How do we build sustainable e-learning tools to meet the needs of engineering educators?

2012-02-29T12:42:09Z (GMT) by Nic Wilkinson Fiona Lamb Adam Crawford
There are a range of e-learning tools available to current engineering educators to assist in supporting teaching practice. Many of the tools developed previously have been transitory, only existing for the period in which they were funded or failed to be transferable, only adopted by the host institution. Funded e-learning tools are usually expected to have a sustainability plan to ensure ongoing support and adoption, past the life time of the funding, however in practice this is hard to deliver once funding has ended and staff have left. This paper will look at a number of issues which can affect transferability and sustainability including:  why academics pilot such tools in the engineering discipline?  what consideration is given to sustainability when adopting a new tool or system ?  who are the key stakeholders for these resources and why?  what factors can encourage a community of users to develop and stay engaged?  how can the community of users assist with ongoing sustainability? Particular attention will be given to the experiences and the lessons learnt by the WebPA team in trying to build a community of users, both academic and support staff, around the tool in the search for a sustainable future. By examining the user groups which have developed around the open source WebPA tool the paper will highlight what does and does not work in developing a sustainable community within engineering academia.