Uys, P.M. (2000). Towards the Virtual Class: Key Management Issues in Tertiary Education. Unpublished PhD thesis, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. Available online:





Chapter one provided an introduction to this research study. In view of the research problem and the two research questions, Chapter two presents a review of relevant literature, using the MIT90 schema (see Figure 1.3).  This review of the literature focuses on the following, each of which will be discussed subsequently:

2.1       external technological environment

2.2       external socio-economic environment

2.3       management processes

2.4       strategy

2.5       roles and skills of individuals

2.6       structure and

2.7       technology.


2.1     External Technological Environment


This section accentuates the virtual class as the most pertinent aspect of the external technological environment in relation to this research.


Tiffin and Rajasingham (1995) defined the virtual class as the process that occurs when teacher, learner, problem and knowledge interact through ICT for the purpose of learning. Vygotsky (1962) identified three factors in the educational process: learner, teacher and a problem to be solved. Tiffin and Rajasingham (1995:24) take a neo-Vygotskian approach in which they identify an implicit fourth factor, which is knowledge to solve the problem.


Farrell's (1999:2) perception of virtual education aligns itself to the definition of Tiffin and Rajasingham above: "as development takes place, the definition may become more focused on those teaching and learning interactions mediated entirely through the application of information and communication technologies".


The virtual class can thus be seen as an educational experience of real people in a virtual dimension. In the virtual class, teaching and learning is performed without the movement of physical objects (eg getting students and lecturers into a physical venue). The virtual class is thus primarily based on the movement of bits of information in contrast to the movement of atoms (Negroponte, 1995) which forms the central base of conventional education. Tiffin (1997, April:8) underlines the fundamental difference between the infrastructure of the conventional class and that of the virtual class:

The promise of the global information infrastructure that is coming into place and its manifestation today in the Internet is that the critical components of education: teachers, students, knowledge and its applications can come together not as atoms but as bits of information.   


The specific manifestation of the virtual class referred to in this study is  the virtual class  predominantly based on Internet or intranet technologies. The author describes this expression of the virtual class with the term: networked education. Networked education emphasises the high level of connectivity across space and time that is enabled through creating a network between student and student, student and teacher, student and resources, teacher and resources as well as the past and the present (through availability of on-line resources of one course occurrence for a next occurrence).  It also indicates that the education is network-based (Internet or intranet) and computer mediated, that it includes teaching, learning and research (“education”), and highlights the distribution  both of the control of learning and of the on-line learning and teaching materials among the students and teacher(s).


Networked education has a global dimension to it since the Internet in 1996 (Wizards, 1997) was represented in 129 countries (through domain names) and in July 1999 in 252 countries (Internet Software Consortium, 1999b). The Internet representation spans a diversity of nations, philosophies, cultures, stature, size and development stages of countries and groups as illustrated by the following list of countries (with their domain names): Ascension Island (.ac), Antarctica (.aq), Liechtenstein (.li), Viet Nam (.vn), Gabon (.gn), New Zealand (.nz), Cuba (.cu), Japan (.jp), South Africa (.za), China(.cn), Lao People's Democratic Republic (.la), Israel (il), Syrian Arab Republic (.sy), Vatican City State (Holy See) (.va) and Saudi Arabia (.sa). Tapscott (1996:xiii) describes this ability of students in networked education to access other students, lecturers and resources globally in paradigmatic terms:

A new medium of human communications is emerging, one that may prove to surpass all previous revolutions – the printing press, the telephone, the television – in its impact on our economic and social life... Interactive multi-media and the so-called information highway, and its exemplar the Internet, are enabling a new economy based on the networking of human intelligence... Such a shift in economic and social relationships has occurred only a handful of times before on this planet.


Farrell (1999:2) describes the problematic use of the term virtual in a broad context:

The label virtual is widely and indiscriminately used around the world…. Furthermore, it is used in some regions to refer to systems that combine broadcast and interactive teleconferencing technologies that operate in real time. With such broad use of the term, you need to know what the information and communication technology applications are in order to know what virtual education means in any given context.


Various terms are used to describe networked education, for example “distributed learning” (Dede, 1995 July), “tele-learning” (Collis, 1996), "virtual education" (Farrell, 1999; Butterfield et al., 1999 July), “networked learning” (Gundry and Metes, 1997) as well as ones that are "…frequently used interchangeably with other labels such as open and distance learning, distributed learning, networked learning, Web-based learning, and computer learning" (Farrell, 1999:2).


Holmberg (1977:9) formulated an enduring definition of distance education as “… the various forms of study at all levels which are not under the continuous, immediate supervision of tutors present with their students in lecture rooms or on the same premises, but which, nevertheless, benefit from the planning, guidance, and tuition of a tutorial organisation”.  Networked education is different from distance education in that networked education is solely enabled through the Internet and intranets, that a telepresence can be created among teacher and students (Mason, 1999 July) and that it represents a paradigmatic focus on the educational needs of the information society  (Tiffin, 1996b November). This research further deals with conventional tertiary education that excludes single distance mode or dual mode educational institutes.


Distance education nevertheless has to contend with various aspects in networked education. Like networked education, distance education has to bridge geographical (Garrison, 1989:119) and transactional distance (Moore, 1993), explore innovative uses of communication systems (Garrison, 1989:17; Henri and Kaye, 1993), cater for individualised learning (Garrison, 1989:27; Peters, 1993:46), use communications technology (Bates, 1984b; Garrison, 1989:2), procure sustainable commitment of students to their studies (Garrison, 1989:99), address the needs of adult learners (Garrison, 1989:103) and lifelong learning (Garrison, 1989:107).


Lewis (1992:14) defines “open learning” as a conglomeration of educational approaches that aims to transcend the traditional barriers of conventional tertiary education, namely physical, educational, individual and financial barriers. Lewis points out that specific locations and times, sequencing of the content and method of delivery, lack of awareness of what is available and costs of course materials are some of the examples of these barriers that open learning needs to address. Lewis further points to the learner centred nature of open learning. The virtual class can identify with open learning, as it also has to address these barriers.


Tiffin and Rajasingham (1995:10) distinguish the concept of the virtual class from that of the “virtual classroom” originating with Hiltz (1986), since the former concept “... suggests that the place a virtual class is held is an electronic simulation of a conventional classroom”, while for Hiltz (1986:95) the latter was the use of computer mediated communications “ create electronic analogue of the communications forms that usually occur in a classroom including discussion as well as lectures and tests”. A software product, the Virtual Classroom, based on Hiltz’s (1995, March) work, was in fact created and is described by her as a teaching and learning environment that is constructed in software to support collaborative learning among students who participate in a flexible manner through computer networks.


Chambers (1998:9) shares the reservations about using the metaphor of a ‘virtual classroom” when he states that "today we make the same kind of mistake when we glibly speak of the ‘virtual classroom’. This metaphor conjures images of students who soon shall congregate in cyberspace to receive their lectures from the electronic semblance of some sage professor". Chambers then explains that "the idea of the ‘virtual class’ is misguided because emerging telecommunications and information technologies promise something far greater than forming classrooms in cyberspace: the new technologies enable quality universities to provide one-on-one tuition cost effectively".


The virtual class can lead to fully virtual institutes as Butterfield et al. (1999, July) could foresee. Although the term 'virtual institution' is not yet well defined, it is an attempt to capture the sense of a further dispersion. The word 'open' came to be prefixed to the word 'university' to qualify an institution that in some ways resembled a 'traditional' university but not in other ways; likewise the word 'virtual' in relation to an institution signals a further difference: the students and staff are likely to be in distant locations and hence the programmes are provided and serviced primarily on-line through some form of computer mediated communications. Furthermore, the staff who develops programmes may not be the ones to support or assess them.  As an institution without a campus, it may be dubbed 'virtual'. Virtual education is not just distance education: there are many fundamental differences, including changes in the role of students, academic staff and support staff.


The external technological environment needs to be contextualized within an even wider system, namely that of the emerging information or knowledge society. Tiffin (1996 February) regards the virtual class as an Information Technology system for education and training in an information society, one whose function could be likened to that of the conventional classroom in an industrial society: as the core communication system for preparing people for the society in which they live.  For Tiffin (1996a, November:1) the “...concept of the virtual class is the kernel of a new educational paradigm that matches the needs of an information society”.

The information society is, however, not a universal state of societies:  "everyone talks about the information society. Yet there is evidence that global communication has led more to divergence and division than to unity” (Frederick, 1993:267). This view is supported by Negroponte (1997, June) who highlighted as a contributing factor to divergence within the information society the fact that the Internet (on which networked education is based) is a decentralised phenomenon that encourages diversity


This information society in which the virtual class and tertiary education operate at the beginning of the new millennium is exceptionally dynamic and volatile. This can be attributed largely to the emergence of a global information or knowledge society, which many view to be  “… as significant as the previous displacement of the agricultural age by the industrial age” (Tapscott, 1996:43). Drucker (1989) draws an analogy between the introduction of computers in education and the advent of printing by contending that a revolution of similar or even greater proportions in education is occurring. Even the nature of the change process from conventional education to the virtual class itself is not stable; Morrison (1995) even describes this evolutionary process dislocations, dilemmas and uncertainties rather than progression from 'what is' to 'what is needed'.


Ponder and Holmes (1999) similarly comment on the turbulence of the marketplace and the adaptive management structures this environment requires of the school system, which also seems to be highly relevant to conventional tertiary education.  They claim that new technologies and scientific break-throughs will cause a constant reshaping of the 21st-century marketplace, and the ideal school system will be capable of rapidly reinventing itself to accommodate this continuously changing world.  Therefore educational institutions and structures will be malleable and constructed in a way that allows them to be easily and quickly reorganized and rebuilt.


Tiffin (1996, February:6) describes the problematic nature of operations and management in this immature ICT environment:

When our Virtual Classes had communication problems we tended to blame the technology in front of us rather than looking at the wider system in which it operated. We were trying to operate as though we were in an information society when in fact we were still in an industrial society.


The virtual class needs to further contend with information availability that is exponentially increasing. There are estimates that “information is doubling every eighteen months and that by the year 2012 it will be doubling every day. A significant new insight in human knowledge is made every 60 hours”  (Nugent, 1996:264).


The growth in the Internet on which the virtual class is based is dramatic (see Figure 1.1). There are furthermore sustained, revolutionary changes in the ICT that underpin the virtual class (Bates, 1995:45; Szabo et al., 1997). The computer per se has expanded from being an information management tool to being a communications instrument (Tapscott, 1996). Some thinkers say that in a decade from now the technologies used in the virtual class will be superseded – already there are pointers to a hyper class being constructed in hyper reality (Tiffin, 1997 April).


The external technological environment can therefore be seen as one that is becoming increasingly digitised, volatile, transitory and divergent. It demands an appropriate response from conventional tertiary education in terms of its processes and the way in which it is managed. However, the information society is not yet fully established, and hence the virtual class  - also in its management - needs to contend with a high level of immaturity, instability and change in many of its underlying systems. 


After an examination of literature on the external technological environment and specifically the virtual class, which is referred to as a new educational paradigm (Tiffin, 1996b November), the focus now turns to the conventional educational paradigm as the core of the relevant external socio-economic environment.


2.2     External Socio-economic Environment


The socio-economic environment in which this research occurred is that of conventional tertiary education in general and New Zealand in particular.


Conventional tertiary education in this study describes post-compulsory public educational institutes that are funded predominantly through the state to which it also has a central reporting responsibility. These institutions normally adhere to public sector financial accountability processes and are controlled by their own council. “Tertiary education is generally understood to mean a level of studies beyond secondary schooling that is broader than higher education traditionally associated with the universities” (Ministry of Education, 1997 June). Rebore's (1985:36) description of secondary schools in the United States as “service rendering public sector organizations” aptly describes conventional tertiary educational institutes.


Conventional tertiary educational institutes normally have clearly defined administrative and academic components that are subdivided into units often called departments. Conventional tertiary education, for the purposes of this research, does not differentiate between students on a cultural or racial base and furthermore has its main focus on face-to-face education where learning and teaching occur physically “on-campus”. This study therefore excludes autonomous (or single distance mode) and mixed (or dual mode) institutes as described by Garrison (1989:115):

Autonomous institutions are those totally committed to distance education while mixed institutions are those distance education deliverers found within conventional tertiary education institutions”.


Conventional tertiary education is still a description of the predominant way of tertiary education internationally (Garrison, 1989:121) – and certainly in New Zealand - today. This is evident in the common values and sometimes remarkably similar nature and structure of conventional tertiary education across the world. This contention was strikingly illustrated when the "Towards the Global University: Strategies for the Third Millennium" conference (held over four days in April 1998 in Tours, France) summary speaker, Dr John D Welty (President, California State University, Fresno, USA), who based his summary on the participants’ responses to a questionnaire collected the previous evening, remarked on how amazed he was by the transferability of experiences over the institutes which represented all the continents with more than 100 mainly management (eg vice-chancellors, directors, deans) delegates from more than 30 countries.


Universities have a long and established tradition. Johnston and Challis (1994:72), after having studied the changes in the working lives of a few academics who moved from teaching a Master's degree course in a traditional face-to-face tutorial format to one in which they also taught the same program in a distance mode, commented on the concern that the changing patterns of teacher workload and student participation associated with distance education “...might undermine the whole tradition of a university as a group of scholars discovering knowledge by a process of discussion and interaction”.


Van der Molen (1996) also points to the long tradition of universities when describing a concern of the liaison committee of the Rectors Conferences of the European Community (EC) and the Standing Conference of Rectors, Presidents and Vice-Chancellors of the European Universities (CRE) on the memorandum on Higher Education in the European Community, in which they identify  “values which over the centuries have been associated with universities, such as independent judgment, creativity, cultural and ethical dimensions”.


Moreover, Laurillard (1993:4) identifies the pursuit of scholarship and research, the advancement of learning, and academic freedom that is the freedom to conduct a radical critique of knowledge, as being shared by academics across the world. Collis (1998) identifies four values shared by universities:

1.      Values related to academic moulding (or developing of intellectual expertise)

2.      Values relating to good teaching

3.      Values related to the interaction of local and global perspectives and

4.      Values related to the university being a focal point of knowledge and expertise.


The similarity among tertiary education institutes internationally allows researchers like Rajasingham (1988:5) to write about a global problem in conventional education:

 New Zealand shares the world-wide problem of conventional education and training systems having been set up, inter alia, to provide for the traditional major economic sectors in societies (the primary and manufacturing industries) although these industries are no longer the predominant employment industries”.


Universities have changed very little and seem to be resistant to change. Patterson (1997:7) studied the university’s evolutionary dimensions and suggests that

The historic continuity of the institution is unbroken, and many of the medieval university’s unique features remain characteristic of today’s universities: features, for example, such as the university’s status as an autonomous corporate body; its legal identity; recognition by others leading to the award of recognised degrees or diplomas; the degree structure and levels, e.g. bachelors leading to masters, and doctorates; testing by examination; and structures of governance, such as the division of major branches of learning into faculties, and the hierarchical positions such as deans, chancellor and rector.


Trow (1996) also provides a picture associated with typical university life: Remarkably conservative and enduring institutions, in some important respects very much like their medieval ancestors, where learned seniors spend their time reading books and talking to young men (and now young women), lecturing to them in large halls and talking more informally with them in small seminar rooms close to collections of books. The teachers - masters and doctors today as in the thirteenth century - are organised in groups of specialists around bodies of knowledge or professional practice, in what in many places are still called ‘faculties’; departments came later.... Universities are still largely governed by the guild of teachers  - the masters or professors - with a rector (or chancellor, vice-chancellor or president) presiding over the institution and managing its relations with its environment and its sources of support.      


There are, however, also commentators pointing to diversity among modern universities such as Cass (1996:10) who believes in the context of postmodernity that at least in Australia "no single idea of the university is possible any longer” and that we need “… plural ways of thinking about them.”  Weber (1996:46) refers to “… how diverse universities in different countries can be...” based on his experience of having taught at universities in different countries.


These comments are seemingly not representative of the predominant view that institutes in tertiary education are very similar in their governance, structure, mission and finance. Chambers (1998) points to contemporary universities as institutions that still bear a close resemblance to their antecedents of centuries past where classroom lectures have reigned supreme, while Trow (1996) comments on how American higher education is still remarkably "similar in basic structure, diversity, mission, governance and finance to the system at the turn of the century.”


The investigation now turns to tertiary education in New Zealand, which is defined by the Ministry of Education (1994b) as consisting of universities, polytechnics, colleges of education, and wananga (focusing on Maori tradition according to Maori custom) which serve both the school leavers and those already in the work force.


According to the Ministry of Education (1994c), polytechnics (45%) and universities (49%) had comparable shares in 1993 of the tertiary sector in New Zealand. The Ministry of Education (1997, June) indicates that for “...65% of 18-24 year olds, tertiary education and training is provided by the system of state tertiary institutions; universities, polytechnics, colleges of education and wananga.” At the same time, the distinctions between New Zealand universities and polytechnics are diminishing (Ministry of Education, 1997 June).


A guide by the Ministry of Education (1997, June) provides a concise overview of tertiary education in New Zealand:

Arrangements for the establishment, governance and funding of tertiary institutions are set out in legislation, and are identical for universities, polytechnics, colleges of education, and wananga. The distinguishing characteristics of the four kinds of tertiary institutions are also defined in legislation.


Currently there are seven universities, 25 polytechnics, four colleges of education, and three wananga, which between them enrol over 200,000 students each year.


Tertiary institutions are Crown entities and are required to follow standard public sector financial accountability processes.


Each tertiary institution is controlled by its own council, established under legislation intended to maximise its autonomy consistent with the standard requirements of accountability for public funding.


Each tertiary institution determines its own programmes. All matters relating to governance and management are the responsibility of the council, which represents the interests of staff, students, and the wider community.


Universities are primarily concerned with advanced learning, the principle aim being to develop intellectual independence; their research and teaching are closely interdependent; they meet international standards of research and teaching; they are a repository of knowledge and expertise; they have a role as critic and conscience of society.


There are seven universities in New Zealand: the University of Auckland, the University of Waikato, Massey University, Victoria University of Wellington, the University of Canterbury, Lincoln University, and the University of Otago.


Currently over 80,000 full-time equivalent students enrol each year for university study.


Polytechnics provide a wide range of academic, vocational and professional courses, including vocational training, which contributes to the maintenance, advancement, and dissemination of knowledge and expertise and promotes community learning. They also promote research - particularly applied and technological research - which aids development.


There are 25 polytechnics in New Zealand.  Many are now accredited to offer their own degree programmes.


Currently almost 60,000 full-time equivalent students enrol each year for polytechnic study. Taking short courses into account, the actual number of students enrolled at polytechnics is several times this figure.


While most polytechnics continue to provide traditional trade and basic vocational courses, an increasing number of professional courses offered at degree level are reducing the distinction between the respective roles of polytechnics and universities.


Colleges of education provide teacher education and research related to the early childhood and compulsory sectors of education and provide associated social and educational service roles.


There are now four specialist colleges of education offering courses in early childhood, primary, and secondary teacher training, situated in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin.


Wananga are teaching and research institutions that maintain, advance, and disseminate knowledge, develop intellectual independence, and assist the application of knowledge regarding ahuatanga Maori (Maori tradition) according to tikanga Maori (Maori custom).


Three wananga are established tertiary institutions.


All tertiary institutions (universities, polytechnics, colleges of education, wananga) are governed by their own councils.


The main functions of a council are to set the strategic direction and policies of the tertiary institution, determine its programmes, set its budget including tuition fees, and appoint its chief executive officer.


The main functions of a chief executive officer (who may be alternatively designated a vice chancellor, director, principal, or president) are to implement council policies and decisions and to manage the academic and administrative affairs, including the employment of teaching and support staff.


University degrees are approved by the New Zealand Vice Chancellors' Committee, and have international recognition.


Degrees awarded by polytechnics, colleges of education, wananga and private training establishments are approved by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority, and have international recognition.


Not included in this study on account of the definition of conventional tertiary education are the wananga institutes in New Zealand that focus on Maori tradition and custom, as well as Massey University (with a large percentage of their students learning in a distance mode) and the Open Polytechnic (which has only distance students).


Conventional tertiary education in New Zealand focuses on local (or perhaps national) students, while often also attempting to attract international students to come to New Zealand to physically study on-campus. Part-time (evening) classes are often seen as a fringe activity.


Most of the 39 tertiary institutes in New Zealand (excluding Massey University, the Open Polytechnic and the three Wananga institutes) could therefore be classified as conventional tertiary educational institutes.


The Wellington Polytechnic itself is a representative conventional tertiary educational institute in New Zealand with a long-standing record of offering various qualifications on the diploma, graduate and post-graduate degree level. It was established as a tertiary institution in 1962, operates as a Crown Agency and its degree programmes have been approved and accredited by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (Wellington Polytechnic, 1998 July).


The Wellington Polytechnic is one of 25 Polytechnics in New Zealand and is a public institute, funded predominantly through the state to which it also has a central reporting responsibility, it adheres to public sector financial accountability processes and is controlled by its own council. It does not focus its education on any specific culture or race and has a clear distinction between its administrative (called “allied”) and academic components. It operates under the legislation that applies to all tertiary education institutes in New Zealand.


Wellington Polytechnic strongly focuses on face-to-face education where learning and teaching happens physically “on-campus”. Only a few courses in the field of education are being offered at a distance. Its main focus is on New Zealand students, while the Wellington Polytechnic also attempts to attract international students to come to New Zealand and study physically on-campus (Wellington Polytechnic, 1998 July). Less than 40% of courses are also offered in a part-time (mostly evening class) mode. The polytechnic consists of five academic schools and a specialist educational department. Paper based communications was the norm at Wellington Polytechnic in 1995 and many academic staff did not have personal access to computers at that stage  (Appendix 7:10). 


The implementation of the virtual class in Wellington Polytechnic started in July 1995. This occurred mainly through the activities of the HYDI Educational New Media Centre (Wellington Polytechnic, 1998 June) that developed the On-line Campus of Wellington Polytechnic and also networked courses.


The Ministry of Education (1994a) in New Zealand report that education is seen as an important contributor to the success of New Zealand in the new millennium:

The rapid pace of technological change, and the explosive growth in communications we have seen over the last ten years, will accelerate as we enter the new century. New Zealand must compete in a global marketplace in which success will depend in large measure on the investment we make in education and training. The aims we set now for our education system must be far-sighted. The systems we put in place to achieve those aims must be flexible enough to adapt to rapid change.


In New Zealand the importance of the tertiary educational system in preparing school leavers for the emerging information society is recognised and described in  “A Guide to tertiary education in New Zealand” published by the Ministry of Education (1997, June):

To prosper, New Zealand in the future must become a knowledge-based society. New Zealanders will need the workplace skills required for local industry to be internationally competitive. They will also require the skills to function successfully in an international environment and to take advantage of new opportunities. Intellectual skills will become more important than manual skills. Information will become as important as raw materials.


The goal of preparing school leavers for this new environment is a challenge for the tertiary education system.


Successful conventional tertiary education institutes of the future therefore will need to operate with new levels of flexibility. Beare and Slaughter (1993:35) indeed believe that in the context of Australian schooling organisations in the post-industrial economy need to be “… flexible, which can make quick, strategic decisions, which encourage innovation and entrepreneurship…” Esquer and Sheremetov (1999, July:1607) point to an emerging consensus that successful universities of the future will be those that operate with high flexibility:

The educational institutions seek to obtain strategic advantages by redesigning the way they educate to reflect the rapidly changing state of the art in the education domains and tutoring methods and techniques as well. The emerging consensus is that successful Universities of the next millennium will be those that embrace continuous change as an education paradigm. Such Universities will be able both to adapt to changes in the social market for their students and to lead this market in directions optimal to the society’s goals by continually adapting their education plans, methods and strategies of teaching, and educational infrastructures to changes in the environment.


Conventional tertiary education therefore needs to have more open boundaries with boundary management becoming more relevant as “… the external environment has impinged more directly on university operations...” (Middlehurst, 1993:56).


Conventional tertiary education in general and in New Zealand in particular, operate in a very traditional way and is remarkably similar in structure, management and organisation. This indicates unresponsiveness to the societies they serve. There is however now a clear and urgent need for a new flexibility, openness and responsiveness in preparing school leavers and life-long learners for a more digitised and knowledge based society.    


The relationship between the virtual class and conventional tertiary education therefore seems a complex and unlikely one. This is especially true when the management processes within conventional tertiary education are examined.


2.3     Management Processes


Conventional management can be described as the process of planning and decision making, organising, leading and control of an organisation’s human, financial and information resources to achieve the objectives of an organisation in an effective and efficient manner (Griffin, 1987). Peter Drucker (1998:157) describes the fundamental task of management as one of empowerment and place it in the context of change:  “… to make people capable of joint performance by giving them common goals, common values, the right structure, and the ongoing training and development they need to perform and to respond to change”.   


Many writers like Boone and Kurtz (1984), Newman, Warren and McGill (1987), Schultheis and Sumner (1989) and Van Dyk, Palmer, Smit, Vrba and De Klerk (1991) divide the management process into four functions namely  planning (decide what must be done), organising (decide how it must be done), leading (ensuring that it is done) and control (determine whether instructions have been followed). Other writers identify additional functions of management for example staffing and communication (Koontz and Weirich, 1990). Van Dyk et al. (1991) state that the following dimensions of management are also included in, and are present in all management functions: communication, decision-making, coordination and negotiation. Mintzberg (1973) postulates that a manager has interpersonal, informational and decisional roles. Mintzberg includes the leadership function in the interpersonal roles while the organising, planning and control functions feature in the decisional and interpersonal roles.


There has been a clear and consistent call from prominent writers on management and organizational design like Drucker (1985, 1989, 1995), Senge (1990), Peters (1988), Marquard (1996), Tapscott (1996), Limerick and Cunnington (1993) to heed the necessity to practice these functions and dimensions of management in an entirely new way in the context of the emerging global information or knowledge society.


2.3.1    Conventional educational management


Management in education is often equated to “administration” (Rebore, 1985:39). However, “management” in this research does not refer only to administration within tertiary education. To limit the notion of management to administrative practices only and thus exclude the academic area would be to argue that planning and decision making, organising, leading and control do not occur in the area of teaching, but only in administration.


Tiffin and Rajasingham (1995) point out that every educational system has a control sub-system. Rajasingham (1988) depicts management as control in examining the sub systems of a distance education institute of New Zealand. This research focuses on this sub system, but rather calls this sub system the "management" sub system because control can be seen as one of the four functions of management (described above).


Tiffin and Rajasingham (1995:37) argue that communications have a fractal dimension that is "a node in a communications network can prove, on closer examination, to be a communications network itself”. Tiffin and Rajasingham (1995:64) identify the following levels within education in general: national authority, regional authority, institute, class, student-teacher interaction and the student. A conventional tertiary educational institute and its management processes might also be viewed as having a fractal dimension, namely management processes of the institute, administrative departments, academic departments, the design and development of the teaching materials, the actual delivery of the teaching materials that is the "class" and the student's management of their own learning.


Using a fractal view to analyse management in tertiary education is particularly apt since academic staff members typically perform their duties like operational managers instead of operational workers. Academics often operate fairly autonomously without direct instructions due to their status as being professionals, the one-to-many relationship between teacher and students and the principles of academic freedom (Paul, 1990:32).


Management and its related governance and organisational structures in conventional tertiary education have remained fairly static and centralised. Patterson (1997:7) studied the university’s evolutionary dimensions and points out that

The historic continuity of the institution is unbroken, and many of the medieval university’s unique features remain characteristic of today’s universities: features, for example, such as … structures of governance, such as the division of major branches of learning into faculties, and the hierarchical positions such as deans, chancellor and rector.


Trow (1996) also highlights the rather stagnant management approaches within conventional tertiary education.


Universities are often highly bureaucratic. Garrison (1989:38) points to higher education when contending that as “…formal education grew in size and complexity, bureaucracies became the controlling mechanism”, while Paul (1990:31) shares this view that “…universities exhibit many of the characteristics of bureaucratic organizations” . A statement by Rebore (1985:33) reflects this preference also in secondary schooling in the United States for the traditional hierarchical management structure:

Line administrators have supervisory responsibilities that emanate from the superintendent down through the pyramid to the building level. While many different models have been used, this is the most successful and effective in school districts. 


A description of school organisation in Australia (Beare and Slaughter, 1993:35) also seems to be relevant to conventional tertiary education:

… draws upon the factory model of organisation… Schools abound with the characteristics of bureaucracy, like hierarchy and positional status; they encourage upward mobility and promotion through graded ranks; they teem with rules and regulations, with specialists and division of functions.


In the British universities during the 1990s “… there has been a steady increase in bureaucracy and a steady decrease in the amount of time available for core academic activities particularly at senior levels” (Middlehurst, 1993:189). This is a common complaint from academics heard in the hallways at national and international conferences.


This description of management in conventional tertiary education aligns itself clearly to what Burns and Stalker (1961) call a mechanistic control process in contrast to an organic control process. The mechanistic management structure links to a stable external environment. According to Daft (1989:61) this structure has the following characteristics:

(i)                  Tasks are broken down in specialized, separate parts.

(ii)                Tasks are rigidly defined.

(iii)               There is a strict hierarchy of authority and control, and there are many rules.

(iv)              Knowledge and control of tasks are centralized at the top of the organization.

(v)                Communication is vertical.  


In contrast to the institutional management structures, the teaching and research functions of academic staff as professionals are typically more client oriented, less formal and less concerned with hierarchy (Paul, 1990). While institutional conventional educational management operates on a largely bureaucratic model, academic staff operate on a “collegial model” (Paul, 1990:32). This collegial model is under attack as tertiary educational institutes compete with each other and with private enterprise, and also because of the bureaucratic environment in which it operates (Paul, 1990).


Another model operating in universities is the political model which recognises the “…predominance of power groups’ (Paul, 1990:35), but does not explain the workings of the university in terms of its governance or collegial aspects.


The anarchic model (Cohen and March, 1974) depicts the modern university as an organised anarchy that, according to Paul (1990:37) illustrates such ambiguities and uncertainties that it renders the traditional forms of management meaningless or inept. Cohen and March (1974:83) assert that:

Although a college or university operates within the metaphor of the political system or a hierarchical bureaucracy, the actual operation of either is considerably attenuated by the ambiguity of college goals, by the lack of clarity in educational technology and by the transient character of many participants”.


The anarchic model has not been without critique (Paul, 1990), and does focus more on  self-management of academic staff than on the institute as a whole. Cohen and March (1974), in suggesting how to deal with running an “organised anarchy”, highlight the importance of framing university operations in academic terms when they satirically propose that experience needs to be treated as theory, goals as hypotheses, intuition as real, hypocrisy as transition and memory as an enemy.


It seems, however, that the bureaucratic elements of conventional tertiary education are pre-eminent and in constant conflict with the self-management ideals and processes of academic staff.


Conventional tertiary education has changed sporadically as it responded to shifts and movements in society. It again faces the challenge to respond to the educational needs of the knowledge society - also through entrepreneurship. Drucker (1985:21) maintains that the “... creation and development of the modern university” is a case study in entrepreneurship. It was a response to “… a major shift in the market…” and “… represent entrepreneurship.”


The generic conventional management paradigm in tertiary education acknowledges the contrasting ideals of academic self-management and that there are exceptions to rules.


The conventional educational management paradigm can thus be described as being largely mechanistic, formal, centralised, focussing predominantly on the local environment, insular, inflexible, rigid, bureaucratised, with strong institutional control and segmented, with a high degree of division of labour, variable participation, and often politicised.


At the same time there is a need for transformation in response to the educational needs of the emerging knowledge society and to alter its management process to effect this transformation.  There is little clarity in conventional tertiary education on how to manage the virtual class as an integrated system.


2.3.2    New forms of educational management


Literature on tertiary distance education, newer forms of tertiary education and private enterprise is reviewed to analyse responses in educational management to the educational requirements of the information or knowledge society.


Tertiary distance education


Management of distance education institutes may provide pointers to approaches in managing the operations of the virtual class. Rumble (1992:95) refers to the operations of distance education as a “highly distributed system” which “looks very different to the residential or non-residential campus-based university”.   Networked education is based on distributed networks and the management of networked education might therefore correlate with the distributed nature of the operations of distance education.


The effective and widespread use of networked education in conventional tertiary education might facilitate a multiple-mode approach due to its differences with distance education (as pointed out in 2.1 above). Garrison (1989) restricts organisational models in distance education to two models. Autonomous (or single distance mode) institutes are those totally committed to distance education while mixed (or dual mode) institutes offer distance education as an integral and important part of their teaching.


There is a growing awareness in distance education that on-campus and off-campus education is converging. Bates (1984a) points to a possible convergence of on-campus and off-campus education through computer mediated education. Garrison (1989:117) notes that this convergence is  “…blurring the boundaries between conventional and distance education”. Bates (1984a) also suggests that many dual mode institutes will emerge as conventional education move into distance education.


The use of ICT in distance education is growing. With reference to the increasing and widespread use of ICT in tertiary education, and particularly in distance education Bates (1993b:189) postulated that using ICT,  “…‘meetings’ could be held without any staff having to travel from their desks”  (- foreshadowing the operation of virtual teams in tertiary education.


An organisational model that moves away from centralised control is possible through the use of ICT. Bates (1984a) described the organisational model of traditional distance institutes as being centralised but asserted that these new technologies offer the possibility of an alternative model to the large, centralised and specialised distance education system. Garrison (1989:38), in view of the new technologies and the coming of the information age, postulated that education “…is experiencing a shift from formal, centralised, and segmented operations to increasingly complex, decentralised, and integrated levels of organisation”. He furthermore foresees the potential of computer based distance education to “…both decentralise education and individualise or personalise it at the same time” (Garrison,1989:88). Peters (1993:53) contends that in the post-industrial society there will be in distance teaching institutions a “departure from a highly centralized organization of the teaching-learning process and a move to small decentralized units which can be made transparent by the means of new technology”.  


Distance education also links to the globalisation possibilities in education.  “Globalization is a feature of later modernity which has been embraced by distance education, especially as educational institution and their political bosses and business allies in developed nations seek to extend their influence and sources of revenue into developing nations” (Evans and Nation, 1993:213).


Newer forms of tertiary education


The management of open learning provides pointers to possible management approaches for the virtual class. By using open universities as case studies, Paul (1990) provides an integrated proposal for the management of open learning. Paul (1990:22, 66-68) asserts that it applies in a more generic sense to “knowledge institutions in a knowledge society” and  suggests that a value-driven leadership approach can address the different models of educational management discussed above and that in this approach, leadership is committed to ensure that people find meaning in life through their work by creating things of value. Paul (1990:22,72) further argues that an institution  dedicated to the values and practice of open learning needs to have an “open management style” and that “those responsible for the leadership and management of these institutions must emulate the principles they espouse in the performance of their day-to-day activities”. This relates to the hypothesis of this research (see Chapter 1) - and is based on systems theory - that a new type of management for the operations of the virtual class is needed due to the radical differences between the virtual and the conventional class. However, Paul is concerned with “open universities” while this research looks at tertiary education and specifically at the interplay between the virtual class and conventional tertiary education.


Paul (1990:66) asserts in the context of employing what he terms “open management” that a value-driven leadership approach is required to address the different models of educational management. Paul (1990:71) highlights the distributed nature of open management when he describes its operations:

Under such an approach, the top management team of an institution or business, defines and articulates a clear set of guiding principles which form the basis for decision making. However much is subsequently delegated and however decentralized the distribution of power and authority, it is always the chief executive officer’s primary responsibility to ensure that these central values drive all decision making in the organization… a fundamental set of mutually consistent values which drive all decision making in the institution… The real skill of management is knowing when - and when not to intervene . 


The distributed nature of open management as energised by value-driven leadership, has positive pointers to the management required for the operations of networked education which are based on distributed computer networks and facilitates distribution of control throughout an institute.


Networking and collaboration are important aspects of tertiary education. Morrison (1995:199) asserts that there is a “…need to interact on learning highways across borders….all nations, in future, will have to design their educational systems in such a way that they not only have internal coherence but also have an open architecture - that they can network with other educational and learning systems”. This also correlates to one of Fullan’s (1991:349) six themes of educational change namely "from going it alone to alliances”. He believes that “… some of the most powerful strategies involve inter-institutional partnerships - between school districts and universities, businesses and districts, coalition of schools…”. Many universities and colleges are indeed positioning themselves for effective participation in distance and particularly networked education through collaborations at the institutional level. Universitas 21 (1999) for instance comprises 21 universities in Europe, Australasia and north America and includes Auckland University in New Zealand and plans to develop and use multimedia technology in education. Another example is the European Consortium of Innovative Universities  (ECIU, 1999) which is a co-operation of 10 European universities with a focus on the development of new forms of teaching, education and research. Other examples are National Universities Degree Consortium (NUDC, 1999), comprising 9 Universities each of which “…was established in response to widespread requests from potential, non-traditional age students for high quality, integrated, external degree programs that are delivered in flexible, off-campus formats, readily available to adults and part-time students” and the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC, 1999) which “…will represent the common interests of California's higher education academic and research communities in achieving robust, high capacity, next generation Internet communications services”. ADEC Distance Education Consortium (ADEC, 1999) is an international consortium of some 59 state universities and land grant institutions “…providing high quality and economic distance education programs and services via the latest and most appropriate information technologies”. In Malaysia eleven public universities formed the Multimedia Technology Enhancement Operations Sdn. Bhd., METEOR to “… focus on the development and use of multimedia and technology in education. The three main areas Meteor will concentrate on are distance learning, research and development consultancy in IT and multimedia applications development” (Indramalar, 1999 April 23).


The collaboration is however wider than just among educational institutes. It could include private enterprise, entertainment and others. There is “… an increasing convergence between institutions that have previously remained separate. The change will not just be technological but organizational, economic and cultural” (Evans and Nation, 1993:19).


This networking needs to find expression within a well-designed organisational structure. Bates (2000) describes an extensive and workable model as a practical organisational structure to marry centralised and decentralised management. This model includes a fairly large professional center while each faculty (or school) or large department will have a small flexible unit of technical support and generalist educational technology support. The center will operate on a project management model with many of its staff seconded to work in the faculties on a continuing basis while the units will provide immediate support and find appropriate support from the center for bigger projects.


There is a need for flexibility in technologically based course production. One of the critical success factors proposed by Daniel (1998:155) in implementing a technology strategy is that the  “…course production-presentation process that is responsive to curriculum development pressures, and flexible in its team-building, project management and creative collaboration processes”.


Distance and networked education provides a mechanism for global education. Tiffin (1997, February:3) points out that "education as we have known it in this century was designed to support the nation state… Knowledge and research are directed towards the needs of the national and the cultural norms of the nation”. Tiffin (1996, February) asserts that "...if the Virtual Class was going to be distance independent then like the information society it was going to be global rather than national".  Mason  (1998:3-4) contends that “there are a good many economic, socio-political and technological reasons for underpinning current developments both of the plans for and the practice of global education…Undoubtedly there is a case to be made for global courses on purely educational grounds…reach of the course, the access to the course and the development of the course”. Tiffin (1997 April:5)) states that the virtual class “...carries a vision of knowledge that is international not national, of a global community of scholars addressing global research issues and creating at a global level the network of friends and colleagues who share a common understanding”.


ICT has become an agent in education of the convergence of what has been traditionally been called on-campus or distance education. ICT therefore creates the possibility for conventional tertiary education to realise the benefits of dual-mode institutions.  Evans and Nation (1993:211)) refers to “mixed-mode” or “dual-mode institutions” and the advantages in “… flexibility of their teaching strategies and the wider range of courses they can offer”. Lundin (1993:12) describes this convergence as follows:

It is now becoming common for the whole field of ODE [open distance education] and CIT [Communication and Information technologies] to be discussed in terms of 'flexible distributed learning'. That is, the external-internal, on-campus-off-campus and other categorisation of learners based on modes of delivery are being abandoned because they no longer represent what is being practised. All forms of delivery, including face-to-face, are now recognised as valid options to meet identified needs of learners.


It is envisaged that the management of education, being based on ICT, would have to contest with an openness of huge proportions. Garrison (1989:121) theorises that “the momentum towards greater openness in education and learning will grow as new communications technology are developed and adopted”. This openness can also apply to collaborations with other institutes as Forsythe (1984:60) contends: “….the use of such communication systems is seen as part of a large learning system that may well be a network of institutions”.


This openness is also applicable to networking among students, which Hodgson, Mann and Snell (1987:165) refer to in the context of open learning as “expert networking”. They perceive the use of “…new technology as a vehicle for the sharing of discoveries, developments and reference materials among an expert network of peer specialists”.  


It is however a challenge to create a congruity between centralised and decentralised management aspirations in tertiary education. Bates (2000:181) acknowledges this complexity:

When it comes to organizational structures, the challenge is to develop a system that encourages teaching units to be innovative and able to respond quickly to changes in subject matter, student needs, and technology. At the same time, redundancy and conflicting standards and policies across the institution must be avoided.


Information is becoming a major building block in distance education. Garrison (1989:39) also points to the information base of education that matches the needs of the information age when indicating that these institutes would exercise control through information and communication and not through bureaucracy.


Students in the newer forms of tertiary education can be more in control of their learning. Mason (1998:157) indicates that the new technologies in global education give prominence to students who construct their own knowledge. Students through networked education further is “ longer confined to our campus and its teachers and students and activities” (Tiffin, 1996a November:2). Garrison (1989:49) points to possible greater control for students through the use of educational technology, while Bates (1994:223) points to the potential of the new technologies to provide “…greater student control”.  Peters (1993:43) points to an assumption of management in a post-industrial society in which control will occur through “employee self-control”, which he interprets as referring to the student. Peters (1993:52) contends that the expected disintegration in hierarchies in private enterprise will impact on the relationship between the learners and their distance-teaching institution and its representatives and postulates that learners could well “…insist on determining themselves what and how to learn”.


Private enterprise


Private enterprise is concerned with, and heavily involved in education (Drucker, 1989:243). Corporate universities are emerging and business and industry in the United States were in 1987 already spending more on education than what was spent on higher education by all the states combined (Garrision, 1989:38). Peters (1993) sees a causal effect between changes in the management structures in private enterprise and that of tertiary education.


Underlying values in education however might come under threat as private enterprise become increasingly active in education. Tapscott (1996:36) frames this issue as a rhetorical question: "as educational activity shifts from schools to firms, will businesses continue to emphasize social responsibility, humanism, liberal arts, and political and moral values, or will they shift values to competitiveness, profit, and materialistic goals?”.


There is a call to more decentralization and less bureaucratic management approaches. Drucker (1998:117) asserts that the “…need to organize for change also requires a high degree of decentralization” in the structure of the “new society of organizations”. Beare and Slaughter (1993:35) contend that “… a business which operates on bureaucratic lines cannot compete in a post-industrial economy…" This clearly calls for a move away from bureaucracy and hierarchical management in conventional tertiary education.


This decentralization, however, needs to lead to an integrated system. Porter contends that "competitive industries are clustered … are linked as customers and suppliers, through people, research institutions, university programmes and related diversification. This is typical. It is how a competitive industry is created and sustained” (Caulkin, 1990:53).


Networking has been identified as a new way of management. Two of the ten major transformations (or megatrends) in society, which Naisbitt (1982) identified are a transformation from centralisation to decentralisation (in effect distribution), and secondly from hierarchies to networking. This distributed nature of management is supported by Limerick and Cunningham (1993:227) who indicates that “… a central idea of the new organisation …that of emancipated, autonomous, empowered individuals managing their own collaboration towards a common goal”.


There is an emerging form of organisational design called a “network structure” in which a small central organisation links through relationships with other organisations to perform its essential functions, called “outsourcing” (Robbins and Barnwell, 1998). Drucker (1995:68) identifies outsourcing as a central example of managing in what he calls the “networked society” and also (1995) postulates that “…in another ten to fifteen years, organizations may have outsourced all work that is ‘support’ rather than ‘revenue producing’ . Tertiary education might follow suit in exploiting the distributed nature of computer networks to outsource some or part of its essential functions like teaching, learner control, research and administration.


This networked approach also has an internal dimension to integrate and connect an organisation's functions and activities. The integrative approach is one that Michael Porter  (Pastore, 1995, October 1:10) regards as critical to competitive advantage in organisations:

Companies with sustainable competitive advantage integrate lots of activities within the business: their marketing, service, designs, customer support. All those things are consistent, interconnected and mutually reinforcing. As a result, competitors don’t have to match just one thing, they have to match the whole system. And until rivals achieve the whole system, they don’t get very many of the benefits.


Management in the information or knowledge society has a strong global disposition because of its information-base (Drucker, 1989). Globalisation is seen as a generic feature of later modernity (Evans and Nation, 1993) which is occurring in areas like the economy (Holland, 1987; Tapscott, 1999) and communications (Frederick, 1993). Tapscott (1996) contends that "in the digital economy, competition doesn’t come from competitors only – it comes from everywhere” .


Managing in a global environment calls for knowledge of differences between cultures and sensitivities for these differences. Woodhouse (1999) points out that education is definitely not culturally neutral. Management is embedded within the (internal) culture of an organisation. Drucker (1998:172) states that management is “… deeply embedded in culture...” because it deals with “... the integration of people in a common venture…” Gundry and Metes (1997) postulate that:

Online communication can unite the organization, but it can also highlight fundamental cultural differences. Suddenly, people used to working with their countryfolk can find themselves working closely, online, with people from different national cultures. These are often cultures in which taken-for-granted perceptions of communication, time, power and information are quite different…Training in cross-cultural working is now a necessity, not an option… Understanding each other's world view, biases, and preferences will be essential to building trust and shared perceptions, and maintaining the communication that drives the work.


A new requirement for management in the information or knowledge society is managing the dynamics of communication in a virtual environment (Gundry and Metes, 1997). Tapscott (1996:55) highlights networking and collaboration as a modern management issue and points to the application in education:

 Networks of networks along the Internet model are beginning to break down walls among companies – suppliers, customers, affinity groups, and competitors. We will see the rise of internetworked business, internetworked government, internetworked learning, and internetworked health care, to name a few.


Boundary management is becoming more important in newer private enterprises. Peters (1988a) highlight the importance of boundary management in the organisation of the future in which the boundaries are described as wavy, thin and transparent. Boundary management deals with the “… nature of boundaries between systems and sub-systems, and the levels of dependency and integration of their transactions and interactions” (Middlehurst, 1993:56). Tapscott (1996:55) contends that the “… boundaries inside and outside are permeable and fluid” when describing the “Internetworked enterprise”. Daft (1989571) comments that these “… characteristics induce regular movement and communication across the boundary in both directions. The new organization engages customers and suppliers in the production process, thereby encouraging them to communicate inward. The organization engages in a partnership with outsiders”. Marquardt (1996:83) describes the learning organisation as being “boundaryless”, while Limerick and Cunningham (1993:89) indicate that to “develop your boundary roles” is an “essential element of effective network management”.


Immediacy and adaptability are themes of the new economy. Tapscott (1996:63) refers to these as follows: "the new enterprise is a real time enterprise, which is continuously and immediately adjusting to changing business conditions through information immediacy”. This is also the case in networked education as Web based materials (be it on the Internet or intranet) can be updated continually and immediately. The immediacy within enterprises facilitates just-in-time (JIT) shipping and manufacturing (Tapscott, 1996) and might lead to similar approaches in learning, teaching and administration. 


In the increasingly digitised environment, there is less control and more risk-taking. Tapscott (1996:v) holds that "far more than the old western frontier, the digital frontier is a place of recklessness, confusion, uncertainty, calamity and danger.”


Burns and Stalker (1961) indicate that an organic control process, in contrast to a mechanistic control process, is appropriate in an unstable external environment. According to Daft (1989:61) this structure, which is appropriate for the modern organisation operating in a turbulent environment, has the following characteristics:

1. Employees contribute to the common tasks of the department.

2. Tasks are adjusted and redefined through employee interactions.

3. There is less hierarchy of authority and control, and there are few rules.

4. Knowledge and control of tasks are located anywhere in the organization.

5. Communication is horizontal.  


In learning organisations the management needs to be highly adaptive. Marquardt (1996:1) indicates that learning organisations “enjoy greater knowledge, flexibility, speed, power, and learning ability to better confront the shifting needs of a new environment, more demanding customers, and smarter knowledge workers. This new species of organization will be the learning organization and will possess the capability to anticipate and adapt more readily to environmental impacts…”. Marquardt (1996:xv) further contends that in this “…faster, information-thick atmosphere of the new millennium… ‘old’ companies [cannot] compete with more agile and creative learning organizations”. A learning organisation has a streamlined, flat hierarchy and is seamless and boundaryless (Marquard, 1996:83ff).  It is further built on networking and “…realize[s] the need to collaborate, share, and synergize with resources both inside and outside the company… they provide a company with a form and style that is fluid, flexible, and adaptable”.  Learning organizations will:

enjoy greater knowledge, flexibility, speed, power, and learning ability to better confront the shifting needs of a new environment, more demanding customers, and smarter knowledge workers. This new species of organization will be the learning organization and will possess the capability to:

-           anticipate and adapt more readily to environmental impacts

-           accelerate the development of new products, processes, and services

-           become more proficient at learning from competitors and collaborators

-           expedite the transfer of knowledge from one part of the organization to another

-           learn more effectively from its mistakes

-           make greater organizational use of employees at all levels of the organisation

-           shorten the time required to implement strategic changes

-           stimulate continuous improvement in all areas of the organization. (Marquardt, 1996:1). 


Information plays a central role in virtual operations. Rayport and Sviokla (1995:75) write about the "marketspace", that is a virtual market place. They characterise it as being “virtual” because the value adding processes “...are performed through and with information”. Drucker (1998:101) conceptualises an information-based organisation where every participant needs to take “information responsibility” – responsibility both to others and to oneself. Drucker describes the shift from the command-and-control organisation to the information-based organisation as the third major evolution in the concept and structure of organisations since modern business enterprise first arose. Marquardt (1996:6) states that “information is created continuously in every corner of the globe, and doubles every three to four years”. Managing real information overload in the global information explosion has become essential to function without increased stress levels induced by the overload of valid, current and relevant information. Gundry and Metes (1997) points out that information overload, a primary cause of stress in online workers, is fuelled by electronic communication; therefore communication protocols, along with filtering devices, are required. Victor (1999, July) furthermore asserts that information overload can be addressed through the effective use of information architecture.  If we live in an age of “information overload, marked by increasingly advanced communication tools, including the Internet and digital telecommunication technologies, which allow us to transmit more and more information at faster and faster rates, some counter-measure is needed.  A discipline, known variously as information design or information architecture and embracing such diverse fields as business administration, computer science, cognitive psychology, graphic and typographic design, and technical communication, evolved to meet the challenge of using information in order to provide meaningful communication.


In private enterprise there is also a convergence, which Tapscott (1996:58) notes as one of the themes of the new economy. He holds that "the dominant sector in the new economy is the new media, which are products of the convergence of computing, communications, and content industries”. Tertiary education in this context represents the “content industry” which converges with ICT to form the virtual class.


Innovation requires a market focus. Drucker (1985:127) points to the required market focus of management when asserting that innovation “…always has to be close to the market, focused on the market, indeed market-driven”.


The characteristics of the management required in tertiary education to match the educational needs of the information or knowledge society can be described as being complex, decentralised or distributed and having a strong team focus. It need to allow for life-long learning, networking of peers, personalised delivery, the student more in control of their own learning, the content more effectively sequenced, transcending specific locations and times, addresses lifelong learning and the costs of course materials for students.


It need to manage a drastically increase in the use of computers and virtual communications. It needs to deal with networking and collaboration internally and with other institutes, integrates all its systems towards a common goal, increased boundary management, and an integration of on- and off-campus learning. It further needs to address open boundaries with a global aspect to it, different cultures and increased global competition. Management strategies could include outsourcing and operating in dual mode. It needs to be highly dependent on information usage and processing, has to deal with real information overload, and ensures control through information and communication.


It further has to address a new immediacy, learns more effectively from mistakes, competitors and collaborators and is highly adaptive and flexible in a volatile external environment.


Conventional management of tertiary education therefore struggles between the desperate need to reform its management because of the external environment but is often ineffective to do this because of its current management approaches. It seems from the above that the inefficiency of the current models of managing conventional tertiary education calls for a meta-model or a new management paradigm to transcend the discrepancies between these management models. Open management seems to indicate the way ahead but focuses on higher education not tertiary education, and does not deal sufficiently with the virtual class - the new educational paradigm for the information or knowledge society.


The above are generic characteristics of the management required in tertiary education to match the educational needs of the information or knowledge society. It is however not clear how these characteristics relate to the nature of management of the virtual class. It is furthermore a challenge to create a congruity between centralised and decentralised management aspirations in tertiary education that has not been adequately addressed.


A new educational management paradigm is sought for managing the operations of the virtual class. In the context of an emerging information society, the management of tertiary education needs to guide the activities and policies of the institute to a proper response to the needs of the information society. The literature indicates that a proper response to the educational needs of the information society requires a transformation in the management of conventional tertiary education on all its levels. It seems from the literature that a proper response is limited in conventional tertiary education, more evident in distance education and open learning, and well articulated in private enterprise. Private enterprise involvement in education however threatens traditional values found in conventional tertiary education and therefore necessitates an aggressively response from conventional tertiary education. Conventional tertiary education needs to respond with a fitting management approach to meet the real societal needs of the new millennium.


The need to find a new, comprehensive educational management paradigm for managing the operations of the virtual class has been indicated above. Conventional tertiary education however has to deal with another major problem first, which is to identify appropriate strategies to implement the virtual class within seemingly incompatible existing management processes and structures.


2.4    Strategy



Strategies for educational reform, implementing innovation and managing technological innovations are reviewed.


Educational change or educational reform is a suitable departure point in reviewing the literature on managing technological innovation in tertiary education. Effective implementation of the virtual class infrastructure, as technological innovation, in conventional tertiary education induces educational reform. Tillema (1995) asserts that the move to adopt more flexible modes of delivery is clearly a move to reform the delivery of tertiary education.


2.4.1    Educational reform


There is no neatly formulated theory of generic change (Goodman and Kurke, 1982). Cannon (1986) further points to the absence of a general theory of educational development and notes that educational developers therefore draw on theories from other disciplines to inform their educational practice.


Tertiary educational institutes in general are very conservative and have been highly resistant to change and reform over the centuries (Evans and Franz, 1998 April; Richardson, 1979). Educational institutions in general “…which exist to open minds and challenge established doctrine, are themselves extremely resistant to change” (Robbins and Barnwell, 1998). Conventional tertiary education can be described as largely bureaucratic and “…bureaucracies by definition resist change…” (Tapscott, 1996:36).


Technological innovation has often been implemented as an isolated, bottom-up initiative of academic staff for efficiency purposes. In this scenario the wider systems within tertiary education are often not considered and neither affected by the innovation. The management of an institute may thus feel justified in disregarding the innovation. Systems theory calls for an integrated approach to technological innovation: "a system is a whole that cannot be taken apart without loss of its essential characteristics, and hence must be studied as a whole” (Ackhoff, 1972:40). Michael Porter’s notion of competitive advantage also supports an integrated, strategic approach: Companies with sustainable competitive advantage integrate a large number of activities within the business: their marketing, service, designs, customer support. All these activities then are consistent, interconnected and mutually reinforcing (Pastore, 1995, October 1).


Technological innovations have also experienced difficulty in education because of a problem that Michael Porter calls “metrics” (Pastore, 1995, October 1). Conventional tertiary education, similar to other sectors of society, has often responded to new ICT applications on the basis of efficiencies rather than using more strategic considerations.

Porter  (Pastore, 1995, October 1) describes this problem as follows. The traditional criteria by which IT applications have been chosen have been ones of operational effectiveness—How many people can we save? How much faster can we process the paper?—rather than more strategic measures, such as how much have quality or service levels gone up. That needs to change.


David (1994:169) similarly calls for strategic approaches to ICT use in schools of the United States, which seem apt for what has been occurring in conventional tertiary education:

The primary reason technology has failed to live up to its promise is that it has been viewed as an answer to the wrong question. Decisions about purchases and uses of technology are typically driven by the question of how to improve the effectiveness of what schools are already doing-not how to transform what schools do”.


All changes in education have not been equally successful. Fullan (1991) refers to first order (or first level) and second order (or second level) changes to explain this phenomena. He believes that most changes in education in the twentieth century have been first order changes, which are aimed at improving efficiency and effectiveness of current practices. Fullan (1991:29) states that “… second order reforms largely failed”, which are those changes that aim at fundamentally changing the ways that organisations are put together.


New technologies however can be absorbed into an old paradigm without bringing about any real change. Harris’ (1987:44-45) critical view of the use of educational technology at the British Open University (UKOU) provides an example:

… since educational technology became an important part of the process whereby educational aims and processes became defined in purely operational terms…. The progressives and the OU – including the progressive educational technologists – have succeeded in creating only a progressive appearance for what is the old educational domination.


To ensure ownership by academic staff as well as sound educational quality in networked education, it is important that educators and educational principles drive the implementation of the virtual class infrastructure (Szabo et al., 1997; Willmot and  McLean, 1994; Caladine, 1993). The structures supporting the virtual class have to ensure an educational focus and pre-eminence of educational principles rather than administrative desires or technical possibilities. This also highlights the importance of following bottom-up and more organic approaches when implementing the virtual class infrastructure in conventional tertiary education. Tillema (1995) consider engaging academics in the reform process as one of the two significant management issues to address in educational reform in education in general. He asserts that reform has to be based on the development of 'learning communities'. That means that the actual process of reform must engage academics in local communities of discourse about their educational practices.


In educational reform in particular the reward systems need to be tied to involvement in that which brings reform. To enable the wide implementation of the virtual class infrastructure in conventional tertiary education, it needs to be stated as a strategic objective and direction, and then to tie the reward systems to its implementation (Munitz, 1997). The institute’s reward systems should encourage academic staff and students to become and remain involved in networked education if it desires to implement the virtual class infrastructure widely within the institute. Marquardt (1996:97) contends that “one of the most powerful management principles in the world is ‘That which get rewarded gets done’ ” and asserts that

Rewards should be made for actions that directly or indirectly lead to organizational learning, such as risk taking, commitment to learning and personal mastery, teamwork, encouraging new experiences and ideas, being a teacher/trainer, and passing lessons learned on to team mates and the broader network. 


Quality assurance in networked education is highlighted by Butterfield et al. (1999, July) who believes that as virtual institutes emerge, the attention to quality assurance (QA) is more necessary, but may be more difficult. They believe that attention must come from the institutions themselves as well as from the external quality agencies (EQAs). Quality assurance also relates to the complexities of national and international accreditation and certification as networked education creates more options for students. A solution might be to use outcome based education which focuses on assessing learning and learners instead of courses or other instruction units delivered by providers, and which is based on specific, standardised, and widely accepted competencies (Jones, 1995). Woodhouse (1999) highlights that open and distance learning (ODL) in general lends itself to transmission of education across national boundaries which raises questions of the maintenance of quality, and the guarantee that it is being maintained, internationally. He states that at present, some courses have to answer to two EQAs (at home and abroad) while others slip between the cracks and answer to no-one. Woodhouse also points to the difficulties in determining what constitutes “equivalent quality” since education is not culturally neutral. New organisations have been created to deal with accreditation and certification issues across national borders like the Global Alliance for Transnational Education (GATE, 1999) which is dedicated to “principled advocacy for transnational educational programs”. GATE states the need for addressing these issues. The rapid globalization of higher education arises partly from the global marketplace and new technology. Today's business draws its professional work force from all over the world. That means that human resource development divisions of multi-national corporations increasingly facing the challenge of evaluating courses and degrees from other countries when identifying personnel. Furthermore, higher education is no longer provided solely within national borders. Provided by both higher education and business, transnational education can be found in multiple forms, provided both electronically and through traditional instruction and training programs. Issues of quality, purpose and responsibility abound in this new “borderless educational arena”.


2.4.2    Implementing innovation


An innovation can be described as “ idea or behaviour that is new to the organization adopting it" (Swanson, 1994:1070). In this study the implementation of the virtual class in conventional tertiary education is regarded as an innovation.


The term innovation in this study uses a widely accepted definition of innovation, which describes all of the stages from the technical invention to final commercialisation (Top research managers speak out on innovation, 1970 November). Fullan (199:37) describes innovation in education as “multi-dimensional” and identifies three aspects of change, which he believes “are all necessary because together they represent the means of achieving a particular educational goal or set of goals”; these are “the possible use of new or revised materials”, “the possible use of new teaching approaches” and  “the possible alteration of beliefs”. This research postulates that each of these three aspects is present in the implementation of the virtual class infrastructure in conventional tertiary education. 


Innovation diffusion theory (Rogers, 1983) provides a general explanation for the manner in which new entities and ideas like IT and the virtual class over time, disseminate through social systems, in this case conventional tertiary education. Rogers reviewed studies of diffusion of innovations from many technological contexts and forwarded a model for adoption of innovations describing key roles and behaviours in the adoption. Innovation diffusion theory is essentially a bottom-up approach based on individual responses.


A top-down innovation process is important. Drucker (1985) points to the importance of a top-down process for a successful innovation aims at leadership. He believes that if it does not aim at leadership right from the outset, it is unlikely to be innovative enough, and therefore unlikely to be capable of establishing itself. This statement is made within the context of the business world, but with the increasing competitive nature of the educational milieu this advice is becoming more relevant for conventional tertiary education.


A combination of top-down and bottom-up processes seems possible in the learning organisation. Marquardt (1996:218) contends in the context of the learning organisation that “…it is possible for any member to be an awareness-enhancing agent or an advocate for new competence development. In this way, both top-down and bottom-up initiatives are made possible”. Gunn (1998:142) asserts that

An effective technology strategy works in both directions. From the top down, it is articulated through institutional objectives, sensitive to existing culture, constraints, strengths and weaknesses, and presented as a coherent, achievable set of goals with appropriate incentives and rewards. It must also move from the bottom-up where knowledge of teaching strategies, learning contexts and disciplinary expertise can be translated into action plans geared to achievement of institutional strategic objectives and so creating a sense of ownership at all levels of the institution..      


The point of implementation of an innovation needs to be defined. According to Rogers (1983), implementation occurs when the decision-making unit puts the innovation into use. Roberts (1997:580-1) states that  "innovation is composed of two parts (1) the generation of an idea or invention, and (2) the conversion of that invention into a business or other useful application” and  provides a useful formula:

 “Innovation = Invention + Exploitation”


The implementation of the virtual class in this study refers to the process of introducing the concepts and processes of the virtual class into a conventional tertiary educational institute in New Zealand to the point where it becomes operational. Implementation therefore includes both the initial introduction of the virtual class into a conventional tertiary educational institute, and the further processes until the virtual class is operational.


The utilisation or implementation of the virtual class in a conventional tertiary educational institute might therefore be partial, embryonic or it might be comprehensively used throughout the organisation. The central criterion of “being implemented” is whether the virtual class is being used in a non-experimental manner in a conventional tertiary educational institute.


The implementation of networked education being based on ICT can also be described in the context of information technology (IT) systems implementation. The traditional or waterfall systems development life cycle (SDLC)  includes systems investigation (identify the parameters of a problem), systems analysis (understanding the problem), systems design (determine the best solution to the problem), systems implementation (place the solution into effect or operation) and systems maintenance and review (evaluate the results of the solution) (Stair, 1992:405). In the traditional life cycle systems development approach it is emphasised that each of the six phases that is systems investigation, systems implementation, systems analysis, systems design, systems implementation (which includes construction, testing, maintenance, review) occurs consecutively for the whole system (Stair, 1992:405). Stair (1992:410) describes the factors that are present when using this approach: a high degree of certainty about input and outcomes, high user experience, immediate results are not desired, there is a low degree of risk, a small number of alternatives, and a low degree of complexity.


Another SDLC model is the spiral or prototyping approach in which each of the six systems development life cycle phases is essentially executed per module / prototype in an experimental and incremental manner. The factors that point towards using the prototyping approach are: a low degree of certainty about input and outcomes, low user experience, immediate results are normally desired, there is a high degree of risk and a large number of alternatives. Burch (1992:15) contends that

Prototyping is best used to develop systems that are poorly defined. Prototyping is also appropriate for unique small systems applications, In almost any case the prototypes enhance visualization and communications. In many instances what the users ask for is not what they want, and what they want is not really what they need. [The writer’s experiences also indicate that what the users ask for is not always what they get!] Prototyping helps solve this double [perhaps triple?] dilemma.


Roger’s diffusion of innovation curve (see Figure 2.1) can be used as a starting point to depict the implementation of the virtual class in conventional tertiary education. Initially there is a take-off stage (that is introduction) during which an innovation is introduced in a social system. An entrepreneurial group called the innovators often then adopts it. During the next phase of maturation the “early adopters”, who are change agents or opinion leaders among the social system, will enter the process thereby legitimising the innovation and opening the potential for adoption to all members of the system. The final saturation stage in an innovation's adoption is characterised by widespread adoption. The innovation saturates the social system and growth tapers off. This process can be plotted as an S-shaped growth curve. 

Figure 2.1        The Innovation Adoption Curve

(Adapted from Rogers, 1983)


This research links to Roger’s diffusion of innovation theory in that it views the virtual class as an integrated technological and educational innovation within conventional tertiary education.


Goldenfarb (1995) similarly used Roger’s diffusion of innovation theory at the University of Melbourne, Australia, where a campus wide information system (CWIS) was implemented.


Another change model to provide overall structure for implementing the virtual class infrastructure in a conventional tertiary educational institute is the Lewin and Schein’s model for organizational change (Stair, 1992:396). They propose the following stages:

1.                Scouting: Identify potential areas or systems that may need change

2.                Entry: Stating the problems and the goals

3.                Diagnosis: Gathering data and determining resources required

4.                Planning: Examining alternatives and making decisions

5.                Action: Implementing the decisions: decisions were followed through in a consistent manner

6.                Evaluation: Determining whether the changes satisfied the initial objectives and solved the problems identified

7.                Termination: Transferring the ownership of the new / changed system to the users and ensuring efficient operation.


Nixon (1996:13) identified four pre-conditions for successful change in educational institutes as

(i)                  the importance of collegiality and the need for mutually supportive relationships with  colleagues;

(ii)                the importance of having a clear sense of where their institution was going; a sense of its  priorities and long-term commitments;

(iii)               the need for structures to support their development as teachers and writers; and

(iv)              the need to resolve tensions between their teaching responsibilities and research commitments.

It needs to be tested whether these apply to networked education in conventional tertiary education.  


Innovation in conventional tertiary education – as with most innovations - takes place within the context of the organizational and management structures. According to Daft (1989:274) “... organic organizations encourage a bottom-up innovation process” which is seen as typical for technological innovation. This position aligns itself with Roger’s diffusion theory that also proposes a bottom-up approach when the innovation starts from outside management. Daft (1989:274) however also indicates that administrative innovations follow a top-down direction of change within a mechanistic management structure. Daft (1989:570) observes that “… the trend over the last thirty years has been toward more organic structures” which he partly attributes to “… greater environmental uncertainty and nonroutine technologies”. In contrast, as has been illustrated above, it seems that conventional management of tertiary education does not provide the required organic structures that foster innovation. Fullan (1991:349) refers to this dilemma as the tension of “… combining individual and institutional development...” and the necessity of having both in tandem for successful educational change


2.4.3    Managing technological innovation


Taking cognisance of the culture of an educational institute when implementing technological innovation seems to be critical as Pettit and Hind (1992:119) contest "… change strategies which ignore the specific cultural context do so at the risk of creating massive conflict." The “culture” of an organisation refers to “…the values, beliefs, practices, rituals, and customs of an organization” (Marquardt, 1996:24).


Access is an issue that relates deeply to the implementation of the virtual class in conventional tertiary education. Ljoså (1992:91) raised the concern of equitable access to computer mediated education. Ljoså asserts that "every time we introduce a new technology in a distance education system, we run the risk of introducing a new barrier to participation and learning”. Bates (1983:283) points to the ease of access as an important criterion for the success of technologies in future distance education. Equity of access poses as a major issue for networked education as it requires students to use the Internet or intranets and related tools for participating in courses. Mason (1999:86) highlights this issue in the European context as follows:

And although the rhetoric about virtual education is that it will extend to the disadvantaged, the remote, the housebound, and the unemployed, those who are signing up for virtual education are the advantaged, the upwardly mobile, the “over-employed” (i.e, those who are already incredibly busy), and the well educated. There is evidence from practitioners that virtual education is more appropriate and more successful for the advantaged learner: one who is motivated, has good learning skills, and has easy access to technology.


Technological innovation carries a threat to the privacy of the individual, which needs to be managed using appropriate mechanisms like user identification. Tapscott (1996:33) describes the magnitude of this management challenge in relation to the information highway that “…has the chilling potential to destroy privacy in an unprecedented and irrevocable manner… As human communications, business transactions, working, learning, and playing increasingly come onto the Net, unimaginable quantities and types of information become digitized and networked. How can we safeguard privacy in an economy that is digital?”


The review of the literature regarding managing technological innovation in tertiary education indicates that it may use the traditional or the prototyping SDLC approaches, Lewin and Schein's change model, the TIES model or Roger's diffusion model to provide structure to the change process.  It does not specifically relate these approaches to the implementation of networked education in conventional tertiary education.  


It often requires a bottom-up and top-down process, use an organic control process, address values and beliefs of staff, focus on core issues in education and ensure management support. It needs to engage academics, frame university operations in academic terms, ensure ownership and ensure that educational and policy decisions precede technological decisions. It needs to cater for changing professional roles through training and support, and can use an integrated, parallel or distributed approach to institutionalise technology. Although various models exist for course development, it proposes the use of a team-model consisting of a sponsor and highly specialised team members, including subject specialists, specialists in instructional design, media, technical production, editors and gatekeepers. It also needs to carefully consider the internal culture of the institute. It further needs to manage WWW technologies and consider access of students to courses.


The literature points to technological innovation in general within tertiary education. It needs to be tested whether the above apply to the implementation of networked education in conventional tertiary education.  


2.5    Roles and Skills of Individuals


Change in conventional tertiary education seems to be largely dependent on inducing change among academic staff since they are the primary institutional agency for directly effecting teaching. Tillema (1995), in dealing with the issue of reform, searched the literature that primarily deals with teachers within the schooling sector, and he believes that the messages also appear relevant to academics. He points out that historical studies, based largely on experience in schools, show that 'top down' attempts to achieve educational reform have failed, and suggests that they will be doomed to failure until they 'confront the cultural and pedagogical traditions and beliefs that underlie current practices and organizational arrangements' (Goodman 1995:2). Goodman's work points to the largely unexamined influence of traditions and belief systems as sources of resistance to reform.


Szabo et al. (1997) call it the "empowerment" phenomenon since "ADS [alternative delivery systems] require ownership (commitment, not just compliance) on the part of those who will ultimately implement it". Molinaro and Drake (1998) similarly found in a study of successful educational reform in a secondary school in Canada, which might be applicable also in conventional tertiary education, that This school's success could be ascribed to the fact that it recognized that teachers are at the crux of successful educational reform. Therefore, teachers have been given the freedom to grow and develop.


In implementing the virtual class infrastructure in conventional tertiary education, it  therefore seems necessary to address the concerns and perceptions of academic staff in the light of the need for changing their attitudes and to ensuring ownership by academic staff (Evans and Franz, 1998 April; Taylor, Lopez and Quadrelli, 1996); this, however, needs to be verified. 


Tillema (1995) similarly points to two significant management issues to be addressed in educational reform in education in general, namely focusing on core issues and engaging academics in the reform process. In describing these two management issues, he sounds a word of caution as to attainability. Consensus about educational reform, particularly at the schooling level, requires consideration of two central issues. Firstly, as identified by Goodman (1995), is the need to address core issues. Secondly, for reform to adequately address these issues, it must be based on the development of 'learning communities': the actual process of reform must engage academics in local communities of discourse about their educational practices. It would obviously be an advantage to involve multiple perspectives -- academics, academic managers and support staff -- in those communities. Whether these two issues can be adequately addressed within a sector and with individuals experiencing an identity crisis remains uncertain. The existence of such an identity crisis, suggests a challenge to core issues. Whether that challenge can be translated into an opportunity is still to be seen. This literature suggests that there is little reason for optimism, but that there is increasing understanding of how this might be achieved.


The role of the teacher in networked education is changing (Collis, 1998; Thompson, 1997 June; Zepke, 1998; Leslie, 1994). There is a perception that the teacher will become more like a facilitator than being a provider of information (Hodgson, Mann and Snell, 1987; Mason, 1998; O'Donnell, 1996). Luke (1997:12) explores the notion of ‘net work” as “the new kind of intellectual and institutional labour needed to transform the existing national/industrial/traditional university into an informational operation with new transnational/postindustrial/innovative capabilities ”; the term “net work” focuses on “how thoroughly academic work is changing.”. This research also addresses the changing role of academic work in the virtual class and finds some positive links with Luke’s (1997) concept of “net work”.  This study, however, relates the changing role of the academic to an Internet and intranet based environment and furthermore places it within the context of conventional tertiary education.


Academic staff in particular has a strong resistance to change since it deals with changing traditional beliefs and practices.  Taylor, Lopez and Quadrelli (1996) found in a study of two big Australian Universities that “research on conceptual and belief change has found a strong resistance to change.” A study by Tillema (1995:312) concluded that:

...the knowledge structures of professionals are very difficult to change by mere presentation of information. Conceptual change, and training as a means to achieve it, needs to engage the pre-existing ideas, orientations, ways of thinking and perspectives of professional teachers; otherwise the hegemony of those knowledge structures will remain unchallenged.


Szabo, Anderson and Fuchs (1997) developed a specific change model called the training, infrastructure and empowerment system (TIES) for implementing alternative delivery systems at the University of Alberta in Canada. They similarly commented that "the driving force behind TIES stems from the conviction that bringing people to actually change their practices with respect to new teaching approaches is extremely difficult."


Training of academic staff is critical in the implementation of the virtual class. Szabo et al. (1997) holds that "the three sequential stages of innovation are play, use, and creativity." Their TIES model uses the following five phases: Vision Building, Identification of Departments, Development of TIES Workshop and Modules, TIES Leadership Task Force (TLTF), Training and Follow Up Support.


The level of resistance of staff to integrating networked education in their teaching in learning will need to be gauged.


In order to ensure long term involvement of academic staff, it seems important to ensure that the scholarship of teaching is recognised and appreciated, because this is where the impact of the virtual class is probably most visible (Nixon, 1996). Unless this happens, academic staff might not be motivated to pursue networked education (Barnard, 1997; Taylor, Lopez and Quadrelli, 1996). In referring to academic staff Nixon (1996:13) identifies "… the need to resolve tensions between their teaching responsibilities and research commitments" as one of the four pre-conditions for successful change in educational institutes towards networked education. Mason (1999:86) highlights this issue in the European context as follows:

However, in those countries that are in the forefront of virtual teaching (e.g., the U.K.), there is a severe workload issue that needs attention. Many academics are under great pressure to produce research results at the same time as deliver courses to vastly increased numbers of students.


New definitions of "contact time" or "office time" (Barnard, 1997; Johnston and Challis, 1994) points to alterations required in the workload formula for teachers in networked education.  Exactly what these changes are will need to be researched. This management strategy aligns itself to an assumption in post-industrial organisations that wages are no longer paid for time that a person gives to an organisation but rather for doing a job or rendering a service” (Handy, 1985).


Bates (1984b:227) asserts that “… the introduction of new technology in distance education requires major changes in professional roles”. Bates (1984b) points to the need for specialised roles and the need for academics to gain the skills and knowledge for effective use of the new technologies, and the requirement for extensive training. These aspects would be amplified when managing the implementation of networked education with its ICT base and range of technical options. Mason (1998:157) asserts that the new technologies in global education point to “… a new role for the teacher, for the student and for course material. It centres on the construction of knowledge by the student... a teacher as facilitator… information is no longer something to organise, transmit and memorise, but something to work with, think with, discuss, negotiate and debate with partners”.


Academic staff may act as the content experts in the course development team. (Holmberg, 1995:135) contends that “…the various tasks are divided between a group of highly specialized team members, among them subject specialists, specialists in instructional design, media, technical production etc. and editors”. Paquettee, Ricciardi-Rigault, Paquin, Liegeois and Bleicher (1996, June) describe the team roles in terms of "five actor categories", namely learner, trainer, content-expert, manager and designer. Katz and Tushman (1997:331) further highlighted the importance of the role of gatekeepers in the “… effective transfer and utilization of external technology and information”. Gatekeepers can be defined as key individual technologists who have a strong connection to both external sources of information and internal colleagues.  Katz and Tushman asserts that boundary spanning gatekeeping has been recognized as one of the more important elements of effective leadership in Research, Development, and Engineering (i.e., RD&E) settings. Roberts (1997:584-585) identifies four critical innovation roles, namely that of idea generators (those who come up with ideas), ideas-exploiters (those who do something with the ideas generated), the gatekeepers (special communicators who are the link-pins and bring external information messages into the project group) and sponsor or coach (who provides encouragement and assist in finding resources). Furthermore, Roberts describes gatekeepers as “…human bridges [who] join technical, market, and manufacturing sources of information to the potential technical users of that information”.            


The above aspects do not particularly address the implementation of networked education in conventional tertiary education but provide pointers to possible implementation approaches and strategies.  


2.6    Structure


In terms of an organisational structure to support the implementation of technological innovation, Taylor, Lopez and Quadrelli (1996) propose three possible implementation approaches of "flexible delivery options" in higher education:

The integrated approach with a central unit managing the integration of teaching and learning with IT, emphasising support for professional development in educational and information technologies and linking it to university goals. The parallel approach, creating an IT-based teaching and learning unit which operates separately and in parallel with existing staff development units. The distributed approach, which is more 'bottom up' and devolves responsibility for IT-based teaching and learning developments to local innovators across a range of faculties and units.


The team-concept in management and organisational structure is proposed by Peters (1988) for the modern organisation in order to be more responsive. Peter Drucker (1998:125) asserts that because information-based organisations consist of knowledge specialists, “… the modern organization cannot be an organization of boss and subordinate. It must be organized as a team”.  Hayes and Watts (1986:34) describe work in the post-industrial firm as work that “… will be undertaken in small, semi-autonomous, task-oriented units linked by computers to a central base”.  Tapscott (1996:54) indicates that “…the business team is central to the new enterprise”.


The specialized skills needed to develop technology based learning materials further point to the rationale for using development teams. Bates (1993a:232) asserts that producing good quality technology based learning materials “…will require people who can combine good pedagogic practice with an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of different media and technologies”. Garrison (1989:98&117) points to “…course design teams… as the accepted model in distance education” and that the British Open University uses course development teams extensively. Holmberg (1995:98) confirms the predominant course-team model in distance education and that the main advantage of this model is that it operates to high professional standards. Garrison however also indicates that in distance education this model is not always considered “…feasible or appropriate for all distance education enterprises”. Holmberg (1995:135) described the drawbacks of the team model as impeding personal approaches and also dealing with knowledge as a finished product instead of a complex process of “knowledge under development”.  A team approach for developing electronic course materials was proposed by a DEC working party (1989:34) consisting of members of Monash University and Gippsland Institute in Australia who agreed that "the Institute should move quickly to accept the course team as the basic unit for course development and delivery". Taylor, Lopez and Quadrelli (1996) who investigated the relationships between diversification in modes of delivery, use of ICT, academics' teaching practices, and the context in which those practices are employed, in two of the three large universities in Brisbane, namely Griffith University and the Queensland University of Technology strongly recommends that teams should be used when developing more flexible modes of delivery.


Organisational structure is not removed from organisational culture. Taking cognisance of the culture of an educational institute particularly is an important aspect of change management. Szabo et al. (1997) point out that "critics of education, of which there is no short supply, often contend that: students are poorly prepared (for the work force), education has become bureaucratized, politicized and centralized...". Garrison (1989:38) points out that education “…is experiencing a shift from formal, centralised, and segmented operations”.


The impact of implementing networked education within the organisational structure within conventional tertiary education has not been resolved.    


2.7    Technology


The virtual class can take many forms but is based per the definition above on ICT. It might occur as on-line education using the Internet or an intranet, meeting in virtual reality as telepresences, through Internet based video-conferencing or HyperReality. "Virtual reality (VR) is a computer-based technology which provides visual, auditory, and tactual stimulation from a real-time computer generated world-while severely restricting sensory input from the real world. The person interacts with this artificial works as if it were the real world" (Chambers, Mullins, Pantelidis, Gay and Loeffler, 1996 June:729). HyperReality can be defined as “… the technology that seeks to blend virtual reality with physical reality. It inter-relates virtual reality and real reality in a way that appears natural and seamless.” (Tiffin, 1997 April:6).


The specific manifestation of the virtual class referred to in this study is when the virtual class is predominantly based on Internet or intranet technologies. The writer describes this expression of the virtual class with the term: networked education.


The library particularly needs to be transformed to provide most of its services electronically and to provide increased access to external electronic resources rather than local paper-based materials (Barnard, 1997; Odlyzko, 1994). Tiffin (1996a, November:1) contends that it “…is libraries which anchor the location of universities and preserve the form of curricula” and the electronic base of the new library has the implication  “…that knowledge can be accessed from anywhere at any time” (Tiffin, 1996a, November:2).


In contrast with the virtual class, conventional tertiary education is not based on ICT but on a physical infrastructure that includes transport, media, electricity, buildings, and clothing. Computer technologies are often used in a very limited way for course delivery. The description of Richardson (1979:123) seems still applicable to the role of information technology (IT) in conventional tertiary education:

…they are ill prepared to respond and are falling ever farther behind in responding to the needs of an increasingly complex and rapidly changing social order, this is nowhere more evident than in the field of information technology where they have failed utterly to develop the institutional forms and curricula which would prepare students to function effectively in a post-industrial society”.  


Networked education can impact negatively on the mobility of course materials. ICT has made geographical proximity and time constraints irrelevant for the teacher and student (National Center for Higher Education Management Systems, 1995; WA Telecentres, 1995). "Distance" in the virtual class is no longer defined in terms of physical proximity but in response time (Negroponte, 1997 June). However, in a personal conversation with a staff member on the British Open University campus (April 1998), it was related to the writer that the most significant loss students experienced from paper-based to networked education is the mobility of the study materials which now resided on computers. This naturally impacts on the mobility of the students. Mason (1999-86) highlights this issue in the wider European context:

One of the interesting facts about technology-based virtual teaching as opposed to traditional distance teaching is that it is less flexible. (Traditional distance education in Europe consists of print-based materials plus tutorials in local study centres). Reading from screen, having to study near a computer with network access, and certainly carrying out collaborative work online—all these factors make a course less flexible than reading specially prepared study texts.


Managing technological innovation in education needs to consider the wider implications for education. Caladine (1993:7), who reviewed the literature on non-traditional modes of delivery in higher education using state-of-the-art technologies, indicates that the extensive use of ICT in education “...poses previously unencountered problems in pedagogy and andragogy”. Bates (1992:265) contends that “… technological decisions need to be preceded by policy and educational decisions...”


The World Wide Web (WWW) would seem to play a central role in networked education. Mason (1998:156) indicates that the “current revolutionary possibility centres on the Web” but indicates that the WWW might be “oversold as an educational tool”. Taylor, Lopez and Quadrelli (1996) point to the important role of technology in distance education by referring to Caladine's (1993:10) three generations of open and distance education:

The first is 'correspondence teaching', characterised by the use of a single medium -- text -- and the postal service as a means of delivery. This remains a central mode of ODE delivery. The next generation involved 'multimedia distance education' -- of which the Open University (United Kingdom) is one of the best-known exponents. Typically this involves the use of text resources supplemented by interaction with tutors, either in face-to-face settings or via telecommunication technologies. He refers to this approach as an 'industrial model' (1993: 10) of distance education, alluding to the high fixed costs involved in producing the teaching/learning resources, and relatively low variable costs associated with supplying those resources to any single student. As a result of this ratio, there is significant pressure to maximise student enrolment in any subject offering. The third generation involves 'interactive multimedia distance education' (1993: 10). Here the emphasis is on the use of CIT to facilitate interaction, and as a medium for information delivery. This approach 'allows courses to be custom designed for relatively small numbers of students'.


Any innovation, especially if it has the dimensions of a paradigm shift like the virtual class (Tiffin and Rajasingham, 1995), faces the classic problem that “…whenever a new technology is introduced, be it printing press or a horseless carriage, individuals’ first inclination is to use it as they used the traditional technology it replaces” (Means, 1994:3). In networked education this approach is evident in electronic versions of class handouts being presented as “on-line courses”, or providing students with extensive content in courses without linking to the vast resources on the WWW. Conventional tertiary education needs to contemplate the new management approaches that the wide implementation of the virtual class might require.


ICT can change the nature of distance education. Bates (1992:265) foresaw that “technology will change the nature of the distance learning experience”.


It is clear from the literature that the management of the library will change dramatically. It is furthermore important in the implementation of networked education in conventional tertiary education that policy and educational issues determine technology decisions. It remains unclear however from the literature review what the management issues regarding technology are when implementation networked education in conventional tertiary education.


This literature review points to the necessity to pursue the two research questions:

A. How does one manage the implementation of the virtual class infrastructure in conventional tertiary education?

B. How does one manage the operations of the virtual class?


The methodology that was used to address these research questions is now outlined.