Obviously there will be savings in not having to provide lecture theatres and tutorial rooms and extra costs in providing an e-learning system (the e-learning system is likely to be much cheaper than building costs). In addition there is the cost of the course materials used for conventional and e-learning courses (with e-learning material costing considerably more). Also there will be differences in the quality of the experience: students in a lecture rarely, if ever, get individual attention from a lecturer and get only a few minutes individual attention from a tutor per semester. But with an e-learning course each student gets hours of individual attention.
Calculating course cost
A typical ANU postgraduate course, such as "COMP6341 IT in e-Commerce" has three hours of lectures per week for ten weeks and seven two hour labs.
ANU Casual Sessional Rates range per hour from $95.44 to $238.61, depending on the amount of preparation required. Tutoring ranges from $69.15 to $122.95 per hour. The bottom end of the scale assume that the teacher has to spend an hour preparing for a one hour lecture or tutorial, thus taking two ours for one hour of student time.
Assuming that a lecture contains 100 students and tutorials have 24 students in each, there will be 4 tutorial groups. So there will be:
- 3 lectures x 2 hours x 10 weeks = 60 hours, plus
- 4 lab groups x 4 hours x 7 labs = 112 hours
- Total = 172 hours teacher time
The course also has to be administered, so let us add one our per week, for 12 weeks: 12 hours. At the ANU "Other required academic activity category this is" $40.98 per hour.
Assuming that a flexible course, such as COMP7310 requires 15 minutes of time per student per week for 12 weeks, plus 1 hour for each of two assignments and the same 1 hour a week of administration, the total hours and cost come out to be very similar:
|Per student $||$319.84||$297.71|
|Per student H||4.84||5.12|
Some of the interesting things about this are that 38% of the cost of the conventional course is from the assessment, which is about the same as the e-learning course.