Chris Pegler & Sally Rushworth, Warwick Business School
This article describes a process of introducing new forms of technology within the long-standing distance learning MBA course at Warwick University. It is a retrospective, developmental article outlining various approaches that were taken and reviewing these. The paper does tackle some of the technical considerations but these are addressed in a pragmatic way within the context of the situation.
What becomes apparent when reading the article are the various stages that the authors moved through. It illustrates very clearly how introducing technology is an iterative process. As time passes and new developments and challenges emerge, needs have to be re-assessed and new approaches implemented as required. Additionally, the article highlights the gradual process of change. The authors were keen to emphasise that the learning and experience gained from moving slowly and thoroughly through each of the stages was a crucial factor in the success of the new programme.
The paper raises issues likely to be faced by academics preparing to run, or currently running distance learning programmes. One of these issues is the importance of ensuring that the technology is reliable, so that high expectations of quality provision and standards are met. In this case, the students expressed some concerns about the introduction of technology. This is an interesting comparison to several other papers where staff have appeared to be the more sceptical parties. It seems that embedding new technologies within an educational context is an ongoing journey for all involved and staff responsible for planning such developments should find this paper illuminating.
First appeared in Interactions Issue 8 Summer 1999