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ERIC Number: EJ899572
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Aug
Pages: 14
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 46
ISSN: ISSN-1544-0389
Online Learning Program Strategic Planning and Execution: Considering Goals, Benefits, Problems and Communities of Practice
Sawyer, Edward A.; Howard, Caroline
Journal of College Teaching & Learning, v4 n8 p99-112 Aug 2007
The nation's social agenda for improving education and training has converged with national economic forces (Hornbeck & Salamon, 1991). The emphasis on lifelong learning of the workforce through education, training and development, demands for ever-improving productivity and significant technological advancements have required new tools to deliver education and training at a distance when and where it is needed. With the emergence of online learning, organizations have reaped the rewards of a well-educated and trained workforce. Yet, in surveys, educators reported that strategic planning was not being conducted for online learning programs (Berge & Muilenburg, 2001; McNickle & Cameron, 2003), and what planning that was done was deficient in areas such as policy (U. S. General Accounting Office, 2003) and organizational culture (European Union, 2003). Sawyer (2005) found that the leaders and managers of online learning programs (from the academic community, business and industry, the non-profit sector and government) needed help developing and executing strategic plans for their programs, people and systems. When evaluating whether to move content to (or develop content for) an e-Learning program, deciding to purchase tools and/or content, internally designing a new distributed learning system, or beginning to plan for the future, Sawyer (2005) found that the state of the research at that time left the decision maker(s) to make critical choices based on their skill (and/or desire) to assemble and analyze the necessary information that would lead to relevant considerations being taken into account. One large area where the leaders and managers of online learning programs needed help developing and executing strategic plans for their programs was that they needed a single source that could be located and leveraged to gain an insight into online learning's goals, benefits or problems to use as a decision aid or analysis tool. Until now, a comprehensive list did not exist. Sawyer's 2005 study was designed to present a comprehensive list of online learning's goals, benefits and problems that could be applied as a decision aid/analysis tool to aid in strategic planning. This paper presents some of the key findings from this exploratory study which used the "emergent, inductive approach of" content analysis to conduct a cross case analysis of 607 research reports published over a two year period to establish the existence and frequency of the dependent variables goals, benefits and problems. This analysis resulted in the identification of 61 goals that have been set for online learning programs, 131 benefits that have been documented, and 371 problems that have been encountered. Conceptual and relational analysis were concurrently applied to identify key concepts and their semantic relationships which resulted in the development of a concept map that, when combined with the content analysis, led to the identification of seven recommended online learning communities, as well as a consolidated planning and decision aid to help decision-makers in their strategic planning effort. (Contains 2 tables and 1 figure.)
Clute Institute. P.O. Box 620760, Littleton, CO 80162. Tel: 303-904-4750; Fax: 303-978-0413; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Adult Education; Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A