Individual Learning Activities

  • Group Learning Activities

  • Assessed Activities

Self Reflection

IndividualConstruction of Knowledge

Virtual Learning Environment

Social negotiation. Collaboration, Co-operation

Tutoring, Scaffolding and Pastoral Support

Peer Support,


The Tutor

The Learner

Nunes & McPherson (2002)

The Peers

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Tasks Tools

Environment for Course


Learning Models

Pedagogical Strategy


Pedagogical Tactics

Learning Outcomes

eLearning Curriculum Development

Pedagogical Model

Curriculum Design

McPherson & Nunes, 2004

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Educational Systems Design Tools

  • ESD mustfocus on:

    …… identifying and implementing a learning environment combining pedagogical, subject matter and tutoring issues

    (Moore, 1991; Croft, 1993, Nunes, 1999)

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Implementing ToolsESD

  • Recognize that complex e-learning environments means more than:

    • designing a few screens

    • specifying their sequence

  • Key to development of successful e-learning environments is:

    • recognising both technical and pedagogical components of educational design

    • integrating them in a coherent framework

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Implications for ESD Tools

  • The process of design and development is:

    • one of co-construction and negotiation,

    • rather than interpretation of student’s needs

  • Rapid prototypingis thought to be an ideal approach, which:

    • facilitates the integration of different agents in educational software development, i.e. subject matter experts, designers & students

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Educational Systems Design Tools

  • An ESDFramework:

  • Construction not Interpretation

  • Framework not a Methodology

  • Based on a Rapid Prototyping Approach

  • Recursive Design and Development

  • Required for Both Individual and Team-based Projects

Curriculum Design

Design and Specificationof the Learning Environment

Development of different components

Other Components

Reference materials

CMC facilities

Explicit Web Materials

Student and Tutor Feedback


Course Delivery

General ESD framework adapted from Croft (1993) and Nunes (1999)

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The eLearning Delivery ToolsDesign

  • Must consider:

    • target audience

    • studentbackground

    • delivery mode

  • Often needs a team approach:

    • Academic staff

    • Researchers

    • Tutors

    • Support staff

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Module One Tools

Module Two

Module Five

Online Tutor Training

Induction Module


Tutor Delivery and Support

Module One

Module Two

Module Five

Induction Module


Alumni Involvement

Virtual Social Space

Delivering an eLearning Course

  • Implementation model needs careful thought

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eLearning Delivery Issues Tools

  • Particular consideration to be given to:

    • Tutoring and counselling processes

    • Prepared self-study learning materials

    • Readily available learning resources

    • Student group activities

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Time for some interaction! Tools

  • This workshop forms part of on-going research at the University of Sheffield

  • At this point, you are invited to join this co-operative inquiry and to carry out a eLearning Critical Success Factor (CSF) Analysis

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Concluding Reflections Tools

  • ICT offers great potential for HE, however …

    challenges must be faced if eLearning implementation is to be effective:

    • Policy-makers must decide and support strategy

    • Managers, technologists and educationalists must work together

    • Academics need training to implement changes to best advantage

    • Research to incorporate all stakeholder views

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Organisational Context Tools


Course Environment


Learning Models

Learning Activities

Pedagogical Strategy

Pedagogical Tactics

Learning Outcomes


McPherson & Nunes, 2004

Educational Management Action Research

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Closing Discussion Tools

Any Comments or Questions?

Contact Details:

“Maggie McPherson” <>

Tel: +44 114 222 2696

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Option 1: ToolsDo nothing about it!

(courtesy of Dr Amer Al Rawas,Sultan Qaboos University, Oman)

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Option 2: ToolsRush to it !

(courtesy of Dr Amer Al Rawas,Sultan Qaboos University, Oman)

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Option 3: ToolsTake it seriously!

(courtesy of Dr Amer Al Rawas,Sultan Qaboos University, Oman)