ETEC 520: Planning and Managing Learning Technologies in Higher Education


This course is focused on the use of eLearning technologies in higher education, and it is aimed primarily at people with management and leadership responsibilities in this sector.
The goal of this course is to prepare you to plan and manage eLearning effectively in your institutions and organizations. You will learn by reading the recommended resources, reflecting on key issues, and participating in discussions. You will also complete assignments, which will give you an opportunity to apply some of the ideas to practical planning activities.

This course has a heavy focus on public higher education context, but many of the concepts issues and principles discussed are applicable to other contexts. If you aren’t in the higher education sector, you may have to work a little bit harder to apply the content to your context, but your instructor will work with you to develop opportunities for you to make these materials as relevant and useful to your current context.

Learning Objectives

Upon successful completion of this course you will be able to:

  • Discuss the different meanings of eLearning.
  • Discuss and critique the key rationales for adopting eLearning.
  • Analyze different approaches to planning and supporting eLearning.
  • Determine the appropriate approach to planning and supporting eLearning in your institution or organization.
  • Develop an appropriate strategy for planning and managing eLearning in your institution or organization;
  • Discuss some of the social, economic and political factors that are influencing the planning and management of eLearning.


This course is about ideas and issues that are influenced by personal values, ideologies, and world views and it is based primarily on the experience of the course authors, and on reports and articles by managers from other institutions with fairly recent experience of planning and managing eLearning in higher education. You may have other, equally relevant experiences, and we want to be able to draw on, share and discuss this varied set of experiences.

Our aim then is not to pontificate but to direct you to sources of information and to perspectives you may not have considered. It will be up to you to decide what is most relevant and appropriate to your situation. This means you will need to use your information seeking, analysis and interpretation skills, and be ready and willing to critique the planning and management examples that you read about.

We aim to prepare you for this in the following ways:

  • by providing you with different perspectives on planning and managing eLearning in educational organizations and instutions;
  • by providing you with an introduction to some basic principles and ideas of planning and management in this field, such as visioning, resource allocation, project management, etc.;
  • by providing you with analytical frameworks that will get you started in critiquing different approaches to planning and management in this field;
  • by helping you find your own references and sources of information on research in this field, and by helping you assess the value of the information you collect;
  • through discussion groups and assignments to analyze and evaluate what you have learned;
  • by getting you to reflect on your own views, and to step back from these to understand some of your own underlying, and possibly unquestioned, assumptions;
  • by having you work collaboratively with other students through the discussion groups and assignments, in order to get a wider range of perspectives on the various issues that arise in this course.

Readings & Resources

There is one textbook for this course and a number of online readings and resources. We have tried to provide a varied selection of readings in recognition of the fact that participants will have different interests. Our aim is also to provide resources that may be useful to you after you have finished the formal study of this course, as well as during the course.


Available as an eBook from the UBC Library.

Examples of other required and recommended resources

  • Bates, A. W. (2014). Teaching in a Digital AgeTony Bates Associates Ltd.
  • Bates, A. W. (2016, December 12). Are you ready for blended learning? Online learning and distance education resources.
  • Bichsel, J., (2013). The state of e-Learning in higher education: An eye toward growth and increased access. EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research.
  • Bullen, M. (2014). Deconstructing the digital natives discourse. [Video]. Vimeo.
  • Bullen, M. (2015). Revisiting the need for strategic planning for eLearning in higher education. In M. Ally & B. Khan (Eds.), The international handbook of e-learning (Vol. 1, pp. 139-152). Routledge.
  • Dziuban, C., Graham, C. R., Moskal, P. D., Norberg, A., & Sicilia, N. (2018). Blended learning: The new normal and emerging technologies. International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education, 15(1), 3.
  • Government of Ontario (2018). College and university strategic mandate agreements.
  • Macfadyen, L. P. (2004). Case Study: Visioning at The University of British Columbia. In A handbook of best practices in the integration of learning technologies into higher education (pp. 20-26). UBC Maple Centre.
  • Overseas Development Institute (n.d.). ROMA: A guide to policy engagement and policy influence.
  • Weller, M. (2020). CHAPTER 19 2012 Massive open online courses . In 25 years of ed tech.(pp. 129-135). AU Press.
  • Zemsky, R. & Massey, W. F. (2004). Chapter 1: The dynamics of innovation. In Thwarted innovation. What happened to e-learning and why. A final report for The Weatherstation Project of The Learning Alliance at the University of Pennsylvania in cooperation with the Thomson Corporation.

Assignments & Assessment

There are three assignments for this course. The grade breakdown is as follows:

  • Assignment 1: Analysis and comparison of rationales for eLearning: 20%
  • Assignment 2: An eLearning readiness audit: 30%
  • Assignment 3A, 3B, 3C or 3D: Analysis and comparison of approaches to eLearning: 30%
  • Participation and engagement in Module discussions: 20%

All three assignments must be submitted to pass.

There is a collaborative option for Assignments 2 and 3. You may complete one or both assignments in a group.

There are regular due dates for participation in discussions and completion of assignments. Grading criteria and rubrics are linked to each assessed activity, to offer guidance about what is expected.

Minor course topic, activity, reading/resource and assignment details may change from year to year.