Friday, November 24, 2006

The Question of ROI and eLearning

I facilitated a workshop yesterday on the role of training and support in eLearning success. This workshop was mainly around the issues I discussed earlier in my blogs (The Role of Training and Support in eLearning Success Parts I-IV).

One of the major question that was asked is how to convince the chief executives of African universities to increase/provide funding for eLearning. This is a hard stance given that in most universities, due to the commercialisation projects, one has to justify any expenditure with the Return on Investment (ROI). I am not convinced that asking for a justification for this kind of investment is really worthwhile or warranted. Elearning has become necessity that cannot be wished away. It is a way of life, an idea that is here to stay. Therefore the sooner the the CEOs in these universities realise this the better. A question might be asked, what is the ROI of the office spaces and lecture halls that we currently have in these universities? What is the ROI of a whiteboard or chalkboard in the lecturer halls (especially if we do not have students in the lecturer halls)? Would we still ask what is the ROI if a chemistry lecturer asks for funds to stock her laboratory with chemicals for students' experiments?

In my opinion, just like it is almost impossible to justify or quantify the ROI on educational investment, the same applies to eLearning. We do not stop sending our children to school because education has become too expensive and we do not know what we will get from their education. Or do we?

what if we see eLearning as an enhancement of our teaching and learning? Will still ask what is the same questions? What is the ROI of out teaching and learning - with or without technology? If we define eLearning as teaching and learning using technology, will we install overhead/LCD projectors in our classrooms/lecture halls?

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