Reinventing Best Practices, Business
Models and Strategies in e-Learning and Knowledge Management
Over the course of the next decade, we can expect
a cascading cycle of reinvention in the practice of e-learning and
knowledge management. These reinventions will build on what we have
learned about the early generations of e-learning and knowledge
management, as summarized below:
- In colleges and universities across the globe, most of the participants
in online or blended learning have been the institutions
own core students, not new students reached through distance learning.
- Most distance learning and online learning have merely digitized
existing processes and practices, thereby failing to yield cost
savings, enhancements in the learner experience, or competitive
- In Deep Learning for a Digital Age, Van B. Weigel presents
a compelling vision of how traditional colleges and universities
can create blended learning environments to create
communities of inquiry that lead to deep learning experiences.
Weigel emphasizes that the Internet can be used to create richer
learning experiences, not just to reach remote learners.
- The Pew Grant Program in Course Redesign has used e-learning
to reinvent and enhance learning experiences in US colleges and
universities. Carol Twigg (2001) chronicles how this approach
yields a combination of cost savings, enhanced performance, great
flexibility and personalization, and accelerated learner progress.
- Institutional infrastructures and pro-cesses supporting e-learning
are a critical success factor for leading e-learning providers
such as University of Maryland University College (UMUC), University
of Wisconsin Learning Innovations (UWLI), and British Open University
(OU). These infrastructures and processes enable several competitive
- the ability to leverage a single pool of world-class learning
materials across multiple courses (OU);
- the capacity to manage and add value to the institutions
relationship with the learner, beyond individual courses (UWLI);
- the ability to offer and flexibly adjust a variety of physical,
virtual, and blended learning versions of courses (UMUC);
- the capacity to roll out cohort-based learning (UMUC) where
online cohorts of 25, lead by a mentor, are the model; and
- the infrastructure and capabilities to create communities
of inquiry through knowledge rooms such as the eCafe
at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
- USQ has created a powerful vision of the fifth generation
learning environment as described by Taylor (2001). This
model blends e-learning and knowledge management tools. Eventually,
USQs infrastructures will dramatically reduce the costs
of learning materials and organizational processes in addition
to enhancing all aspects of the learners experiences.
- The COLIS (Collaborative Online Learning and Information Systems)
project led by Macquarie University, in partnership with four
other Australian universities and industry partners, has successfully
developed an integrated approach learning management and information
- Many for-profit e-learning ventures have failed. NYUonline (New
York Universitys for-profit venture) and Virtual Temple
(Temple Universitys for-profit) recently closed as did UMUConline.
Unproven business models and strategies are the central reason
- e-Learning in non-university settings (corporations, associations,
other non-profits, government agencies) is growing, not as a standalone
function, but as a fundamental element of performance enhancement
and communities of practice.