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PechaKucha Session 3: Sustaining eLearning Innovations: Why funded projects are set up to fail -- 106

14:45 - 15:45 on Tuesday, 11 September 2012 in 2.220

Funded projects have been a mainstay of elearning innovation for more than 50 years. Despite various strategies devised to address it, the problem of what happens once funding runs out has persisted since the early years. A few options are available to sustain development, support and dissemination, and to share knowledge of what has been learned from the project experience. The most commonly pursued ones are institutional adoption, release as open source, commercialization and hosted service. However, many projects stall at this point, or continue only if the originators are highly determined and resourceful. The future of promising innovations is often determined by factors other than educational benefits. This results in poor return on investment of creative effort as well as scarce resources.

A study explored issues of sustainability for elearning innovations that began as funded projects in Australasian universities, and developed outside of an enterprise learning management system (also known as virtual learning) environment. It drew on literature and earlier research, and involved collection of baseline and interview data on 22 case studies, including high profile elearning systems with large international user communities.

The data revealed some clear obstacles en route from funded project to sustainable product.

  • Most projects are started by an individual with an idea and a passion to translate the concept into reality. While many began development because there was ‘nothing available that met their requirements’, the scoping process used to reach this conclusion is not clear.
  • Broad consensus is that project funding for two or three years is sufficient to produce a full working prototype, but not a finished product that is disseminated widely and is sustainable.
  • The evidence of benefits to teaching and learning is either insufficient, or not in a form which influences institutional players, such as IT departments and those who make management level decisions about the use of a product within an institution.
  • Many funded projects do not have a clear roadmap for the future in terms of development, dissemination, support or sustainability.
  • Although universities often fund development and are seen by the innovators to ‘own’ the products, this ownership typically does not translate into meaningful actions to sustain them.
  • Different skill sets are required at various stages of the project lifecycle. It is unrealistic to expect the innovator and development team to provide them all.

Recommendations based on the study findings suggest clear pathways for project planning, management, dissemination and reporting. However, they are not exhaustive answers to some of the more complex questions around how to sustain innovations. For this, a different mindset and organizational structures would be required.


I'm really keen to hear this. Although I love PechaKucha I would love if there was more time to discuss this.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012, 17:07

Friday, 7 September 2012, 13:02

PK106 slides with presentation notes

Tuesday, 11 September 2012, 14:34