Flexibility in institutional eLearning

Current discussion on the International Forum of Educational Technology & Society list is around Strategic e-learning implementation. The discussion initiation piece raises some interesting and important questions about how course quality can be sustained across whole programs or institutions in which some academics are enthusiastic early adopters of online approaches and others are less inclined to adopt new approaches. The recommendation is for adoption of core approaches to assure overall quality while supporting more experimental approaches in ways that enable progress without compromising quality:

While adopting a set of core practices is useful, it may stifle innovation and limit e-learning to the scope of what is possible in LMSs such as Blackboard, WebCT, or Moodle. A coordinated approach to e-learning within an institution should actively encourage flexibility according to opportunity or necessity, implemented on a project basis subject to funding and the four factors identified earlier in the framework for e-learning interventions.

This is essentially similar to the position that I have been arguing for some time in our own institution. We need to make the systems simple and reliable for general use but also make it possible for those with different needs and ideas to explore the possibilities. Alternative approaches that are found to be successful can be mainstreamed while further exploration continues.