DEHub/Research Themes/Costs and benefits

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Research themes
1. Theories and models
2. Globalisation of education and cross-cultural aspects
3. Access, equity, social inclusion and ethics
4. Professional Development & Faculty Support
5. Learner support and development approaches
6. Curriculum design
7. Interaction and communication in learning communities
8. Distance teaching systems and institutions)
9. Research methods in distance education and knowledge transfer
10. Quality assurance
11. Innovation and change
12. Costs and benefits
13. Management and organization
14. Educational technology
15. Learner characteristics
16. Open Education Resources (OERs)

Costs and benefits

As its title suggests, research under this sub-theme will enquire into the economics of distance education in order to identify effective and efficient financial sustainability models.

Guiding question

What factors support effective models for financing distance learning? Are these also efficient models?

Research questions

  • Are there cost-effectiveness advantages to distance education delivery in the digital age?
  • What cost factors should be considered when planning or implementing distance education programs and how are those costs offset by benefits to the learner?
  • What are successful cost effective change management implementations for the introduction of innovative technology?

Highly Recommended Priority Links


The e-Revolution and Post-Compulsory Education: Using e-business models to deliver quality education, 2008. This book was originally published by Routledge in 2008 and through a special arrangement JISC is able to provide the book free to the public 12 months after the original publication (Febuary 2009). The book comproses 9 chapters and covers the following content parameters:

The best practices of e-business are revolutionising not just technology itself but the whole process through which services are provided; and from which important lessons can be learnt by post-compulsory educational institutions. This book aims to move debates about ICT and higher education beyond a simple focus on e-learning by considering the provision of post-compulsory education as a whole.

EDUCAUSE Quarterly

Tracking the Economic Downturn Volume 32, number 2, 2009 provides a number of articles on costs and benefits. The Best Practices section in particular has five articles:

  • A Costing Model for Project-Based Information and Communication Technology Systems by Brian Stewart and Dave Hrenewich
  • ERP Project Management Lessons Learnedby Timothy D. Carroll
  • Is There Such a Thing as Free Software? The Pros and Cons of Open-Source Software by Thomas J. Trappler
  • A Campus-Wide E-Textbook Initiative by Jon T. Rickman, Roger Von Holzen, Paul G. Klute, and Teri Tobin
  • Gigabit Wireless for Network Connectivity by Eric Schoedel.


Implementing a Cost Effectiveness Analyzer for Web-Supported Academic Instruction: A Campus Wide Analysis, December 2009 by Anat Cohen, Rafi Nachmias and Tel Aviv University.
This paper describes the implementation of a quantitative cost effectiveness analyzer for Web-supported academic instruction that was developed in Tel Aviv University during a long term study. The paper presents the cost effectiveness analysis of Tel Aviv University campus. Cost and benefit of 3,453 courses were analyzed, exemplifying campus-wide analysis.


Costs and Financing in Open Schools by Ed Du Viver, 2008. This is a course on Costing Distance and Open Learning. The Bibliography provides several recent references in particular thre are readily available on line:

TED (Technlogy, Entertainment and Design)

Hector Ruiz on connecting the world a 19 minute video filmed in June 2007.

Hector Ruiz is executive chairman of Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. Born in Piedras Negras, Mexico, Dr. Ruiz is passionate about the role of technology in education and empowering the underprivileged. At the 2004 World Economic Forum in Davos, he announced AMD's 50x15 Initiative, a commitment to provide 50 percent of the world's population with basic Internet access by the year 2015.

Other sites to explore


e-Procurement to reduce costs and carbon footprint, 2009.

Imperial College spends £270m a year on goods and services. The use of paper-based processes for procurement was both costly and inefficient, and the college wanted to be able to streamline its processes with key suppliers in a way that would improve efficiency. The College undertook an analysis of the costs and benefits of introducing an electronic procurement system to replace the paper-based system.....The implementation of electronic processes generated huge savings in paper costs and created substantial improvements in operational efficiency:

All purchase orders (160,000 documents a year) are now sent to suppliers electronically More than 50% of payable invoices are received and processed electronically, resulting in 100,000 fewer paper invoices a year All payable invoice approval notifications are now sent out to Imperial College buyers by email together with all approval responses

Cyber Campus: Education Guardian Supplement 2009. This links to the actual article: Fast-track degrees proposed to cut higher education costs by Polly Curtis, education editor, Tuesday 22 December 2009 15.27 GMT. The author suggests that:

The age of the traditional three-year degree could come to an end after universities were today ordered to devise two-year fast-track courses to cut the cost of higher education to students and the public purse.

An interesting extension to this book is a Bolg posting in pdf Beyond the MLE? Visualising the shifting boundaries of education, business and communities… by Jos Boys. This item addresses the issue of interpreting and working with diagram models of Personal learning environments.
There have been many useful critiques of the communities of practice model and approach, which need to be considered. But, for me, what is interesting is that whilst this idea is having a definite impact on teaching and learning theories and practices in the UK (not all of it good) – and has some obvious potential as the base for a conceptual framework - it remains somehow separate to the whole business and community engagement agenda.


National Strategies for e-learning in Post-Secondary Education and Training, 2001 by Tony Bates. Section V is specifically dedicated to Costs and benefits of e-learning.


Re-examining & Repositioning Higher Education: 20 Economic and Demographic Factors Driving Online & Blended Program Enrollments, 2009 by Kristen Betts, Kenneth Hartman, Carl Oxholm III. THe article is available for US$5.95 via guest account.

Economic and demographic shifts in the United State are transforming higher education. With substantial reductions in state funding, increasing campus energy and operational costs, endowments generating reduced returns, and a national economic readjustment of unprecedented proportions, higher education must re-examine and reposition itself to meet new and emerging challenges. This paper identifies ten economic factors and ten demographic factors that are confronting colleges and universities and driving online and blended program enrollments.

Research Highlights Cost Effectiveness of Online Education, 2006 by Tana Bishop. This short paper provides a table of research highlights with web links for the results from each institution participating. It also provides an extensive list of available web sites related to cost-effectiveness.

Teachers College Records (TCR)

Policy for Open and Distance Learning, 2004 edited by Hilary Perraton and Helen Lentell, Editors. This text can be purchased for US$7.00 or you can become a member of the CTRecords for US15 and have access to all TCRecords. Quoting from David L. Stoloff's review:

...the editors pose the question – “does [open and distance learning] work, and if so what policies are needed to make it work effectively?” (p. 3). To answer this question they consider two themes for this text: 1) the acceptance of “open and distance learning and its new place at the world’s educational tables” and 2) changes in the role of the state and its institutions which resulted in students having to meet more of the costs, declining central control of broadcasting, globalization, a new kind of competition between universities, and “limitations of existing accrediting structures in protecting student interest” (pp. 4-5).


More related sites can be found at the DE Hub Delicious site.