Featured case: Adopting a Learning Management System

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The case

Who – the protagonists

Ruby, Learning Management System (LMS) Coordinator and Julie, Head Administrator, e-Learning and Systems Department, at TBS Business School. (Not their real names.) Julie, a PhD in open and distant learning had significant experience of designing and developing self-learning materials.

What?

A Moodle-based LMS system was launched at one of the leading business schools in India (disguised here as ‘TBS’).

e-learning.jpg

Why?

This was a major technological initiative to support e-learning and offer flexible learning opportunities. The cost was substantial. Students could access all their materials on a single platform, upload assignments and take part in online chats and discussions. Teachers could upload a variety of resources, interact with students, and carry out online assessments.

When?classroom

Planning and implementation began in January 2012, and following a pilot, initial user reaction seemed to be fairly positive. However, by March 2013, Ruby needed to address a number of issues as the LMS was failing to meet the expectations of senior management. There were numerous operational issues, some academics did not even bother to login to the system, and students found the software slow and confusing. In addition, a sizeable section of faculty members were not Internet-savvy.

indiaWhere?

TBS was established in India in 1995 and had since grown at an impressive rate, achieving widespread respect and recognition from industry, academic circles and professional bodies. It had a reputation for innovative programme design and delivery, research, consultancy, quality course materials, personalised instruction, and strong industry links.

Key quotemanonmac

‘The professors should have been involved right from the planning and implementation of the LMS. It would have instilled a sense of ownership in them.’ – Julie

What next?

Despite all the hard work and financial cost invested in the LMS, Ruby and Julie felt betrayed by the half-hearted response to it. They were under pressure from senior management to make some fast decisions. Should they simply abandon the project? Or make further investments to create a better and more workable e-learning platform?

 
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Adopting a Learning Management System
Ref 915-022-1

Teaching note
Ref 915-022-8

The author
Authors

Rik Paul

Rik wrote this case after being awarded one of The Case Centre’s Case Writing Scholarships. He worked under the supervision of our Outstanding Contribution to the Case Method winner, Debapratim Purkayastha. Rik shares his experiences of writing the case.

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Scholarship support

From the beginning, the scholarship was an immense source of motivation for me. It is an honour to have your case writing effort acknowledged by the organisation that hosts the largest repository of cases in the world.

‘Private investigator’

When creating a case, the writer has numerous interactions with the protagonist and all the other parties involved in the problem. It is as good as playing the role of a private investigator trying to solve a mystery!

Advice and tipsadvice-tips

My advice to new case writers would include:

  • Create a detailed plan of action before drafting the case. This should include date and time of appointments with the protagonists, and specific timelines for primary and secondary research.
  • Decide on the structure of your case. For instance, how the story will unfold and what exhibits you will have.
  • Always keep in mind your teaching objectives and the learning outcomes you intend achieve.
  • Finally, keep it simple so that reading the case is fun and interesting.

Alt textTradition versus technology

Learning management systems are very popular in the developed world. However, some parts of India (where the case is based) are devoid of even the most basic Internet facilities.

In addition, tradition plays a very important role in India. The relationship between a teacher and their students is very much focused on human interaction rather than distant sharing of study materials via an online portal.

Wider lessons

My case draws on inferences from one of the top business schools in the country with a diversified student base, thus the lessons learned can be helpful to managers of any organisation who intend to digitise their work environment. In addition, the unique concept of a service wrapper is outlined in the teaching note.

Motivating and rewarding

This has been a journey towards excellence, which is a motivating and a rewarding process in itself. I would like to express my gratitude to all those who helped me and in particular Debapratim Purkayastha who assisted me the most.

About the author

Rik Paul is Assistant Professor, Department of Marketing and Strategy, at IBS Hyderabad, IFHE University 
e rikpaul@ibsindia.org
tw @RIK0077

 

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