An elearning ecosystem perspective on sustainability: Emergent practices
Proceedings of the International Conferences: Internet Technologies and Society 2016
School of Education
Contemporary elearning systems at many universities are rapidly evolving in time, scale, design, and functioning, creating new challenges as they strive to achieve efficiencies and become more effective within traditional organisational hierarchies. Against this background previous studies have pointed to concerns around sustainability issues encompassing resource management, infrastructure, costs, efficiency gains, business models, workloads, and educational benefits, amongst others. Whilst these studies individually provide baseline knowledge to conceptualize sustainability in elearning, an overarching framework to guide transition to sustainability is lacking. This research employed an ecological lens to theoretically analyse the complexity that characterises elearning systems and to map how the system can become more sustainable. A conceptual analysis methodology was employed to construct a theoretical framework which was then adopted within a School using a consensus building strategy. The research concluded that as a socio-technical system dramatic shifts in activity patterns were unevenly absorbed at multiple levels of the organisation. Also, rapid growth and continuous change in elearning were inherently supported by capacities that characterise complex systems, rendering information flows and agility across a vast network of system agents with varying degrees of efficiency. Finally, transition of the elearning system to a position of sustainability was supported by the use of consensus-building strategies. Given these emergent results observed in the first year of implementation it is likely that the theoretical framework could have wider application potentially.