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Institutional Planning for E-Learning Case Study The University of British Columbia Assignment #2: A Vision for E-Learning Denise Flick- 46045787 Diana Ng - 23943103 Karon Wong -74141110 Jennifer Schubert - 80163116

ETEC 520 65A Planning and Managing Technologies in Higher Education The University of British Columbia Dr. Mark Bullen March 10, 2013 Total Word Count: 3468


Introduction During the past ten years, there has been ongoing discussion in regards to the role of universities in the 21st century. As technology continues to evolve, knowledge and perceptions of technology and societies and communities are changing. These changes have impacted education at all levels (UBC, 2001). Trek 2000, developed in 1998, was a long-term strategic plan that communicated the Univer sity of British Columbias (UBC) vision for enhancing learning with technology. The five to ten year framework of action prompted UBC to integrate information technology in all areas of instruction (ACCULT, 2000; UBC, 2001). Many students are now growing up with technology; therefore e-learning is a platform that will best meet the needs and learning styles of these students (Bates and Sangr, 2011). Trek 2000s intention was to use this best practice to prepare students for the new century by replacing and regaining strength within UBC faculty and staff with the adoption of new learning and research methods (UBC, 2001). Additionally, UBC was envisioning learner-centered and interactive opportunities for teaching and learning. Approaches in delivering education that were flexible and accessible by UBC students at all times were desired (Anderson, Hartman, Pratt & Stanton, 2003). An academic plan based on Trek 2000 was created. It recommended strategic planning in order to ensure smooth progression to information technology use and incorporation of new media in learning and teaching for students, staff and faculty (ACCULT, 2000). Hence, learning technology at UBC had the core principles of enhancing the quality of student learning, decentralizing technology initiatives and control with faculty members playing a leading role in decision making, enabling central


facilitation for the provision of support resources, and coordinating learning technology and information technology (ACCULT, 2002). Distance Education and Technology (2003), a detailed report submitted to the External Review team on March 10, 2003 indicated that the external reviewers report was in line with the Distance Education and Technology (DE&T) vision and strategic plan. This report suggested bringing together centralized and decentralized resources to support distributed teaching and distance education opportunities and to use technology to improve teaching practices (DE&T, 2003). Additionally, based on DE&T (2003) the report also recommended that the roles and the functions of the different units(Centre for Teaching and Academic Growth (TAG), Office of Learning Technology (OLT) and DE&T) responsible for using various tools of technology in teaching needed to be rationalized and realigned. The realignment was believed to be a promising approach in the continuous advancement and growth of UBCs learning technologies being linked with colleagues who had expertise in distance education (UBC, 2004). Furthermore, the new organizational alignments correlated well with the ACCULT report (UBC, 2004). This paper will analyze, examine, and assess the two processes used to develop the recommendations for effectively utilizing learning technologies at UBC by investigating the initial planning process, the coordination of planning stages, the approaches to consultation, the critical review of recommendations, the assessment of the cancelled plan, and recent developments, and further determine how improvements can be made towards implementing distance education.


Initial Planning Process In early 2000, UBCs Trek strategic plan outlined the importance of creating new learning opportunities and modes of delivery. The aim was to address learner needs and provide students with the best possible preparation for a growing knowledge-based society (UBC, 2000). In order to proceed with the visions of Trek and the universitys academic plan, the Vice President Academic and Provost, Barry McBride established a task force to examine, within a consultative framework, the appropriate role of information technology (IT) in teaching and learning. Thus, the Academic Committee on the Creative Use of Learning Technologies (ACCULT) led by Dr. Tony Bates et al. (2002) was developed. This committee provided a preliminary discussion paper to the Senate that focused on learning technology and the value IT could add for staff and students at UBC (UBC Senate Minutes, 2000). In turn, this led to a finalized report (ACCULT, 2002). A major key motivator to these two planning processes was the desire to remain competitive in a developing e-learning market as several other top tier universities including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford, and the University of Toronto were making continual technological advancements in e-learning (ACCULT, 2000). Moreover, as students come to expect high quality, state of the art education from top tier universities, it was imperative for UBC to address the evolving needs and expectations of its learners. In addition, ACCULTs (2000) initial discussion paper outlined nine issues for consideration after an extensive environmental scan with key stakeholders.


1. Recognizing that learning technologies is one method to enhance teaching and learning; 2. Funding strategies;

3. Student access and support; 4. Faculty and staff support; 5. Intellectual property issues; 6. Infrastructure in learning spaces; 7. Organizational issues; 8. Collaboration and partnerships; 9. Research and evaluation. Yet, there were other identified benefits of investing in learning technologies that became major drivers of these preliminary planning processes. The ACCULTs (2002) final report cited eight major advantages including: 1. Incorporating visualization and/or simulation of learning material; 2. Extending opportunities for flexible and interactive learning; 3. Promoting exchange and sharing of expertise; 4. Extending student learning with enhanced access to resources; 5. Enabling learners to review learning material asynchronously; 6. Offering expanded opportunities to represent knowledge, problem solve, create and communicate using a variety of multimedia; 7. Enhancing student access and decreasing the demands of physical infrastructure as more learning occurs off campus;


8. Permitting greater management of knowledge by students by allowing them to organize their course material and learning resources in flexible ways that best addressed their needs. Prior to developing new processes and organizational structures, the ACCULT (2000) initially recommended setting two major priorities at UBC. First, they recommended the importance of being organizationally agile and alert to changes, and secondly the ACCULT (2000) stressed the need for the provision of personnel and infrastructure support for learning technology. Lastly, possible challenges to implementation were highlighted such as community erosion, the devaluing of traditional instructional methods, the culmination of a faceless university, financial black holes and potential time/energy drains (ACCULT, 2000). Coordination of Planning Stages The development of the Trek strategic plan involved several activities used to gain insight into the needs of the various stakeholders involved in the learning process and to determine how to plan for more effective use of technology on campus. These activities ranged from faculty workshops, committee meetings and learning technologies environmental scans gathered through departmental interviews, to the creation of video dramatizations which served to show what a day in the life of both a student and a faculty member could possibly look like five years in the future as a result of putting technologically enhanced learning into place (ACCULT, 2000). This process culminated in a report presented to Senate on November 15, 2000. A Strategic Plan for Distance Education 2008 was developed in an effort to reorganize distance education at UBC as part of a review of the DE&T unit. The


activities involved in this planning process included an environmental scan and ongoing staff discussions beginning at a retreat and continuing both within the DE&T unit and at an open meeting with invited guests. This overarching plan would be highly dependent upon the creation of the Teaching and Learning Support Network, a collaborative model which allowed faculty to share knowledge and resources while increasing student access, diversity, flexibility and controlling costs. After The Strategic Plan for Distance Education 2008 was created, an external review process was conducted which led to the development of a more detailed plan outlining a specific course of action for the following areas: development of a faculty-based support system, program and course development, course production, learner support, marketing and publicity, funding, and implementation (Bullen, 2012). The two planning processes both relied heavily upon faculty and staff participation and feedback. The latter process evolved directly from the results of the ACCULT findings in addition to the growing need to expand access and further develop both distance and hybrid learning in an ever evolving technological age. Though the prime participants in the development of the plans were faculty and the plans were set forth in motion by faculty-based initiatives, both reports identify students as the prime motivators for change within the distance education plan. Though ACCULT did not produce a highly detailed plan involving timelines, quantifiable targets or specific strategies, it did succeed in creating a collaborative environment in which the creative and innovative use of learning technologies was encouraged (Bates &Sangr, 2011). Following the process of conducting environmental scans through to ongoing staff workshops, discussions and the formation of a committee

INSTITUTIONAL PLANNING FOR E-LEARNING CASE STUDY responsible for creating a compelling report to present to Senate, shows a logical progression towards a qualitative goal.

The use of the ACCULT report, in addition to ongoing environmental scans and open discussions in the proposed creation of the Teaching and Learning Support Network within the DE&T unit also marks a logical progression towards the creation of a viable distance learning proposal. Further external review, followed by rebuttal and culminating in the creation of the Provost Committee report outlining specific proposed budgetary plans, monetary allotments, and revenue numbers; also show logical evolutionary processes of development. Approaches to Consultation Both processes were highly consultative, involving faculty and staff in many collaborative activities, from initial environmental scans to ongoing workshops, discussion forums, and the creation of committees. This seems congruent with the views of The University of British Columbia as outlined in A Strategic Plan for Distance Education 2008. Within this document, the proposed Teaching and Learning Support Network is explained as a model consistent with the organizational culture of UBC. This favours faculty control and faculty-based initiatives over top-down management and large centralized units (UBC, 2012). As the goals of each process evolved from the qualitative desire for increased creative technology use across campus to the more measurable, quantitative exploration of a reimagined Distance Education and Technology unit, so did the need to involve and consult more, and differing, players. Though both of the processes can be considered to have developed from a bottom-up approach, the DE&T unit proposal involved a higher


level of budgetary knowledge and consideration, thus making consultation with other departments not only valuable but also necessary. Critical Review of Recommendations One of the overarching recommendations included in the ACCULT Final Report (2002) was directly in support of Trek 2000, for UBC to endorse the creative use of learning technology to further academic excellence of courses and strengthen opportunities for faculty, staff and students to benefit from and build upon expertise. To accomplish this aim, the ACCULT (2002) recommended encouraging and supporting learning technology initiatives based in faculties and their units using a model of decentralized decision-making, providing central support as needed. We believe this recommendation is practical and sensible. Using a coordinated approach is beneficial as it offers both support and flexibility. Some activity is provided best centrally such as distance education, university-wide workshops, and providing student access and support through labs and an IT help desk. Yet, faculties should still have options to customize their technology requirements that best meets the needs of their students and their disciplines. In the DE&T External Review report (2003), their core principles connected with the vision of the UBC Trek 2000 strategic plan in that it aimed to enhance student learning, decentralize initiative and control and centralize facilitation and coordination of learning and information technologies similar to the ACCULT report (2002). However, the DE&T reported that UBC did not have a detailed policy supporting what it planned to do with learning technology and as a consequence, funding processes were not attached


to policies, expected roles and its functions. As a result, there was a lack of faculty-wide strategies for distance education that needed to be addressed. Along these lines, the DE&T Provosts Committee Report (2004) recommended a new organizational model which was more faculty-based and centrally supported for distance education consistent with the ACCULT, DE&T External Review and UBCs Trek 2000 strategic plan. The responsibilities of distance education would be shifted to appropriate faculties so that the integration of teaching students online would be the responsibility of faculties regardless of delivery modes. In order to accomplish this goal, the existing DE&T unit staff would need to be absorbed within faculties and other centralized units. As such, it would be revenue neutral to the universitys central budget. Accordingly, we believe that the DE&T Provosts Committee Report (2004) is wellaligned with the ACCULT report (2002) in that both ensure that the rapidly growing use of learning technologies are drawn from the expertise of DE&T staff who would help support local faculties develop online courses. The instructional design knowledge developed by DE&T experts would be shared widely as they become embedded across all faculties and centralized units. Overall, this would ensure that the best pedagogically appropriate learning experience for UBC students is provided, thus achieving the vision of UBCs Trek 2000 strategic plan. Assessment of Cancelled Plan and Recent Developments On March 21, 2005, it was announced that the decentralization plan would be cancelled due to various complications that arose (Kindler, 2005). While a decentralization approach follows a bottom-up model in decision-making, the centralization approach would have been based on a top-down model (Wikipedia, 2013).



As stated in Bates and Sangr (2011) because of the often decentralized organizational structure of universities, change may be driven within a particular academic department by the faculty themselves, almost independently of the rest of the university (p. 82).Hence, decentralization or centralization will still make DE&T operate as an independent unit. Most institutions see the best opportunity somewhere between a total centralized and decentralized approach (Anderson et al, 2003). At UBC, a Project Development Manual for Faculty has been developed and following the strategies indicated in the manual would make the implementation of technology in learning more efficient because each member within the team will know their responsibilities and would ensure that the five phases of project development were followed (DE&T, 2000). Following a project management approach such as those in the Project Development Manual for Faculty will save the costs in time and resources as a set of resources such as time lines, objectives of the project and a clear vision of the deliverables would have been determined already (Bates and Sangr, 2011). However, with a decentralized approach, it is more likely to have more flexibility as it follows a bottom-up approach in decision-making. Without a team of experts who are specialized in course design and project management that are meant to be paired up with technology the course development process may not be as efficient and effective because there are no course development guidelines to follow. The announcement sent out in regards to having OLT take over DE&T on April 27, 2005 shows that the decision was based on the cancellation of the decentralization plan a month prior to the circulation of this memo (Kindler, 2005). Collected feedback from DE&T staff indicated that their workload was relatively heavy due to the increased

INSTITUTIONAL PLANNING FOR E-LEARNING CASE STUDY responsibilities (Anderson et al, 2003). Furthermore, the DE&T alignment and


coordination seemed to be a bit out of place. At the same time with the administrative reporting assignment acted externally to the academic structure it did not give off a wellestablished impression that it is connected to the universitys teaching and learning activities (Anderson et al, 2003). Additionally, DE&T had separate calendars from UBCs distance education courses; distance education courses not fully being displayed in the UBC calendar as a whole would cause confusion for UBCs distance education and online programs (Anderson et al, 2005). DE&T being under the same umbrella as OLT and the merger of OLT with TAG and Telestudios would have resolved these concerns. Together the merger created the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology (CTLT) and the main focus of CTLT is the professional development and integration of technology in teaching and learning along with the implementation and delivery of distance education programs and courses (Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology, n.d). Therefore they will have staff familiar with the distance education course development so DE&T staff should no longer feel overwhelmed by the new responsibilities. Additionally, with DE&T and OLT merging all the UBC distance education courses together will make DE&T part of the universitys activities in teaching and learning, and it would resolve the issue of separate course calendars. This move would present a more organized structure for UBC. Lastly, the merger of DE&T, OLT, TAG and Telestudios would ensure that the units are working closely together in an effective manner supporting mixed mode teaching and could be located in one common area within UBC. Hence, they will be accessible by faculties and following the ACCULT strategy they can provide support and assistance as needed (UBC, 2008).



UBC proposes e-learning will best prepare students for the challenges of the 21st century and the knowledge-based society students increasingly find themselves living and learning in. Students are coming to post-secondary studies with changing technological and social skill sets. UBC needs to prepare faculty and staff to meet the needs of students and society. Flexible opportunities for learning are increasingly becoming available at many post-secondary institutions, and UBC has to prepare to offer similar learning opportunities including distance education and blended learning. Trek 2000 and ACCULT 2000, planning processes began in efforts to address these needs. Committees were created, stakeholders interviewed, workshops offered, etc. Information gathered led to discussion papers focusing on the value of learning and information technology for staff and students. The finalized report, ACCULT (2002), not only communicated the importance of initiating similar technological opportunities as offered by other learning institutions but also communicated the need for UBC to meet the expectations and needs of 21st century learners. Among the major recommendations cited were the incorporation of interactive, flexible, enhanced learning and materials. Also hoped for were the exchange and sharing of expertise and resources as well as collaborative problem solving, knowledge creation, and tailored curriculum. These desirable recommendations would need to be supported by funding, technology access and support, infrastructure, collaboration of stakeholders, and evaluation of efforts. Enhanced quality of student learning, decentralized technology initiatives and faculty capacity building became areas of focus.

INSTITUTIONAL PLANNING FOR E-LEARNING CASE STUDY These consultative and collaborative initiatives were congruent with the


organizational culture of UBC. An operational culture favouring faculty initiatives, control, and implementation would enable faculties to customize their technology requirements. Faculties would best understand and be able to attend to structure and resources that would best meet the needs of their learners and disciplines. This faculty desired approach is bottom up in nature and would be complemented by a centralized understanding of and plan for funding requirements. Distance education structure, university-wide workshops and student access and support to administration and IT support would be well served by a centralized organization. A complement of decentralized and centralized planning and action was believed to support the best opportunities for academic excellence. As the end of the first decade of the 21st century approached, the need for strategic planning to ensure distance education and hybrid course development became evident. A Strategic Plan for Distance Education 2008 was developed. An overarching theme also found in this plan was that of flexibility and collaboration. Faculty sharing of knowledge and resources with increasing student access and diversity was called for. External review processes recommended the development of faculty and learner support, program and course development, marketing, publicity, and to support all mentioned, funding. Faculty initiated plans were developed but students were the motivators for change in the delivery of courses. DE&T unit staff would be absorbed within faculties and centralized units resulting in a revenue neutral budget item for the University. DE&T staff expertise would still be available to support the rapidly growing use of learning technologies and



pedagogically appropriate learning experiences for UBC students could be achieved. It was hoped that this project management approach would save costs in time and resources, yet there were concerns in regards to efficiency and effectiveness of course development. Planning processes and organization plans and directions seem to be in constant states of review and change. Technology enhanced learning and face to face, blended and distance education opportunities will continue to evolve and flex as students, staff, and faculty do the same. As Dr. Graeme Edwards stated, Its not the plan that is important. Its the planning. Thus, it is inevitable that Trek, ACCULT, DE&T, OLT, TAG, will be followed by future committees, strategic plans, processes, consultations, and recommendations.



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The University of British Columbia: Centre for Teaching, Learning & Technology (2012). About CTL. Retrieved from http://ctlt.ubc.ca/about/ The University of British Columbia: Distance Education and Technology (2003). External review report. Retrieved from http://www.box.net/shared/k17njzlnmc The University of British Columbia: Distance Education and Technology (2000). Project development manual for faculty. Retrieved from http://www.box.net/shared/b5tzvdlds9 The University of British Columbia: Distance Education and Technology (2004). Provosts committee report. Retrieved from http://www.box.net/shared/ks7963xcf0 The University of British Columbia: Distance Education and Technology (2003). Response to the external review. Retrieved from http://www.box.net/shared/phoq4j9v0x The University of British Columbia: Distance Education and Technology (2002). A strategic plan for distance education 2008. Retrieved from http://www.box.net/shared/j2xpgaeiq8 The University of British Columbia: Learning Technology Advisory Council (2010). Terms of reference. Retrieved from http://blogs.ubc.ca/ltac/terms-of-reference/ Wikipedia. (2013). Decentralization. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decentralize