Academic journal article International Journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology

A Culture-Based Model for Strategic Implementation of Virtual Education Delivery

Academic journal article International Journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology

A Culture-Based Model for Strategic Implementation of Virtual Education Delivery

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

This study was designed to examine the critical success factors for implementing Virtual Education Delivery (VED) in Thailand, and to identify ways to facilitate such adoption and lead to effective outcomes. The study incorporated an analysis of three specific factors related to Thai culture: high power distance "Bhun Khun", uncertainty avoidance "Kreng Jai" and, collectivism "Kam Lang Jai". This paper reviews the development of the research model, describes the conceptual underpinning of the cultural model and presents the findings of the study. A strategic framework for successful VED implementation is proposed and can be modified for any cultural environment. In addition an audit instrument was developed for evaluation and review of VED outcomes on an ongoing basis.

Keywords: Virtual education delivery; cultural impacts on IT; ICT in Thailand; implementing virtual education

INTRODUCTION

An accelerating demand for mass higher education is driving universities to change from their traditional classroom setting to long distance delivery models (West and Hore 1989; Sherry 1996; Davies 1998; Peraya 2001). However, long distance has obvious limitations particularly with regard to on-going student engagement and has led Universities to embrace more interactive instruction models through on-line delivery (Bates 1993). This has led to widespread adoption and diffusion of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) within the education sector and a new globalised vision for education delivery.

Over the last decade, many organisations have adopted the strategic concept of the 'virtual organisation' as an alternative business model to gain competitive advantage (Goldman et al 1995; Graenier and Metes 1995; Mowshowitz 1997; Venkatraman and Henderson 1998; Leimeister et al 2001; Burn et al 2002; Walters 2004). Increasingly, this is a model being considered by Universities to allow them to extend their markets across widely distributed populations and reap the benefits of economies of scale (Castells 1996; McFadzean and McKenzie 2001; Clarke and Hermens 2001). Thailand is a case in point where this model is under development.

In 2004 the estimated population in Thailand was 65 million (Nationbynation 2005) Of these there are approximately 7 million who have accessed the Internet (an increase of 100% from the estimates for 2003) (Internetworldstats 2005). This growing number of Internet users may have an enormous impact on Thai society and, as the Internet becomes more socially significant, on Thai education (Tao 2001). There are a number of Thai universities such as Chulalongkorn University, Ramkhamhaeng University etc., which have begun to investigate virtual education delivery systems and moved to an instructional model which allows the instructors, learners, and content to be located in different non-centralised locations by using ICT networks. However, there are some major issues related to the management of the system as an educational tool and these critically influence success in implementing Virtual Education Delivery (VED) in Thai universities.

This study aimed to determine the factors leading to success in establishing a Thai VED and examines the implementation in four universities. Critical success factors are evaluated and inhibitors identified. The specific questions addressed are:

* What are the factors influencing effective implementation of VEDs in Thailand?

* How do these factors facilitate successful implementation?

* How can these be incorporated into strategies for implementation in the context of Thai culture?

The paper reviews the development of the research model, outlines the research approach adopted and summarises the results from both stages of the study. Finally, a model for future implementations and ongoing evaluation of VED effectiveness is proposed and an audit checklist designed as an integral part of a new strategic planning cycle. …

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