This university began employing web-based resources to develop e-learning opportunities in 1997.
This strategy was part of its ongoing mission of expanding student access to higher education, while improving the quality of academic offerings and simultaneously reducing both institutional and individual student costs (Newman, 2001).
The university had identified four strategic directions:
  • Promote interdisciplinarity

  • Foster learning communities

  • Achieve operational excellence, and

  • Make innovative use of technology.

  • In thinking about how to achieve these strategic directions, the university determined that e-learning represented an excellent opportunity to fulfil its mission and goals.
    It began by establishing three distinct categories of online courses to serve both traditional on-campus students and the growing number of working adults in the metropolitan region seeking access to higher education opportunities.
    These categories were:
  • E-courses: traditional classroom courses using web-supported resources and computer-mediated communications for discussions

  • M-courses: mixed-mode model combining online and offline learning activities, and

  • W-courses: fully online courses.

  • When change began, the university developed an assessment method for student performance in both mixed mode and fully online courses. Since 1997, data from more than 80,000 students have been aggregated.

    The research has demonstrated that students in M- and W- courses have generally outperformed students in similar classes based on the traditional teaching model.

    The university continues to monitor these students' grades and retention rates.
    In aiming to reduce institutional and student costs, it has derived cost reduction from the need to rent fewer classrooms ? using M-courses, student seat-time reduced by between 50 and 66 percent.
    In addition, the university has factored into its student savings calculations improved student performance in e-learning courses.
    This has reduced the need for students to retake courses in which they have done poorly.
    The university?s reflection on its implementation of an e-learning strategy included the following two recommendations:
  • Concentrate on e-learning assessment from the beginning: The continuous feedback loop (tracking student performance and teaching effectiveness, conducting extensive student and staff surveys) is used to drive improvements in its e-learning activities, and

  • Build institutional capacity to support e-learning growth: The organisational structure must support the e-learning strategy, through infrastructure and program development support.

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