39 Issues surrounding the widespread adoption of learning management systems: An Australian case study
AbstractThis paper discusses the evolution of the online learning environment at Murdoch University, in Perth, Western Australia, beginning in 1997, and continuing, in late 1998, with the adoption of the WebCT Learning Management System. WebCT adoption was supported by central funds through the Murdoch Online Mainstreaming (MOLM) Project, which set out to establish online teaching and learning as a mission critical activity of the University, but also to give academics control over their material. The rationale behind the MOLM project is described, in terms of a model of adoption of technological innovations. The Murdoch Online Mainstreaming Project met its objectives. Currently 223 units are available through WebCT, with the highest uptake in the Schools of Commerce, Law and Information Technology. Over the last twelve months, 9364 individual students have been enrolled in a WebCT course. This is over three quarters of the students enrolled at the University. However, despite demonstrable and enthusiastic uptake by teaching staff and students, the MOLM initiative encountered significant problems in 2001, when the initial two years of project funding was exhausted. It then became apparent that the University 19s strategic directions were not well-coupled with its budget allocation processes, with the result that ongoing funding was not initially available to support online learning. The paper discusses various approaches taken to secure ongoing funding for online learning, including a comprehensive, user-pays model, which was eventually rejected in favour of a central allocation. The paper concludes with a discussion of recent moves by the University to radically redesign the ways in which it conceives of a unit of study, both in pedagogical and administrative terms.