TOACS: Evolution of an On-line Education Environment 1995-2001
Edith Cowan University
Faculty of Computing, Health and Science
School of Computer and Information Science
Systems development can occur with a ‘big bang’ model of instant introduction on a grand scale or systems can evolve in a piecewise progressive fashion with ongoing refinement. The advantage of the evolutionary model is that extended consultation is a realistic driver option, encouraging ‘buy in’ to the process by those involved. The disadvantage is that the process can take a little longer to implement. This paper examines the Thailand On-Line Automated Curriculum System (TOACS) and its development through an evolutionary model. It outlines the history of the TOACS development starting from the initial concept of implementation of a Virtual Campus, a Knowledge Server Network alternative, and describing the factors which influenced its development including the educational environment in the Rajabhat system and their associated goals. The early technical constraints and infrastructure issues are identified, indicating the dependence upon some technical innovation which occurred through following better definition of customer requirements. The success of training programs and the adoption of technology by staff through leadership and recognition of improved educational outcomes was a significant contributing factor. The possibility of national coverage and regional focus are also described as important factors in encouraging staff involvement and eventual adoption. The potential for developing international relationships was an additional factor in the joint development of an online model leading to successful programs, staff in-service and advancement, and eventual adoption and spread of a working online educational environment. The paper outlines the major factors resulting from an analysis of needs and potential outcomes balanced against the cost of changes and infrastructure difficulties and enhancements. The outcome appears to be successful, understanding of the forces driving this evolutionary change will help inform the changes that will inevitably follow in the next decade of educational development.