Organisational approaches to e-learning in the tertiary sector: An annotated bibliography

Publication Details

This report gives an overview of the research literature relating to approaches adopted by tertiary sector organisations when planning or implementing e-learning.

Author(s): Peter Guiney, Tertiary Sector Performance Analysis, Ministry of Education.

Date Published: April 2013

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Key Findings 

The key findings of this annotated bibliography are:
  • The most common organisational approach to e-learning is where high-level objectives and supporting policies and plans are set centrally but the responsibility for implementing these is at the faculty or departmental level.
  • Organisational approaches to e-learning are more likely to be successful when they are supported by institutional strategies, policies, plans, monitoring and evaluation. E-learning strategies are more likely to be effective if they take into account organisational culture and are underpinned by a rationale that has strong support from stakeholders.
  • Organisations need to consider student preferences. They also need to ensure students have the skills and capabilities needed for success in e-learning. It is also important that organisations provide relevant and timely support, particularly technical, for both their students and staff.
  • Organisations need to provide infrastructure that supports their e-learning objectives and meets stakeholder and learner needs. It is important that organisational ICT systems can link with each other and with students’ information technology devices.
  • Staff development and support are essential if organisations are to adopt e-learning successfully. Organisations should consider providing incentives for staff to adopt e-learning and participate in associated development. Staff efforts in adopting e-learning also need to be recognised. Staff must be given time to explore and experiment when they are adopting e-learning.
  • Benchmarking of e-learning capability has been used by a number of organisations. Benchmarking can be used not only for comparisons with other similar organisations but also to more clearly identify performance in an e-learning context.
  • It is unclear if organisations can save money through e-learning. While it requires investment in infrastructure, staff development and the creation of supporting materials and resources, cost savings are possible. Savings are derived not only from economies of scale but also from other measures such as reuse of materials.

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