Monday, 15 July 2013

Developing an infrastructure for online learning

Davis, A., Little, P., & Stewart, B. (2008). Developing an infrastructure for online learning. In T. Anderson (Ed.), The Theory and Practice of Online Learning, second edition. Edmonton: AU Press.
This chapter outlines some of this issues institutions need to consider when moving towards offering course content online.  The social context of education is evolving with the accessibility the internet provides and institutions need to be prepared to adapt as it changes.  It states that organisations also need to be aware of the realities of online learning systems.  While the ideal is possible, the reality is confined by restraints such as time and money and the systems developed may not reflect the ideal sought.  Any learning system needs to be considered from two distinct points; the needs of the learner and the intended outcomes.  Meeting these needs is essential for any system to be worth investing in.  Success of any system needs to have a sound infrastructure as there are many interconnected components to be considered.  Ensuring that the system will be robust and meet the needs of the course is fundamental.  As organisations move to a more open learning style, they also need to consider ownership of the discipline, as once content is available online, it is much harder to control access and maintain ownership.

This chapter highlights the need for organisations to consider many aspects of online learning prior to embarking on developing online courses.  The need to ensure that the infrastructure is sound is essential as well as the need to ensure that the reality of what can be provided is enough to meet the needs of the learner and the course goals.  The institution also needs to be aware that the social context of education is evolving quickly and that content available online is likely to be shared and used in a wider context that will question their ability to own the discipline they are delivering.  These are important aspects to consider in my own practice.  Not only will the learning management system meet my needs, but the use of my own content and the use of others to support the learning of my students.

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