Why Are Universities Buying E-Learning systems?

E-learning systems are seen as the solution to their current problems . . .

Most writers would agree with Lazenby above to the extent that these recent trends have posed considerable problems for universities.    For a discussion of these trends in the UK context seeGoodyear 1998, p.2-3.

Can e-learning help to attract new types of student?

Collis and De Boer while giving educational reasons for their implementation (a consistent educational environment for students and best practice examples for staff) also imply that the initial decision was taken in response to a need to attract more students (p.333).   This is a pattern currently being followed at most universities which seek to extend the market for courses that they already run in F2F* mode.  E-learning systems with their seemingly easy-to-use communication and delivery methods can be used to offer courses to students:

  • living outside the region or even the country.
  • living locally but who have difficulty attending for reasons of disability,  childcare commitments or working hours (even full-time undergraduates are increasingly constrained by employment timetables).
  • wanting to take vocational courses in their workplace (work-based and lifelong learning).  
    The NHS, which provides a very large source of funding for UK Higher education, is promoting work-based flexible learning as a solution to its training needs (see Learning Together, Working together) and proposes to establish a  "bricks & clicks" NHS University by 2003 where  "learning will be online" and presumably commissioned from those universities who can convert their current courses.

Do e-learning courses give universities a competitive edge?

"The online model of education is not yet in wide use or fully accepted, however predictions of its spread and eventual dominance of the educational market place occur regularly in magazines and the press", Ellis, p.388.

There has been a considerable amount of hype about e-learning from magazines and commercial companies, e.g. Latham (1997), head of a US consultancy firm, predicts that universities are ill-placed to compete with commercial companies in the lifelong learning market and will die a slow and painful death unless they  "embrace change and take on the commercial world ", collaborate with each other and  "commit to change and re-engineer NOW!" Closer to home in the UK, Newby (1999), a university Vice-Chancellor, has predicted a somewhat similar future for Southampton University.

Cyberbole and the Five Rules of Virtuality
Woolgar has dubbed such hype  "cyperbole" (see Woolgar, 2000).   His Virtual Society Research Programme in the UK investigated the relationship between the new technologies and the way people interact, behave and organise themselves and summarised their results as the FIVE RULES OF VIRTUALITY most of which surprised the researchers as they seem to be counter-intuitive.  A full list of reports is available online but, in the menu on the left on this page, I have directly linked to those relevant to higher education. Oh, and less seriously, you can feast yourself on cyberbole on Langdon Winner's spoof web pages.

Does e-learning provide a new and better approach to learning in the 21st century?

"There was once a notion that the course support systems would encourage and bring about more innovative and creative open learning environments, however this has not always been the case", Oliver & McLoughlin, p.423.

The Special Issue authors share a social constructivist approach to e-learning and see it as an ideal opportunity to include more student-centred and collaborative activities into their courses. At the same time they reject "the determinist view that technology is an autonomous force, and investment in a system is an automatic ticket to success", (Brown, p.362) and stress that the technology is merely a tool and it is how the teacher uses it which is crucial (Brown, op cit, Fisher, p,329, Oliver & McLoughlin, p.423-4).  

See the teaching page for more about 'constructivism' and the technical page for more about 'technology as a tool'.

". . .  pressures for change in terms of course delivery in higher education will continue and technology will be part of both the problem and the solution", Collis & De Boer, p.359.




Safe and without hesitation

Use E-University and don't worry about the safety of your system or your privacy.

learning management system



E-University features industrial strength high-security. All communication is secured by digital certificated issued by a trust center authority. The data is encrypted using modern state-of-the-art AES-256 encryption and 2048-bit secured key exchange.


 Encryption: 256-bit AES encryption (actual encryption algorithm may vary depending on browser capabilities).
 Digital Certificate, Public Key Infrastructure: 2048-Bit Certificate.