Tuesday, December 06, 2011

E-Learning Maturity Model

In 2005 Dr Stephen Marshall, Senior Lecturer at Victoria University of Wellington created an E-Learning Maturity Model (eMM). This is inspired by the software engineering Capability Maturity Model from Carnegie Mellon University. It is intended to assess how mature an institution is with its use of electronic learning. The eMM documentation is available under an open access license:There have been many attempts at applying the "Maturity model" idea to other disciplines, but with little success. Software engineering has a very rigorous processes and training for staff. This then lends itself to the assessment of the processes against standards. Education is not quite like that, at least not in most institutions.

Teachers are not all trained in the same methods (some staff at universities are not trained in education at all). Different approach abound and teachers work alone, or in very small, loose knit teams. There is considerable use of casual and part time workers in education. Essentially teaching is mostly a craft, not an organizational activity. As a result it would be difficult to apply the maturity model to the organization as it does not have a common set of processes to test against. A tiny fraction of educational institutions would even be at the lowest point on a maturity scale, not because they do not do education well, but because they do not do it as an engineering production line-like activity.

What might prompt educational institutions to adopt more systematic processes is e-learning. When education was done by a lone teacher in front of a class, it was diffiult to moninitor and measue what they do and little scope for production line efficiencies. E-learning uses computer mediated communication with a learning management system which can monitor and record all interactions between staff and students. This information can be mined to see what is done. Also materials such as course content and tests can be reused much more easily.

The eMM processes make a useful checklist to see where educational institutions are up to:

L1. Learning objectives are apparent in the design and implementation of courses
L2. Students are provided with mechanisms for interaction with teaching staff and other students
L3. Student skill development for e-learning is provided
L4. Information provided on the type and timeliness of staff responses to communications students can expect
L5. Students receive feedback on their performance within courses
L6. Research and information literacy skills development by students is explicitly supported
L7. Learning designs and activities result in active engagement by students
L8. Assessment of students is designed to progressively build their competence
L9. Student work is subject to specified timetables and deadlines
L10. Courses are designed to support diverse learning styles and learner capabilities
D1. Teaching staff are provided with design and development support when engaging in e-learning
D2. Course development, design and delivery are are guided and informed by formally developed e-learning procedures and standards
D3. Explict linkages are made in the design rationale regarding the pedagogies, content and technologies chosen
D4. Courses are designed to support disabled students
D5. All elements of the physical e-learning infrastructure are reliable, robust and sufficient
D6. All elements of the physical e-learning infrastructure are integrated using defined standards
D7. Resources created are designed and managed to maximise reuse
S1. Students are provided with technical assistance when engaging in e-learning
S2. Students have access to a range of library resources and services when engaging in e-learning
S3. Student enquiries, questions and complaints are collected formally and managed
S4. Students have access to support services for personal and learning issues when engaging in e-learning
S5. Teaching staff are provided with pedagogical support and professional development in using e-learning
S6. Teaching staff are provided with technical support in the handling of electronic materials created by students
E1. Students are able to provide regular formal and informal feedback on the quality and effectiveness of their e-learning experience
E2. Teaching staff are able to provide regular formal and informal feedback on quality and effectiveness of their e-learning experience
E3. Regular formal independent reviews of e-learning aspects of courses are conducted
O1. Formal criteria used to allocate resources for e-learning design, development and delivery
O2. Institutional learning and teaching policy and strategy explicitly address e-learning
O3. A documented specification and plan guides technology decisions when designing and developing courses
O4. A documented specification and plan ensures the reliability, integrity and validity of information collection, storage and retrieval
O5. The rationale for e-learning is placed within an explicit plan
O6. E-learning procedures and which technologies are used are communicated to students prior to starting courses
O7. Pedagogical rationale for e-learning approaches and technologies communicated to students prior to starting courses
O8. Course administration information communicated to students prior to starting courses
O9. The provision of e-learning is guided by formal business management and strategy

Table 2: eMM Version Two Processes

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