Online Education – Evolving an Information Technology Plan for Distance Learning (2)

There abound many approaches in evolving a plan depending on the scope, span of activities and events to be carried out, deadlines, and expiration. In this article, we would approach the planning process from the viewpoint of what it is trying to answer. For the Distance Learning or Online Education planning point of view, there are issues also to be considered for instance, the plan should be able to answer the following;

1. What is the present challenge in the distance learning institution that warranted this process of planning?
2. Who are the parties involved in the distance learning equation of the institution? Who are the Clients, Stakeholders, applicants, students, staff, categorized and uncategorized staff of the organisational framework of the institution?
3. what are the products and services identified in the entire continuum of the distance learning institution cycle of production – enrollment and transition rate, with the identified expected outcomes and measurement of success of these output from enrollment to transition stage?
4. What is/are the Desired situation identified from the outcome of the problems analysis of the distance learning institution
5. Is the desired situation in consonant with the Value, vision and mission?
6. Are there enough resources and capacity to effect and carry out the plan? If not what are the alternatives
7. What are the deliverables, schedules, responsibility and the budget, evaluation of the outcomes, of the entire plan from the beginning to the end

The ICT or IT department should be heavily involved in the process listed above especially in identifying the scopes for the Plan development. Each scope is defined within the context of fulfilling the vision and mission statement of the distance learning and the university if it is a dual-mode institution. The department should make sure that all ambiguity is reduced to the least when identifying the scope and terms for the plan engagement. The identified expected outcome should be clear and quantifiable including the deliverables.

Each scope should at the end have distinct and quantifiable deliverables, schedules, responsibility and the budget. This is to enable the proper evaluation of the outcomes. There should be an adjoining appendix for specifications, standards and configurations of ICT hardware and software. This is meant to act as policy and procedure for acquisitions, implementation and maintenance. This aspect should also take into cognisance the dynamic and the rate at which computing technology both software and hardware goes obsolete. Therefore they should build this into the policy and procedure of software and hardware acquisition.

The main goal of distance learning institution IT Plan is gear to fulfil the institution mission of providing her with technological support services in delivering distance education. The clients here are mostly the students, staff, prospective students and the public. Services gear towards this identified entities should be well spelt out and the technology media also should defined the ‘how’ and maintenance continuum that will sustains the continuity. Every entity identified in this process should be carried along in the planning process to make sure feedback, process re-engineering and self perseverance of the plan itself.

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Pungky Dwiasmoro Hiswardhani

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