Academic journal article Interdisciplinary Journal of Information, Knowledge and Management

Adaptive Innovation and a MOODLE-Based VLE to Support a Fully Online MSc Business Information Technology (BIT) at the University of East London (UEL)

Academic journal article Interdisciplinary Journal of Information, Knowledge and Management

Adaptive Innovation and a MOODLE-Based VLE to Support a Fully Online MSc Business Information Technology (BIT) at the University of East London (UEL)

Article excerpt


Manufacturer-driven innovation initiatives have exclusively shaped the development of products, processes, and technologies during the 19th Century and for the better part of the 20th Century. This innovation exclusivity has meant that manufacturers (and many software companies early on) analysed, designed, and delivered products to market without input or feedback during the development process from technology users.

However, since the 1950s user involvement in the systems development life cycle (SDLC) has been paramount for success and acceptance of technology-related products in global markets. Such user involvement represents a major cultural turn in terms of how innovation is integrated into and transforms technology-related products which make up the fabric of all market sectors, the educational sector included.

This paper examines approaches to innovation as a background to SDLC practices employed during open source software development using MOODLE to implement a new virtual learning environment (VLE) for an e-learning project at the University of East London (UEL). The School of Computing, Information Technology and Engineering (CITE) and UELconnect, UEL's distance learning arm, worked together to develop and implement the new VLE.

The paper argues that the emerging Adaptive Innovation Approach, when used as a broad SDLC framework and inclusive of the respective work done by von Hippel (1998, 2007) on Distributed Innovation and Chesbrough (2003) on Open Innovation, can support a practitioner-oriented and a user-centred SDLC to better account for new cultural necessities and new economic realities dominating our dynamic global era. von Hippel's approach includes a focus on user-centred innovation. However, von Hippel still stresses reliance on traditional rent producing innovations and transaction costs, although he does criticise manufacturer-driven innovation dominance and does recognise the importance of lead users in innovative activities.

On the other hand, Chesbrough (2003) offers a terrific discussion on open innovation and intellectual property, but his resource-based view is still traditional in its reliance on rational choice and economic rationality theory. Both approaches are focused on organisations and business theory and strategy. There is no utilisation of culture and cultural theories in either approach as backdrop for understanding what users in all types of organisations (for profit and not for profit) and walks of life want and need from technologies and why all users innovate at varying degrees in how they use technology for everyday tasks. Finally both von Hippel and Chesbrough rely on somewhat traditional economic rationality accounts of strategy which tend to lack a psychological, social and cultural content and bend.

The Adaptive Innovation Approach builds on the contributions made by von Hippel and Chesbrough to our understanding of the theory and practice of innovation and highlights even more the contributions made by practitioners and everyday users in the development of innovative capacity in all types of organisations. The adaptive / evolutionary approach is implicit in the work of von Hippel and Chesbrough, but never clearly brought out and isolated for discussion and additional development until now that our economic and cultural realities require such further development.

This paper takes a closer look at the development of UEL's MOODLE-based VLE for its adaptive innovation qualities and offers various lessons from the validation of a Fully Online MSc Business Information Technology (BIT) which was developed alongside with the VLE. Finally, the paper offers some additional observations from testing MOODLE's eMail Block installed in the new VLE to accommodate internal communication for the newly validated MSc.

Approaches to Innovation: The Case for Adaptive Innovation

Traditional Approach: Manufacturer-driven (Software Company-Dictated)

Professionals in the Information, Computing, and Technology fields use the systems development life cycle (SDLC) construct as a reference to the stages involved in the development o f systems, computer-based ones in particular. …

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