Digital education: strategy and policy

Course Details

Course code: EDUA11321

Course leader: Dr Peter Evans

Course delivery: Sept 2021


This course explores the development and implementation of digital education and learning policies and strategies in post-compulsory education and training. The course critically examines the key influences on strategy and policy at national and organisational levels. We will investigate different approaches to conceptualising and implementing different approaches to digital learning in organisations. We will discuss and explore the organisational implications of developing different approaches to digital education and how these interface with issues of pedagogy and technology and the resource implications for institutions.

You will be encouraged to read and discuss some of the theoretical background to policy and strategy setting as these may apply to your organisation, and to contribute discussion materials, either from your own organisation or from publicly-available sources. Case studies will offer opportunities to examine some practical instances of digital education and learning strategies. You will be supported in applying and critiquing the concepts and tools of strategy making to your own organisation.

The course draws on literature from public policy, digital education, corporate learning and higher education, information systems as well as from general strategy and management.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of the course you will have:

  • Developed a critical awareness of the local, sectoral and national policy contexts relevant to their own institutional setting and role.
  • Have gained in-depth knowledge of a range of alternative models for e-learning development and implementation.
  • Gained the ability to assess and evaluate the impact of the multiple factors affecting the successful implementation of e-learning.
  • Gained the knowledge and theoretical frameworks needed in order to formulate an effective e-learning strategy for their own organisation.


Week 1-2: introduction to strategy & policy
The course begins with an exploration of the key concepts and language of strategy as well as some initial reflections on the strategies of the organisations of course members. You will begin to analyse the strategic context of such organisations.

Weeks 3-5: policy dynamics
This block will provide key tools and approaches to the analysis of national and institutional policies on organisational e-Learning strategy. Policy imperatives will be analysed from three perspectives: technology; pedagogy and economics. A specific case of UK higher education institution’s policy will be used to explore the interfaces of policy and strategy in-action.

Weeks 6 -10: digital education strategy & change
In this block, we will be exploring the opportunities and constraints afforded by the organisational-context in relation to e-learning strategies as enablers and constraints on strategic choice and change. Practical tools and instruments will be introduced that aid analysis of policy and strategy and the organisational contexts within which they are worked out.

Week 11: synthesis
The final week of the course will be spent in bringing together the key themes from the course and reflecting on the efficacy of the tools, approaches and theories used throughout the course.


Assessment of the course will be based on two elements:

On-going course activities (40% of your final mark). The exercises held throughout the latter half of the course on the blog and discussion boards will be assessed for 40% of the overall mark. Formative feedback on your contributions will be provided by the course tutors and your fellow students’ comments on your posts.

Assignment (60% of your final mark). This is a final assignment of 3,000 words and is worth 60% of your final mark. This assignment can be either a strategy for e-learning development within your own organisation or one of your choice; or an in depth investigation of a specific topic from the course.

Teaching Methods

The course is taught using a combination of discussion boards and blog posts along with optional synchronous tutorial sessions. 


Indicative readings are:

Allan, E., and Seaman, J. (2013). Changing Course: Ten Years of Tracking Online Education in the United States. Babson Survey Research Group and Quahog Research Group, LLC (

Hannon, J. (2011).  Incommensurate practices: sociomaterial entanglements of learning technology implementation. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 29, 168-178

Hardaker, G. & Singh, G. (2011) The adoption and diffusion of eLearning in UK universities. A comparative case study using Giddens’s Theory of Structuration. Campus-Wide Information Systems. 28(4): 221 - 233

Singh, G. and Hardaker, G. (2014).  Barriers and enablers to adoption and diffusion of eLearning: A systematic review of the literature – a need for an integrative approach. Education + Training, Vol 56, 2/3, 105-121

Seimens, G., Gasevic, D., and Dawson, S. (2015). Preparing for the Digital University: a review of the history and current state of distance, blended and online learning. Athabasca University, Canada. (


As with all courses, you will be required to have regular access to a computer with a good broadband connection, and will be responsible for providing your own computing equipment and consumables. All core and some additional readings will be provided online.