University center for sale of e-learning courses
UNIVERSITY CENTER FOR SALE OF E-LEARNING COURSES
Jitka Brandejsová, Michal Brandejs, Miroslava Misáková, Miroslav Křipač
Presentation for ICTE 2007 conference (17. – 20. September 2007)
Abstract: The role the modern information technology plays in university education has constantly been gaining
in significance as it is not only the e-learning courses designed for distance learning, which may be combined
with regular classes or utilized independently of these, that are currently being offered, but also those falling into
the categories of blended e-learning and rapid e-learning.
The development of e-learning courses at Masaryk University has reached the point where they are becoming a
commodity. That is also why the institution's authorities have decided to sell them as well as other services over
What makes this activity unique, besides many other things, is the fact that the Center for Sale of E-learning
Courses has been integrated in the Information System of Masaryk University (IS MU). Linking the Center
directly to the System, which currently hosts numerous e-learning applications, allows the institution to offer the
products that are capable of meeting specific needs of the university – a service not usually offered by one-off eshops.
Based on a shopping basket, payment-related mechanisms (linked directly to the University’s economic
system) and warehouse management, this system of offer and sale is expected to sell products and services on
the basis of, for instance, some pre-requisites or criteria that are to be met by their users such as completion of
some other preceding courses, the pre-requisite of being a member of a specific staff group, etc. Another
advantage of the aforementioned integration is the transparency of the financial transactions that are to be
carried out and seamless transitions from one phase to another (e.g. from the client’s payment to their instant
access to the e-learning services).
The paper aims to acquaint the audience with the role of the Center and its relation to the e-learning courses
administered under IS MU.
Keywords: E-learning, education, information technology, e-bussiness, e- course, lifelong learning, shopping basket, Information System of Masaryk University, Center for sale.
1. INTRODUCTIONThe role the modern information technology plays in university education has constantly been gaining in significance. While the main reasons why the education of people with the aid of information technology has become popular in the commercial sphere are of economic (and time-saving) nature, in the academic area there are some of another kind as well. That is, e-learning represents an asset when it comes to teaching courses enrolled in by large numbers of students. Since it is currently desirable to make the university education accessible to as many young people as possible, the organization of such education becomes more involved than ever before and thus the need for the use of elaborate e-learning systems gradually increases. Moreover, the information technology allows teachers to introduce brand new teaching techniques, which render the educational process more attractive, entertaining, and efficient than it was in the past. That is also why e-learning has become an indispensable part of education provided by reputable universities.
2. CENTER FOR SALE OF E-LEARNING COURSESThe Center for Sale of E-learning Courses represents a unique Web application integrated in the Information System of Masaryk University (IS MU). Linking the Center directly to the System, which currently hosts numerous e-learning applications, allows the institution to offer the products that are capable of meeting specific needs of the university – a service not usually offered by one-off e-shops. Besides the aforementioned facts, the decision whether to build the system based on the previously described model in-house or commission another institution to do so should be based on the availability (or lack) of all the necessary expertise, financial and technical resources as well as personnel-related aspects. Due to its efficiency and reliability, which make it lead other information systems of this kind, the Information System of Masaryk University is ready to be used for the purpose of ecommerce without the need of any other special technology being added to it to make it meet this end. It has proved its worth over the last few years when handling electronic applications, scholarships, fee payments – processes directly linked to the economic system of the University. Moreover, the development team, who can flexibly react to the changes in the economic system as well as other issues, have enough experience in this respect. From the financial point of view, the in-house development represents an alternative far cheaper than any other commercially available solution. Some of the products offered by the Center are the following: – lifelong learning programs and courses (applies to both accredited and unaccredited studies) – courses aiming to prepare applicants for entrance examinations – e-learning courses designed for staff and the general public – special courses (e.g. out-of-school courses, language courses, field trips, etc.) – learning materials (textbooks, tests) – participation in conferences, seminars, conference services – other products such as books, promotion materials, tickets, fees related to studies (e.g. lifelong learning fees), certificates issued in foreign languages, special-purpose examination dates, payment deferrals, etc.
3. STRUCTURE OF THE CENTER AT MUCenter for Sale of E-learning Courses supports the following: – sections offering various products – shopping basket and payment management system – classification of offered products by the groups of those who may buy them (e.g. anyone, students, students enrolled in certain course, staff, etc.) – customization of orders and their structuring according to the types of products being ordered – different terms of payment, bonuses, discounts, etc. for different customers depending on their identity – different types of payment: by card, by bank transfer; issuing invoice – linking the Center to the economic information system generating payment identification numbers and other payment-related information – linking the Center to the system used for the management of individual people’s studies, programs, fields, courses and students’ enrolment in these, etc. 60 – linking the Center to the e-learning section of the Information System allowing the services provided to a customer to be linked to his/her payment and their subsequent automatic activation
Fig. 1: Center – Structure