Creating Sustainable E-Learning Infrastructures – Moving Beyond the Course as the Unit of Instruction

an eLearning 2005 keynote presentation by David Porter
Executive Director
dporter at

Presentation is available as both:

Breeze preso:


Harnessing community effectively

BC Campus has put together a tool that integrates a variety of tools: all the tools are in the environment, point and click
– notion of promoting and supporting collaborative program development models

Key to moving forward: establishing intellectual property models
– if you give developers the IP rights, you stimulate innovation
– we want to request a resuse license
– Lessig’s group came up with Creative Commons: this is a great model
– so we created our own model BC Commons because our faculty would NOT go with the idea of sharing it with the world
– right now there are about 50% that have gone with CC, 50% that have gone with BC Commons
— as soon as we put geographic boundaries on it, we had much more faculty buy in (basically everyone)

Providing a resource repository for everyone
– works with all commonly available systems: WebCT, Moodle, etc
– makes it easy for the faculty developer to not have to make any choices
– open source ethic: give back as good as you get or better

have emphasized value in this approach
– exemplary public policy: optimizes utilization of public funds
– a model for collaboration among public post-secondary institutions
– we have told faculty: if 10 institutions reuse your content, isn’t that a great reputation building activity that can be leveraged with commercial publishers
– differentiation is based on bundled services rather than content
– builds reputation of developers
– middle ground between free and commercial

Identifying sustainability factors
– identify, communicate, implement, and ensure value propositions for all members of the learning ecosystem
– involve key reference groups to set goals for the system development, evaluation, and implementation
– conduct active, small-scale pilots with all systems and processes
– evaluate and acknowledge all successes and shortcomings, and quickly move successful implementations into wide-scale production
– acknowledge that members of the ecosystem will ultimately be responsible for sustainability

Overall online learning trends in BC are very positive
– technical support and instructional support tend to be positive
– all forms of online learning except videoconferncing are up

We are learning to work in new ways
– following developments in the open source community closely
– Community Source: uPortal, Creative Commmons, BC Commons, OKI, OSPI (Open Source Portfolio Initiative), SAKAI

Sectors in community: financial, K-12, post-secondary education, health, manufacturing, government

In Europe and developing world, governments are mandating open source licensing
– in North America, most IT professionals are scared of open source

Building an agenda for sustainability
– balance the needs of learners and educators
– and administrators

LESSON OF THE WEB: build on a foundation of community and communication
Adopt open source and open access technologies
– give back as good as you get
– Pay attention to techno culture and the context of learning
– Support the innovators in your community

Another lesson of the web: students to technologies and services THAT WORK
– (for dating, students go to, they won’t go to our site for something like that)

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