P. Nair, A. Yao, T. Ramachand

Taylor's University (MALAYSIA)
Across developed nations, a buzzword often heard these days is “any time and anywhere learning”. A university’s need for the full-scale implementation of e-Learning throughout the entire fabric of the institution has never been more pressing given the lifestyle norms of generation-Y and widespread implementation of e-Learning by many top universities worldwide. Why are these universities seeking to redefine the learning experience of their students through e-learning and will e-learning give them a stronger competitive advantage and give their graduates the edge to shine?

Taylor’s University has recognized and embraced the transformational potential of e-Learning in the years ahead. e-Learning will play a vitally important role in equipping graduates with the skills they need to succeed in the 21st-century digital economy. e-Learning has the potential to revolutionize the basic tenets of learning by making it individual rather than institution-based, eliminating clock-hour measures in favour of performance and outcome measures, and emphasizing customized learning solutions over generic, one-size-fits-all approaches.

The paper elaborates how an e-learning strategic plan is embedded institutionally, to ensure that the development of e-Learning is aligned with the strategic mission of the University to be renowned for its teaching excellence and the distinctive qualities of its graduates. ‘Blended learning’, which adopts a strategic and systematic implementation of technology combined with the best features of face-to-face interaction to integrate different modes of delivery, models of teaching and styles of learning within teaching and learning environments, is proposed for adoption as the principal means of facilitating university-wide integration of e-Learning. This e-Learning experience will be branded as TaylorED: in essence, ‘At Taylor’s, your education is tailored to your needs’.

The paper also examines current type and level of electronic course delivery adopted at the university and how the university plans to move towards a blended learning model that delivers between 30% through up to 79% of its material through online means. Adoption of this new approach required restructuring of current learning environments and methodologies, including the proposition of an e-Learning mission statement, guiding principles, goals, strategies ,success measures and key responsibilities. The aim is that by 2015 all students will experience blended learning – with an ability to access a significant portion of learning content via e-Learning.

The paper also dwells on the willingness and ability of current faculty to adopt e-Learning. This will be the critical factor determining the success or failure of the implementation of e-learning at the university. The paper proposes the setting up of an e-Learning Academy and a corollary Teaching Enhancement Plan, that will operationalize the University’s commitment to improve faculty competencies through professional development and training. At the same time the paper proposes a University-wide redevelopment of learning spaces to better support and complement the proposed e-Learning initiative.

The potential long-term benefits outweigh the risks. Certainly, failure to move forward in terms of integrating e-learning throughout the entire fabric of the University will mean likely long-term failure to grow as a competitive institution of higher learning.