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New lamps for old?

Developing a strategy for accommodating new technology within an established DL MBA programme 

Chris Pegler & Sally Rushworth, Warwick Business School

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The opportunities available for teaching and learning in a networked world can be dazzling, suggesting a variety of directions and myriad opportunities for those planning or implementing a new distance learning (DL) course. The technology options resemble an Aladdin's cave of opportunities. However there are many established DL programmes which have evolved a successful format employing mainly first and second generation open and distance learning (ODL) technologies (Nipper, 1989) and the Warwick Masters in Business Administration (MBA) is one of these. How can these programmes adapt to the opportunities on offer? What degree of caution need they show in trading in their old lamps for new? How can colleagues be convinced of the need to change or adapt a winning formula?

Long-term planning is essential for a successful distance learning programme where the emphasis is very definitely on getting things right first time. Uncertainty about where the use of specific technologies may lead, creates tensions which go beyond the usual pressures of change management and impact on academics, administrative support systems and the students themselves.

This article explores the emerging strategy of the Warwick DLMBA in examining the desirability and direction of changes in DL delivery within an established programme in a pre-eminent Business School. It identifys some of the barriers to adoption of IT when the starting point is far from a blank piece of paper.

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