H807 – Jisc Case Studies – Online delivery of MSc Strategic Management in Africa

This case study follows the decision to move a course from a blended approach to a pure online course for those students who were unable to get to centres to participate.

Key issues faced were those of connectivity of the participants, typically broadband describes a 125kb connection, with most users on dial-up. It also covers issues of creation of course materials by a group of clearly negative academics. The author refers to a paper which supports many of the arguments made, and they do appear valid for countries with less developed broadband infrastructures.

Quoting verbatim the summary made by the case study author:

We have learned from implementing this e-learning approach that pure e-learning in all its forms when compared to face-to-face
  • is far more expensive in all respects
  • delivers no better results and often worse results
  • has far worse retention rates
  • generally has lower student satisfaction

They go on to say:

I am very surprised that the approach of the project has been to approach the individual projects that are participating from the perspective, as far as possible, of the positive benefits of e-learning with guidelines that strongly indicate that we are to avoid as far as possible the negative and controversial aspects. Surely, as an ethical, scientific piece of research, we are honour bound to be honest in reporting the true situation of each of our projects. I am aware of at least one of these projects already which has been “politicised” into a purely positive report, carefully glossing over all negative aspects.

The tone of the case study was negative throughout, continually referrring to a meeting that had taken place in 2007 where it appears that e-learning was universally trashed (Greenwich e-learning and Teaching Workshop on 6 June 2007).

The case study also refers to the “strategic” decision to offer courses through pure e-learning, alluding perhaps to the delivery team not being in agreement with this approach.

An interesting case study which provides a number of questions that need to be answered by any organisation intending to go down the e-learning route.

3 thoughts on “H807 – Jisc Case Studies – Online delivery of MSc Strategic Management in Africa

  1. I really like this case study, and your overview of it. It highlights that negative case studies do have in some aspects, value.

  2. Do the lessons learned not better prepare people in the initial stages of similar projects for the short comings that they could encounter?

    for example encountering the differences in ICT infrastructure? the case study highlights differences between the academics and students technology as a problem. If another institution were to do something similar would the negative aspects drawn from this case study not inform some of there choices of who they can offer online degrees to. Or alternatively lead to creating design specifications for learning materials based on poor computer facilities.

    Ultimately i think failure in some cases is a good thing, as lessons are rarely learnt from entirely positive experiences. The case study ultimately shows an unsuccessful use of online learning (online degrees), but could this lead to others making a more successful attempt?

    I don’t think the case study has been a success but the information it provides is of value, if reflected upon. Does the OU successfully offer online degrees to countries with poorer connectivity?

  3. Hello Mike,

    Interesting illustration of the frustration caused by the digital divide. What we take for granted as ‘progress’ in the West may be less applicable in a place where books and stationery are still a luxury.

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