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Exploring the Current Theoretical Background About Adoption Until Institutionalization of Online Education in Universities: Needs for further research
Jönköping University, Jönköping International Business School, JIBS, Business Informatics.
2010 (English)In: Electronic Journal of e-Learning, ISSN 1479-4403, Vol. 8, no 2, 73-84 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Online education in institutional contexts means new organizational problems. The fact that universities need to change to accommodate the impact of technology on learning is already known and accepted. Coping with changes from adoption until institutionalization of online education represents a formidable management challenge for universities. Online education, under the umbrella of e-learning was perceived by several early researchers as an innovation per-se, "established and embedded" in educational institutions. Nevertheless, the Department for Education and Skills of UK insists that e-learning is not embedded at any stage of education. The focus was strongly set on technological, practical and pedagogical aspects but there are relevant reports about failures in embedding innovations in educational institutions. The institutional lack of strategies to cope with international students and new technologies as well as supporting for future online developments clearly appeared in recent studies. Competition in the market of Higher Education has pushed universities towards the adoption of sophisticated organizational practices to ensure effectiveness. These new institutional models require changing traditional functions and roles, as online education does not usually fit into the existing university structure. The transition from on-campus to online education evolves in new roles, either in the pedagogical or in the administration domains. Organizational factors, more than teachers and students attitudes or technological features seem to mark the differences in the general perception about technology-mediated education getting successfully embedded in institutional new programs, roles, procedures, culture and structures. The aim of this paper is to revisit the existing theoretical background about the process from adoption until institutionalization of online education and explore the needs for further research. The overall purpose is to encourage researchers to fill the gaps of knowledge helping university managers to address a more clear understanding of the individual and organizational interactions that influence the development of strategies and institutionalization of emergent online educational initiatives. Exploring the current theoretical background it could be found that IT-innovation adoption models describe very extensively organizational issues, but they mainly take into account educational innovation take-up, adoption and implementation as isolated stages. They focus on factors and prescribed practices, but not on the human interactions during the transition from individual adoption until institutionalization. The disconnection between individual and organizational IT adoption research was remarked by the Diffusion Interest Group in Information Technology (DIGIT) in their 2004 conference. Since then, several authors have claimed for a better understanding of this linkage. The lack of clearness about the phenomena and a description of how individual and group-level processes enable and/or hinder the development of organizational routines, were reported as a still under-developed topic and according to the findings of this review it seems to be still an ongoing theme. Consequently, under the circumstance of the transformation that universities are undergoing, the need for a systematic study analyzing the implementation of emergent IT innovations in education appears as significant. Particularly, the process from its adoption at individual level until its institutionalization and the linkage between individual and organizational purposes need to be addressed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010. Vol. 8, no 2, 73-84 p.
Keyword [en]
Online education, adoption, organizational factors, institutionalization, universities
National Category
Information Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-14659OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hj-14659DiVA: diva2:397628
Available from: 2011-02-15 Created: 2011-02-15 Last updated: 2013-07-23Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Online Education in Universities: Moving from Individual Adoption to Institutionalisation of an Information Technology Innovation
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Online Education in Universities: Moving from Individual Adoption to Institutionalisation of an Information Technology Innovation
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis describes and analyses the move from individual adoption to institutionalisation of an information technology innovation: online education in universities. The study focuses on the processes that took place within two universities, one in Sweden and the other in Argentina, regarding online education adoption and the organisational changes developed.

The aim is to contribute to the understanding of individual and organisational strategies for the institutionalisation of the innovation. To achieve this aim, three research questions were posed. The first focused on the way in which teachers influence the adoption processes. The next addressed the changes and interactions at the individual and institutional levels resulting from these processes. The third question deepened into the methodological practices that can harmonise stakeholders‟ objectives and the conflicting interests regarding online education initiatives. Innovation theory, complemented with organisational theories provided the foundation for the description and analysis of the information technology innovation and the adoption processes.

The results of analysing and interpreting the collected data from the two universities in two different countries (Sweden and Argentina) showed that the adoption processes appeared to be evolutionary rather than revolutionary. The iterative nature of the appropriation and the constant “newness” of the information technology innovation may be plausible explanations for the phenomenon. Though the change has not yet become an integral part of the formal core of the institutions, it has been a great achievement considering the universities‟ structure, culture and resources.

The contributions provide complementary and pluralistic insights into the research field of Information Systems, for both theory and practice, as well as into higher education managers‟ decision-making. Furthermore, the knowledge contribution of the thesis could be applied to implementation of information technology innovations in other organisations with similar characteristics as the studied higher education institutions. Such characteristics are, for example, to be complex and knowledge intensive.

Interactions at macro and micro organisational levels could be modelled as the cyclic linkage between sensemaking outcomes and institutionalized structures. A higher level of theorization resulted in a meta-theory model to describe and explain the linkage itself within the perspective of adaptive structuration theory.

Regarding practice, scholar-engaged research allowed conflicting interests to be reconciled by changing the existing practices through sensemaking and negotiation among stakeholders in an ongoing implementation. As an overall conclusion, online education is still far from being fully institutionalised. After four years of technological and contextual changes during the research development, a positive shift can be seen in teachers‟ attitude towards online  education. They show more confidence in working with constantly improved virtual environments. Nevertheless, there are still key factors that need to be faced regarding online education adoption and institutionalisation. These factors are of a strategic nature and the way to handle them seems to be more political than technological or pedagogical.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Jönköping: Jönköping International Business School, 2013. 351 p.
Series
JIBS Dissertation Series, ISSN 1403-0470 ; 087
National Category
Information Systems, Social aspects
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-20649 (URN)978-91-86345-40-2 (ISBN)
Public defence
2013-03-15, B1014 at JIBS, Gjuterigatan 5, Jönköping, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2013-02-19 Created: 2013-02-19 Last updated: 2013-03-25Bibliographically approved

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