18 paper

Driving online education: The Swedish Net University – a case study in purpose and pedagogy

Michael Christie
Centre for Digital Media and Higher Education
Chalmers University of Technology

This paper maps the development of the Swedish Net University and raises theoretical and practical questions about its purpose and its effect on pedagogically sound e-learning. The paper analyses what happens when e-learning is driven from the top and universities are rewarded with money for putting their courses online. It also studies the effects of online availability of university courses for marginalised groups in society. It is clear from research undertaken for this paper that mature age, remote area, immigrant and female students have more opportunity to study because of the establishment of the Net University in Sweden. The extent to which social engineering was a factor in the government's decision to create the Net University is discussed in relation to this broadening of recruitment. The fact that the Net University is a virtual organisation which acts as a broker for courses is also studied. Some courses are specially designed to be offered online while others are traditional courses that are simply downloaded to the net. Contrasting the two enables the author to argue for a pedagogy of e-learning.

Keywords: educational paradigms, computer mediated communication, ICT policies and strategies