The following is yet another sign that the thesis is finally getting close to submission. The following is the second version of an abstract of the thesis. There have been some changes, feedback always welcome.
This thesis seeks to offer an answer to the problem of how to design, implement and support information systems that effectively and efficiently support e-learning within universities. This is a problem that is increasingly prevalent and important to the operation of universities. It is also a problem where existing solutions are limited in terms of variety, quality and explicit theoretical guidance. This thesis formulates a specific Information Systems Design Theory (ISDT) – An Information Systems Design Theory for Emergent University E-learning Systems – as one answer to this problem.
The ISDT is formulated using an iterative action research cycle that encompasses the design, support and evolution of the Webfuse information system at Central Queensland University (CQU) from 1996 through 2009. The Webfuse system was used by tens of thousands of staff and students. It is the knowledge gained through this experience that, at two separate stages, is used to formulate ISDTs culminating in An Information Systems Design Theory for Emergent University E-learning Systems.
The final ISDT recognises that diversity and rapid, on-going change are, for a number of reasons, the key characteristics of e-learning within universities. Consequently, the ISDT specifies both process and product models that aim to enable the e-learning information systems to be emergent. In particular the ISDT proposes that emergent elearning information systems will: encourage and enable greater levels of e-learning adoption in terms of quantity, quality and diversity; as well as provide a level of differentiation and competitive advantage for the institution.
This thesis makes two additional contributions. First, the Ps Framework is developed and used to analyse the current, dominant practice of providing e-learning information systems within universities. The resulting analysis reveals a significant mismatch between the requirements of e-learning within universities and the characteristics of the product and process models used by the dominant approach to supporting e-learning within universities. It is this mismatch that the ISDT seeks to address. Second, problems with the existing approach for specifying ISDTs led to the development and widespread acceptance of an improved method of ISDT specification.