Lane, B. (2012) UNE and La Trobe hook up online, The Australian, February 20
Two Australian public universities, the University of New England in Armidale, NSW, and La Trobe University in Melbourne, Victoria, have entered an agreement to share online courses, to increase course choice for students and expand online education.
UNE and La Trobe are already participants in Open Universities Australia, a collaboration of 13 universities and several technical and further education colleges. (For a good independent analysis of Open Universities Australia, see ‘What Ontario Can Learn from the Australian Online Learning System‘)
UNE is the first Australian university to sign up for Pearson’s LearningSolutions (now re-branded as OpenClass) as its main learning management system, but it has not yet been decided which LMS will be used for the UNE/La Trobe collaboration.
I can’t help myself but respond to this seemingly rather innocuous announcement. And please allow me to predict that ‘this will all end in tears’. I write this as someone who was partially involved in developments at UNE.
A few years ago UNE decided to migrate from Blackboard to Moodle. It was well planned and organised, and significant resources were thrown at what was a major project for the university (strongly supported by UNE management) – not just to change platforms, but an opportunity to radically improve the quality of online courses. I was one of a team of contract designers brought in to work with groups of academics to ‘transform’ their courses. There was a very strong and competent technical team building what was to my mind a pretty impressive LMS that was based on Moodle but was also integrating it with other existing and new/innovative systems (lecture capture, etc.). I enjoyed myself immensely, working with staff who developed their skills and produced some really impressive materials. So far, so good … enter a new VC, apparently not a fan of Moodle. Just as the new system was being released, the whole project was cut back and totally different goals/aspirations presented. Result: an immediate exodus of competent, committed people, leaving the project foundering and disgruntled academic staff wondering what would happen next. We now know.
PS Of course I don’t know the full story – this is just my warped perspective!