learning landscapes in southern africa

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Benchmarks for the implementation of e-learning in higher education: a case study of e-learning deployment at the University of Pretoria

Irene le Roux and Jill Fresen, Department for Education Innovation, University of Pretoria
 
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The University of Pretoria embarked on an e-learning strategy in 1998. An e-campus was developed to provide students and lecturers with access to the learning management system (WebCT) and administrative functions, such as exam results, payments and examination time-tables. To date more than 30000 students have access to over 2000 web-supported courses.

A report by the Alliance for Higher Education Competitiveness (2005) tried to isolate success factors of self-identified successful e-learning institutions. Their study is based on in-depth qualitative research at 21 higher education institutions in the United States. The report summarises the success factors by providing eight benchmarks for successful e-learning implementation, i.e. motivation for moving online, commitment of key role-players, measurement of progress, student and lecturer support, focus on a "programmatic" approach, the development of unique value-adding best practices and initiatives that fit circumstances, identify major challenges and, address strategic, cultural and process issues independent of technology directions.

This paper describes the developments at the University of Pretoria in the light of these benchmarks. The aim is to determine whether deployment of e-learning at the University of Pretoria followed the same approach as subsequently recommended by the Alliance for Higher Education Competitiveness. Each of the benchmarks is analysed in the light of examples and the experience at the University of Pretoria.