303 special session

eLearning for campus-based universities: Engaging the executive

Rob Ellis, session chair
The University of Sydney

Shirley Alexander
University of Technology, Sydney

Eddie Gulc
Higher Education Academy, England

Sandra Wills
University of Wollongong

eLearning advocates in campus-based universities in Britain and in Australia are having difficulty helping senior budget holders and strategic planners articulate a vision for eLearning in a campus-based experience. Too often sensible plans for embedding eLearning support and infrastructure in the learning and teaching systems of campus-based universities are put to one side because there is insufficient confidence by the executive of being able to justify why such investment is needed.

This can be as simple a problem as being unable to talk about eLearning and its contribution to the whole student learning experience convincingly for non-specialists. Further adding to such confusion is the fact that academics at the executive level may still hold old conceptions of eLearning being predominately about distant learning and can not envision why or how eLearning should be part of the reputation of a predominately campus-based institution.

This special discussion session at ascilite 2006 will discuss the nature of this phenomenon and strategies for how to begin to talk about and plan for integrated eLearning experiences in which eLearning is part of a more meaningful whole. Ideas and understandings that help non-specialists in the executive will be sought in discussion with the audience and the panelists. The experience of British universities engaging in an international benchmarking program and the experience of Australian universities grappling with these problems will provide a substantial framework in which to discuss the issues.

The panellists have significant and diverse experience:

  • The chair, Associate Professor Rob Ellis, is Director of eLearning at the University of Sydney.
  • Professor Shirley Alexander is about to take up a position as Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Teaching, Learning and Equity) at the University of Technology.
  • Eddie Gulc is Senior Advisor for eLearning in the Higher Education Academy in England.
Professor Sandra Wills is Director of CEDIR at the University of Wollongong.